Avraham’s tomb is in the right place. It is at the heart of Israel’s religious identity and our oppression of Palestine. This is not a coincidence. Think of the holy story:
Avraham entered the land a nomad with his family. In the Land, they grow into a tribe, the beginning of a people, indigenous to Eretz Yisrael. After slavery in Egypt, they return as a nation which was both of the Land and strangers to it, and become embroiled in warfare. The story repeats in our time: Again, we return to the Land as both her children and as strangers; this time in the wake of European Holocaust rather than Egyptian slavery. And we are embroiled in war with the Palestinians, also children of the Land. Myth and history colluded to place Palestine at the heart of the religious and national meaning of Israel. Hebron is the queen of Israel’s West Bank regime.
I believe that all peoples and religions are prisms revealing unique faces of God. And each has a dark side, a sitra achra, which distorts that unique face into an abomination. Our mission is to take responsibility for the darkness inside us so that we can manifest the unique face of God with which we have been entrusted. Domination of the Other in the Land is the shadow of Israelite religious consciousness. Our will to “Judaize” and dispossess, and our aspiration for global spirit and justice, are like twins struggling in the womb of the Shechinah, our Mother.
We are losing the battle. The distorted image of ourselves already wields much state power and threatens to possess our collective soul. I fear that worse is yet to come. Faithfulness to the God, Torah and the Land requires that we join the Palestinians in non-violent resistance to our own human rights violations. The lives of both Peoples of the Land hang in the balance. Only by facing this reality can we be faithful to the true mission of Israel:
In the essence of the foundational root of this people [the People Israel]…is revealed the aspiration to create a great human collective that “shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment” (Genesis 18:19). This is the aspiration – built upon a clear and mighty consciousness and the highest and most inclusive moral imperative – to redeem humanity from the horrific burdens of spiritual and material sorrow, and to achieve for her a life of freedom filled with dignified glory and refined pleasure, in the light of the Divine Ideal, to achieve success for the human project in its totality.
— Rabbi Abraham Kook, Orot, pg. 104.
Join me on Thursday, November 9th from 18:30-20:30 at the Conservative Yeshiva, Agron Street 8, Jerusalem, for an evening of personal stories, community learning and radical retelling.