Tuesday, July 17, 2007

David Shulman's Dark Hope

Some important books have come out in the last few weeks in Israel, and I thought I would mention a few of them in short posts.

First, David Shulman’s Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine (2007, U of Chicago Press)

David Shulman is the Renee Lang Professor of Humanistic Studies at Hebrew University, and a world-renown expert in Sanskrit and the history of Indian religion. The book is his diary of activities with Ta’ayush, the Jewish-Arab organization founded during the dark days of the Second Intifada that provides food and relief supplies for Palestinians and Bedouin.

I read the Hebrew version of the book (Ha-Tikvah ha-Marah) this past Shabbat, and at first I found more marah than tikvah. But then I thought of the activists like Prof. Shulman, and I felt a bit of hope.

I thought I would translate a few pages for this blog, but Prof. Shulman told me that the English version had already come out. So please check it out on Amazon

This is not a book about the peace process, terrorism, geopolitics, the rise of Islam, Jewish fundamentalism, yada yada yada. This is a book about how innocent people’s lives are made miserable on a daily basis, and how Jews and Palestinians have come together to help them. I really urge you get it and give it to your friends and family. Testify, testify, testify.

Oh, heck…I can’t help it…just a couple of lines of my own translation from the Afterword, and may the U. of Chicago Press have mercy on my soul:

"'You shall remember that you were a slave'… 'Shake yourself from the dust, arise'…'To loose the chains of injustice, and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke'…'Whoever sustains one life, it is as if he sustained an entire world'…Did I invent these voices? It seems that they burst forth from the depths of a dream, a distant and troubling dream. To be right – that’s nothing. To be “righteous” – that is the true disaster. But to do what you can – that is everything.

"We know our adversaries, the ones close to us: those who sit with indifference in government ministries, or who are recruited in the army’s high command, or who simply stay at home, apathetic and inactive. We shall meet them at every corner. At every house that they destroy, every olive tree they uproot, every rocky field that they go to steal. We will struggle with them again and again,without violence. We will track, document, and testify, and occasionally, we will stop them. They have weapons. We have each other – and a smidgeon of hope in the darkness."

What more can I add?

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