Israel 2010?

Last week, one of my favorite Public Radio shows, This American Life, featured predictions for 2010.  Shalom Auslander was a contributor and I always love his pieces on that show.  He writes/reads from a Jewish perspective in a familiar feeling humorous, and sardonic tone.  His contribution to the Ten Commandments episode is one I keep on my ipod at all times.  But this past week it was another Jewish author’s contribution that caught my attention.

Etgar Keret is an Israeli author known for his contemporary Israeli perspective and, more recently, his work for film and television.  I knew his work before I knew of him through the surreal film Wristcutters: A Love Story.  The straightforward, matter-of-factness with which this story is told – a man commits suicide and then travels through a bizarre afterlife world with other characters who took their own lives – shows Keter’s ability to set a scenario, place characters within it, and see what happens.

On This American Life, Keter interviewed his mother about what 2010 will bring for the state of Israel.

City of Jerusalem from the Nuremberg Chronicle

In the past she had accurately predicted events in their family and their friends.  She didn’t hesitate in predicting that Israel will face problems.  “Unfortunately,” she told him, “we are going back to bad times.  It will be a third Intifada, the streets won’t be so free like they are, we won’t be able to walk in the evening because you don’t know what will hit you, because all the crazy people from both sides will show their hand.  It will be very difficult to live in this country.” Sadly, it seems her predictions are already coming to fruition in the first week of the new year.

First, cross-border fighting in Gaza led to one Palestinian death and other injuries.  Yesterday, the Israel government approved a building project that will create more houses for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, the place Palestinians hope to establish their capital.  People on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian argument see this as a dangerous move, one that will likely upset peace process negotiations.  J Street denounced the act as intentionally provocative, and tend to agree.  It seems to me that if Israel wants the support of the world – Jewish and otherwise – it must cease settlement development.

The fact that American real estate mogul Irving Moskowitz is leading the project should have been a red flag to the Israelis to keep out.  Because even if they secretly agree with Mokowitz’s goal of making East Jerusalem more Jewish, they should realize that such actions will make it nearly impossible for the Obama administration, and other world leaders, to support their position.  I support Israelis right to exist.  I don’t support her right to make stupid political and moral decisions.

I hope that the weeks to come will bring better news from the Middle East.  I hope that this time around, Keter’s mother’s predictions are wrong.

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