This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
First night jet-lag, hope it’s better tonight. Also had a splitting headache – the worse I’ve ever experienced. Hope that’s in the past, too.
Class today hearing about the peace industry, then in the afternoon my own brood – eighteen students. Mostly European, Germans and Austrians predominate. A Jewish Israeli and Palestinian. Also a Brazilian convert to Buddhism, Tibetan style. She’s organizing a conference on Tibet in Brazil, Richard Gere on board. Oh, to have a movie star sign on to the Israel/Palestine issue. Has that ever been?
Clearly the international students don’t have an interest in Jewish, though I will be speaking in the morning joint session, too. Usually after hearing me they’re interested but the Jewish thing, the Holocaust and Israel, discourages them. It’s going to get worse. The Jewish world is shrinking. Interest in the Jewish world is shrinking.
A shrinking Jewish world is one where Jews don’t travel, don’t speak and aren’t listened to. Does it matter? In terms of power, not for the moment. However, it isn’t good for the long term. It isn’t safe either.
That’s for the Jews of the future to deal with. The only thing I can do is speak my piece where I am invited. Make the most of it. Not for any ulterior motive, just to be present. To be open to the encounter.
Encounter in the Buberian terminology, making myself vulnerable to others. As others make themselves vulnerable to me. Where does this lead? As I told my class, we’re not moving anywhere as we have no destination. Our only aim is to get to a deeper point, alone and together. Let the future take care of itself. It will anyway, won’t it?
Before I left my son, Aaron, worrying about his future. Not definable, just a general sense. I, too, am worried about my future. There is little to do but keep on keeping on.
My class is reading Elie Wiesel’s Night, Richard Rubenstein’s The Cunning of History and my Practicing Exile. Three different books, each with their own Jewish flavor. Also opening up other non-Jewish questions of identity and history.
My small group today – I can tell it’s going to be tough sailing. As usual for this kind of student they want to know more and have reflections on concepts and issues that are worthwhile considering. It’s just the first day. Looks like a good group.
With jet-lag and knowledge that you will experience it, I wonder whether my travel is worth it. When I arrive it is obvious that it is.
The map is not the territory – a Peace Studies phrase used today. The map is the designated place, say the map of the Africa, where the countries are, boundaries drawn, usually by colonial powers at one point in history or another. Even in Europe, we forget how the nations of Europe came into being.
The territory is reality on the ground, tribes, languages, across boundaries and within. Needs to be clarified but the point I think is that there is often a clash between the two. Yes, the map is not the territory.
An example would be a “map” of peace – what should be, theoretically. The territory would be the reality that interrupts what is planned. So that, for example, the United Nations might “map” out peace for a certain region of the world – say Libya. The reality on the ground is something quite different. What really went on in Libya? In Syria?
Rwanda, the UN arrives and “knows” how the situation will be contained. The map of Rwanda. The reality on the ground as preparation for genocide. The territory in Rwanda. The UN map was wrong. With huge consequences. Genocide commemorations attempt to map the territory that is changing once again.
The Bible as map. Jewish life as territory. Disjunction already contained within the Bible, then add real Jewish life. Further disjunction. We read the Bible and its disjunctions, from another disjunction.
When we map out life, the territory intervenes. Shall we listen?
Reading and re-reading. Then reading again. Moving forward, then back again. Is Jewish life continually recycling our birth? When we reach the end the only way forward is by returning to the indigenous.
Primal – Jewish time.
Yes, and then the return, is itself a disaster, as in, returning to the Promised Land. After the disaster of return, what then?
The UN in Rwanda, genocide time. No map listening. The bodies piling up. Then after, the silent and complicit funding the commemorations. The UN map – part of the genocide.
The Jewish primal map – part of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Palestine as the territory upon which the map of Israel is now firmly in place. Israel’s colonial map. On the territory of Palestine.
Holocaust era. The Nazi map on Jewish territory(s),
Hutu. Tutsi. Animosity learned in the churches. Belgium as a colonial power, there at the very beginning. Belgians comprising a big percentage of the UN force. That failed in Rwanda.
The European colonial cycle of violence and atrocity.
Europe in Africa, even now. Israel as Europe in Palestine, even now.
Once colonialism begins, it never ends. Once Israel’s colonialism began, it could never end. Otherwise the Jewish state would end. At least as it has been – mapped.
Rwanda as apocalypse. Holocaust as apocalypse.
Judgment day. End of the world. Sometimes swift. Other times slower.
Apocalypse can occur in slow motion.
One man’s Promised Map is another’s Apocalypse Territory.
Thinking Jewish Holocaust and Rwandan Genocide at the same time. Capital “G.”
Catholic Church complicit. German-Vatican Concordat revisited. Now, Repentance for the Holocaust. Now, complicity in Rwanda. The Cross as a sign of atrocity.
Shaking hands with the devil. Empowerments (un)announced creed.
JewTu. (After all, we Jews have been on both sides of the Congo line, haven’t we?)
Jetlag. Mixing apples and oranges? The territory of Holocaust/Genocide.