Julian Resnick writes from Israel
I am very worried indeed. ”Don’t worry”, you say, “there is a phrase in Hebrew; We got through Pharoah; we can get through this one too.”
It does make me feel a little better… We have been through some tough stuff.
There was that close shave with Abraham and Isaac. If it was not for the intervention of that angel/voice, whatever, from the heavens above and the incredibly lucky appearance of one wandering ram, who knows what would have happened to us. No Isaac, no Jacob (or Esau) no twelve sons and tribes… end of the story. No Land of Israel for us, no Covenant… finita la comedia. By the way, there is that extraordinary line in the parasha which I love, which goes “Lay not thy hand on the lad.”
And then of course we lose a Temple or two thanks to that Nebech(cadnezzer) and then to the pesky Romans (not you guys, Venetians, or Florentines, just the Romans). And we are in exile for most of the time, and exile is, to put it mildly, quite sh-one-t a lot of the time. Think Spain where all is great for a while — we even call it a Golden Age — but little did we know that when Ferdinand and Isabella were alone it was not all making out time — rather what turned them on was planning to get rid of us. So, after asking a few questions, in not the nicest way, we get thrown out of Spain on our nalga (I could not find a Ladino translation for buttocks in Google Translate, so will go with the Spanish. If you are not happy with my word, just ask a friend who got to SA via the Island of Rhodes/Congo).
Moving on… the word pogroms comes into the English language thanks to some of our grandparents or great-grandparents who were on the receiving end of a blow or two or three; and that was what brought them to South Africa (plus the fact that many of them were dirt poor, or at least that was what we heard when we thought of leaving awful food like gribbenes or gehakte stuff on our plates).
We cannot joke about what comes next, and with such force that it forever dominates the landscape of Jewish pain, and casts a shadow over not only Europe, but the Jewish psyche forever.
So, we’ve been there. We have hurt — a lot. But, I am still worried.
I am worried about the clouds I see on the horizon. The conflict which we felt for a while that we had totally under control, might just erupt in our faces again, and possibly (hopefully not) with an intensity we have not seen for the past almost twenty years.
Tonight, the talk was of a third Intifada (uprising) on the news in Israel.
If you did not live through numbers one and two, you cannot imagine what this means. I do not want to even go there. I don’t want to talk of buses, of cafes, of pizza parlours, of street crossings. I don’t want to think of the waiting for names, of trying to get through on a phone system blocked by thousands checking in to be sure that…
We have persuaded ourselves for a long time that the status quo is not so bad.
That the tactics of containment are working. That “they have more to lose than we do.”
That “they understand just how good they have it here.”
That the “IDF, the Shabak and the Mossad are on top of it.”
And we have not worked for Peace (and they too have not worked for Peace), and “it will be OK,” we told ourselves.
And we will go to the polls on November 1st and once again vote for either a more delicate form of status quo or a slightly more aggressive form of status quo.
And then our grandchildren will grow up and inherit …???
This past week I took my tour group to meet a wonderful young Palestinian in East Jerusalem. Ahmed, you spoke beautifully, every word a pearl, every phrase diamonds, every sentence, gold. And yet, as much as I loved the conversation we had in front of the group and the delicacy with which you put things and the respectful way you dialogued with me, your vision terrified me as you suggested the end of my dreams was the only way forward.
I can only end with words written a long time ago, not so far from where I spent my youth, before I made this journey to the land I live in and love. “Cry the Beloved Country for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear”.
Next month? I promise to be upbeat and brimming with optimism if the election results are as follows…”
“What? I have run out of space? OK, so be it.
Julian Resnick was born in Somerset West and grew up in Habonim Dror. He studied at UCT, and made Aliyah to 1976. He’s conducted numerous shlichuyot and educational missions on behalf of Israel, to Jewish communities in England and the USA. He works as a guide in Israel and around the world (wherever there is a Jewish story). He’s married to Orly, and they have three children and six grandchildren and is a member of Kibbutz Tzora.
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