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Peering Down the Well: Zionism and BLM

9 0 185
29.07.2021

The last few months has heralded a reckoning for the Jewish community of Brighton, NY a suburb of the City of Rochester with the largest Jewish population in the Greater Rochester region. Since the recent primary elections for Democratic town board candidates, a torrent of virtual slander and castigation erupted, fracturing fissures and fault lines – bilateral accusations of racism, antisemitism and predictable diatribes whose frenzied verbiage only whips the converted into circling the wagons, with equally predictable reactions easily summarized by the satirical poetry of Uriya Rosenman and Sameh Zakout,

אני לא גזען / הגנן שלי ערבי / אני לא גזען / אני קונה בשר ב׳חינאווי׳ וגם נרגילות ביפו אצל איזה ערבי — I’m not a racist / my gardener is an Arab / I’m not a racist / I buy meat at ‘Hinawi’ and hookahs from some Arab in Jaffa.

אני לא גזען / הגנן שלי ערבי / אני לא גזען / אני קונה בשר ב׳חינאווי׳ וגם נרגילות ביפו אצל איזה ערבי — I’m not a racist / my gardener is an Arab / I’m not a racist / I buy meat at ‘Hinawi’ and hookahs from some Arab in Jaffa.

(If you have not watched these two men, one Israeli Jew and one Israeli Arab, perform their biting lyrics, do so now. Literally stop reading this and watch their video.)

I removed myself from all social media years ago, and as such have not been directly exposed to any of the banal absurdity of online diatribes, but the conversations, the frustration, and the anxiety spill over into conversations on shabbat, at the supermarket, and even in meetings at my kids’ school. The buzz of contention began during the most recent violent hostilities between Israel and Hamas, on May 18th when town board member and incumbent Democratic primary candidate Robin Wilt posted a picture of herself with Linda Sarsour and the words “Those who know who she is, know what this post means. It’s Day 8 of this conflict.” Follow by the insidious and inflammatory “#FreePalestine,” implying a Levantine Palestine free of Jewish influence. Since that post, the backlash and counter backlash online has ebbed into communal seething. This invasion of internet bickering into the real world has forced me to reckon alongside those on virtual soapboxes, and I began to consider: what do we mean when we talk about Zionism? How can one group connect itself through this term to two thousand years of yearning and hope by a dispossessed people to return to their ancestral homeland while another group reifies the term into oppression incarnate?

I begin my interrogation of Zionism with the words of the dispossessed themselves, the prophets of the Hebrew Bible. In a stirring passage near the beginning of the book, Isaiah (Isaiah 2:2-4) envisions a future in which the diaspora resolves, Jerusalem rises, and the nations of the world ascend to her to marvel and study.

It will be at the end of days, the mountain of the House of the Lord will be established, rising above the hills, and all peoples will stream to it. Many nations will go and say, ‘Come, let us ascend to the Mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us His ways and we will walk His paths.’ For from Zion comes for Torah and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

It will be at the end of days, the mountain of the House of the Lord will be established, rising above the hills, and all peoples will stream to it. Many nations will go and say, ‘Come, let us ascend to the Mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us His ways and we will walk His paths.’ For from Zion comes for Torah and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

In Isaiah’s vision for Zion, she becomes the future epicenter for cultural edification. What will the peoples of the world learn from Zion? Peace.

He will adjudicate between the peoples and administer justice to the great nations, and they will beat their swords into the plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer raise sword against nation, nor will they any longer learn war.

He will adjudicate between the peoples and administer justice to the great nations, and they will beat their swords into the plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer raise sword against nation, nor will they any........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)


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