Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
I have found myself making subtle changes. This morning, I took a cab to school instead of the bus. When I got out of the cab, instead of my usual, “have a wonderful day,” I found myself saying, “be safe.” It is a funny thing, the terrorists are trying to shake the resolve of the Israelis, but they are sabras, their resolve to carry on is strong. The ones who are heading for the hills, perhaps myself included are the Americans, the ones who aren’t used to the tension in a greater sense. I by no means encourage all zarim to leave, rather, I want to express solidarity with those who choose to and on the other hand to express my pride and respect for those who choose to persevere.
Why am I holding back tears? I am truly not frightened, at least not for myself. Instead, I am saddened; saddened that the status quo has been altered. My fiancée cannot stop crying; hers are tears of fear. I find myself frustrated with her fear, which is not fair to her at all. I apologize to her for not being adequately equipped to offer her words of comfort. Reason and rationality do not inform her fear. It is instead informed by the shattering of a world and a life that we have built here for ourselves over the course of the last nearly nine months. How do I tell her that everything will be alright? I know that the likelihood of being struck by lightning to being in a car crash (especially in Israel) is far greater than to be involved in some way with a piguah, or terrorist attack.
Is it my connection to God that is finally resurfacing? In the past, I felt uncomfortable even using an upper case “g” in order to write God. Or is it my connection to people that is strengthening? I’m feeling more tied to prayer already as well. I always used to think that I’d be one of those who would be stoic and stand firm when the violence inevitably started, but that’s an easy thought to have when enjoying a period of relative calm in Israel, or when viewing the violence from the safety of the Midwest. I see now I am not the pillar of concrete I imagined myself to be, rather a man of flesh and blood, of emotion and feeling. This was a startling realization, yet in a way it is liberating; like finally shrugging off the uniform of a foreign army. Let me be me and react the way that is natural for me. Let me remove my mask and see the world with my own eyes and heart.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I certainly feel a though the quiet Israel has enjoyed for many years is reaching an end. With the attack in Jerusalem following Grad missile attacks in Beer Sheva and several other incidents, it is with a heavy heart that I share these words. This year living in Israel has without a doubt changed me in many ways, many of which I am sure will not be clear until years later. I think of all the development that I have experienced this year and in the past and wonder what the future will bring.
Once upon a time, I was an ardent Zionist who felt that my place was here among my people, living in the Jewish homeland and condemning anyone who had anything critical to say about Israel. These days, I am a little bit more skeptical to say the least. This being said, over the years I have become much more liberal and of course must speak out against violence of any kind. I am a libertarian at heart; I believe my money (or the lack thereof) is mine and everyone should be free to live their life as they see fit insofar as it does not impede on the freedom of any other individual. How do I reconcile my distaste for the current state of affairs of the Israeli state with my belief that Israel should continue to be the uncontested homeland of the Jewish people and a democratic state at the same time?
I knew that Sheera was safe, but I still feared for her well being. Today was the first time that I experienced not being able to contact a loved one (or anyone for that matter) as the cellcom lines were down with everyone in Jerusalem (and probably all of Israel) trying to call one another to confirm the safety of everyone that they know in the area. We have been blessed for the peace, albeit a strained peace, that we have enjoyed here for the past seven years, with the obvious exception of a few isolated incidents here and there.
For quite some time I have been an agnostic. Being a Jew, I feel it is hard to say that I am an atheist, though I do not believe in a god that intercedes with daily life. I believe instead that there is some force that binds all living things together; some sort of benevolent source, whatever that means, that brings order to the chaos that we call life. Today's events do not shake my belief in such a force, rather it confirms that the ones who influence existence on our planet are humans. No omnipotent or omniscient god that exists in the minds of rational humans could allow for such a tragedy to occur in a country that, at its heart, believes in the rights of all peoples to pursue life and liberty.
Is Israel infallible? Not in any way, shape or form. Do its citizens and residents deserve death? Never, and to say otherwise is to negate the very principles for which it and indeed all democracies of the earth stand. We live in a time that is ripe for the explosion of hatred and animosity. However, we lovers of freedom and truth must combat this reality and make what changes we can to alter the course of history. What does this mean? How can we as individuals influence the existence in which we live? With hope, with love and with concern for our neighbors.
The vast majority of peoples, Arab, Jew and otherwise, in this land dream of a day when they can live in peace and security and pursue a life of meaning and substance. Unfortunately, there are those who believe that only violence can solve the issues that exist between peoples from vastly different backgrounds. For the most part, Jews are (at least in the last several centuries) a product of Western culture. Indeed, we are the ones who informed Judeo-Christian values as we know them and gave the gift of morality to the world. Please, do not feel obligated to take my word for it, instead, feel free to examine the plethora of academics who concur. This is in fact the very truth that has resulted in my own distance from the State of Israel. The destruction of life, either permanently or in regards to quality, lies so far from Judaism's soul that I could not endorse a so-called Jewish state that regularly was responsible for the deaths of innocents. Israel continues to occupy lands that, according to international law and reason, are not hers and without question do not belong to her. This, in contrast, can not be an excuse for attacks on civilians nor civilian space.
Do I believe that a normalization can reached in this region? I must. Do I desire to live in this land? No. Am I so naive to believe that the United States is a perfect land with no problems in regard to equality? Not by a long-shot. Instead, I dream of a day when all peoples in all lands can be free to lives that they choose for themselves. It shouldn't matter whether one is a Jew or a gentile, an Arab or a westerner, we all deserve to live a life of peace, security and above all freedom.