Below the fold some random thoughts about the love for my country and similar feeling for Israel gone awry because of recent and past circumstances and actions. Make of it what you will, but my sense of the current mess is that the poo has finally hit the fan, both for Israel and our American dithering about their aggressive and illegal actions. Sigh. For me, Israel was a bright hope in the world. Not anymore.
When I was growing up, I played with kids form another street who were a little different from others in our suburb. they talked a little differently and looked a little different. But I loved my friend and spent may hours at his house where his dad proudly showed his Heathkit stereo to our awed eyes and ears. What I didn't realize until later was that the parents of my friends were survivors. From Germany. This was the fifties in America when everything was good.
I loved Israel. We were shown movies in elementary school classes that showed the reclamation of the desert, the kibbutz spirit of equality and sharing, and the progress made in constructing cities. As a ten year old in 1960 it looked like paradise for a people who had been so oppressed. Israel was a peaceful haven after unbelievable suffering for those in Europe who needed a new home. It was so good, so right , and so deserved. And so I loved Israel because it was like America. Give us your poor.....it was the statue of liberty in the middle east.
When we learned in middle school about what took place in Germany, I began to understand what my neighbors had been through, and that their existence in our community took courage. Then I loved Israel even more, for it promised a home for those who had been oppressed in which they would find others of their kind who would understand without the need for explanation.
Just a side note here about why oppression was important to me: when I was eight my sixteen year old brother, who had a congenital disease, went blind while in school, was stumbling and disoriented, and was stoned by his laughing classmates and then suspended for causing problems. He died soon after from kidney failure. I never forgot the cruelty that was so easily displayed by nice suburban kids. Cruelty is universal and has never ceased for all the time of human existence. But we have battled against it, until now.
In college in the seventies I worked for the Hillel foundation. The Rabbi was a generous, big-hearted person whom I admired. I am not Jewish, and yet he would not let me be a shabaz goy because he cared about my soul even if I didn't. I appreciated that. The Israeli's were sometimes kind of a pain--the Sabras were arrogant, or as my friend called them, the fish and dibs. Nevertheless, what I learned about Judaism made me respect its principles and those who adhered to them. At that time, Israel still, for me, held a moral authority that was powerful, especially in comparison to American behavior in Viet Nam.
Now we are in a new world, all of the old reasons have faded with time, like old newspapers in the sun. A new mean spirit is in the world, and it is universal. Fundamentalism is everywhere, and its mean-spirited adherents have taken power in our own government and in most governments in the world. This is a temporal congruency similar to the uprisings in the sixties, but expressed in dark passions of hatred.
The meanness is everywhere in America--in our discourse and in the actions of public figures and political parties. It extends to defenses by the right of hatred and de facto fascism. Even on this site we use vicious rhetoric on one another as though it were a usual and expected mode of discourse.
The meanness is also worldwide--fanatics in Likud, fanatics in the Muslim world, mean spirited fanatics in the Vatican excommunicating a nun for saving a life. This is, make no mistake, a worldwide trend- a shifting time when change will take place--the people are boiling over, while the elites don't see the problems. There is a recognition that things have gone too far. The power elites don't get it yet, but the change is on the way.
And America and Israel are still stuck in the old might makes right model. We cannot repair Afghanistan, and Israel, despite the violence cannot make Palestinians submit peacefully to disappearing.
Denial is the past. We must meet the future with hope, with constructive ideas, and with a creative cooperative spirit.
Neither Israel nor America seems ready for the challenges of the future. We are insisting on a world that no longer exists, and should no longer exist.