Something happened today that has challenged me deeply. It was a small thing really, a throwaway comment by a friend of mine; someone intelligent and well read, someone who I thought would form considered opinions.

We were in our usual post-yoga haunt for coffee and the owner of the cafe was wearing a shirt with Arabic script across the chest. My friend, I'll call her Ruby, asked him what it said, he responded typically as "not sure," and her comment then was, "I was hoping it said Victory to Hamas."

My head aches with the effort of sifting through the avalanche of rebuttalAt that moment, time seemed to stand still, the noise and chatter of the cafe receding as my revulsion and shock at her comment overwhelmed me. "Victory to Hamas." I struggled with the very idea that Ruby had uttered these words; that the concept of victory to a terrorist organization seemed like a sensible and desirable idea. I was so paralyzed with astonishment that I couldn't challenge her, gently or otherwise, I couldn't say a word.

The moment passed and conversation went on to other things. Luckily we were with a small group and others picked up the casual banter so that my silence wasn't obvious—but her statement hung in the air, the words tormenting me still—"victory to Hamas."

I can't let it rest, though I try to rationalize it. My thoughts collide with the effort of making themselves heard, my head aches with the effort of sifting through the avalanche of rebuttal, and so I find myself at the computer writing to you, dear reader, as I try to sift through the chaos.

I understand that there are reasons for people's sympathy for the Palestinian situation, and sympathy they do deserve. From the birth of Israel, the Palestinians have been abandoned by their Arab brethren and used as pawns in a political game. Most appallingly, the Palestinian leadership has "appropriated" much of the financial aid provided by the world in order to feather their nests. Then, not content to have robbed their country of an economic future, some turned their children into hate-filled weapons bent on destruction while leaving others to wallow in poverty and misery. Their Arab neighbors have all been complicit in this act either directly, or through their indolence. But to this criminal behavior, there is virtual global silence.

Where is the world's outrage? Why does no one ask where all the aid money has gone? Why is it up to the UN to build schools and hospitals while Arafat's wife lives in Paris and shops at Dior? Where is the world's condemnation of Arafat who walked away from a Palestinian state so he could remain "King of a travesty" instead of a "has been" in a homeland? Where are all the demonstrations and placards and burning effigies about these issues? Where is the indignation against Hamas for dragging the long suffering populace of Gaza into a completely avoidable war?

The questions continue and the implications gnaw at me. Is the terrorizing of Israelis with 60 rockets a day acceptable? If people realized that this averages as one rocket every 24 minutes of every day of every week of every month, would it make a difference? Are the rocket attacks a non-event to the world because the Israeli casualty rate is low in comparison to the number of attacks? Do people really think that's just good luck? Don't they realize that Israel has been proactive in protecting its population and that the reason the Palestinian side has greater casualties is because Hamas uses their families as human shields? Where is the outrage at this monstrous act? Would the rocket attacks on Israel suddenly have some political weight if they traveled further, or had nuclear capability, or killed lots more Jews? Do Jews have to be destroyed in large numbers before it matters?

Do Jews have to be destroyed in large numbers before it matters?These propositions raise further questions. Does this all mean that the world hasn't really learnt anything at all; that we again return to the same old line, with millennia of spite and resentment oozing from human consciousness? Will Jewish success always be seen as dangerous—something to be envied and derided and destroyed. Can we ever move beyond this most ugly of human qualities?

I know there's no answer to these questions; I know there is no response that can make sense of such a situation. It is as old as the Diaspora and has had nearly 2000 years to become part of the fabric of the human cultural subconscious. But I continue to struggle with the knowledge that in the 21st century, in the age of instant media and satellite technology, when misinformation, rumors and gossip mongering can be disputed and discredited instantly, that knowledge and truth can be only a mouse click away, that Jews must still justify their right to exist in their own land, in safety.

I am now also faced with a completely unforeseen dilemma in my friendship. Where does it go from here? The pivotal question I cannot answer; can Ruby truly grasp what "victory to Hamas" means, or more alarmingly, does she understand it perfectly? What can that mean for me and for her and for the future of our acquaintance?

G‑d sets us many challenges, and probably the most wonderful and terrible is the freedom to choose. Now I must make a choice as to how I respond to my friend, to the situation and within the world at large. Thankfully we have the great wisdom of Kabbalah to help provide direction and succor, to help guide us at these pivotal moments.

For my part I will do more mitzvahs, work at keeping my animal soul at bay and my G‑dly soul prominent, aim for a spiritual balance, and trust that each of these incremental efforts will help to bring healing just a tiny bit closer.