Friday, July 27, 2007

Shabbat Nahamu -- Comfort, comfort my people

The motto of this blog is "Not just another Israel-bashing blog" -- but something more.

That "something more" is my Magnesian Zionism, and my love for Am Yisrael, the People of Israel, and, for ha-Am ha-Yisraeli, the Israeli people. For as much as I dislike, even detest, the ideologies and immoralities that swarm around me, I cannot bring myself to dislike my people. And when my gut takes over (like after reading Nahum Barnea's brilliant piece on the Gush Katif evacuees in today's Yediot Aharonot -- yet not available on the web, I think), and I want to demonize the settlers as fantastically spoiled, amazingly chutzpadik leeches, I pull myself short and say, Calm down, they are tinokot she-nishbu, captive children, of a fundamentalist ideology and parisitical mentality that has been the undoing of them. They, like drug addicts, don't need condemnation; they need treatment, patience, and love. And before I throw stones, I should look at the mirror -- have I done enough to fight the settlement movement from Gush Katif to Efrat?

No, a little bit more ahavat Yisrael and ahavat medinat Yisrael (love of the Jewish people, and the State of Israel) is in order and that's what I want to rant about, today.

Has Israel been built with the blood, sweat, and property of millions of innocent Palestinians? Yes it has. And it must make amends and offer restitution. But it has also been built with the blood, sweat, and energies of millions of Jews, inside and outside. And while there are many deep and structural problems with the state that was founded in 1948, there are many worse post-World Was II states than Israel, many more states that perpetuated the same crimes and worse than Israel, and yet are in much worse shape today.

Yes, things are the absolute pits here. But we can be thankful of the little things.

For example, I love Jerusalem -- whatever is left of it after its overbuilding and its ghetto-like, apartheid wall.

I love the quiet neighborhoods, the bustling areas, the amount and quality of kosher food I can eat...

Where but in Jerusalem can you go to a kosher restaurant that doesn't look irredeemably Jewish? Where you look around and the people don't all look like they followed you out of the early minyan (prayer service) at shul?

What other Jewish community in the world gives your daughters at least two shuls in which women read from the Torah AND there is a mehitzah (partition).

What other Jewish community in the world has Jews and Arabs working together to protest injustice and humanity?

What other Jewish community in the world has a DVD rental store like the Third Ear, where you can get alternative indie movies that show you the true face of the Occupation, as well as the complete sets of Simpsons and Seinfeld?

All this is in Israel, and in Jerusalem, the Holy City.

Gershom Gorenberg, the journalist, told me a story that I love to repeat. He was once speaking about Israel before Jews in America, and they were giving him a rough time for his criticisms of Israel. He finally broke down and said, "You know what -- you Jews are the best argument for making aliyah (immigrating) to Israel that I can think of. When I criticize Israel in Israel, nobody bats an eyelash...but when I do it outside of Israel, I am called a self-hating Jew and a traitor."

We Jewish people are in a spiritual malaise. Traumatized by the holocaust, supportive of a state that is still, after sixty years, foundationally racist, and yet has achieved so much....if I didn't believe in the indestructability of the Jewish people -- that the seed of Abraham will never wither away -- I would despair.

But we will prevail. With the help of people of good faith everywhere, and, desperately, with the assistance of our Palestinian brothers and sisters, we shall overcome the malaise. Justice will be served. We will learn from them and from our mistakes. It will take decades, but it will come. I am 53 years old. I compare my generation with that of the younger generation -- things are changing.

One day there will be no more secrets and lies. Books like Dershowitz's Case for Israel and Bard's Myths and Facts will have been banished to their proper place -- dusty bins in second-hand book stores in Boro Park No more refugee camps. No more rusting keys. There will be justice, justice, and peace.

Ma'a salaama

Shabbat Shalom



Utopian Yuri said...

um... lots of us whose blogs are "just another israel-bashing blog" feel similarly.

Jerry Haber said...

Thanks, "disgruntled goat"...if I understood you correctly...

maybe I should change my motto to:

"Not just another modern-orthodox, American/Israel, pro-Palestinian, anti political-Zionist, pro-Israeli blog"

Utopian Yuri said...

:-) much snappier.