How can I blog when my nation is mourning?
Sometimes, the things that are great about Israel are not the easy, fun things.
Sometimes, the things that are great about Israel are the ugly, painful things.
Like hundreds of thousands of people uniting in demonstrations around the country… and the same hundreds of thousands flocking to one of the largest funerals in the country's history.
Not for a great rabbi, a famous statesman or singer.
Just some kids, ordinary kids with pimples and fantasties, and who probably got on their parents’ nerves from time to time… at least until the day they weren’t around anymore.
And now, earth turning, we move on.
Except, as after every tragedy that has happened here since we first decided to make Israel our home, moving on can be very difficult.
I found these lyrics going through my head the other day (scroll down to watch the video if you like – I can’t, because I’m still in shloshim), to an 80s song by an Australian band called Midnight Oil:
How can we dance
When our earth is turning?
How do we sleep
While our beds are burning?
How can we lay our heads down each night knowing children can just vanish?
I wanted to make sure the song was okay to share, so I took a minute to read about its lyrics.
You may be amazed; I was.
It’s a song about giving native Australian lands back to the the Pintupi people, forced out during the 1950s and 1960s, while the Australian government tried furiously to assimilate indigenous peoples. In 1981, they established their own “country,” the Kintore community, where – despite attempts to wipe them out – a remnant of 400 continue to live today.
- Forced out of our native land (albeit a couple thousand years ago) – check.
- Resisted the world’s attempts to exterminate us – check.
- Succeeded in re-establishing a claim to our homeland – check.
- Proudly live here to this day (thank God, more than a small remnant) – check.
This song is about us.
And as it goes on to say,
The time has come
A fact's a fact
It belongs to them
Let's give it back
I don’t get political on this site, mainly out of humility; I don’t understand enough to get involved in one side or the other.
But in this, there can be no sides.
The world already acknowledges that we were here and forcibly removed 2000 years ago. After the Shoah, they seemed pretty sure they knew what to do with that information – in the words of the song: “let’s give it back.”
Yet today, those words, that certainty, has been lost behind a smokescreen of fabrications and confusion (“maybe they’re not the original Jews” “maybe they made up that stuff about the Shoah” “the Jews are actually the oppressors and don’t deserve the land”).
The story the world hears is so very different from the truth that it’s hard to grasp what’s going on here. As a result, most people today believe there are sides to this issue.
And then, children die, and for a moment we have clarity.
There are no sides.
It’s not that this is STILL the right place for Jews to be – despite the tragedy.
It’s not that we should make aliyah – even THOUGH bad things happen here.
Aliyah is the right choice for the same reason it has been all along; because this land belongs to us. There are plenty of people out there who’d like to take it away from us if we’re not interested.
It’s not ours unless we take it back.
At times like these, we turn to our leaders to help us understand what’s going on in the world around us. A couple of links that may be helpful:
- Explaining the tragedy to our children – from Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Project YES
- In memoriam Eyal, Gilad, Naftali – from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
- God does not work for us – from Aish.com
And, for a few more days, at least, until 17 Tammuz and our national mourning period, we turn to music for inspiration as well. (Not me, because I’m still in my personal 30-day mourning period for another few days. I’ll listen to it on Wednesday.)