We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

May 12, 2007

The irony in my day and what it has to do with Israel (long)

This morning I felt awash in irony. As I set of to Synagogue I listened on NPR to a report about the conflict in Israel and Palestine(link to the story). Even though I am coming into my Jewishness I can't find a place in my heart for Zionism or the current attitudes that prevail in Israel. The report was discussing how the Israelis were creating more check points rather than lessening the number, as they had said they would.

I can imagine the fear that people living in that country must have being surrounded by hostile neighbors. But continuing to keep an apartheid state where Palestinians can not travel between their lands is part of the problem. God given right or not the Israelis should have taken into account the response the rest of the region would have had in 1948.

Jews have never been colonizers (although we have been colonized often). It took the help of the British Empire (albeit their tail end) to help create and "mandate" Israel. However the times of governmental colonization were coming to an end. Where ever our ancestors were from the fact is we were primarily Europeans and Americans commandeering land in the middle east. Land that the Muslims also felt was theirs.

I don't mean to give a basic history lesson but it seems that often when this discussion comes up not everyone knows that Israel in it's current form has only been there since 1948. I find a lot of Christians that I talk to think that the battle on this land has been going on for centuries. It has but those were the Crusades not the Arab Israeli conflict.

Anyway back to the irony. After fuming for a few blocks about the conflict I resigned myself to acknowledging that there was little I could do about it. Before going to temple I stopped for some coffee and was reading The Yiddish Policeman's Union Michael Chabon's new book. In Chabon's book he imagines that Israel fails and the post war Jews end up in a temporary district in the panhandle of Alaska. In his book the Jews are about to loose their home (once again).

His story, in light of the news that I had been listening to, seems almost hopeful. That their might have been another answer (although this one is not successful either). Sigh... what can I do.

So I go to the Synagogue (which happens to be in a Methodist church) for the dedication of the new ark for keeping the Torah in. We sing a lot of songs all that seem to have to do with peace. We say the weekly prayers, which highlight peace again. While I know that there are many members of the congregation who agree with me about Israel (to varying amounts) the irony of the service strikes me.

How can we be talking of peace as something we hold so close to our hearts when we still remain in such a contentious position in Israel. I know that there is a lot I do not understand, both politically and historically, still I can't help but feeling the discordance of the entire situation in Israel.

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