I keep thinking I’ve written as many of these Open Letters as I can…and then, along comes another. This one is to Israel – the land, the people, and to no one else. If you are an Israeli, if you are a Jew, this one’s for you. If you aren’t, feel free to read it but remember that this is an internal message, one we have to give without worrying about the world’s reaction. Maybe I’ll write an open letter to you soon (assuming you don’t live in Senegal or New Zealand and you’re not Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, the Mayor of NYC, the IOC, or God).
An Open Letter to Israel
Every morning, I wake up and thank God for allowing me to live to see this day. Rain or shine, it doesn’t matter. Each day is a blessing, most especially for someone blessed to live here. And then I get to spend the day in the place where God intended me to be; a land that is mine. Not just the house I live in or the office I pay to rent, but every street, every hill, every road. All of it mine.
I’ve spent several hours over the last few weeks writing or explaining in person why we are here, what we have created. Each person is a complex compilation of different facets of a life. Yesterday, as I stood looking out over the Judean Desert, pointing to buildings and hills, roads and far in the distance, the Dead Sea and Jordan, I was consumed with a sense of peace and of love.
It doesn’t matter. Really. That was the conclusion I came to last night. What words we say, what things we do – it won’t change their minds. It won’t make them love us – or hate us. It is all predetermined and it has been for thousands of years. As we sat in Egypt as slaves, our release and return to our land was inevitable. When we were dragged from this land by the Romans, our return was already beginning.
We have come home and we have made the desert bloom. We have. I live here in a city on the edge of the desert with flowers planted on nearly every block. We are the fulfillment of a prophecy – our sons have returned to the borders of Israel. Right now, at this very moment, that is where my youngest son sits on guard.
If we listen too much to the world, we will be disheartened. The hatred that simmered in their hearts for thousands of years is still there; and yet, there are many, perhaps more than ever, who do not hate us. And even as the blackness of the hatred swamps Europe again and floods the streets of uncounted Muslim countries and cities, I remind you, it doesn’t matter.
No matter what they do, no matter what they vote, their resolutions mean nothing. It isn’t fashionable in this world to believe in spirits, the power of prayer, angels and evil. It is acceptable to believe in God, but not to believe He is capable of controlling the world. So, what kind of god do they believe in?
We have to play a game, Israel, while still remembering who we are. We must smile and respond to the world; we must continue to explain why we have the right to this land and speak of refugees making sure the world remembers for every one of their’s, there was one of our’s. We too became refugees in 1948, in the hundreds of thousands, we came home from Arab lands with practically nothing.
We have to tell them, again and again, because they don’t really care and they don’t really remember and they don’t really listen. You conquered your land but we RECONQUERED ours. If you live in your land by the right of might; than so can we. If you live there because history says your country dates back a few hundred years; we live here because history says our country dates back a few THOUSAND years.
But ultimately, Israel, it doesn’t matter because while the world protests and threatens and demands and sanctions and passes resolutions, we live. Here. In our land. Our children run through our streets and hike our mountains and they speak in the language of our forefathers. The schools are filled; babies born every hour of every day here. Jewish babies. The signs are in Hebrew, they really are and still more than 20 years after coming home, I still marvel when I see them.
The stores are filled with food, abundant produce grown here and products brought from far off lands. We have it all here (well, except Entenmann’s cakes).
Life was never meant to be perfect. Perhaps that’s a mistake that some people make. There are no perfect solutions and there are really times when the most we can hope for is a draw. That’s where we are now – no solution in sight. But maybe, what we have to do is stop looking for a solution because there really are times when there isn’t one.
We will not have peace with the Palestinians; but we must have peace with ourselves. That’s what matters most – that we have peace within our cities, within our hearts. Day after day, I see and feel the unique connection we have to each other. I doubt there is a day that goes by that I don’t turn to some stranger and make a comment; that I don’t get some look from someone showing they too are amused by the child playing nearby, or touched by the two old men arguing over the name of the bald man in their platoon some thirty years ago. The bus driver who stops in the middle of the street to let the old woman on the bus; the way a request for donations for an orphan bride results in enough contributions to pay for the wedding…and more left over to help her begin furnishing her new home.
Each and every day, Israel, you astound me with your kindness, with the informal way we each reach out to the other. Ignore the world sometimes. It’s better really. Don’t let them tell you who you are; don’t let their slanted and hate-filled opinions change what you need to do.
All that we are, we were destined to be. In a world that too often thinks that man controls all; we are the eternal proof of the very opposite.
Rejoice, Israel. Dance and sing and celebrate. We are fulfilling ancient and modern promises, returning to our land, turning the deserts green.
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