There were celebrations last month marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. A month later, I still feel conflicted.
On the one hand, having been born in
We read endless numbers of paperback stories of members (especially women) of the Resistance. And I remember many adults who refused to take a ride in a Volkswagen (let alone buy one) or other products developed by Germans. Having learned about the countries (including
I was a young adult before I understood that I had misunderstood, or been misled, about
And the leaders of many countries behaved badly: leaders of Middle Eastern countries attempted to turn the turmoil to their advantage; British leaders were happy to wash their hands of the Jews. Countries developed alliances according to what resources they might be able to access. No leaders seemed interested in doing the hard work that would enable people to live together. Sixty years later, leaders continue to behave badly. Jews from
Sadly, pictures of men praying at the Wailing Wall, that familiar visual representation of
Instead of celebrating the creation of a country of refuge, I feel a combination of happiness that refugees have found a home and heartsick that so many leaders and settlers treat Palestinians in cruel and violent ways. Having learned of the unspeakable horror done to the Jews by the Nazi regime, I keep wanting all of us who know that history to avoid perpetrating horrors on others.
It is understandable that Israeli citizens would be alarmed by Arab rhetoric that rejects the right of their country to exist, and by the deplorable actions of suicide bombers and those who launch rockets into their countryside. But that does not justify the constant harassment of Palestinians, the massive retaliation in
Where, then, are the signs of the holiness of this land which Christians, Palestinians and Jews call The Holy Land? The signs are small, often individual actions which accumulate to what scholar and activist David Shulman calls "compassionate disobedience." (See his recent book, Dark Hope: Working for Peace in
There is an active Israeli peace movement. The Anglican Bishop of
There are groups like the integrated bilingual, binational Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam school, the Parents Circle of Israeli and Palestinian parents whose family members have been killed--and others I've not yet discovered--and individuals who face the rage of fellow Palestinians or Israelis because they stand with 'the other'.
They give me hope.