Saturday, June 23, 2007

Leaving on a jet plane

The night before we take off... a day in the air before the trip "begins"... all packed... all notes written... all errands run...

Feeling what?

Great anticipation for who knows what. Imagining a program in the mind is very different than seeing it on the ground... because there is always the unanticipated...

My first trip to Israel was in the summer of '65... 42 years ago... I arrived to start my second trip on June 14, 1967... two days after the Six Day War ended. Israel today is compelling for other reasons... not for the foundation myth of Ari Ben Canaan... but as the latest chapter in the millennial saga of competing historical narratives (see this past Shabbat's haftorah reading about Jeptha). Today there is guarded optimism as Egypt, Jordan and Israel are about to meet together later this week. But we are old enough to know that more than guarded optimism is not warranted.

I am looking forward to this trip... because of the interesting mix of people who are joining us, because of the curious juxtapositions which we will be encountering, and because of the serious issues which we will be grappling with.... about Israel and about ourselves.

More later...



zevshanken said...

One thing to do on the flight is read Autoemancipation. I googled it the other day because a new teacher at my school is going to go on Birthright and had no idea that zionism was not at first a religious movement. He was stunned at the description of the ghetto Jew. I'll find a good except and send it to you because it's such a departure from the Israel we see today. Important to know where we came from.
-- Zev

zevshanken said...

from "Autoemancipation" by Leo Pinsker, late 19th Century, Russia.
For Rich and Laura to share with their group.

"In seeking to fuse with other peoples they deliberately renounced to some extent their own nationality. Yet nowhere did they succeed in obtaining from their fellow-citizens recognition as natives of equal status.
But the greatest impediment in the path of the Jews to an independent national existence is that they do not feel its need. Not only that, but they go so far as to deny its authenticity.
In the case of a sick man, the absence of desire for food is a very serious symptom. It is not always possible to cure him of this ominous loss of appetite. And even if his appetite is restored, it is still a question whether he will be able to digest food, even though he desire it.
The Jews are in the unhappy condition of such a patient. We must discuss this most important point with all possible precision. We must prove that the misfortunes of the Jews are due, above all, to their lack of desire for national independence; and that this desire must be awakened and maintained in time if they do not wish to be subjected forever to disgraceful existence -- in a word, we must prove that they must become a nation.
In the seemingly irrelevant circumstances, that the Jews are not regarded as an independent nation by other nations, rests in part the secret of their abnormal position and of their endless misery. Merely to belong to this people is to be indelibly stigmatized, a mark repellent to non-Jews and painful to the Jews themselves. However, this phenomenon is rooted deeply in human nature.
Among the living nations of the earth the Jews are as a nation long since dead."
Sicha Topic: Talk about the mentality that produced this, and if it speaks to us today -- or what nation does it speak to.