Tuesday, July 05, 2005

"What color is my bracelet?"

For those who haven't been reading the life-in-Israel blogs, or following the news . . . Israel is planning to "disengage" from Gaza in about 7 weeks. There have been a lot of protests against this move, by Israelis who for religious and/or security reasons think that it's a very bad - nay, a disasterous idea. The official color for the anti-disengagement movement is orange. Everywhere these days are people - most young people - wearing orange t-shirts; hanging orange ribbons from their backpacks, their belts, their car antennas; and posting orange signs saying "Jews don't expel Jews." There is also the ubiquitous orange bracelet, in the same style as the yellow "Live Strong" bracelets in the United States.

Eventually, those who were pro-disengagement had to choose a color of their own, and lately I've been seeing a few cars with blue ribbons waving from the antennas, and young people with blue and white streamers tied to their belts and backpacks. Not many - I do live in Jerusalem, after all, where the disengagement is immensely unpopular - but some.

The debate is heated and very emotional. People on both sides just can't understand how anyone could think the way the "others" think.

Here is the bracelet that I want: A band with interwoven orange and blue stripes or swirls, that says "Am echad im lev echad" - one nation with one heart.

As a religious person, I think that Hashem would rather see His children working together peacefully and with love for each other, even if we were doing something He didn't like, than to see us do the right thing while hurling insults at each other and nails under each others' cars.

We are arguing vociferously over whether cutting off our leg will save our heart. It behooves us to remember that no matter how passionately we disagree, that heart - our historic, familial, religious, spiritual, undefinable glue - beats for us all.

I don't know whether disengaging from Gaza is the right thing to do. Perhaps it is the proper way for us to show that we do our geopolitical hishtadlut - put in human effort- in this world, rather than rely on a miracle. Perhaps my friends are right; perhaps there really is a clear mandate from the Torah that we must hold onto this land. Perhaps the attacks from Palestinians will get worse afterward. Perhaps this is the biggest tragedy, the worst mistake, in the history of Israel. Perhaps lots of bad things. Or perhaps lots of good things. Or perhaps some of both.

But when I reach 120 years and stand in judgement before the Almighty, and He asks me "why didn't you work harder to show love for the land of Israel? Why did you stand idly by while your brothers made a monumental mistake?" I think I will feel comfortable answering: "Because I couldn't be sure whether they were really making a mistake, but I did know for sure that it's better for the Children of Israel to stand united behind a mistaken leader than to tear each other apart at the throats."

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