The Ash Grove: David McReynolds: On This Pagan Holiday


———————————————————— The Ash Grove David McReynolds: On This Pagan Holiday David McReynolds: On This Pagan Holiday This was sent to my Middle East list in a discussion about BDS. I thought it might be of interest to others. David On Wed, Dec 25, 2013 at 4:29 AM, David McReynolds wrote: On this pagan holiday (which is what Christmas is – Jews must not let the Christians deprive it of this wonderful pagan greeting of the start of the longer days, of the deepest dark and cold of the Northern winter) some reflections. Relating not directly to BDS but in part. First, I understand why Jews can resent the effort to coerce us all into a religious event such as Christmas – given that, for Jews, the Church has for most of its long history been a force of violent oppression. Yet, if we can forget for a moment that Jesus became the founder of Christianity, and remember he was, first and last, a Jew, and see him as a rabbi who emerged from that tradition, we may understand two things about the man. First, he really did focus on children, defended them, saw in them a pattern for the rest of us. And if anything defines Christmas, it is not the commercial celebration, but the centrality of the child. Second, if we can see in Jesus a Jew who had spent his active, prophetic life preaching for social justice (and I mean social justice as it would be understood within the Jewish tradition – of the collective salvation of a society) and then realize, as I did the other day, the loneliness of his death, which Christians try to avoid by such truly wonderful works as Handel’s Messiah. I had watched Ingmar Bergman’s film “Winter Light” in which one of the characters suggests that the real pain Jesus felt was not carrying the cross up the hill, but the terrible pain of being abandoned by his followers when he was arrested by Roman police, and the utter loneliness when he was dying on the cross, crying out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”. This was not a religion formed of victory, but of defeat – which we can’t face, so we “translate” that defeat into truly wonderful music as that by Handel. But Jesus was a Jewish rabbi who preached a humane new way of living together – and died for it. And how does this relate to Zionism and Israel? Is BDS the right path? I don’t know. I know that something must be done. Are the Palestinians saints? No, they were not, and are not. To have justice on their side – as they do in this case – does not make them a wonderful people. It only means that it is historically a lie for Zionists to claim that the Jews have a unique claim to Israel, one that triumphs the rights of those who had actually been living there. Does this mean the Zionists are bad people? Good heavens no – there is much about Israel which I admire (including, ironically, the wonderful spirit of Jewish justice which emerges from within the Israeli culture and which affirms the rights of the Palestinians). Do I understand the Holocaust? Yes. I am offended – deeply, profoundly offended – by any effort to make the Holocaust an event which “belongs to the Jews”. (Let alone can be used to justify the creation of Israel). All of us must ask where God was when the millions were murdered. Surely even those of us who are atheists have a right to ask why God was silent when Jews, Communists, Homosexuals, Roma, Slavs, were butchered. It doesn’t really help for us to say pompously “there is no God, why are you asking about his silence?” because that means why were we silent, why did so many of us join in the actions? The dismay that Israel would be targeted by the BDS campaign seems to me to suggest that Jews feel Israel should be exempt from moral and political judgement. Why? Areih and Ralph seemed almost surprised that I really do accept that Israel exists, that it can’t simply go away, and that it is not my wish or hope that it will. One can (and many Jews are in this category) feel that the establishment of Israel was the wrong answer to a real question. But within history – which is what we must accept as the arena of our actions – Israel does exist (in the same way that the United States does exist despite having stolen our land from the Native Americans and using a slave population as an essential part of building our national capital). It is for that reason that I continue to insist that whether Israel develops a one state or a two state solution, must be determined by the Israelis and Palestinians (and it may prove an impossible task). But the last thing the defenders of Israel have a right to do is to be too picky about any of the non-violent means the world might use to help create new “facts on the grounds” which might help the majority of those is Israel to seek new solutions. And finally, and a most sobering thought, it is rare for a state to achieve immortality. The Greeks still exist, but the Greek States which gave us democracy are long gone. When will an Israeli leader take the risks which Sadat took? When will an Israeli political leader take genuine risks for peace, on the grounds that, “win, lose or draw” let the world see that Israelis will take a chance which takes enormous courage. I have not seen this. I have seen an endless line of Israeli leaders complain “we have no partner for peace”. But partners are often created by unilateral action. God help the poor Russians, Gorbachev took the risks that the Soviet Union might not survive – but because of his risks, the Cold War ended and humanity survived. The West has not yet seen a Gorbachev. Peace, David McReynolds ============================================================ Copyright © 2013 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (