Only in America

Got back from the U.S.A. yesterday and have been fully occupied with catching-up: collecting Bro Duncan from the kennels and taking him straight to the vet’s (yes, I know), doing huge amounts of washing, skimming through post and emails (we had eight days with very little internet access), so it wasn’t until this morning that I had any time to think about President Abbas’s call to the U.N. for recognition of the State of Palestine and some of its implications for the seemingly-moribund Middle East peace process. I hope that Palestine will be recognised, and that Palestine and other Arab countries will, in turn, recognise Israel. Much will depend on  the U.S. stance, but having read President Obama’s very pro-Israel address, I am rather doubtful.

Being doubtful, however, is not the same thing as being pessimistic. Human beings can, and do, cross the divides of religion, politics and culture. If we didn’t, we would be in a state of permanent war. Why am I hopeful, despite my doubts? A little incident will explain.

On Wednesday we were in the Rockerfeller Center in New York. Coming towards us was a Hasidic Jew. I expected him to pass us by. Two gentiles, and women at that (note my prejudices). On the contrary, he stopped, greeted us, and a short conversation in German, English and biblical Hebrew ensued, from which we learned that he was an Israeli rabbi, a doctor of psychology and a mystic who saw in Catholic contemplatives a couple of kindred spirits. That gives me hope. Peace processes and other big questions are ultimately resolved by the goodwill of individuals.

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9 thoughts on “Only in America”

  1. I share your well expressed view on Palestine, my own Father was there in 1944. Sadly the imported Jews are a very different group to the Israelis pre 1944. The fundementalists chiefly from the US will never allow a state of Palestine.

  2. Thank you for sharing this story. I agree and truly enjoyed reading. You’re a good story weaver … but you also kept it succinct. I can tell that you’re an experienced writer.
    I’m taking notes and learning from you.
    Sincerely,
    Donna aka @WWAHHMpreneur

  3. Your lack of knowledge about the long history of Jews in Judea (Palestine is a British invented term, used by the Jordan people that moved in during the oppressive regime of the Ottomans) is very scary. My family and their village was completely wiped out in Poland by the the Nazis except for my grandmother and her sister. They just wanted a place where they were not persecuted. They did not “occupy” but paid the Arabs for there scrap of land to farm. In Poland Jews would send there kids to catholic schools, and the nuns would have the local Rabbi teach old testament. My life is centered around being Catholic. The Jews have been the best keepers of our sacred sites, honoring them and preserving our catholic heritage . First thing “Palestinians” (Jordinians) did when they were given Bethlehem was urinate in the silver star marking the spot where Jesus was born inside the Church of the Nativity.

  4. Look up how many times Isreal has wanted peace and how they were rewarded for it. They now have rockets bombing school children. Abas does not want Peace , or else he would include Isreal on the map of the whole regon. His people are prisoners of Hamas not Isreal.

  5. Dorota, thank you for your comment but please read what I actually said rather than what you seem to have assumed I said.

    In a way, you have underlined exactly the difficulty any peace process faces — the difficulty we all have in in really listening to one another and being prepared not to be imprisoned by our own history or experience. That does not mean that the history or the experience is forgotten or invalidated: it means that it is transcended. (My blog post of 9 September may explain what I mean by that statement.) It means that we have to be open to things we’d rather not hear and ready to address arguments as well as emotions.

    To make assumptions which are then turned into accusations undermines one’s own effectiveness in argument because it puts other people’s backs up unnecessarily. If you knew anything about me and my background, for example, you might revise your hasty conclusion about my ignorance of Jewish history or my attitude to Israel.

    If we stick to the facts, show me where I have used the word ‘occupy’ in relation to the State of Israel in the above post, or indeed anywhere. Similarly, show me where I have written about the wrongs done by Israelis to Palestinians, or the wrongs done by Palestinians to Israelis in the above post. You can’t, because it is not there.

    I spoke of a desire to see Israel recognising Palestine and Palestine and other Arab countries recognising Israel. How can you read into that statement the things you did?

    I think it is important to focus the argument on what is under discussion rather than what isn’t. Otherwise, we can be drawn into thinking that nothing can ever change; and that would be a tragedy. Peace only has a chance if we have courage.

    I believe the only thing anyone could take exception to was my suggesting that President Obama’s speech to the U.N. was more concerned with the Jewish vote at home than with advancing international peace and co-operation. That is my opinion, and I stand by it, purely on the basis of what he said to the U.N. It was a lost opportunity, and I’m disappointed because what President Obama says has impact.

    I’m sure there are places more suited to discussion of the Israeli-Palestininian conflict than this blog, but I hope I have said enough to indicate where I stand.

  6. My wife and I find dipping into your blog every few days an inspirational delight. We could often comment but life tends to rush by. In this instance we shall just add that this encounter seems like a simple moment of grace. And that unless grace is poured into the Jewish/Palestinian conflict, it is unlikely to be resolved in peace.

  7. When I was growing up we knew an Arab couple from Israel who were going to school in the United States, Mariam and Sammy. One of the most profound moments of my teen age years was a discussion I had with Mariam where she described to me the role and importance of Islam in her life. It was the first time I realized there could be “righteous” people in all religions.

    Sammy and Mariam had their own stories of persecution which I will not repeat here for fear of starting a debate. However, I believe with all my heart that there will be no peace anywhere in the Middle East until there is a FAIR AND JUST settlement with the Palestinian people and that ALL parties involved in this mess should be working towards such a settlement.

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