Saturday, June 29, 2013

Why Was Andrew Pochter in Egypt, Not Israel?

Condolences to the family of  Andrew Pochter, who was the American killed in Egyptian riots.

I find his story very disturbing. 
Pochter’s family said he had travelled to Alexandria for the summer to teach English to 7- and 8-year-old Egyptian children and to improve his Arabic.
“He had studied in the region, loved the culture, and planned to live and work there in the pursuit of peace and understanding,” read the statement, that asked for privacy in a time of grieving.
Pochter was looking forward to beginning his junior year at Ohio’s Kenyon College and had planned to study abroad in Jordan next spring, according to the statement.

Read more:
What was he doing in Egypt?  Why did he feel more connected to Arab countries, rather than to Israel?  Did he really think that he, a Jewish American, could do something for "the pursuit of peace and understanding?"

Did his family support this delusion?

Did his family and friends and teachers warn him that he was going to a dangerous place?

Frequently when someone in the states says they're going to Israel, people act horrified:

"It's so dangerous!"

Now, I would like to know if Pochter received such reactions to his plans.  Of course there's no guarantee that Pochter would be alive if he had gone to Israel.  But for sure, if he had been killed here, the article about his death would include something of how his family didn't want him to come because of the supposed "dangers."

Think about it.  Where can one find more danger, in Israel or the Arab countries?  If someone is injured or hurt, where is there better medical care?  And are you disturbed by the fact that an American Jewish student is more attracted to Arab society than to Jewish Israeli society?

Am I the only one bothered by this incident and this situation in general?


goyisherebbe said...

You meant injured or sick, I imagine. Injured and hurt are the same thing. I won't be either injured or hurt if you don't change it, but I think it's a good idea.

Batya said...

yes, goyish, thanks

Shy Guy said...


Because Pochter was a stupid Jew.

Asked and answered.

Leah said...

It is incredibly sad on all aspects.
I cannot understand it either.
There is also an expression that says,"Do not speak while the dead lie before you."
On the other hand, though, in our generation everything is reported within seconds of occurring to a massive audience. It seems that we must comment with both empathy as well as truthful perspective so that those reading are not lead to both false perspectives and ideals.
It is truly a sad situation. He was murdered- HYD. He also could have been in Israel studying Torah and receiving both a religious education as well as a secular academic education.
May he be put to rest and judged favorably. May his family be comforted, may the murderer be brought before both the human court and Hashem's court and may we work on ourselves to receive Moshiach THIS year and be done with tragedy.

Batya said...

Shy, nice simple answer, thanks.

Leah, I didn't want to write this post, but it was the only thing my fingers would type. yes, it's sad, and no doubt he isn't the only Jew more enamored with Arab life than Jewish-Israeli life. What a waste.

Leah said...

Hi Batya, Shavua tov. Oh, I hear you. No one, for a minute, would ever think that you (or anyone) would truly desire to write a post on this (meaning that no one (I hope) would ever desire that a tragedy such as this would exist.
It is very sad, indeed. Unfortunately, the perspective may still be lost on many, too....sighhh.

Batya said...

thanks Leah

Rebbele said...

thank you for writing this post.
keep writing more about this subject.

Anonymous said...

Another stupid Jewish youth. They have no idea of the difference between their fellow brothers and our enemies. They feel sympathy for the ones who would murder them in an instance, and, sadly, in this case, that's just what happened.

Batya said...

Rebbele, thanks for the encouragement.
a, sad. We must try to do more.

Anonymous said...

I am deeply saddened by the dialogue being exchanged on this site. As a Jew, a practicing Jew, I am ashamed and embarrassed. I spent a number of years in Jordan and in Qatar trying to defend and explain the very sentiments expressed on this thread. The impact is devastating in the world beyond Israel's borders.

Seeking peace and understanding is not delusional, Batya. It's what life is all about. Things will not improve between Israelis and Palestinians, between Jews and Arabs unless there are forums for dialogue. I received a call from a conservative Muslim man in Amman, Jordan on Saturday, June 29th. We had shared coffee before work a few times. I had argued with him and his 7 brothers at his home, before, during, and after dinner over a range of topics. I learned of Islamic prayer routines, and his family shared in lighting the Chanukah menorah. When he called me on Saturday, we spoke only briefly. But he said, "I am sorry for your loss...if I hadn't ever met you, I would not understand Andrew." I have since received similar responses from friends throughout Amman and in Doha.

Reach beyond your borders. There is good in this world, and you can make a difference.

- A graduate of Kenyon College, and a Jewish American.

Batya said...

a, sorry, but I don't think any of your experiences make a difference in terms of true peace or anything. I work with Arabs, and the only chance for peace is here in Israel when Arabs realize we're not moving.

ellen said...

The circumstances are indeed tragic, but for the record...
This young man was not a Jewish student. He was raised as a Christian - the product of a mixed marriage (I believe it's his father who is Jewish). He had an interest in religion (including Judaism) and Middle East politics. He was co-manager of the Hillel House on campus, where he had lived during his sophomore year. He was also a member of the Middle Eastern Students Association (MESA). Check out his poetry and you'll get a better picture

Batya said...

Ellen, thanks for the additional information.

Anonymous said...

Batya, how can you really say my experiences have not made a difference? I just gave you a good example how they have. How delusional are you? Do you think my understanding of faith, peace, and understanding is different from yours because I'm an American Jew? Please explain yourself.

Anonymous said...

Batya, I am not a Jew (wish I was),but does not it say in Torah, that followers of Ishmael, will never live in peace?

That they will kill each other, and also everyone else, for its in their nature?

So how can anonymous claim that peace can be made?

I think anonymous is delusional . He should wake up from his fantasy dream.


Anonymous said...

I wish I could sit with you guys in person and have a discussion. It's very sad you think I'm delusional. I know you think its absurd for Jews to engage in discussion with Arabs outside Israel, but it has made a significant impact in my life. And from the experiences we've shared, it had a similar impact with Jewish friends in Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, and UAe. Always interested in talking more. Thanks Batya.

Batya said...

a (1 & 3 are you the same?) I work with Arabs, so I'm not far from you in some ways. I don't think in countries like Egypt, Syria or even Jordan a Jew trying to be friendly with Arabs makes any difference in the long run. These countries have too many serious problems of their own. Ordinary citizens have no real power. So it's unrealistic to think that you have made a real difference in terms of peace.

The most important issue is the Arab acceptance of a Jewish State, and the fact that this is Jewish Land. I do more for that working with Arabs in a Jewish business than you do.

a2, interesting point, but not my specialty

Anonymous said...

"I do more working with Arabs in a Jewish business than you do." Really Batya? You should be using this thread feature to engage in a productive conversation, which is what Anonymous 1 and I have done. We're Jewish. We want to have a discussion about this because you have provided the forum. Don't bash other Jews! I'm really confused why you do that. What a pompous prick. As far as Andrew Pochter. Get your facts straight before you use someone to rant.

Batya said...

a, I have no idea who you are, where you are or what you do. It's easy for people hiding their identities to criticize.

Anonymous said...

Baths, I am Noahide. I will sign as , Kala.

That last comment by anonymous was very rude.

Hashem bless you, Batysa.


Anonymous said...

Sorry for the typo in spelling your name ,Batya. Forgive an old gal.

Batya said...

Kala, thanks
and of course I agree with you.

Anonymous said...

thanks for share........

Sarah said...

Hi Batya and everyone! Shavua Tov. Apologies I am just commenting on this now. I read your blog frequently, but with little ones, I can't keep up on news. I think Leah raises a good point in that the perspective may be lost on many, certainly the anonymous writer (or one of them)above. From what I have read, Andrew was not Jewish, so the argument needed to shift appropriately, but if he had been Jewish, I would agree that its sad he found the culture/language of Arab society more attractive. Then again, I have to agree with some points on the other side of the discussion in that I do think its necessary for Jews, and Arabs, to spend time in each others' cultures and communities. We as Jews will not be leaving Israel, I think many Arabs actually do understand this, so we need to start moving the ball forward in other ways and cross-culture dialogue and reaching a greater understanding (and there are different ways to do this, and to different degrees as you have suggested Batya) is important. Shy Guy - It is not appropriate to call another Jew stupid. Our people do not need to hate on each other. You can disagree with someone's actions, but from one Jew to another, that is not appropriate.

Thanks Batya!

Batya said...

Sarah, thanks for your well-thought comment. I understand that he's from a mixed marriage and actually Jewish, was active in his Hillel. But it's so strange and disturbing that instead of going to Israel he felt more connected to the Arabs.