Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Take Your Olive Branch and Shavuot! - Part 6

Today is Day 14,283 of the Maintenance of the Immoral (and Illegal) West Bank Settlements and almost the 40th anniversary of the start of the immoral (and illegal) occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
Rabbi Akiva said, “ ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ Lev. 19:18 - is the major principle of the Torah.”

Take Your Olive Branch and Shavuot! Part 6
Olive Trees and Olive Harvesting
Immorality of the GOI according to the Teachings of Judaism
So let’s review again

Olive trees are very significant culturally and economically for Palestinians. Jewish Israeli settlers (JIS) attack Palestinians, uproot olive trees and fence off Palestinian olive tree groves. IDF soldiers and Israeli civilian authorities, in general, support the actions of the JIS, protect them while arresting Palestinians and bring few criminal charges against the JIS. The Supreme Court of Israel severely criticized the lax approach displayed by the police and security personnel in their law enforcement work against violent settlers, and ruled that the closure of territory to Palestinians, to protect them from settlers, is akin to granting a prize for violence. …In addition, Palestinian farmers in the West Bank now face over 500 physical obstacles and closures including the separation wall that is being constructed by the GOI which restrict their movement and often prevent them from accessing their trees.

I ended the last post by saying, “It is time to pause after learning about the history, customs and traditions of Shavuot. When I return, I will attempt to connect this with the difficulties of the Palestinian farmer/owner of olive trees.” Here’s my take on Shavuot and the Olive Trees of Palestine.

“What Would Ruth Decide to Do Today?”

Moab, by the way, was in Jordan across the Dead Sea just east of Hebron and the West Bank. Naomi was a widow as were her two Moabite daughters-in-law, Orpah (or was it Oprah) and Ruth. Naomi suggests to Orpah and Ruth that they would be better off staying in Moab and returning to their people rather than going back with her to Bethlehem. Orpah, seemingly without hesitation, knows a good thing when she hears it and leaves.

Ruth is thinking …… and she asks Naomi.

“Isn’t this the first day of Sivan? If we leave now, couldn’t we get to Bethlehem by the last day of that holiday you call Shavuot, you know the joyous time when the basket of olives and other fruits are wrapped in ribbon and are taken in a parade with music to the Temple.”

“First, Ruth, about the Temple.” Almost 2000 years ago a group of vicious violent Israelites murdered many other Israelites in a civil war which eventually led to the destruction of the Temple and the dispersal of the Israelites throughout Europe and Asia.”

“Second, while the Israelites near the sea may find pleasure in celebrating Shavuot, there is little joy in Bethlehem or in many of the other towns in the area. Not only are there Israelites blocking the Moabites from getting to their olive trees, there are hundreds of roadblocks so that you can often not transport the olives or the olive products to market let alone have a ceremonial parade.”

So you don’t think that it is possible that some Israelite landowner will let me glean from the fields?

“Not a prayer, Ruth. The Israelites have been building towns and cities nearby and have taken most of the available water. There are still many olive trees but the Israelites keep trying to prevent the Moabites who own the trees from harvesting the olives, let alone leaving a portion for the poor to glean. Protests by Moabites about their suffering have been met with attacks by Israelite soldiers and curfews which sometimes prevent you from leaving your house for a week. In addition, the Israelites are building a 10 mile long high concrete wall that surrounds the Bethlehem area and makes 4000 acres of land with olive trees on it inaccessible.”

“I don’t understand how all this can be happening, Naomi. Didn’t you tell me about Moses, the Israelite, and the Ten Commandments and how in Exodus 20, it said, "13 Thou shalt not murder. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.14 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's."

“Don’t you remember when I told you about how Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and slaughtered all the inhabitants?” Some Israelites who have not sought mental health treatment hear voices they think is God speaking to them and telling them to do despicable hateful things to others.

“What about the part I read on that scroll over by the Dead Sea in Deutoronomy 20:19 'When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by wielding an axe against them; for thou mayest eat of them, but thou shalt not cut them down, for Is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of thee? (and the addendum found in the Hertz Edition footnote – “is the tree of the field man” means because they are vital to man (Ibn Ezra. The Rabbis deduce from this a prohibition of the wanton destruction of anything useful to man.' "

“Many of the Israelites who live closer to the sea do not know and do not want to know what these soldiers and the Israelites near Bethlehem and further south near Hebron are doing. They have forgotten and forsaken the God who I know tells the Israelites in the Torah to protect the weak and the needy and not to oppress strangers because they were strangers in Egypt.”

“Sounds like there isn’t much of a chance of me, a Moabite widow, meeting and getting my husband’s family land redeemed, finding security, getting treated with hesed and marrying a nice Israelite man, is there?

“Frankly, my dear, the Israelites don't give a damn.”

“Naomi, it sounds as though things might be better if I were living with those Israelites near the sea.”

“Sadly, Ruth. I just realized the law of return applies only to Israelites, not to Moabites and even if you were to be able to find Moabite relatives in Bethlehem, there is a long wait for getting a permit to enter under the Family Reunification Act.”

“So much for that plan, Naomi. Nice thought. But before I leave, let me ask you another question. What lieth ahead for you? What are your chances of hooking up (sorry, Naomi) meeting an older Israelite who will love, honor and let you be subservient and obey him for the rest of your life?”

“Point well taken, Ruth.” With all the money being spent by the Israelites to support the vicious violent attackers of the Moabites, there is little left for subsidies to support widows and children (unless I want to live with the vicious violent ones) . If fact, over one-third of the Israelite children live in poverty.

“Hmm!? Where are you off to, Naomi?”

“I think there’s still time to catch a few films at the Cannes Film Festival and settle in for a year or two in Paris.

Ruth paused and then uttered her never-to-be-forgotten words, “You’re family, Naomi. Whither thou goest, I will go.”

Deuteronomy 16:20 – “Justice, justice shall you pursue that you may live and inherit the land which God gave you” and the footnote in the 1980 Hertz Edition “(T)here is international justice, which demands respect for the personality of every national group, and proclaims that no people can of right be robbed of its national life or territory, its language or spiritual heritage.

No comments: