Susan's Blog

Friday, July 21, 2006

Israel: A State of Mine

Twenty-eight years ago I was fifteen, and traveling through Israel for the summer. My sister and I were spending six weeks there with 60 other teenagers, as part of NFTY, National Federation of Temple Youth. On this trip to Israel, we visited Jerusalem three times, because the Bible says that all Jews should see Jerusalem three times in their life. We climbed Massada, (lower picture) using the crooked trail, of course, (we were told that no self-respecting Jew would take the Roman ramp, which the Romans built to kill the Jews who lived up there). We watched the sun rise there. Later that day we swam in a waterfall, called Ein Gedi; it is in the Bible, Song of Songs: “My beloved is unto me as a cluster of henna in the vineyards of Ein Gedi.” Good stuff.

We worked on a Kibbutz for two weeks, picking pears and shoveling cotton. And we drove through the Sinai desert and slept right on the sand. Back then, the Sinai was part of Israel, not Egypt, as was Eilat, a beautiful resort on the Red Sea, where we snorkeled. We went to all the borders: Syria, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon. We ate with Bedouin nomads: freshly made pita bread and really sweet tea from a leather container. We visited Yad V’Shem, (other picture) the memorial to the six million and sixty teenagers became speechless for a little while.

I also fell in love in Israel, with a twenty-year-old Canadian named Gabriel, who was living on the Kibbutz K’Far HaHoresh. He taught me how to drive a tractor, among other things. I acquired the nickname “Magnet” from the other kids in my group because of all of my interactions with guys there! I am still in touch with Gabi, who loves kite surfing and has a beautiful daughter, around the same age as Max.

My diary from this date describes a little of Israeli culture:

We’re rolling again, and headed back to Akko (Acre) to see the famous prison, which radical Jews blew up.
It was a very scary place, especially since it is now an insane asylum. We saw a couple of inmates. We saw the gallows, and the prisons. It was very eerie and depressing place, with walls that could have been ten feet thick.
We had lunch and then dropped half our group at Kibbutz Yfat, while we went to K’Far HaHoresh.
Our kibbutz is nice and the rooms are okay, kind of antsy, but I’ll live. We’re rooming with Elise and Stephanie again. Laura and I are taking the late shift for pear-picking — from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Shit! The worst hours! I’m very apprehensive about this.

I thought about Israel today because she is still a fantastic country in my book: strong and proud. She is beleagured on all sides, and judged harshly by the entire world, a world that forgets the 1930’s and 1940’s. Even after breaking off chunks of herself for peace, her neighbors are not satisfied. Not until she is dead and gone.

I fear polarizing you, dear readers, but I love Israel passionately and am so angry at the way the whole world turns its back on her. A couple of questions for the U.N. and perhaps the Boston Globe: what does every other country in this world do when they are attacked? What did we do after Pearl Harbor and 9/11? Where did refugee Jews go when they were fleeing the death camps of Europe, before FDR saw fit to open the doors of America? Before there was an Israel? ‘Nuff said.


what does every other country in this world do when they are attacked?

Let’s take Lebanon as an example.

— added by Joseph on Friday, July 21, 2006 at 10:34 pm

Yes, let’s take Lebanon. Lebanon made a bargain with Hiz’b’allah to allow them to thrive in the south as long as they only killed Jews. Lebanon was in violation of UN resolution 1559, because it mandated that Lebanon disarm Hiz’b’allah in return for Israel leaving. Lebanon did not live up to their end of the bargain, Hiz’b’allah continued to kill and kidnap Jews with abandon and the world shrugged. “It’s just Jews” they said.


A sovereign nation can protect its citizens. Lebanon forfeited any moral authority when it concocted the faustian bargain with Hiz’b’allah.

The reality is that if the Arabs laid down their guns, there would be no more war. If the Israelis laid down their guns, there would be no more Israel.

— added by Andrew on Friday, July 21, 2006 at 11:16 pm

I’m glad those of us who are powerless in this country don’t have to suffer from bombs because of the misdeeds of our leaders. Defend yes, collective punishment no! Since when did Israel decide that UN resolutions were so important? I must have missed that one.

I’m not a religious person, but if I were, I’d probably be Buddhist or maybe a Quaker.

I came across this website while reading a Yahoo story and I think its very interesting. I don’t know anything about this order and I would venture to guess that they don’t represent a large percentage of Jews. But none the less, for the agnostics, gentiles and others, you should perhaps take a look at it and realize that not all Jews support Israel:

— added by not my blg on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 1:39 am

Imagine having neighbors all around you who refuse to acknowledge your right to exist. They have maps of the neighborhood that show no record of your little house, your tiny yard.They have large expanses of land yet they claim rights to yours. They teach their children to despise you, teach their children that you are an abomination, teach their children that the demise of you and your extended family will cause your Lord to rejoice in the heavens and grant you eternal favors in the afterlife.They lob, say, rocks at you and your family from time to time, shout obscenities at your children, shoot at you too, and celebrate when their aim is true. Some of the towns in your state come to your aid, and they are sometimes criticized for doing so. Imagine this has been going on in one form or another for many generations. Sometimes you fight back, and strongly, to defend your family and protect your little house and yard. You are criticized for “overreacting” After all, the neighbors only killed a few of you this time. You spend many days and years in “talks” with people who want to help you and the neighbors live peacefully. You try to create safety around the perimeters of your land. You even give a portion of your tiny yard to the hostile neighbors,(who have many times more land than you do), who agreed that this would be a major step toward ending their campaign against you. It doesn’t end. It never ends. And you know that to lay down arms would result rather swiftly in the demise of you and your entire family. No, it’s not that simple. But c’mon, now, are you “overeacting”?

— added by Poemsplease on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 10:12 am

I am very disturbed by the news coverage of this attack on Israel. It is inflammatory and biased against Israel.
The United States should be grateful that Israel is fighting these terrorists who ultimately want to desstroy Israel and America.
Israel has the right to defend themselves and we have no right to judge from our comfortable armchairs.
This is not a Jewish issue, although anti semites rally quickly and would like to make it one,this is a matter of survival against terrorist and fanatics who do not value any human life above their cause. Their cause would be another 9/11 ,bigger and more heinous.

— added by dori on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 10:21 am

Dori, just curious. Are the Hasidim anti-semites too? Or is it that anyone who says anything negative about Israel, not her people, but the government? If so, that sure sounds like fundamentalist thinking to me. Sort of like when the Republicans state that if you don’t support the war in Iraq, your unpatriotic. Is this the way supporters try to silence critics (intimidation)? As a parent of a special needs child, I have to fight every day for the right of my child to be treated normally by all people so I think I do understand the issue of a “seige mentallity”. However, I’m not here to burn down the house of the neighbor who discriminates against my son. That would be collective punishment. Surely, we’re not for that are we? Has the world gone mad with blood lust and war?

— added by not my blg on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 11:48 am

The hasidics are also making it a Jewish issue. They are not anti semites, but they are against anyone who does not practice their religion in the same way that they do.
I am quite sure all Muslims do not agree with the terrorism mentality as they are an extreme group of Muslims just as the Hasidics are extreme in the Jewish religion.
Your analogy does not quite fit. These extremists are not mistreating Israelis, they are trying to annhilate them. If your neighbor{ whose house you are not burning down}was burning your house down to destroy you and your son, I would think you might want justice and perhaps revenge. I also do not think it would be ok for the world to think who cares he is autistic, so therefore the revenge and justice do not apply.

— added by dori on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 12:41 pm

Sorry Dori, I don’t quite understand your last sentence.

However, your earlier comments support my argument. The Hasidics don’t recognize non orthodox Jews as Jews and the state of Israel as an abomination. Sure they are extreme. All religions have them. This is why I am against the collective punishment of Arabs, Jews, Christians, Muslims and others. If we can’t agree with that premise, then we won’t ever be able to reach a sense of peace. If we continue to view our group as having a monopoly on suffering, we will never rise to the level of empathy needed for peace. There will always be people who don’t want peace in the Middle East, both Arab and Jew (by the way Arab’s are semites too). For every Hezbollah militant, there is a Baruch Goldstein, unless of course you believe in some sort of racial superiority.

— added by not my blg on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 1:50 pm

By the way, I want justice everyday for my son as well as other special needs kids, but I don’t want revenge (revenge is not justice, that is a sort of childlike logic). I guess in this world’s logic, you could call me an extreme pacifist.

— added by not my blg on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 1:55 pm

What I meant by my last a nod to what Andrew said” it’s just Jews”.
I am against collective punishment.
I grew up hearing that I was responsible for the death of Jesus and suffered from that premise.
As a minority,I would find it impossible to feel superior.
Of course,I would like peace in the middle east and everywhere else too but the human race seems to have some fatal flaw that is preventing us from achieving harmony on even a personal level, let alone in the world.

— added by Dori on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 2:12 pm

Well, you said “it’s just Jews”, can you back that up with a reference? Yes, the human race does have some evolutionary issues when it comes to “getting along” and I think part of the issue has to do with most religions propogating that they are “the chosen people”. Jews say it, Muslims say it, Christians say it and I’m sure other religions say it as well. As long as someone can say “god gave me this land” (which to me is sort of 5000 year old thinking), then their mind is closed to the humanity of others and their suffering.

— added by not my blg on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 2:23 pm

My reference is what the world did in response to the holocaust.

I do agree that religious nationalism has not promoted peace on earth.

— added by Dori on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 2:51 pm


Is it any different from what the world did to the genocide in Darfur, the genocide by the Khmer Rouge, the genocide of Rwanda, the genocide that is currently occuring with eugenic science and autism, the genocide of Stalin? Where was Israel on the Rwanda massacre? Did Israel contribute to Nato forces in the Balkans to contain the Serbs? We need to think beyond the “we have a monopoly on suffering” paradigm. By the way, Nazi’s practiced genocide on autistic people as well. Look for the T4 references. Is there a section of the holocaust museum dedicated to those victims? Not a rhetorical question, I don’t know. How many movies have been made to show the suffering the disabled vs. the suffering of jews? Do disabled children have a nation that gives them dual citizenship to escape persecution? Of course, these are all questions of a rhetorical nature. What I am trying to say is that people of good faith like me are “turned-off by the “we have a monopoly on suffering” and thus we are justified on inflicting suffering on others type of argument.

I could easily demonstrate that disabled people have suffered more than any group in the world. However, that does not give me a right to seek revenge. Even in Susan’s post she talks about seeing the insame asylum and the inmates, located in Israel. How many autistic people, just like Amanda Baggs, suffered in those asylums because they were misunderstood?

I didn’t think there would be a reference to the “it’s just jews” because that is a mentality, a pathology of victomhood. Break the bonds of that pathology. If everyone in the middle east would become pacifists, there would be no more wars. The question is, how do we do that? The only answer I have is not a practicle one (get rid of religion). However, I do like Nelson Mandela’s approach in South Africa. I think that could lead us to a possible resolution. Israeli’s need to stop referring to Israel as the “jewish state”. How do you feel when you hear an evangelical state the US is a “christian nation”?

— added by not my blg on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 3:23 pm

we have a monopoly on suffering” and thus we are justified on inflicting suffering on others type of argument.
I never said or implied anything like that.

“It’s just Jews” seems to be the sentiment whenever Israel protects themselves against aggressors.

Did Israel contribute to Nato forces in the Balkans to contain the Serbs? None of these oppressed nations has ever come to the aid of Israel either.

For what its worth I wish all the Jews in Israel would relocate and move to Texas or New Mexico where there is a lot of land and they can be free of defending their children against”Muslim Nazism.

I really do not care one bit about Jerusalem or the wailing wall or any of those ancient symbols. I would not sacrifice one hair on my childs head to live there. The US govt wants Israel to exist to protect our interests.
I certainly do agree that prejudice against disabled people is prevalent and I worry all the time about mistreatment of children{mine and others} and adults with autism .

— added by Dori on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 5:40 pm

Hi all –
I appreciate the debate here. I have exercised blogger’s perogative by removing three comments that seemed to cross a line in one way or another. What I would prefer is for those who wish to mention articles, could you please post a link to them, rather than the entire text? Thanks.

BTW, I still stand with Israel, warts and all. Now read my other posts and start commentingt on those! Thanks.

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 3:22 pm


It’s certainly your blog and I love what you write. I too love Israel and the Israeli people, as well as the Palestinian and Arab people. Let’s all hope that we can find common ground. At least for the sake of those who are people of good will and moderation on both sides. If we can’t, history is doomed to repeat itself.

— added by not my blg on Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 4:47 pm