a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Israel Independence Day

Posted on: April 26, 2012

My Facebook status today:

When I spent time in Israel in November I struggled-a lot. Our trip leader said something that still resonates with me. I repeat it, in various forms, constantly in my personal life and in my online life. He said, “The opposite of a profound truth can be another profound truth.”

I’m acknowledging Israel Independence Day as a new Jew, as a person who still struggles with Israel, and as a person who hopes to continue to work towards peace for all Israelis and Palestinians.

Before I went to Israel last November I was still pretty caught between worlds.  The world of firmly believing that Israel and therefore Israelis were colonists only interested in spreading their white agenda (harsh, I know). And the world firmly believing that the land of Israel/Palestine were divinely given and therefore should be divinely occupied by all three monotheistic religions.  Because of this opinion,  I felt a deep connection as a former Christian and as a new Jew.

When I got to Israel the battle of the two sides raged continuously.  As I trekked through the Negev I kept thinking, I could be walking (or taking a pee) in the very places Abram did thousands of years before.  My awe and reverence for the land I stood upon instantly turned into anger and frustration when I saw Bedouin communities (shacks) on the side of the road.

After the trip I was changed.  I love Israel and I hate Israel.  I think it’s beautiful and I think it’s ugly.  I’ve said this before. On today, Israel’s Independence Day, I’m struggling with what this day means to me as a new, American Jew.  In the U.S.,  the idea of fighting for (kicking people out of) land and freedom (while denying others the same freedom) is the stuff of history books.  No one alive today knows what it is to fight for freedom on this continent…or do we?

Of course, I could remark that people struggle in the U.S for the everyday freedoms of education, access to healthcare, food, housing.  We’re still free to roam around the streets (if you’re not black).

I swear I’m not as bitter/angry as I seem but every time I write one statement, another alternate statement pops into my head which brings me back to the quote I stated this with.  I’m holding multiple truths.  These truths are valid, they need to be acknowledged, and more than that they need to be seen and heard.  I can’t simply hold them, I need to make them real for me.  I need to feel what it is to be a Palestinian in Israel just as I need to feel what it is to be an Israeli in Israel just as I need to feel what it is to be a JBC struggling with it all in the United States.

I pray and work for peace in Israel/Palestine now and in the future.

3 Responses to "Israel Independence Day"

thank you for this it is helpful for me as Israel is beginning to be more and more complicated for me in that it is no longer just simply bad and i am beginning to realize i need to do the work to see the good… to struggle with Israel and to see the two truths!

It’s so great to read this! I struggled a lot while I was briefly living in Israel because of the politics and the people, and my religion and the culture. Everything was confusing but I think you’ve summed up something similar to how I felt as well.

Israel is one of the most complicated places that I’ve been to. I feel like people who are there and don’t feel a conflict internally are zombies! :) IMO You can’t not feel conflicted while you’re there.

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