I had a dream one time, years ago, about the state of Israel. I was at an assembly of the United Nations and they were deciding whether or not to annihilate the state of Israel. I was surrounded by faces ranging from sober to irate. I pleaded with them to allow Israel to remain in existence as a safe place for Jews, etc. I woke up before the dream was over. I told my ex-husband about the dream and he had the typical evangelical response, “that means God wants you to witness to the Jewish people about Jesus”.
Well no... Here I sit, in a completely different emotional and spiritual space almost seven years later and am still perplexed about the nature of the Jewish people’s relationship to the state of Israel. One thing is for certain, everyone has an opinion about it; I’ve read opinions from the raging left to the extremely sympathetic right. In this process, people have defined and redefined what being Jewish means. I’ve read that the European Jews that “claim” to be Jews aren’t the real Jews; rather they stole the Torah and traditions from the “original” Jews, the Africans. I’ve heard conspiracy theories about the far-reaching control of the Israel lobby and Israel government. I’ve seen new versions of anti-Semitism crop up, parading itself about as justice.
One of the most interesting parts about the existence of Israel is when people say “the Israelis this” or “the Israelis that” because from there you get anger, followed by Holocaust comparisons and/or revisionism, followed by the polarization of all sides on the issue of peace in the Middle East. It makes me tired just thinking about it because it’s a huge issue, not just for Jews but for the world. When this all becomes faded into itself, watered down, before you know it the rants become about “Jews,” not just Israelis. When someone is angry at a group of people, national distinctions are lost; if you share a common feature such as religious affiliation, you are equal game for objections. And to some extent, I understand that.
I read in a book of Jewish poems recently about a woman who called herself a “daughter of Israel.” Well, by taking on the covenant of the Jewish people, I became a “daughter of Israel.” This includes bearing the responsibility for what happens in the Middle East. Why, you wonder? “You’re an American, aren’t you Kat?” Well, yes I am, but the people over there are my spiritual brothers and sisters. At the same time, the Palestinian people are brothers and sisters because they are members of the human family as I am. When anyone hurts, it causes my heart suffering. When interests collide, things become incredibly complicated.
Where does reason fit into this whole mess going on in the Middle East? Are adults able to refrain from provocative speech and reason together with some modicum of compassion? Can we set aside the speech that triggers anger and the circling of the wagons in order to obtain the peace? I’m not sure we can, but I sure hope so!