Lamentation at Gaza

Image: Beit Hanoun, Gaza, 2015: Children walking among the rubble.  (badwanart, pixabay)

Whose bright idea was it to schedule the ceremonies marking the arrival of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on the day before Nakba Day?

And did it not occur to that someone that the juxtaposition would provoke a strong reaction from the residents of Gaza?

Or perhaps was it utterly obvious that this alignment would provoke a violent reaction, and they scheduled it thus on purpose, to maximize the insult?

The old men have done what old men do: they have set up the young people of Palestine and the young people of Israel to fight and kill one another. Shame on the Palestinian leadership, both the PA and Hamas. Shame on Trump. Shame on Netanyahu. Shame on the Arab governments that chose to let this situation fester for 70 years while they booted hundreds of thousands of Jews out of their lands with nowhere to go but Israel. Shame on the British and the Ottoman sultans before them who manipulated both populations for their own purposes.

The only thing simple about this whole mess is that neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are welcome anywhere else.

Dreaming that the Other will simply disappear or go away is a foolish, destructive dream. Dreaming as some outsiders have dreamed that simply breaking down all barriers will bring peace is a foolish and destructive dream. Dreaming of genocide or apartheid on either side is a criminal dream.

The religious voices at the dedication of the embassy were fundamentalist Christians, both on record for anti-Semitic statements that they have yet to retract, plus a member of a Jewish sect which describes itself as “anti-Zionist.”  There was not a rabbi from a mainstream liberal movement in sight – neither Modern Orthodox, Masorti, nor Reform, even though all three movements maintain a presence in Jerusalem and are Zionist. I am angry about that, but I am heartbroken over the violence and loss of life.

I am a Jew down to the core of my soul. My heart is with Israel, but my heart is broken.

The prophet Zachariah gave us a warning long ago:

 וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלַי, לֵאמֹר, זֶה דְּבַר-יְהוָה, אֶל-זְרֻבָּבֶל לֵאמֹר:  לֹא בְחַיִל, וְלֹא בְכֹחַ–כִּי אִם-בְּרוּחִי, אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת.

Then he answered and spoke to me, saying: “This is the word of the Eternal to Zerubbabel, saying: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit,’ says the God of hosts.”  – Zechariah 4:6

The first century taught us that sometimes it is worse than useless to fight.

The 20th century taught us that sometimes we have to fight if we are going to survive.

I weep for my people because our friends are not our friends and our enemies are surrounded by enemies too.

I do not have answers.


*As Yair Rosenberg points out in his excellent article 13 Inconvenient Truths about what has been Happening in Gaza, the Palestinian demonstrations have been going on since March under the name, “The Great March of Return.” They are much more than a protest against moving the embassy. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the timing seems geared for maximum emotion. As Rosenberg writes: “The Monday demonstration was scheduled months ago to coincide with Nakba Day, an annual occasion of protest; it was later moved up 24 hours to grab some of the media attention devoted to the embassy.”