Saturday, August 23, 2008

From over the green line

A guest post by TikunOlam

Before I discuss some of my observations of yeshuvniks after spending a Shabbat in the Gush, a couple of things:

First off, just wanted to clarify something. The blogger "LadyLight" who writes the blog "Tikkun Olam" and I are not the same person. Her blog, Tikkun Olam, is very good and I would recommend that you give it a visit. When I chose a name back in January of this year, I was new to the blogging world. DovBear had asked me if he could post an email that I had written him, and unaware that there was already a blog with this title, I chose TikunOlam as my handle. My apologies to LadyLight for using her blog's name and my thanks to her for allowing me to continue using the handle without so much as a complaint. So for those who asked, I can only be found here on DovBear and have no intention of starting my own blog.

Secondly, I apologize for posting and running after my last post on visiting the kotel. I was off hiking to Monfort that day and by the time I was able to see the thread and respond, the thread was dead. If anyone is interested in my responses to comments - I commented at the end of the thread.

So I spent my first Shabbat in Israel at a dati yeshuv (religious settlement) just over the Green Line - or as my brother-in-law (who lives in another part of Israel) refers to it, a yeshuv that exists against international law. With all my time spent following Israeli political discussions on the blogs, in the papers and with family members, I paid attention in a very different way than I had ever before to thoughts and experiences of dati Israelis and settlers and the arguments for an against the many versions of land for peace

It is amazing to me how it seems that every person that I talk to seems to be able to argue both sides of every argument. For all the accusations made by "left-wingers" of the "right-wingers" for being "knee jerk" war-mongers who argue blindly without thinking for themselves, I am finding nothing of the sort. And this was with spending time with the most gung-ho yeshuvniks living on a surreal mountain top where there was nothing, before they built their beautiful community.

They seem to be able to argue Israel's right to develop Yehuda and Shomron one minute and express their sympathy and distress over the treatment of the Arabs living in those areas the next minute. One reservist discussed how on reserve duty he was responsible for protecting some Israeli school children as they traveled to school. Due to whatever route they needed to protect, it forced Arab school children to walk a number of miles out of their way in order to go to their schools. This reservest was horrified watching these children struggle just to get to school.

Others talk about how they could never imagine places like Efrat being evacuated but at the same time talk of how maybe it would be better if both Jews and Arabs would be treated the same way at checkpoints - how it would be better if all were treated with equal respect and dignity as they travel outside of the occupied areas' borders. One articulated how Arab children observing their fathers treated suspiciously, and sometimes disrespectfully, at check points only proves to promote further distrust, hostility and hate in the next generation.

So what I am finding is what I tend to argue is almost always true once you get to know (reasonably sane) people who are members of any political or religious group. People, even the ones who are accused of being "right-wing loons" are rarely "loons" and they are, in fact, three dimensional and able to think in shades of gray. On blogs and in politics they may make loud proclimations in the extremes, but sit down with them for dinner, and I've found, not at all surprisingly, that holding strong opinions does not make people blind to the arguments in conflict with their own.

Buy DovBear's book. (please - it is really good, I've seen it and I even get acknowledged in it!)

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