Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Judgement of Solomon: Who really owns The Land of Israel?

[Note: This "dream" was set in motion by my reading the haftara for Parashat Mikketz today. You know, the one that's hardly ever read because usually Parashat Mikketz is read on Shabbat Hanukkah, which has its own haftara.]

Ah, yes, sweet CPAP, the wonder technology that has conquered my sleep apnea and let me get some good shut-eye. It also has the benefit of restoring REM sleep, which contains our dreams. Well, last night, I fired up the unit, and before I could count the "sh'nei kevashim" that are part of the Shabbat Musaf offering, I was in dreamland.

And what a dream it was! There I was lounging on a golden throne in a splendid hall decorated with gold, silver, and the finest artworks. I was dressed in some kind of silken robe with very fancy embroidery. Sitting next to me were a number of very hot looking young ladies in flimsy robes who I understood to be concubines of mine. Standing behind me was a slave who was keeping me cool with a large ostrich-feather fan. I immediately understood that I was supposed to be Melech Shlomo, King Solomon.

A slave came up and handed me a cool drink, which was welcome, because the palace hall might have been magnificent, but it was a hot day, and there was no air conditioning. I took the golden chalice and drank, pleasantly surprised to find that it was a very well-made margarita. I could have sworn I tasted the añejo tequila. The apparent anachronism didn't bother me at the time. After all, this was a dream.

Suddenly a commotion at the palace door. Two of my loyal royal gatekeepers came running up.

"Sire, we tried to tell them you were busy, but they told us to go to hell, they've had it with the phone-mail runaround."

I had no idea what the hell they were talking about, but up the hall strode two agitated men, closely accompanied by a large number of very nervous sword-wielding Royal bodyguards. Each man was carrying a rolled-up piece of paper. As they got closer, I realized who they were, and my spirits dropped very quickly. Because before me were Mohammed Amin al-Husayni, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and David Ben Gurion, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Jewish Agency for Palestine.

Husayni spoke first: "That nudnick stole my homeland!" He cried, pointing at Ben Gurion. "We both went to sleep last night each with our own homelands, and when I woke up, I found the one in my hands was dead! But I know it's not mine."

He shoved the paper scroll into my face (with little regard for my royal dignity, I might add), and I unrolled it and saw that it was a map. Of Eastern Europe. I motioned for Ben Gurion to show me his scroll. Of course. Ben Gurion was holding a map of the Land of Israel.

"I can't help it if that shmatte kop can't take care of his homeland!"

"Wait," I said, suddenly getting a headache. "I know this story, it's from the Bible, but it involves two whores..."

"Nu?" Said Ben Gurion, "We're politicians. What's the difference?"

Now I realized that H-sh-m had given me this dream so that he could impart to me the wisdom of Melech Shlomo and come up with a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. So I did what I had to do.

I stood up, grabbed the map of the land of Israel from Ben Gurion and bellowed "Get me a marker and a writing desk!" Boy, it's great having slaves. Both marker and desk appeared in seconds.

I looked at the map, and saw that it showed all of the locations of the Jewish settled areas, circa 1947. I wasn't to hard to take the marker and, chic-choc, divide up the land. True, the Jewish areas were barely contiguous, but, then again, neither were the Arab areas.

"OK you two, here's the deal. This is what we call in the twenty-first century, the 'Two-State Solution." You got your Jewish State, and you've got your Arab State. And if the two of you get along, maybe you'll stop killing each other and perhaps prevent the rise of the Jewish neocons and prevent George W. Bush from being elected president, or if he does get elected, at least he won't have neocon Likudnik advisors. So just cut the land in two and go live in peace."

"Well, I don't know," said Ben Gurion dubiously, "That "Jewish State" you marked out is kinda small, and it's not exactly contiguous or easy to defend, but, what the heck, at least it's a Jewish State and we'll be able to resettle all of those Displaced Persons sitting in camps in Europe. They're certainly not letting them immigrate to the US. OK, I'll agree to cut up the Land of Israel."

al-Husayni was of a completely different opinion: "NO!! All of Palestine is ours! Those filthy Jews have no right to any of it. Well, maybe the Jews who were living there before the British came...But all of Palestine is ours, and there should be NO Jewish state."

"Great," I said as my headache started throbbing even worse. "Well both of you blew it. I was obviously put in this position to give the Judgment of Solomon, and if you had answered correctly, maybe I could have gotten a Nobel Peace Prize. But no, Ben Gurion, you just had to accept having your homeland cut to pieces. That's the same sort of reaction that caused the real Shlomo to realize that the mother who agreed to having her baby split wasn't the real mother. Maybe you Zionists don't really care about the Land of Israel.

"But you, Mohammed al-Husayni, you demanded the whole land for yourself! If you had offered to give it all to the Jews, then it would have been obvious that this was your land, and you loved it so much that you'd prefer to save it than having it cut to pieces. Then my judgment would have been that it was your land. Or you could have agreed to my partition and had your state and been able to live in peace, and that would have been OK, too. But no, you want it all for yourself, and you don't realize that's not possible.

"Oy, I can't figure out what to do. H-sh-m may have given me Shlomo's wisdom, but your reactions weren't what I had expected.

Ben Gurion and al-Husayni both looked at each other. The mufti's face brightened and he said, "You think it's hard to come to judgment now? What would you have done if I had offered the whole land to the Jews and if Ben Gurion had also offered the whole land to the Arabs?"

"Thanks," I replied, my headache rapidly turning into a migraine. "Obviously, this situation can't be solved even with the wisdom of Shlomo. About the only thing I can say is where is the Ottoman Empire when you need them?

"Well, begone and off with you! All I can say is that I hope you enjoy the sixty years of war you're inflicting on your people."

As the two litigants shuffled off to the door, not so gently prodded by some spear-wielding Royal bodyguards, I put my hand to my head and moaned, "Oy, there's no solution! There's no solution!"

...and found myself being shaken awake my beloved Ms. Apikoris.

"CA!" She exclaimed, "It's great that CPAP is letting you sleep, but you seem to be getting some weird dreams. 'There's no solution!?' I don't understand why you're dreaming about a calculus class you took 30 years ago! Oh well, at least you're not moaning about the Bray of Fundy. Now go back to sleep. We've got to get up early tomorrow morning."

As always, Ms. Apikoris is right. I really should just go back to sleep. I don't know why I would want the wisdom of Shlomo, especially in cases when there is no solution.

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