Sunday, September 9, 2007
Happy New Year From the Magnes Zionist
This wednesday night begins the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and I am returning to Israel tomorrow evening. I want to take this opportunity to wish anybody reading this blog a happy new year, and may we all be inscribed in the book of life for the coming year. If I have offended anybody by some intemperate language, well, even though I know you can take it -- and give it back in spades -- I am sorry. The truth is that I never know whether I will continue this blog. There is something almost pathetic about a middle-aged guy, sitting at a computer, thinking that his rants can do anything. But them that can, do, and them that can't, write, and them that really can't, write about it on the web for a small audience of regulars, and a huge audience of passers-by. When I was sixteen, Elie Wiesel came to town to speak. This was before he was ELIE WIESEL -- he was just another Jewish writer, who had written an incredibly powerful memoir about the holocaust and a few other books, including the Jews of Silence. That was his book about Soviet Jews, and it was a landmark book in getting people aware of the plight of Soviet Jews. He came to my home town to speak about the book. His talk was entitled, "The Writer as Witness," and that was his theme. That and his remark that the Soviet Jews were not the Jews of Silence, but rather that we were -- because we were silent and apathetic about their plight. I quote Elie Wiesel because he has rather large feet of clay on Israel, and on the suffering of the Palestinians; I will discuss that some other time. But his message made a big impact on one high school kid, who had read Night, and who met briefly with him. We are blessed in Israel with important writers as witnesses -- Gidon Levy, Amira Hass, Danny Rubenstein, not to mention academics and scholars. But here in the Diaspora, the witnesses are conversos -- marranos -- who talk to each other and lay low. Nothing I do may change anything, but if we chip away at this stone of indifference the best we can, we may, collectively, get people to understand what is going on there. Even if you have no problems with the Jewish state as founded in 1948 you have to realize that it is guilty of massive human violations at every instant of every day. I cannot look in the mirror and say, "This is the price to pay for a Jewish state." The price is too high. The alternatives have to be explored.