The past seventy-two hours have been a turbulent time. I’ve lost friends, life-long friends, because they believe that I am an agent of my state, and that my state is evil. They believe that this place that I have grown to love is an apartheid state, worthy of international condemnation. They must believe that I am no different than the white Afrikaner of old, living on his vast estate, served by black South Africans, relegated by law to second-class citizenship. They believe that the cities I’ve visited like Efrat, Kfar Etzion, and Hebron are next to modern-day Bantustans, ignoring the existence of the PA and it’s sovereignty within it’s own borders and their international recognition as a state. They believe that my friends that have served in the Israeli Defense Forces, and those that serve and protect me now, are war criminals and perpetrators of genocide. They believe that my heart is a rock, and that I do not cry for the deaths of Palestinians, they believe that my soul is cut off because I will not share in humanity with my fellow Arab citizens, and they must believe that my eyes are blind because I do not disavow my government completely even though I acknowledge, and voted for a party that believes, that things must change.
People hurt me over the past few days. Deeply, intensely, and to my very core. They attacked me on a political level, but more hurtfully on a personal level. They did not stop to ask questions, they only saw and reacted and assumed and let their rage take over anything else. I actually had someone question my own ability to have an opinion because I just wasn’t oppressed enough.
They made me question who I was.
They made me feel like I was a bad person.
It’s a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time, outside of when I know that I’ve made a mistake or an error.
It’s the kind of feeling that makes you want to just give up, to take the last train out; because the earth doesn’t need another bad man.
But I know that I’m not.
I know that I have good in me, that I have love within me, that I believe in righteousness, and that I have capacity to change the world for the better. I have in the past, and I think that one day, once I’m better, I’ll be back to fighting for what is right in the world again.
So I’ve decided to cut off a lot of those sources of negativity because I simply cannot agree with the beliefs that some of these people hold. I cannot believe my state is in the grasps of apartheid when Arabs hold seats in our Knesset, sit on our supreme court, and serve in our armed forces and police. I cannot believe that I am living on occupied land because I know that this is where G-d wants me to be, but it is also where the UN has told me this is my land and continually reaffirmed my right to be here. I cannot believe that I am uncaring or unloving towards Arabs because my life has been saved by Arab nurses who took care of me when I was hospitalized, and that it was an Arab doctor who tried to help my wife and I bring more Jewish children into this world, and because I have had nothing but friendly encounters with every Arab I have met in this country. I wish I could say that I had more Arab friends, and maybe that is one fault you can judge me on; but it is hard when we live in separate places and I barely have the energy or strength to make friends with anyone outside of my outpatient program (which also has Arabs).
I can only say that after two years of life here that this place is more complex, more nuanced, and more inapplicable-to-outside-definitions than anywhere else that I have ever lived. You cannot place me in a box because this a country was built on the idea that no box can contain you. We were founded by a rootless people, ingathered from around the world, trying to make something flourish in the desert.
So what does that have to do with this blog?
It means a few things. It means you’ll hopefully be getting more from me now that this is really my only outlet for expression. It means that I hope you check out the Facebook page for this blog to keep up if that’s how you consume your media. It means that I am going to devote more of myself into this blog, and try to make it more than just the occasional ramblings or musings (I hope you noticed the new layout, it might change as I get used to this platform more).
But it means something more to me.
This is a place where I have control, where I can feel free to say whatever I want; and I’ve never really had that kind of space before. I always had to watch what I said when I was a kid, and even now I have to put on my public face even when I feel the madness calling, or hear the birds cawing, or see faces on on other people. I yearn so much to just be free and live in this beautiful place, and share it with you. So, going forward this is my promise. I will always tell you everything even when it hurts, that I will never hide my truth from you, and that I will always hope that you come along with me for the ride.
Things are going to be different from here on. They’re going to be different for me.
I hope you’ll tag along.
Much love from the new htxtoholyland.com