So, I faciliated the discussion today about All This Stuff. It went well enough–Geoff set people up with an opening hevruta (paired discussion) question, and then we opened up the conversation. I facilitated hard, which I am wont to do generally, and here all the more so–mostly cutting people off who were speaking out of turn and making sure only one person spoke at a time, etc.


I was hoping to have more clarity at the end of the conversation than I did in the beginning. I don’t. If anything, I feel sadder and more pained as I realize that, no matter how things shake down with what “solutions” and which borders, a lot of people are going to suffer for it. (A lot are suffering now, I got that.) We talked about stuff like citizenship and the settlers–Should they be forcibly dismantled? Should they simply be informed that X is what’s happening and they have the choice to move or become citizens of the Palestinain state? Should they–say, for example, people in Male Adumim, which is abt 10 min east of Jerusalem–be connected to Israel thorugh some system of tunnels or elevated highways? Should we forcibly move out Palestinians who don’t have citizenship in Israel? What about Arab Israelis? Where do they fit in? I found myself once again feeling concerned about where democracy will fit in for either state in the long run. And then, of course, there’s Abbas referring to Israel as “the Zionist enemy.” That’s really, really not what I (and a lot of other people) was hoping to hear from the next guy in charge over there. Abbas gets a Not Helping note in his chart.

I don’t know. I think a lot of where I’m at right now came out during the hevruta part of this conversation, wherein my co-facilitator and I talked about our differing perspectives on how to do the excercise of which we were currently in the middle. He had handed out a list of different models that different groups had used to try to understand questions about barriers, walls, borders, and he wanted to study them and discuss what he perceived the strengths and weaknesses of the plans to be. I had no interest in the sheet.

“I just want some space to talk about how I’m feeling about all of this! I’m angry and I’m scared and I’m frustrated and the thing is, when you look at the map of the city, it’s clear that none of these models work! [more ranting] I think this needs to be a space to express some of the frustration about that!”

“I hear your frustration, and I think a lot of people share that. I just think that that’s a pretty easy place to go, and not a very productive one.” (Geoff is a peach.)

He’s right, of course, but I got what I got, and if you’ve been reading this blog awhile, or if you know me, you’ll know that if I’m having a strong emotion, it is hard for me to wander up into the intellectual realm. And at the end of the day, I’m OK with that–what I need now is space to have the emotions, not to shut them off. Where I am right now is not terribly productive–I feel sad, and frustrated, and very small and ineffectual at anything I might do in the face of such a big mess. I think just about everybody feels that way (OK, not Sharon and Abbas. But everybody else. Maybe them, too.)

The most intelligent thing I’ve seen today was an article by Danny Gordis that I guess he sends out to an email list (it’s not online, or doesn’t seem to be) in which he pounced on people on the Left and on the Right whose attitude towards Israel and state solutions (etc) is, “If I can’t have this work out exactly how I want it to, I don’t want any part of the process or product.” So those who are angry at Sharon for pulling out of Gaza just give up on the idea of the country altogether, and ditto those who are horrified by the IDF’s human rights abuses–they bail, rather than sticking around and being part of a conversation that might involve some give and take.

“If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding. How can you
have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?”

Yeah. I dunno.

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