08 June 2010

Jews, Go Home...

Congregant Marjorie Leffler sent me Richard Cohen's column in the Washington Post about the Helen Thomas Affair.

For those of you who missed the flap, most senior White House correspondent, Helen Thomas, was interviewed by a Jewish blogger on his way into the White House for a Jewish American Heritage month reception. Quite surprisingly, when asked about the current situation vis-a-vis the Gaza blockade flotilla, she let fly with comments about how the Jews should give the land back to the Palestinians and go back to their home. When pressed on where the Jews' home was, she said, "Poland, Germany... and everywhere else". For those in the know, it seems that Thomas, who is of Lebanese descent, has held anti-Israel views for some time. Needless to say, there was much fall-out, including Thomas' retirement.

Cohen talks about the issue of a Jewish "home" and what happened to the survivors of the Holocaust immediately following the defeat of the Nazis. In so doing, I think Cohen misses two very important points, that any Israeli would be quick to enumerate: 1) Jews have lived in what is now the land of Israel, uninterrupted, for thousands of years; 2) The Jewish State - soon to be officially established as Israel three years after WWII - was well under development since the beginning of the 20th century and was emphatically not a result of the Holocaust. Now it may be a matter for scholarly debate as to how quickly the UN partition was enacted, why the British agreed to leave, or what international feeling about an official homeland for the Jews might have been without the Holocaust and the pressures of the DP camps, but the future Israelis were never in doubt about creating a nation-state.

But, then, where is "home" for the Jews? If we look for an answer to the poet, Robert Frost, then it seems that the State of Israel is the only home that we have ever known.

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.