Why would Hamas announce to the world that they are sending missiles our way at 9 PM? Because it's "terror". Psychological warfare to instill fear. I already saw a friend counting down on Facebook to which one of her friends responded, "I wouldn't go anywhere near Israel."
Well, let me do my part of fighting back by announcing to the world that I wouldn't want to be anywhere BUT Israel right now and if you can't understand that or have never been here, I invite you to come now, next week, next year, or whenever. Otherwise you'll be missing out on one of the most special places on the planet.
If I read this a certain way, it's almost as if Lovitt is implying that to be anywhere else but Israel means you don't love it enough to be willing to die for it if necessary. I may be reading too much into his words -- or may not. This is a very same vibe I get from so many friends who've been to Israel and who wish they could go back, right now, even in the midst of all the fighting (and, for some, especially in the midst of it).
What does it mean to love something so much you'd die for it?
As someone born and raised in a nation that has not seen a war fought on its soil in my lifetime (yes, there have been numerous disasters and violent acts and even something very close to war, if you want to call the 911 attacks an act of war. Some do and I respect that, even if I don't totally agree with them), I admit that it is very hard to feel like I would be willing to die for anything. Even for my country.
There. I said it.
I would not be willing to die for my country.
I would not be willing to die for any country.
I have a problem with nationalism. Nationalism is what has gotten us into so many wars. It is the reason given when nations declare war on each other. Nationalism allows governments to give nations a kind of personhood (and multi-national corporations have paid very close attention to this lesson). Don't believe me? Name the last time nationalist fervor got any country OUT of a war, or better yet, inspired a country to refrain from fighting one in the first place.
Where did this thinking come from?
It is hard for me to know for certain, but I suspect that a childhood filled with beatings and humiliation from the bullies in each new town I moved to has helped to make me leery of blind allegiance to much of anything. Even my own sense of American "patriotism", while it does exist, is held in check by a sense that as a country, we haven't always been on the right side of history.
So when I read the back and forth about what's happening between Israel and the Palestinians -- I word it this way because, at least for now, one of them is a country and the other a people without a country -- it is hard for me to buy most of it wholesale, from either side. And it's harder for me not to wince when I hear that Palestinian civilians are being killed by both sides -- by the IDF, who bomb military supply houses hidden in civilian housing, and by Hamas, who use Palestinian civilians as human shields to get the political response it wants from the world (which seems to be, basically, "Um, Israel -- WTF?").
No one is winning here.
Everyone is losing -- losing face, losing global standing and worst of all, losing people.
So when I read this quote today, I knew I had found a real answer about forming a relationship with Israel. It feels probable that I might never have such a relationship, that I may never come to see Israel as "mine". My Judaism may just have to exist without much of a connection to Israel. it comes down to politics, money and which side I want to be on.
What I really want, have wanted since I was old enough to know that I wanted it (probably around ten years old or so), is to live in a world that doesn't demand that I be on a side.
I want to live in a world that does away with "sides" while honoring differences and delighting in the richness and variety of this amazing world and all of its people. Can I want that and still be Jewish? Or must I adhere to a Judaism that keeps at least some of my heart separate, and walled off from the rest of the world?
What I do know is this: Dead is dead. There is no coming back to life when "time" is called, no jumping up and crying foul because the kid with the longer tree branch got off his "shot" too late and you couldn't possibly have "died" in that round of the game. War isn't a game. Nationalism isn't a game. Death is real and permanent. And that is why I must admit that I can think of absolutely no place or ideal that I am totally willing to die for, certainly not in a war of words, ideologies or rockets. Nothing is worth going to war and dying -- or killing -- for.
I am, however, willing to live for something.
Living for something is different than dying for it.
Living for something is less romantic and involves a lot more frustrating, complicated work, often without clear results or sometimes even a clear path forward. I live for my family, for my community, for music, for connection. I live for justice and equality, and for real peace. And so I'll work for peace in whatever way my gifts and the journey dictate I must. I will teach, I will sing, I will repair, I will comfort, I will laugh, I will quietly rebel against the status quo when and where I think the status quo is unhealthy for us. I will work to create culture so I am not doomed to merely consume it.
The challenge is to do the work and to be prepared not to see a real outcome in one's lifetime. And that is why I think it's harder to live for something than to die for it.
It seems unlikely I'll get to Israel anytime soon. And if by some strange turn of events I actually do ever make the trip, I am prepared for the possibility that it won't move me in the same way that the brochure says it's supposed to, even guaranteed to. Because in the end, I can't pass a litmus test of absolute loyalty. I can't pretend that suddenly I am filled with a burning love of Israel so deep and abiding that I am willing to give up everything for it. Because, well, I'm not. I'm just not. Although I love being Jewish and love living with the rhythms of Jewish life, I haven't figured out how to transfer that same deep love to the State of Israel. And somewhere in the Jewish world, it has to be okay to say that. You have to be able to say that safely, somewhere, without being attacked for it, and still be Jewish, still live a Jewish life.