Jun 08 2008

Dreaming of what once was

 Dear Janna,

 Perhaps the answer is to out-market the vision of what is possible vs. the vision of those things feared or coveted.  Somehow, we’ve got to convince people that the alternative to fear and avoidance of insecurity is better than the status quo.  When I opined earlier about my Levantine dream, I forgot to mention discos and bars and even Buddhist and Ba’hai temples alongside the churches, mosques, and synagogues.  Simple, n’est pas?  I think Obama has managed to tap into some of that positive energy thus far.  I hope he can overcome America’s racism and the Republican’s fear-mongering machinery (it is vast)…

 What do you make of this article?  http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/991055.html

 You are right of course — most people would be satisfied to not have guns pointed at them and to be free to pursue their own interests.  Just achieving that would likely transform the Levant within a generation.  The bigger problem is the extremists who see the Levant as a crucible in which to keep hostilities and injustice boiling so as to distract for their own despotic regimes and to sate the end-times lusts of their religious lemmings.

 Speaking of lust…  My longing for “home” is just that.  The Lebanon I knew as a pimply teenager, more preoccupied with myself than the misery around me, is no more and never can be again.  It only exists in my wildly-exaggerated memories.  I know that.  As a Christian I know that we are just “wayfaring strangers” passing through.  There is great freedom from materialism and despair at the evil men do in that simple thought.  Too many of my fellow saints have lost sight of their fleeting existence and are trying to grab whatever they can, while they can.  I only meant to say that I empathized with the longing of that old Palestinian villager in the video.  Hardly a week goes by that I don’t dream of the Beirut and the Lebanon that still exists in my mind.

 So here’s to dreaming of what once was, and can be again.  We can enrich each other, or destroy each other.  Let us pray, and strive, for enrichment.  And let us pray and strive to diminish and suppress the destructive impulses that lie within all of us.

—–Original Message—–

From: [deleted]
Sent: Sunday, June 08, 2008 5:59 PM
Subject: RE2: Arab Israelis/Palestinians – IHT video link and personal comments

 Rereading what you wrote, and want to tell you that I agree on most things (all?), as well as the questions.  What to do with Apocalypse Now head cases?

Hawks, who make life miserable for so many others?  Actually, I find the last question to be of major concern.  How is it that a few can harm and have power over the many?  And how to avoid, prevent and overcome that pitfall before or worse, after, it happens.  It seems that fear, greed and self-interest of the few harms the many.

Thanks Janna.  This brings us full circle to the original unanswered question: what to do with displaced Palestinians, especially those outside of Israel and the occupied territories?  As someone who hasn’t been “home” in 30 years, I can attest to how the longing to return becomes especially poignant as more and more time passes.  Will this generation have to die before any reconciliation is possible, or will the legacy of unrequited yearning for Palestine be passed down to each new generation (as it once was for so many Jews)?

I share your enthusiasm for a multicultural, multiethnic society.  But, if there is an insistence that the land that was known as Palestine retain forever more a dominant Jewish identity, how is that possible?  How can power-sharing be distributed on the basis of sectarian/hereditary professions and still avoid the fate of Lebanon’s perpetual civil war?  There is plenty of land to go around, and enough business savvy and desire for success to transform a peaceful Levant into a showcase of progress (places like Dubai would wither in comparison).

But that vision is nothing but a flight of fancy until all sides get over the idea that they have an exclusive right to majority power.  Personally, it seems like the only idea that could ever work would be an Israel/Palestine/Levant (let’s throw Syria and Lebanon into our fantasy) that is demilitarized and then remilitarized under an international United Nations peacekeeping force.  I really think the international community could buy into that idea.  The trick is going to be getting the hawks on all sides to stand down.  Plus, mainstream religious leaders and secular intellectuals are going to have to speak up and publicly discredit the Apocalypse-Now head cases that dominate cable TV and foment Christian, Jewish, and Muslim radicals.

Imagine what that would be like!  You could jump on a train in Haifa to shop for Damascus silk, stay in a B&B in the Bekaa valley and then go skiing in the mountains for a day or two, rent a car in Beirut and drive all the way to Sinai for some hiking and Red Sea snorkeling.  Mosques, synagogues, and churches side by side all along the way.  Businesses and farms co-owned by Jews and Arabs.  Government services staffed by all sorts of men and women. Intermarrying at will, with only those limitations imposed by a family’s traditions (some things may never change!).  And the food!  Ya-allah! (that all-but-forgotten Arabic just came to me as I wrote this), just imagine what that would be like!

Permanent link to this article: http://levantium.com/2008/06/08/dreaming-of-what-once-was/

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