Skip to main content

Yesterday the United Nations moved to complete the promise of November 29, 1947. My friend, Rabbi Hillel Levine, brought this message home in a letter to a Palestinian-American friend. I share it with you, with modest edits and his permission, with great respect for the subtlety with which a great mind approaches this complicated issue:

Professor S
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA

Dear S:

What should I say to my dearest Palestinian friend? Mazal Tov?

You are not only a man with many Jewish friends but in your own contemplative and dignified way, you are a friend of the Jewish people, understanding their strivings, vulnerabilities, and pretensions that cannot always be brought into balance. You know that wishing someone "good luck" is a diversion from hard effort but also a residual category for taking into account the failures of all sorts of good intentions.

So, S, let it be, indeed, Mazal Tov! Let's dance a hora with feet kicking, together in a circle and let's turn it into a debka, as well, swinging from side to side but with steps moving forward with determination. Let's think of the tragedies that we have faced and let's rejoice in the hope and trust that we still can promulgate and share.

Without getting into the details of the strained relations expressed in the prelude to any Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that are attempted, lets consider how appropriate it was of Palestinian leaders to choose November 29th for their appeal to the UN for recognition and dignity. And lets recognize how deaf many Jews must be not to hear in yesterday's political drama the earnest acknowledgement of your people that 65 years ago, when the insoluble problem of countervailing claims that could not be settled by any principles of justice and equity finally were placed on the table, that they could not partake in opting for compromise. After much bloodshed, exile, and suffering on all sides, we are back at the same point.

Among the first words that every Jewish school child for millennia studied, particularly those like the "Settlers," who study the Talmud, is the following: "Two people who are grabbing to possess  the same garment. One says, "It is all mine," and the other says, "It is all mine." The Talmud makes clear what the solution should be, without any sentimentality nor equivocation: "Yahloku, they should divide it." Pious Jews, from ancient times on, not only recited but enacted the principle through the laws of Jubilee, "The earth is the Lord's."

We must now transform dance and drama and religious thinking into facts on the ground. I look forward to walking with you through the Israel and Palestine liberated from the destruction and self-destruction that the last 65 years have imposed on our peoples.

Yesterday, I wrote your  cousin Z, to whom you were so kind to introduce me, that I would love to meet with him in New York, as I think he said he would be, or better yet, in Boston with you joining us. I hope that this will happen.

As always,


Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site