DISCLAIMER: This is not intended to be a political piece, so please let’s not take it there. This is about my vacations in a place that I love, a place that I pray for calm for ALL its people; it is about the photos I took along the way. That’s it. Nothing more.
I went back and forth between writing this post or creating something else. The State of Israel is a polarizing topic, and I didn’t want to create any conflict on my business’s blog. This is a space for dreams to come true, for you to see yourself in your natural, authentic, everlasting self.
But if I was to ignore what Israel means to me, I would be blocking out a portion of my being; I would be ignoring a part of who I am. Like I am sure a lot of us are when it comes to writing honestly and openly to a real audience, I was pretty conflicted about this.
But then Bing informed me today (Monday) that it was the anniversary of the Siege of Masada, and my heart sank. I will spare you the entire history of Masada (that’s what Wikipedia is for), but here’s what I can simply say about it: After the Roman went into power, a group of Jews from Jerusalem took off to southern Israel, built a commune on top of a plateau; these folks, who would not be slaves again, took drastic measures to be sure that they were not captured by the Romans when they (finally) reached the top.
(If music from Les Miz is playing in your head now, too, you are not alone in singing the songs of angry men.)
Despite all the BDS chatter, terror tunnel talk, and everything else related to the little land, I would be amiss if I didn’t say I love it there. It is the place of my faith, it is so far outside my comfort zone that I have to look twice when I see myself in a mirror there, because I can’t believe that me–super cautious, over-planning, won’t-do-anything-if-I-can’t-control-it me has stepped out of the safe comfort of the Midwest onto the too-often turbulent ground of the Middle East. Despite all the security, the precautions, and the defense I have to provide when I am asked a million times “Why you would ever go THERE?” I have never felt so free as I do when I am in Israel. I don’t worry, I am not (near as much of) a control freak…just like the body does in the Dead Sea, my soul floats and relaxes when in Israel.
I know the critics could come back with plenty in regards to my last metaphor, but I will beat them to it: I know freedom isn’t a feeling everyone gets to enjoy, and the celebration of Yom Ha’Atzmaut conjures all sorts of negative vibes and serves as a heavy reminder of how far some are from that feeling. But, like all good things, it will come. Like I said, this is not supposed to be a political piece, but I have never been in a discussion about Israel without peace coming up. My take? Peace is a utopian unicorn, but coexistence is a zebra–still rare, but visible and achievable if we seek it.
My method of moving towards it includes actually hitting “Publish” on this post, and presenting seventy favorite photographs from my 2013 inaugural trip to Israel, my soul home, the place to which I wish a happy 70th birthday…and the little slice of land that I hope will find the very calmness it provides me sometime soon (like maybe when tomorrow comes).