the israeli incursion into lebanon has created a familiar pit in the stomach feeling. its origin is fairly simple: the conflict of needing to have unwavering solidarity with a country whose tactics are not ideal.
my immediate feeling when news about the israeli bombings and lebanese civilian deaths came out was disappointment; such actions can never have the desired results of getting hostages released and, ultimately, achieving peace. but the ability to use logic deteriorates when the situation deteriorates. part of the stress of war, and what makes it so messy, are the animalistic decisions those involved must make to avoid death. when existence is at stake, doubts about the best moral avenue fall away, narrowing the question to one of them or us. and when taking sides is no longer avoidable, i must stand with israel.
i confronted the same quandary when i spent a semester in israel in 2000, arriving just before sharon visited the Temple Mount. it was the incendiary move that sparked the most recent wave of violence, which has lasted five years, five years! now. yet watching from los angeles as the situation once again becomes critical is very different. living in israel, one didn't have to ask, what can i do? simply being there was enough. but caring from here, not wanting israel to disappear from here, the question looms.
my ma made me go to an israel rally at the museum of tolerance and it seemed to be the question that every jew in los angeles who cared to attend was asking him or herself. and the question is far more critical now because truly what can the US, israel's best and often times only ally, do? our military is stretched the thinnest it's been in decades, and other western countries will not and are not standing unequivocally with israel. so who is israel's friend, if not the largest jewish communities outside the country -- those in new york and los angeles? and truly what can we do, other than have rallies and send money? (the jewish federation of los angeles mobilized quickly and is sending $1 million to take israeli children out of bomb shelters to safer places -- a thoughtful and important thing to do, but it hardly helps the country itself.) and -- what would i have us do if, in a crazy world, the jewish communities of the diaspora had military power?
the speakers at the rally included local los angeles jewish politicians, rabbis, daniel pearl's father, judea pearl, and mayor villaraigosa (love him). though the whole thing felt rather ineffectual, i sensed it was important to be there. and when everyone sang hatikvah, israel's national anthem, it felt so important it was scary.
i know it probably seems strange that i have what might be considered a right wing affinity with israel. for those who cherish liberal values, as i do, it feels convoluted, even backwards. i wish there were a grey area, but the bottom line is that if you don't want israel to disappear, solidarity is the only option.