Young Jewish doctor Alice Rothchild echoes my own experience in her new book On the Brink: Israel and Palestine on the eve of the 2014 Gaza Invasion.
My recent visit I have described as “my Third Heartbreak Tour.”
We are not lying.
The way that I try to understand this is, I think of my mother. My mother lived through the Holocaust. She was in the U.S. but her emotions were there. She wrote all about the Holocaust. She was an author. She loved the state of Israel; I mean, this was going to be this fabulous place. So watching her go back and forth and write there, and really be part of that country, and then having a daughter who does what I do. And having her realize that I’m not making this stuff up, that this is actually going on. I watched her heart break.
So for many many people, particularly Jews who are very involved in the myth of Israel, coming to terms with this is an emotional heartbreak. They have to give up a dream that they realize they were duped. And so that’s sort of like doing family therapy. I’ve done presentations at temples where people sat around and wept, because they’re confronting the fact that what they had thought was going on wasn’t going on.
That’s a kind of response that you can really work on. Because people are listening and they’re open, and they know you’re bearing witness to what you saw, you didn’t make this up. That’s stuff you can work with, you can help people move on, you can address the pain they’re feeling.
The kind of pushback that’s really hard to deal with is the people who say you’re lying.
My own particular answer answer to tribal Jews who have conflated the state of Israel with Judaism is twofold.
Get back in touch with the universal values of Torah Judaism. Read the prophets till they become part of your bloodstream.
Understand that Israel is not a religion nor is Zionism.It is a state doing terrible things to a subjugated people.
Make aliyah to the West Bank and taste the bitter herbs of Occupation. You will now have an opinion worth listening to.
Otherwise you have nothing to say.
Christians: avoid like the plague parish tours. Alice Rothchild calls these “a mythical view of Israel that is promoted on Holy Land tours.” They are ahistorical exercises in nostalgia and rancid religion out of touch with Jesus. They reflect an inanimate or dead theology, one which substitutes the holy places for the holy people, the ongoing incarnation of Christ exactly where Jesus told he would be found: in the crucified lives of the poor of Palestine.This is the true locus of divine revelation. These people are living under a similar occupation to that which Jesus endured