With the High Holiday season upon us, it is a time of introspection and confession. I have two confessions to make. First, while driving and using Waze I lie and push the passenger button. And number two, I am an impediment to peace.
Just over 15 years ago, together with my family, we made Aliyah. During the year before making that quantum leap, I purchased land in the Judean Desert outside of Jerusalem and built our dream home, which we immediately occupied a few hours after landing at Ben Gurion Airport. In other words, I became “a settler”.
A friend from the Old Country came to visit me this past week. He himself was born in Israel but immigrated with his family to the United States as a young child. Our friendship goes back over 30 years. We have stayed in touch over the years, but something changed once we made Aliyah. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something in our relationship seemed out of sync.
He has family in Israel and has visited a couple of times over the past 15 years, but for the first time, almost spontaneously, he came by my house for a visit.
We had a lovely time together. We enjoyed some of the magnificent desert views. We enjoyed a cup of Turkish coffee on my back porch. We enjoyed each other’s company.
As we were driving away together in his Mercedes rental, he made a confession of sorts to me. The first thing he said that he was really happy that he had visited our home. He explained that his brief visit had made a tremendous impact on him. All these years he had held a sort of resentment for the choice I made of building my home in a settlement. He had felt, all these years, that my action was an “impediment” to peace. But now that he had seen with his own eyes how we and our neighbors were living, he realized how ludicrous that idea was after all.
Mind you, up to that moment, the topic had never been broached between us, not in over 15 years. It came as an epiphany to me.
So that is how I am perceived. How naïve I have been. I am the impediment to peace.
When conversing with people, the challenge often is definition of terms. Take the word peace for example. I say the word peace and think one thing and someone else uses the exact same word but has something completely different in mind.
What is my definition of peace? Well, first of all, there is inner peace. No, I don’t mean the kind sought out by those backpacking in Nepal. Inner peace for me is being comfortable with both my actions and my thoughts. Inner peace is about being true to yourself, about being a living example. What you see is what you get.
Next is peace in the home. Enjoying positive relationships with your spouse and children, willing to express unconditional love.
I mean really, if you are unable to find inner peace, if you are unable to create an environment of peace in your home, how will you ever be able to bring the entire world closer to peace?
Peace begins with yourself, with your own home.
I apologize for waxing philosophical, but in the end, my definition of peace is living a life that allows me to properly take care of my family. Peace equals life.
Unfortunately there are those that define peace differently. And based on that different definition, some people believe that my living my life in the Judean desert is an impediment to peace. And some even believe that the way to peace is with my removal. Even at the cost of my life.
To some, peace equals death. My death.
So yes, I can see how those who seek my death can consider me an impediment to peace. And just in case you think that I’m being a bit extreme, just look for yourself how people like myself, “settlers”, are often portrayed in the media. As if it’s OK to target a settler is in a terrorist attack. Because we are an impediment to peace. And the way to peace is death. Death to the Jews.
My very good friend Gadi, at the age of 69, died suddenly last week. He was, according to my definition, truly a man of peace. He enjoyed inner peace, peace in the home and was at peace with the world.
He loved people. And he absolutely loved nature. Animals, plants, bugs, rocks. A man of action. He loved and lived lifeto the fullest.
And so like Gadi, I will seek peace through living my blessed life here in the Judean desert, in Israel, enjoying my beautiful family and watching it all flourish.
I will continue to be an impediment to their type of peace.