We wish Israel, our beloved homeland, heartfelt good wishes on her milestone 75th birthday. The world, and Israel, have changed radically since that incredible day when Israel declared itself a sovereign State, and God bless Harry Truman for being the first world leader to acknowledge Israel’s statehood.
We’ve been to Israel twice this year, and despite the fraught political situation, still love it with all our hearts. But we are very concerned – and worried – about the situation there, and stand wholeheartedly with the protesters. This is the poem I wrote when we returned from our second visit, a few months ago:
THE (SAD) STATE OF ISRAEL
Our first trip to Israel in ’84 We had many “discussions”with our guide, Menashe Who fervently tried to convince us That if we didn’t move to Israel, What kind of Jews were we? And that Israel is the only place in the world Where you didn’t have to practice Judaism in any way And you would still be a “good” Jew Our seventh? Eighth? Trip to Israel During the recent elections Would have given Menashe quite a jolt At least I hope so Rachel and the other early kibbutzniks And Ben Gurion and Golda and Rabin All those who worked and died to build a just and honorable society, Their Zionist vision of the land redeemed, Are turning over in their graves And wondering what will come next It happened slowly over the years In America and the rest of the world, as well Subtle turns to the right To racism and othering and hatred To power politics and pandering to the “ultras” Conspiracy theories and a loss of civil conscience Disrespect for others’ opinions and voices The Talmud stresses moderation in all things Not so the religious/nationalistic/populist power mongers Who ride roughshod over rights of others and civil law In the name of God But not for the sake of heaven Only for themselves They, who claim to be religious And may be observant Are certainly not religious Hear, O Israel! We are taught that actions such as your current ones Destroyed the Second Temple There was no Israel for two thousand years Do you really think you are secure on your perch That it couldn’t happen again? You don’t need a prophet to judge and correct you Just read the Bible, you “religious” ones And make t’shuvah before it is too late