Well, internet is being a bit moody tonight (we’re at a hotel near Masada and the Dead Sea), so just a quick post to say: I continue to be fascinated by the questions that Israel by the very fact of its existence seems to pose.
Essentially, my sense is that there are two conflicting truths, namely: 1) Israelis want peace, and 2) Israelis want Israel. What I’m still working through for myself is what “Israel” actually means and is. I understand right now that it’s a country located in the Middle East with certain borders, which harbors a deep cultural history and important religious sites – but when I hear about the goals of Israel (i.e. to provide a home for Jews), it’s not entirely clear to me why it is where it is, and why its borders are drawn where they are.
I understand that the land itself holds great significance for the Jewish people – but is claiming ownership over these places worth the price of peace, worth the constant state of military readiness and potential danger?
This is only skimming the surface of the questions I have, and for the moment, I will quickly look at this from a permacultural perspective. It strikes me that permaculture, when it tells us to put the earth first, is asking us to not only take care of our fellow humans as we would take care of ourselves (golden rule), but to truly embrace a level of humility, binging one to the conclusion that we don’t “own” anything on this earth. We, like any other being, sentient or not, are all part of a larger system, and like any human being within a society, all of these beings have a role to play, and thus are of importance – none more or less so than the other. If one accepts that the person who picks up the trash from the street corner indeed is as, if not more important than the city council member who determines when the trash should be picked up, the same logic can be applied to the tree that bears the fruit that both these people eat.
As it applies to Israel: I realize I am speaking from a distanced perspective, but it strikes me that drawing a line around this contested area, and claiming that it belongs more to some than to others – I can see why this conflict isn’t one we’ve resolved yet, or one that appears likely to be resolved any time soon. The very existence of Israel, where it is, and the conditions under which it was created, seem to generate the very paradox peaceful Israelis are trying to find a way out of.
What would happen, indeed, if Israelis, Palestinians, and even we as Americans, were to truly put the earth first? After all, could there be a more unbiased arbiter in matters of human conflict?
Don’t get me wrong – I think we need lines, I think we need borders, I think we need identities and a right to privacy and individuality – but I also think that there’s a better balance we could strike, and that we still live in a world that struggles most when trying to operate in black and white, in “us” and “them”.
Last thought for the evening: what if, instead of fences, there were fruit trees delineating the “borders” between countries? I know, I know – my idealist’s alarm is going off: but hey, what would you have to lose? A sense of shared responsibility never hurts, right? Or maybe that’s just the sleepiness/fever talking 😉
My love from the land of milk and honey,