I tend to not write a lot about politics here; it’s so divisive and complicated. I am a bleeding heart liberal when it comes to things like the death penalty, and while I tend to be socially conservative (what with all of my Ariana Grande billboard issues), I believe in democratic principles and unions, helping the poor, and I generally believe that the skewed structure of our culture is the determining factor for people’s lack of “upward mobility” rather than the inherent weakness or shortcomings some tend to see. As one of my favorite folk musicians, Phil Ochs, sang in the 1960s about folks like me, “Love me, I’m a liberal.”
That being said, Israel is a wild card. Many liberal left-leaning Jews often take a very hard line on Israel politics, especially the Jews of my parents’ generation who embraced the culture and philosophy of the 1960s and 1970s with gusto, but displayed hard-nosed hawk tactics for Israel’s defense. It’s complicated; I’m sure someone has written a thesis or two on it.
All that being said, I have swung many ways in terms of my views of Israeli politics over the years. I have had family living in Israel on both sides of the green line literally since I was born. I have religious Zionist family who live in the West Bank, I have secular family on a kibbutz, and I have a variety of family and friends in between!
I feel torn after the recent Israeli elections. I am a proud believer in the right of the Jewish people to have an autonomous unthreatened state that is their homeland–this is Zionism–but I am also an American citizen who loves her country, and I have respect for our president. I have respect for any president even if I don’t always agree with them, because they are the governing body of this country I live in. Having respect for and agreeing with the policies of someone are not the same things; it’s complicated.
Many Jews I know tell me I am a bad Jew if I support the Democratic party. But I was raised to believe that Jewish values–lifting up the fallen, supporting those in need, repairing the world with acts of loving kindness–are consistent with the Democratic party. Many Jews I know tell me I am a bad Jew if I support the Republican party, but historically, Republicans are staunch supporters of Israel in a way Democrats just aren’t. Why is it so complicated?!
Here is what is not complicated.
1. I believe in the State of Israel and her right to exist without threats to her existence.
2. I don’t believe in having political negotiations with entities that call for the destruction of the State of Israel.
3. I believe in peace. Period. I have to. There is no other option. As Theodore Herzl told us: “Im tirtzu, ein zo agadah.” (If you will it, it is no dream.)
4. I believe that there are many good Palestinian people who have desires for safety, autonomy, and happiness–and want to live in peace just like Israelis do, just like we all do.
5. I believe that we need to call on international assistance–particularly the resources of the Arab world–if we are going to see this mess resolved.
On the walls of Auschwitz, this was found scratched into a wall:
I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.
I believe in love even when I don’t feel it.
I believe in God even when He is silent.
God forbid, we are not experiencing anything like the Holocaust, but the sentiment is valid for me regarding my belief in peace, someday. We can’t rush anything when our livelihood is at stake, but I hope to see it in my lifetime, this peace that has eluded us.
I don’t live in Israel. I am her scattered citizen, clinging to her in my heart and in my dreams. I want her to be safe. I don’t want her to be hated and feared. I want her to stand for the identity she was made to affirm. I want all of this to come now, right now. Because I don’t think we can wait any longer.
I heard someone say that fear won out over hope this election. That sounded right on the money when I talk to Israelis, and I blame no one for being more fearful than hopeful right now.
But we will wait for all of it. Patiently. Through the complexity, the politics, the threats, and the rockets, through the despair, the anger, and the fear. Through it all, we have to believe that one day, please God, we will embrace and transition to a complicated but shining light that is hope.