Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Yamim Kashim Ve Yamim Raim

I was privileged to hear the renowned Israeli Poet and author Haim Gouri today at the Hebrew University Ulpan.

Gouri is most famous for his song Hareut which he wrote in 1949. Two days before Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated he asked for it to be played for him during a radio interview.

It's beautiful words evoke a bygone era when unity and friendship were the raison d'etre of this state. The song is a memorial to the brave soldiers who fell in the War of Independence.

על הנגב יורד ליל הסתיו
ומצית כוכבים חרש חרש
עת הרוח עובר על הסף
עננים מהלכים על הדרך.

כבר שנה לא הרגשנו כמעט
איך עברו הזמנים בשדותינו
כבר שנה ונותרנו מעט
מה רבים שאינם כבר בינינו.
אך נזכור את כולם

את יפי הבלורית והתואר
כי רעות שכזאת לעולם
לא תיתן את לבנו לשכוח
אהבה מקודשת בדם
את תשובי בינינו לפרוח

They are gone from our midst,
All their laughter, their youth and their splendor.
But we know that a friendship like that,
We are bound all our lives to remember,
For a love that in battle is forged,
Will endure while we live, fierce and tender
After Rabin's assassination the song Hare'ut resounded frequently on Israeli radio. The line in the chorus: "Et Yafim hablorit vehato'ar" was strongly associated with a picture of the young Yitzhak Rabin of those days as the icon of the Palmach generation.

Towards the end of his talk I asked Gouri if when he wandered the streets of Jerusalem as he likes to do often, he felt despair for what this nation has become or hope. His answer was fascinating.

He explained that there are two types of periods in the history of Israel.
Hard days and Wicked days – ימים קשים וימים רעים

The Yamim Kashim were the days gone by when the nation of 600,000 in 1948, doubled its population in six years. There was a dire lack of resources, a siege on Jerusalem, and times were tough in the maabarot (refuge camps filled by mostly mizrachi olim).

יותר רעים מאשר קשים
Today's Israel is more reflective of Yamim Raim than Yamim Kashim. Why? Due to the lack of unity and hatred in this country. Jews have always had their differences, but the sharpness of the conflicts between am yisrael have never been as fierce as they are today. Datyim V Chilonim, Ashkenazim V Sephardim, Orthodox V Non Halachic Judaism.

Gouri continued to explain that the animosity is most intense when it comes to our conflict with the Palestinians. The inhumanity of this conflict is palpable. Only pure wickedness could conjure a political device so malevolent as the suicide bomber. An occupation that lasts 40 years is celebrated with fireworks. Collective punishment, the security fence, ID cards, Separation.

After reading this analysis, despair is a feeling that seems more apt than hope. But not for Gouri. For he sees this as merely a phase in an historic struggle. The Rhine was once red with blood, today there is a European Union were one can travel from Siberia to France without showing a passport. The Catholics and Protestants in Ireland murdered each other for centuries, and this wicked chapter is too now coming to a close. The Middle East will also one day merit its arrival of peace. How? Gouri says only when both sides realize that this conflict will not end by force alone.

סבלנות נרגילית

Patience is a rare virtue in Israeli politics. Sitting by a nargilla as the hours go by in the Old city has taught Gouri something he calls the "patience of the nargilla. "

Talking is the solution. But talking means making hard compromises that none of us want to do.

Tomorrow I'm heading of the Sulha in the Olive Groves by the Laturun monastery. To everything there is a season. I'm ready for the season of listening and patience.

1 comment:

if you will it... (new location!) said...

The patience of the nargila - I like that!