Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Israel emotions

היום אחד ועשרים יום שהם שלשה שבועות בעמר
Today is the twenty-first day, making three weeks of the omer
מלכת שבתפארת
A day of majesty in a week of compassion

This day, when we commemorate the founding of the State of Israel, is no longer a day of happiness and pride for me. The existence of Israel as a Jewish state, as a homeland for a people who had no homeland for centuries, is of paramount importance to me. My Bat Mitzvah took place the week after the 6-day war, and I can still remember feeling the joy of that triumph. As a young teenager, I looked to Israel as a place I would need to live if George Wallace ever became president of the United States--I was not going to wait for him to declare me "the other." I could feel my ties to Israel when I spent 7 weeks there on my United Synagogue Youth Pilgrimage tour during the summer of 1971. I yearned to be in Israel during the Yom Kippur War, wanting to protect that place that was part of my heritage.

My feelings are much more complicated now. Yes, I want and need the State of Israel to exist, but I cannot agree with the path the present government of Israel is taking to secure that existence. I feel resentful that I was not taught the full story of the people who were living in Israel at the time of its birth as a modern nation. I can't understand why those in power in Israel don't see that their hard line stance will do nothing to clear the way towards peace and coexistence with the Palestinians. Right now there is one more generation growing up in an atmosphere of hatred--and that's an atmosphere that is a huge threat to Israel's survival.

It's so hard to find a place for to talk of these feelings. If I express them in some of my Jewish circles, I will be called a heretic--how dare I speak a word against anything Israeli. In other circles, I'm derided for supporting a country that practices apartheid. Neither description fits where I stand--which is decidedly on shaky ground.

This is an emotional issue for me, and I'm not sure I'm expressing myself well. And so I direct you to this article by Jay Michaelson from the September 24, 2009 issue of The Jewish Daily Forward, entitled "How I'm Losing My Love for Israel". He speaks for the angst that rages within me.

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