After the Holocaust, no statement, theological or otherwise, should be made that is not credible in the presence of the burning children.
Theologian Irving Greenberg 1974
Sunday midnight in Gaza
Be ever hearing, but never understanding;be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.
Isaiah 6: 9
For the great bible scholar Walter Brueggemann Jeremiah was the prophet par excellence, the one who saw with great clarity what his people had become. They simply refused to look.
Amira Hass the brilliant israeli journalist is among the many Jeremiahs for her time. She implored fellow Israelis to see the ugly handiwork of the state—and it was only 15 minutes away. She lived among Palestinians saw the effects of the brutal occupation, relatives cut off from each other, from farmlands and markets, an ugly apartheid wall stealing even more land, a proud people forced to undergo humiliating checkpoints and 600 roadblocks, collective punishment, extrajudicial murder in a so-called democracy. She felt the the constant annexation and colonizing activity of “the only democracy in the Middle East”—in reality a state living in a dream world of its own fantasy.a country which has become a pariah on the world stage.
Isaiah’s anticipation had come true. The “royal consciousness” of power and exclusion had, horror of horrors, become like Pharaoh’s court. The Mosaic revolution of the freedom of the slaves had been overturned and the slaves had now become the slave master.
Jeremiah was sick with grief
My grief is beyond healing. My heart is sick within me. (8:18). His beloved Israel is living in Disneyworld. the status quo is just great.
“Peace, peace, but there is no peace”(6;14)
The people have become numb. Denial is massive. Criticism must be faced before newness can break through. The covenant has been broken. God is grieving. The only way through is to die to all the old lies, the truth of the Nakba, the dispossession of 750,000 people in 1948 and the theft of land post 1967. Another people on the same land must be embraced. Innocence and victimhood must be laid aside.
False prophets of course are always with us, Stephen Harper and John Baird immediately come to mind. Those who parrot the stupidities of “what would you do if rockets were shot into your country”—no history, no understanding of the 50 year massive and unrelenting state violence which provokes a desperate response—pathetic rockets which have killed two innocents against precise guided missiles, drones, Apache helicopters, naval blockades and the arsenal of the fifthe strongest army in the world.
Earlier we saw another Jeremiah—Naomi Wolf express her disgust with her synagogue’s silence.
Sara Roy is another brilliant female Jeremiah, a senior scholar at Harvard whose parents were Holocaust survivors. as well 100 members of her extended family murdered in Poland Ms Roy has spent much of her academic life studying Gaza..
What will happen to Jews as a people whether we live in israel or not?Why have we been unable to accept the fundamental humanity of palestinians and include then within our moral boundaries. Rather we reject any connection with the people we are oppressing. Ultimately, our goal is to tribalize pain, narrowing the scope of human suffering to ourselves alone. Our rejection of the “other “ will undo us.”
And now forty years later professor Greenberg’s famous statement which holds up in sickening tension the awful reality of burning innocent children sacrificed to political, military pompous obfuscation and warn out ideology. This time it is Palestinian children burning at the hands of Jews.
No matter. This means nothing to blind men like the Israeli ambassador to the US,Ron Dermer: “the truth is that the Israeli Defence Forces should be given the Nobel Peace Prize… a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting with unimaginable restraint.“
George Orwell, where are you when we need you? The hearts have indeed become calloused.