THE REALITIES OF ISRAELI EXISTENCE IN THE 21ST CENTURY: Part One

December 29, 2017 Opinions of Kelley Kidd.

There are some paths in my life that have always seemed to stretch from long before my life began. The State of Israel is certainly one of those. Born in 1942 in a Protestant white middle class home in the American South, I was learning about the real or imagined history of Israel before I can remember being taught anything. Bible stories came before elementary school. Israelites were as real to me as the Americans who were fighting in Europe and the Pacific in the first three years. Whether called Hebrews of Judeans or Israelites (or one of many other biblical names for Jews), these people were the heroes of the most important battles of my imagination Not the Bulge or Guadalcanal, but Jericho and the Red Sea were the scenes of the great victories I envisioned for my people—the children of Israel.

The creation of modern Israel was proclaimed as the fulfillment of prophecy and proof that the deity who created the planet was also in charge of its human history. So I was told. The deliberate and systematic slaughter of the Jews by the Nazis was the essence of evil and proof the Allies were the good guys in both world-wide wars of the 20th Century. So I was told. No act of American diplomacy could be stronger proof that America was Great than our recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist State. So I was told. Israel’s defeat of five “invading Arab armies” in 1948 proved the legitimacy of a democratic state controlled by a Jewish majority. So I was told. Many of the truisms I was taught as a child have been uprooted by later learning from sources other than my early church upbringing. The dictates of that early education have been parsed and sometimes replaced by later experience and learning. But the early valuations above have stood up to later contradiction.

There is one other conclusion about Israel that I should mention. When I wondered how God could allow the holocaust, I was told that only the wholesale slaughter of millions of Jews could have led to an international willingness to let large numbers of Jews return to the one place on earth they had always claimed as their ancestral home and future refuge. Sometimes I have felt that conclusion was based upon an overestimation of the malevolent power of religious and ethnic antisemitism. Sometimes I have almost believed that the human race has advanced in tolerance to the point at which it can generally embrace the existence of a flourishing Jewish culture and religion. Maybe, I have hoped, the world has become sufficiently imbued with Jewish values to embrace the people from which these values have sprung.

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