I guess I am a fool, but I am not attending worship services again this important week. There is no one to celebrate a Seder and our faith community just schedules their gathering with the ever growing group of Temple friends. I do not attend most Christian services anymore because it is such a huge event of Entertainment – which means tons of fancy clothing and perfume. Add all the visitors with out-gasing toxic laundry products, shampoos and deodorants it makes the gathering a nightmarish, experience. This year I decided to watch the news instead.
Too much US vs. THEM I turned it off and went walking and to smell the flowers. When I returned home an old 1990 day planner called the Everywoman’s Almanac caught my eye. I could not remember why I did not throw it out; I did remember the lovely bookstore where I purchased it and how important it was to me. I truly savored the brief stories and art that surrounded the days of the week. When I opened it, I knew why I could not throw it away and what an amazing record of my hours spent working for PEACE.
I would like to share two of the excerpts from the book. The first piece is about Felicia Langer an Israeli human rights lawyer and activist. All of her work has been defending Palestinians and Israeli dissidents. In 1988, she was the vice president of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights.
When I came to Israel in 1950 I saw that there was an Arab population under military rule. I couldn’t understand how it was possible that we, the Jews, who were discriminated against so much, could put another people in a prison. I felt suffocated.
The second stage of suffocation occurred in 1967 when the oppression in the Occupied Territories began. I had been a lawyer for two years and I said to myself, “I have a skill, I can do something. I have to do something, otherwise I cannot survive.” I decided to open an office in Jerusalem.
I was told, “You’re a Jew, an Israeli, and a woman, why should Arabs believe you, and you don’t even speak Arabic?” Everybody was skeptical. The mother of my first client came and spoke about her son’s shirt which was stained with blood from his torture in Hebron prison. I thought about my son, Michael. I didn’t speak, but if felt as though there was no barrier between us. We became friends then, without a language, without common culture or origin. You can lie with words, but it’s very hard to lie if you feel something very strongly.
For years we had to fight in order to have a line in the papers about the Occupied Territories. Now it is better. We have peace forces and a strong opposition. But I am not satisfied with the amount of people who are protesting the Occupation. Every day, the death toll is terrible. A society that is tolerating murders is cultivating murder. This tolerance is a tragedy, not only for the Palestinians but also for us. Therefor we have to expose the ugliness of what is happening. If they want to beautify it, we have to expose it relentlessly.
I have so much love for everything which is human, that it is hard to speak about being self-hating. What I really hate is discrimination, I hate inflicting pain and sorrow and I hate murderers. But I very much love those who are fighting against them.
I got a prize at Dachau in memory of a German lawyer who fought against fascism. I asked my friends, “Munich is so close to Dachau. Didn’t you know what was going on?” They answered, “Those who didn’t want to know, didn’t know.” It’s the same in Israel. Nobody can live with the excuse that they don’t know. I think that silence in such a time is complicity.”
The second piece is about the “Women in Black” group which was organized in 1988. Our group still meets at the busiest intersection of the city on Friday nights during rush hour. Mothers are still silently praying for peace all over the world.
Women in Black organized a weekly gathering in Jerusalem. Every Friday form 1pm to 2pm, about eighty women dressed in black gather and stand in a circle holding black signs that read “End the Occupation.” They have been gathering since January 1988, a month after the Intifada, the current Palestinian uprising in the Occupied Territories, began.
More than 3,000 women, Jewish and Arab, have contributed to a quilt by adding a square containing her name and a political slogan, saying or poem.
So here we have arrived with a week of eating unleavened bread and waving branches of palm to mark our sorrow and all around me is the ravages of Us vs. Them – Jesus was all about giving to Caesar what was Caesars; healing and peace. I guess we are just celebrating bling these days with plenty of chocolate on the side.
How are you working on peace? Do you want to know? Do you want to see?