May 2014 - Israel's 66th


Dear Friends,

I write this missive the day after the second seder, which, in my family, ends with the singing of Hatikva, Israel’s national anthem.  This year’s rendition was sung plaintively in the shadow of the soon-to-be-declared failure of America’s latest initiative for a two-state solution to the Israeli / Palestinian conflict.  The legacy of this round of (non)negotiations is the Palestinian petition to join fifteen international conventions and treaties and tenders by Israel’s housing minister for 700 new residential units for Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.

These activities might be considered to be no more than an affirmation of a status quo for Palestinians and Israelis if the rest of the Middle East and the greater world were stable.  But every country surrounding Israel is on the brink, while Central and Eastern Europe seem to be perched on the precipice of the world immediately before the beginning of World War One, the centenary of which will be marked this July.  Given Syria and Ukraine in particular, it would be irresponsible for America’s Secretary of State to expend more energy on the Israeli / Palestinian conflict at this time.  It is clear that both sides are cemented in their respective positions.  Unfortunately, the Middle East is grounded in sand – quick sand – and the lack of trust and the recalcitrance on both sides will sink them in the near future along with any possibility of a two-state solution.

The only hope that remains for now is a miracle.  We turn to the possibility of the miraculous when we open the door for Elijah, the prophet so of hope, of tikvah, toward the seder’s end.  We share Elijah with our Muslim brothers and sisters, who is called Ilyas in the Koran.  Both Muslims and Jews view Elijah as a righteous prophet who waged war against idolatry during the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.   As a Reconstructionist, I see Elijah’s coming in the persons of leaders from a new generation who will have abandoned the worship of failed ideologies that have threatened the lives of the children of Israel and of the Palestinian Authority.  In anticipation of the sixty-sixth anniversary of the birth of the modern State of Israel, a miracle in itself, we can only hope that new leaders will emerge to secure the dream of a secure co-existence for both peoples living side by side.  May it come soon and before it’s too late.

Still with hope,