a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Conflicted Feelings About Israel

Posted on: November 16, 2012

It’s been exactly one year since I traveled to Israel and the mixed bag of emotions I felt then are as real today as when I boarded the AirTran to JFK airport in Queens.

Why was I going-wouldn’t a trip prove my loyalty to the Israeli State and therefore acknowledgement of the “illegitimacy” of Palestine?

What did I expect to find-myself? my people? connection?

What did I expect to learn?

What did I want to get out of the trip?

How could I visit a piece of land with such giant conflict, how would that conflict effect my love of Judaism?

My current thoughts in a rambling sort of way…


Israel shouldn’t have gone after that Hamas leader…but didn’t we, as in American soldiers, seek to find and subsequently kill Osama bin Laden? And didn’t we do it in order to defend ourselves? Iisn’t that what Israel and the IDF were doing in relation to the Hamas leader? Furthermore, when terrorist took down the Twin Towers, didn’t we start a war all under the claims of the right to defend ourselves and our freedom?

Is violence the answer?

Why am I a “self-hating Jew” if I criticize Israel?

Why am I “anti Palistine” if I don’t criticize Israel?

Is there really any way to resolve conflicts of this magnitude peacefully?

Am I a bad Jew for thinking Israel has a right to defend herself? Am I a bad Jew for questioning the IDF’s tactics in relation to Gaza in general?

Would this just go away if we could find a two-state solution?

Don’t we as Jews have the right to the land? Don’t Muslims and Christians too?…but who can really own land that is Holy, doesn’t it belong to Gd?

Facebook and Twitter are abuzz with pictures and posts of friends who proclaim to “stand with Israel” I see these posts and I feel more conflict and sadness. I don’t know what to say and am afraid that my words will betray me, as they don’t remain consistent. I wrote this when I returned from Israel last year: “How can I describe Israel? It’s beautiful in so many ways and ugly in many others. It’s breath-taking and it’s unbelievable. It’s spiritually moving and spiritually exhausting. It’s filled with beautiful people both seen and hidden. I know that I love it, but feel conflicted for doing so.”

It’s true then as it is now.

Emilia Diament (yes, Anita’s daughter) summed it up perfectly yesterday when she wrote, “I won’t point fingers. I won’t rejoice in any death. I won’t justify occupation. I won’t justify the killing of any person. I don’t believe in using violence to end violence. From anyone anywhere. This doesn’t mean I don’t love Israelis. This doesn’t mean I don’t love Palestinians. This means I don’t like that people live in terror. This means I will not condone any violence. I don’t know the answers. But I know my lines. And I know that what I want to pass on to the next generation of Jews is compassion and thoughtful dialogue.”

The fact is that for the first time in decades sirens are sounding in Jerusalem, one of the holiest places on the planet. The fact is that sirens are sounding in Tel Aviv for the first time in decades.

Still-I can’t help but note that people live with the sounds of sirens constantly. People live in constant fear of their homes being bulldozed to the ground. People live in fear that a trip to the market will be the last time they see loved ones…at the hands of the United States in places like Afghanistan and Iraq and in Palestine at the hands of Israel. Does it make it right or valid or wrong … I’m not saying that I’m just, saying.

I’m glad and thankful that my friends in Israel are safe, I pray for their safety and the safety of everyone there. I pray for peace to come to Israel and to her people. I pray for peace to come to Palestine and her people. I pray that a resolution is found in the similarities of the people of the land, rather than in conflict of  the small differences. I pray that we, as American Jews, can see things clearly and that our ears our open to listening and hearing. I pray that we, as Americans, learn where our news is coming from and seek to find as many factual answers as possible. I pray that human life is spared, I pray that humanity is restored, I pray that it ends soon.


**It’s nearly  impossible to have these conversations, and for that purpose comments will be closed on this post. I hope you will join me in a prayer for peace and wish you Shabbat Shalom.

1 Response to "Conflicted Feelings About Israel"

[…] Once again I find myself on a Facebook and Twitter fast as the backlash of the senseless death of three boys have ballooned into hatred, bigotry, fear mongering and complete ugliness. The last time this happened I stood my Facebook ground, but this time I’ve decided to retreat, unfriend, and re-think my thoughts on the land, the people, and our shared faiths. […]

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