Things are changing every day in this historic moment. Lots of feelings, thoughts, actions. I have noticed one thing has stayed pretty similar throughout since October 7. In my American Jewish and ally world I have an avoidance of talking about what I believe or am thinking about until I know exactly where the other person stands. There is a caution, a hesitancy. Others I know are experiencing this, too. Because of this hesitancy and diversity of experiences, this results in many of us not really sharing with anyone what we are going through, and thus feeling quite alone. I have many in my circle who I have not shared with, or been asked to share with, or asked the other to share what they are feeling or hoping for. Many specific words are avoided. There is fear as to what might follow. A disagreement so big we can’t stay in relationship with one another.
I live in several different communities (Jewish and not alike) so this tension appears similarly in different parts of my life. I notice many conversations go like this: “It’s so hard. I’m in so much despair. How are you?” “Yes it’s devastating. I can’t sleep.” But neither of us know what exactly the other is devastated about. When someone does speak their truth and uses more politically specific language one disagrees with (and/or is a trigger), emotions get high very quickly. Unless there is a commitment to be able to hear the other, sometimes we are just left feeling alienated and yukky. So we just don’t talk. I find this one of the saddest things about this time. We are so afraid of losing friends, family, clients, we aren’t learning from or supporting one another as much as we could. And for many, they are facing a very real risk of losing their livelihood if they speak their truth.
I am yearning to talk more openly about this crisis in real ways, not just with those I agree with, but I am not sure it’s the time yet. Many of our nervous systems just can’t. And yet if we can’t do this, how can we ever work toward peace and justice?
It’s so hard to talk about, I am not even being very specific here. A lot of my learning is passive listening and reading which doesn’t require communication. Much of what continues to inform my thinking is listening to peacemakers and justice seekers on the ground in Israel/Palestine. I am also interested in learning from people who have been thinking and active about these issues for a long time, and who have the hope of some variety of peaceful coexistence that must include ending the occupation.
I am hoping it will get easier to hear another’s truth we may not agree with (not just on recordings or through articles) and start supporting each other across difference so we can learn and find our way through this.* I feel some sense of urgency about this but haven’t formed the action needed to change.
Please stay in touch, Chaya
*I imagine this might not be true for those of you who are in communities where everyone is on the same page.
These articles, videos and interviews were helpful to me. Maybe they might be helpful to you.
“A Discussion On Anti-Semitism” with Rabbi Jill Jacobs (TRUAH) and Eric Ward. (If you have never heard Eric Ward talk about anti-semitism, you must listen to this as he applies his thinking to this moment.)
I signed theRabbis4Ceasefire letter several weeks ago.
Article by Rabbi David Seidenberg re Invasion of Gaza
Peter Beinart October 31 interview with Ezra Klein (1 hour, six minutes)
If you are interested in more of Peter Beinart’s work check out:
Article from Oct. 14, 2023, NYT
The Beinart Notebook: videos posted once a week. I recommend listening to him since October 10, 2023.
He includes short videos (10-18 minutes) that are free. He also has weekly interviews with people that are part of a paid subscription.
Article by Rabbi David Cooper re Israel/Palestine