Saturday, August 17, 2019 -
Print Edition

No more musical countries

WELL. We sure have come a long way since Christian Europe, haven’t we now? Instead of Jews being accused of a fabricated blood libel, of using human gentile blood for religious rituals in order to get them to leave, nowadays there is no longer a need for the elaborate ruse. You can just say it outright. “Tell them (the Jews) to get the hell out of Palestine.”

That’s what Helen Thomas of the highbrow Washington journalism establishment said late last May.

It was her reply to a question she was asked on the White House lawn by a rabbi at the Jewish American Heritage Month celebration.

Mind you, this whole festival was a damage control move on the part of the Obama administration in the first place because of the strong perception he and his administration have built as a consequence of their attitude toward and communications against Israel.

You know what? At least someone said the truth. While this Freudian slip was a major faux pas on Helen Thomas’ part, I realize she was just saying what many think but don’t dare verbalize. It is, in some sort of sick way, refreshing.

So, when her interlocutor persisted and asked her where the Jews should go, Helen’s fast reply: “Go home.” They should go home, you know . . . home, but just so you shouldn’t be left wondering, she was very clear and specific where that is, “to Poland, to Germany.”

Riiiight. How could I have not realized. Home. Read the related IJN editorial

Home, where the graffiti in Germany in the 1930’s said, “Jews, Go Back To Palestine.”

Home, where Jews reached Germany in the first place because of an imposed exile from the host country from which they were expelled. Let’s see, where was it that time? Spain? England? Oh, right, both!

And before Spain became the new home of the Jews — until they were expelled from there, or to use Helen’s words, told to “get the hell out” — it was France, and long before France it was Rome, and before Rome it was Greece, and before that it was . . . oh! who can remember anymore?

WHAT I do remember, and what I know for sure, is where the Jews started. Where the source for our developing people was after Egypt and the desert: Palestine, then known as Canaan.

So, basically, we are now right where we got started. Come full circle, as they say.

But mind you, dear reader, don’t for a second think that throughout all these painful exilic wanderings, when we were told to “get the hell out” or, worse yet, murdered without cause — as in our “home” of Germany — Palestine was actually empty of Jews. The Jewish people have always had a Jewish presence in the land of Israel, a human, physical claim to our homeland.

We are tied and attached to it by our collective Jewish umbilical chord. Even when we couldn’t be there, we never forgot. It was the lighthouse to which we looked and hoped and knew was there. Someday, one day, we would return. It was . . . what do you call it? Home.

Now that we are home at last, we are not going anywhere. No more musical countries. We are not running around the world, burying our dead, chasing our tails anymore. We are done. We are tired, sick and tired, and just want to rest for a bit, just to live. It’s been 62 years so far. We have a lot to catch up on with our homeland, our country, after all those millennia of separation.

IT is true that by the time we came back, our beloved homeland and all the peoples there were ruled by the Turks and then the British. It is true that the Arabs started a war with us in order to get us “the hell out,” but we won.

Nonetheless, we planned on sharing this, our true home, with our Arab cousins and neighbors. But, as history tells, it did not turn out so.

As I mentioned just a few weeks ago in this column, it was the Arabs who rejected the UN partition plan of 1947 and who voted no at Khartoum in 1967. It is Arafat who categorically rejected the offer by Israel of a generous Palestinian state at Camp David and Taba in 2000 and 2001. It is Hamas which rejected Israel’s gift of Gaza as an opportunity to begin the founding of a Palestinian state is 2005, no strings attached.

And let us not forget, even before Israel ever was a state, before there ever was a green line, while we are on the topic of “getting the hell out,” there was the Hebron massacre of 1929.

I am not one to say Israel has never made mistakes. But being a country involves making mistakes. It’s part of existing. It’s part of all of our lives. We, as people, are all fallible. And countries too are fallible. I don’t say this glibly; the price and stakes for certain mistakes are too real and too painful and too permanent. It is no simple business, making mistakes. Yet, Israel has shown herself to guard against making such mistakes more than almost any other country I know. It doesn’t change the reality of the wrongs, but it does put them in perspective.

“HOME” has many definitions in the dictionary. Here are a few:

“A valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin.” “The native habitat.” “A source.” “An an environment offering security and happiness.” “A headquarters; a home base.”

I guess, when you sum it all up, that is what Israel has always been. Even when we were not there, or are not able to be there, Israel was and is with us. With me. For us as a people, in the spiritual, emotional, psychological sense — it was and, for me personally, now is our “headquarters.”

In other words, Helen, we already are home. In Israel, at last.

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

Leave a Reply