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November 16, 2015

Once again, on Saturday evening I joined “Speaking in the Square” in downtown Jerusalem. New activists joined us, the horror in Paris bringing an oppressive pall to the conversations, as furious right-wingers descended on us, screaming and shoving, coming right to the edge of violence, while our activists responded to fury with listening, quietly speaking our truth, facing down the fear and standing firm.

Once again, I encountered a father who has lost contact with his son. Last time, it was a worried Haredi man whose 16 year old son had slammed out of the house and gone off to join the “Lehava” activists who ostensibly seek to keep Jewish women safe from intermarriage but in practice are terrorizing Palestinian Jerusalemites, hunting and beating them. This time, it was a secular father, whose son has cut off all contact with him, who knew that he was likely to be in Zion Square. He approached his son and was rebuffed, but he refuses to give up, seeking a reopening to their connection. Lost sons, searching fathers.

Sons go off to become themselves by rejecting their fathers. The way of the world, but tough on the fathers. I expect it’s not easy for the sons. There is anger there, fuelling the quest for identity. But why coming into your own must involve hurting the one who raised you… not clear. So painful for the fathers who look inward to find their sins, hoping for a chance to make it right, knowing they must give space, yet missing their sons so.

And now, after November 4 has come and gone, all of us the sons and daughters of Yitzhak Rabin, who, like a good father, saw an opportunity to bring peace to our lives but lost his life trying. We gather in the Square, beneath the patio where twenty years ago Netanyahu stood, urging on the seething, gleeful, hate-filled crowd below, where youngsters waved posters depicting Rabin in an SS uniform or Palestinian kaffiyeh.

Rabin, so clear that he was doing for us what he knew to be right, to risk from a position of strength in order to bring a future possibility. Shot and killed by a smug young man, a distorted Oedipus, his intelligence twisted out of shape so severely that he was sure he was saving mother Israel by murdering the father.

We are left without the father who will come to look after his sons and daughters, now there is no father seeking us. We’re on our own, brothers and sisters, orphans. Like the orphaned children of the poor, we must now piece together our own purposeful family, siblings caring for each other, if we are to survive this grim Israeli reality.

How do orphans build a family? Skirting the gaping wound of Rabin’s murder, we ask “What is the leadership we must provide each other now?” Last month, a ray of light shone through the fog when five young women facebooked and brought together thirty people in Jerusalem, creating a demonstration against the current violence. The demo was unique, powerful, and it was created by sisters’ leadership. At the organizing meeting, the leaders were quiet, clear, open, inclusive, ego-less. And within two hours, we had ourselves several clearly-mandated task-teams that birthed a demonstration in three days.

We will build the coalitions, nurture the teams, treat each other with the decency required of people when there is no parent to step in. No authority, no one to make the rules. Just our own knowledge that we have no choice other than to work together, to support each other through the harsh winter that looms before us. To listen, to hug and comfort, to plan, to do the work of finding and creating partners to join us as we carry on.

While the coming winter may be harsh, we know that the pines and firs in the forest are finally drinking, after six months’ survival of arid summer. Israel/Palestine is coming alive with the first rains. The delicate sitvanit is blooming along the paths, the wild weeds are sprouting an eager, fresh carpet among the boulders. And soon, a flurry of wondrous wildflowers will adorn our beloved land.

Yoav Peck



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One Comment
  1. Thank you yoav-you touched my heart strings….again:-)

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