My life has never seriously been marked
by silences; though I
have been a streetcar, usually I’ve parked
by signposts saying “Why?”
I define myself by what I am
and not by what I’m not:
there are no rails inhibiting this tram
from swerving, to ask “What?”
My swords don’t swerve in order to avoid
attacking evil men,
and I by their malignity annoyed
pose this sad question “When?”
A question that especially applies
to problems like: “When will
our friends give up their silence about lies
of foes who wish Jews ill.”
The question is rhetorical, friends’ silence
the fence on which they choose
to sit, without protesting against violence
when it’s just harming Jews.
Amy Schumer quoted a comment made Martin Luther King’s comment about the silence of friends regarding violence in Forward on 11/1/23:
Schumer previously posted an image of MLK to Instagram with his quote, “in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” She turned the comments off.
It is as if MLK was prophesying about the contemporary situation in which people who claim to be philosemitic friends of Israel react with silence to the antisemitic October 7 Hamas pogrom.
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored “Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.