Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pushy Notifications and Peace as Quiet (not a typo): Finding Hope for the Hopeful (Double for the Hopeless)

No, I’m not ignoring the fact that Operation Protective Edge is in progress. Haaretz has making that impossible.

What I am trying to ignore is the fact that's all anyone wants to talk to me about when I mention I just got back from Israel.  No one wants to hear about Masada or the Dead Sea, Haifa or Tel Aviv or even Jerusalem.  Just this latest situation.

In case we haven’t personally talked, you may not know my whole story behind my touristic aliyah to the Holy Land. I will not be telling the whole story right here; it is not necessary. I will leave it at the beginning: Seventh grade social studies, a current events project, and two weeks in the November of 1995.  For some, that time might have instant resonance, for others perhaps not, but anytime I see that iconic picture of Yitzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat mid-handshake, framing a young idealistic American President, I’m thirteen again, and the hope for peace (and the quiet that it brings) seems gone.

To those that comment “I bet your glad you came home when you did,” hope may be gone again (if it was ever there). I, however, have always had hope, be it the teenage me back then or the nevermind-what-age me of today.

So, to respond to that comment at the local Walmart, Target, restaurant, or where ever I am at: No.

Don't jump to conclusions about my mentality with that statement. My personality makes me a loyal helper, especially for those aspects of life that I love. This feeling since I’ve been home parallels the feelings that are resolved for me during the martyrology service of Yom Kippur. Many that sit in the synagogue seats have heard it all before—not just from the previous year, but from mothers and fathers, grandparents, other older relatives, some of whom experienced first hand the exact theme of the service. Despite the serious and matter-of-fact nature of this program, I appreciate it.  I don’t have that shared personal history; it’s not something that I have heard stories about from generation to generation.  By listening of those that lived for their faith and their existence to their ends, I can carry a bit, taking some from those that have personally been weighted emotionally throughout their lives.

I feel as a part of the two Israels: The people (Am Yisrael) and the country (Medinat Yisrael). The more I am welcomed into both, I know there is more to this land than what meets the media’s eye. And I love it.

Because of this growing connection, the push notifications from Haaretz that tell me the sirens are sounding in Tel Aviv trigger something in me; I feel a bit guilty.  I am not there to be a part of the collective in those shelters or on those streets that I have walked in the best of summertime. Unlike the Ten Martyrs service, I don’t know what I can do for my newfound communities.

Don’t tell me this is irrational.  We make connections daily throughout our lives; some are unavoidable, others unexplainable. Either way, sometimes the mind decides what we want in our lives with the soul choosing what we need. Think about that one place you love outside where you grew up, the one that is like a second home; that is Israel to me.

We all have our Israel. I've talked to people who were miles and years away from their brief life along the Red River Valley who would still ache when she would flood. When the Boundary Waters Canoe Area had their massive blowdown, many Minnesotans, some natural and others naturalized through vacations, mourned for the land and lakes.  I envy these people for they had solutions; they could go and sandbag or head north and manually remove the fallen trees.  

All I can do is write.  And hope for quiet.  

I don’t want this to be a political blog—I want it to be a travel blog—because my Israel doesn’t have controversy; it has coexistence.  My Israel is two people that make it work, because that is what is right for both parties, both families.   I’m not naïve enough to pretend that there aren’t multiple claims to this chunk of real estate, nor will I claim one is right and one is wrong.  This recitation of jousting narratives is interwoven, and neither story can now be told without the other.  In the anthology of the region, both pieces (and peaces) of prose need their respective attention; both voices need to be heard if we wish there to be a next chapter or volume.

Hope is not just my story from middle school, it’s not even just my story now, having experienced the land.  It is the story of anyone, anywhere, on any side, that has cupped a palm of sand, or has eaten the fresh fruit of a date palm, or has even had a date under the thick sky while sipping coffee.

It is the story of anyone that has held this land in their hand and in their heart, and therefore its hope.

As someone who really likes it when things come around full circle, I really appreciate that the martyrology portion ends with the singing of “HaTikva,” Israel’s national anthem. It is a great way to conclude such a service; after all, as Am Yisrael, we still have hope.

Writing has been a great, because it allows sunlight to be shed onto my version of life in the land of Israel. Every hotel and attraction review I write becomes a digital shield to those unpleasant push notifications. Any tourist tip and trick negates the pundits' programmed mongering. Beyond all this though, every click of my keyboard brings you, my reader who must share some sort of interest in this nation, away from the last week and little closer to its boarders, its beaches, and its beauty.

I hope.

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