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.

11 comments:

Kevin said...

Happy New Year to you... (and, why not, Ramadan, which is about to begin as well).

Please don't think your work is pathetic -- I assure you, this and other blogs are serving an important purpose and I am aware of many who benefit from your erudite engagement with these issues. Thank you for your work here and I hope the next year will be, somehow, better than the last.

FurGaia said...

There is something almost pathetic about a middle-aged guy, sitting at a computer, thinking that his rants can do anything.

Quite the contrary! Voices! We need voices! Indeed, you are absolutely correct when you write: "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."

BTW, I'd so much like to see you contribute to Media Lens. It's an excellent venue.

And a Happy New Year to you!

Jerry Haber said...

Aw shucks. Thanks for the vote of support.
And a meaningful Ramadan to my Muslim readers. The great thing about Ramadan is that it seems to be always around the corner.

Richard said...

L'shana tova to you too.

Wasn't it Reb Nachman who said: "Don't despair!" Or maybe I'm getting my references mixed up. Anyway, remember another saying I think fr. Pirkey Avot: "in a place where there is no man, try to be one." In our Jewish world there is precious little principle & far too much posturing & pandering. We need you.

Cirdan said...

Jerry,

Happy New Year too; it has been a real pleasure reading you.

Anarchist in Lebanon said...

Hi there. I came across your blog from Mark Elf's. I must say I really enjoyed reading your views on Zionism and the conflict more generally.

At the moment I am pressed for time so I can't write a lengthy response (and in some instances critiques) to your posts, but I will do so very soon.

I wanted to drop a line to say that I don't think your blog is pathetic. I only wish there were more blogs of this sort!!

I am learning Hebrew, so instead of the English version of the greeting, I will do it in Hebrew:

שנה טובה

Salam,
Anarchist in Lebanon

Anonymous said...

"There is something almost pathetic about a middle-aged guy, sitting at a computer, thinking that his rants can do anything."
This statement is correct, and it certainly struck an empathetic chord with me. However, what should you do? ... Shut up??
I find your comments interesting and stimulating -- and I'm only a Caucasian, irreligious anti-Zionist.
Best of luck to you!!

Anonymous said...

I just came across your blog a moment ago for the first time. The first thing I read, "Happy New Year from the Magnes Zionist," spoke very much to me. Please. Continue. And a very happy new year to you.

Anarchist in Lebanon said...

Hey Magnes Zionist, whatever happened to my comment on this post? It said it would be moderated but so far it hasn't been approved even though others' comments have been...

FurGaia said...

Yes, you should definitely keep it up. This morning, when I checked my blogstats, I found a few searches for the "Magnes Zionist" that landed on my site. People are looking for you! That's so encouraging.

I have been reading Jewish bloggers for some time now. I find that you offer a fairly unique perspective that the rest of us need to take into account when mulling over the I/P conflict.

Have a nice day!

Nikol said...

That's all fine. What, however, do you think about Obadiah Shoher's criticism pf Rosh Hashanah as aholiday that has nothing to do with New Year? Here, for example http://samsonblinded.org/blog/petty-paganism.htm