Erika, blogger extraordinaire of Black, Gay, and Jewish, got back from Israel and I’ve been reading through her posts, and those of other people who went on her trip. I found the blog of one extraordinary writer who traveled as well. I’ve copied and pasted a few of my favorite passages from Scott’s Blog below but you should totally go check it out yourself:
Finally on the plane, two rows in front of me, there is consternation with seat assignments. Apparently, a woman has a seat between two haredi men. The men are youngish. The woman is probably in her 60s or so. She is no Bar Rafaeli. To the extent I am able to tune into the conversation, it seems that the man who has the window seat is offered a seat in, as they say in Hebrew, “biznez.” I wanted to blurt out, “Lama lo notnim lagveret lashevet bebiznez?” Why don’t you let the lady sit in business? Seems like the easier way to solve the problem. But I try not to yell on planes, even El Al, and don’t want to antagonize my neighbors. Besides, maybe the man is a premium frequent traveler and is entitled to the seat. Maybe he offered to pay the upgrade and I didn’t hear. Mostly, I guess, it’s just not my problem. The woman looks PEEVED AS HELL, but keeps quiet.
The other haredi man, who has the aisle seat, asks the man sitting in the aisle seat in the row between him and me if he would change seats with him. There are only men in that row. The man says fine. I’m glad I’m a row back and he didn’t ask me. What would I have said? The woman glares quietly at the haredi man as he packs up his stuff and moves. He doesn’t notice, of course.
I can‘t help but wonder when humiliating a random Jewish woman on an airplane became a Jewish value.
Probably around the time conversion could be undone, retroactively, and not even for your own error but that of some other ger sponsored by your rabbi? Or the time some Orthodox stopped eating strawberries and broccoli because their rabbis said there was no way to verify they were clean enough (i.e. devoid of insects) for their hechscher?
One can certainly criticize Israeli government policies. One can believe that Israel has made many mistakes, even committed sins, over its history. It’s especially easy with 20/20 hindsight. But none of that, nothing at all, can convince me that it is a legitimate position to maintain that of all the peoples in the world, Jews are the only ones not entitled to their own nation-state. The denial of the national rights of the Jews smacks of anti-Semitism, (or anti-Jewish prejudice, if you prefer that term). Yes, I know there are people of good will, including some Jews and Israelis, who reject Zionism and believe in a one-state solution in which everyone would be equal. There are people who say that that Jews and Palestinians have much in common and would quickly learn to live together in peace. I’d like to think so too. Maybe that day will come. But in the meantime, there needs to be two states. Let them learn to live together. Then we will see how idealistic the future may be. In the meantime, the Palestinians are stuck with checkpoints and barriers and collective punishment. I cannot deny that it is oppressive. But it is a lesser evil than suicide bombers’ blowing up teenagers at a pizza parlor.
Amen, amen, selah.
One of the thoughts that the leader of our tour asked us to keep in mind as we began our journey is that the opposite of a profound truth can be another profound truth. Nowhere is this truer than in Israel. Pick a side, or embrace the contradictions, or both.
Holy Moshe, that blurb should be required reading for all of humanity.