Evan Tucker

To Life: Day 1

(I will be posting my writing from the Israel war, day by day, starting on October 7th and going forward.)

I deliberately haven’t read anything. I have deliberately not watched the news. I absolutely don’t want to know what’s going on until I can’t ignore it. This war will be here in two weeks, this war will be here in two months, this war may be here in two years, and I want to live my life as normally as I can for as long as I can. There is so much to say about this even before learning anything about the new situation.

I’m lucky my family didn’t move to Israel. I’m lucky I didn’t move to Israel when I was tempted. Most of my close family lives in the US, and I currently have no close family in the Israeli army. Nevertheless, Israel wars are my special version of hell, where everybody insists on talking about what Israelis call ha-matzav ‘the situation,’ and they talk, and they talk, and scream and yell, and everybody makes hurtful statements they can’t take back, and life becomes a series of reminders that you’re a Jew among Jews, a Palestinian among progressives.

All I can do is make a list of those dozens of people I have to go out of my way to watch myself around so as not to ignite my ever-so-short fuse they seem eager to burn. When I’m around my half-neocon Pikesville family, I’m inevitably accused of being an unforgiveable defender of Palestinians. When I’m around progressive friends, I’m inevitably accused of being a reprehensible defender of Israelis. And so often has it happened in the past that if it’s not them who do it, it’s me hurling accusations back. I really don’t like the person I become in this situation, and it astonishes me that they seem perfectly alright with whom they become. How were they so protected from consequence that they don’t realize the shameful state which transfigures them?

The fact is that when it came to Israel, I grew up in something not unlike a cult. Jews get understandably touchy when people accuse us of dual loyalties, but when every grade school event began with both the Star-Spangled Banner and Hatikvah, something was wrong. Not a month went by without appeals to the parents to send their money to Israel. Not a week went by when Jewish day schools wouldn’t remind their students that we owed Israel our love, but the ultimate injustice was that they were right.

Because whenever it really matters, nobody gives a shit about Jews. Nobody came to the aid of Jews in Germany because so many were convinced that Jews were the most privileged people on earth, then every Jew in Europe vanished into smoke. What can we do but have a homeland we loyally reverence as the only reason we’re not living impoverished in the same ditch where live so many other minorities? Whether or not you think that’s true, we KNOW that’s true. The shtetl is still within living memory. So are tenement houses and the postwar refugee camps. Minorities are only treated well when they have the option to leave. Would it really help our cause if we volunteered to live like them again?

What it comes down to is that I’m a person without a spiritual home. I feel like a second class citizen among both Jews and gentiles. My home is culture, my home is history, and it’s not much more comfortable a house to live in than it was for those 2000 years of Jews who could only find themselves in sacred texts. Torah is not my home, but Jewish history is my home, because the history of Jews is the history of the world, and as history and culture now expands to include the whole world, so too will the study of Jewish history. One day, be it next year or in two hundred, the State of Israel will cease to be, and the Hebrew nation will find themselves scattered to the Global East just as they’ve been for two thousand years among the Global West.

The most important part of reading history, the part even historians have trouble with, is having no illusions about it. In history, there’s only one real question: life and death. There is no such thing as justice. There is no such thing as freedom. There is no such thing as victory. There is no such thing as progress.

All things of this earth are subject to a life cycle, and it is in our interests to prolong that cycle of life as long as we can. Humans can bear any burden so long as they live, and the more burdens we bear, the greater heroes we are to those who understand us. The only important question is whether life is allowed to progress to a long delayed end. All governments and companies rob us of freedoms and justice, but what matters is whether their inhumanities are symptoms of plans to rob us of survival. More oppressed groups seem to live shorter lives, less developed nations certainly live shorter lives. Nations with less substance abuse live longer. Slaves and wage slaves are deliberately exploited for their bodies until their bodies give out.

A long life is, generally speaking, the metric which indicates a healthy life with many seasons of joy and suffering. The proliferation of life is why we live, everything more than that is either commentary or sentimentality.

Hopefully I’ll be more articulate on Day 2.

About the Author
Evan Tucker, alias A C Charlap, is a writer and musician residing in Baltimore. He is currently composing music for all 150 Biblical Tehillim. A Jewish Music Apollo Project - because "They have Messiah, we have I Have a Little Dreidel." He is currently on #17. Evan also has a podcast called 'It's Not Even Past - A History of the Distant Present' which is a way of relating current events to history and history to current events. Most importantly, he is also currently working on a podcast called Tales from the Old New Land, fictional stories from the whole of Jewish History. The podcast is currently being retooled, but it will return.
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