Last month, on September 11th, we sat down to begin drafting this letter to tell you about the vital work of Americans for Peace Now (APN) and the Israeli Peace Now movement.
Dear Friend of Israel,
Christians of the West have long been the unnamed third party to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Most obviously, the ancient Church assumption that Jewish exile from the Jewish homeland was a proof of claims for Jesus still casts its shadow. Similarly, European colonialism, with its Christsanctioned underpinning, spawned what Edward Said called "Orientalism," a permanent factor in Palestinian dispossession from lands on which they resided for centuries. In effect, Jews and Arabs confront one another in a corner, the walls of which neither created.
From where we sit as longtime activists in Israel's struggle to define who she is, this past summer was an astonishing time. What began as a protest over the price of cottage cheese grew into mass demonstrations across Israel against the rising cost of living and our increasingly inadequate social welfare system.
Dear Friend,When I was a teenager, I told my dad I wanted to be an actor. In response, he gave me the only piece of advice he ever offered me--"Learn to play the accordion." And he was serious. He said, "You can always make a living with an accordion."
When we at Americans for Peace Now discuss the necessity of the two-state solution for the
future of a Jewish and democratic Israel, we typically do so in geopolitical and security terms. We talk about
the occupation as a terrible liability that damages Israel's democratic character, its international standing,
and, obviously, its ability to live in peace and security with its neighbors.But the impassioned case that we
make for peace for Israel stems from our caring about the future of the Jewish national home and its adherence
to Jewish values.
Israel is a flower -- perhaps the greatest -- of the Jewish imagination. Over the course of two millennia of exile, a vision of Israel endured. It has taken on forms that were fantastic and humble, dreamlike as prophecy and prosaic as a hammer and nails. The capacity for bringing forth a world from the imagination -- a better world, a land of peace and plenty and freedom from the terrors and indignities of exile -- is part of our heritage as Jewish writers, and in our work we draw strength from that heritage every time we sit down at the computer to write. But as anyone might attest whose Bubbe ever warned him or her, as ours did us, to avoid walking over manhole covers, playing with sticks, or swimming after eating, the Jewish imagination is also a powerful tool for the envisioning of future disaster. In this darker guise, the Jewish imagination has fueled the vivid nightmares of our people from the ghettoes of Europe to the far-fetched claims of today's email fear-mongerers; and of course many of those dark imaginings of the Jewish future have also, tragically, been realized over the years.