Vineyards on the hills of Samaria, mosques in the hills of Galilee

For the haftarah reading ((Reading from the historic or prophetic books of the Hebrew scriptures, always paired with a reading from the Torah (Five Books of Moses).)) of the second day of Rosh haShannah ((The Jewish New Year holiday, which was last Thursday-Friday.)):

Again you shall plant vineyards
On the hills of Samaria;
Men shall plant and live to enjoy them.

This is from Jeremiah 31:5.

Yes, Samaria. And, yes, this was written during the Babylonian exile, more than 2500 years ago. Not after 1967. Or 1948.

I point this out not because I believe that if the Hebrew scriptures say the land of the “West Bank” is ours, then it must be. In fact, it’s the other way around: the Hebrew scriptures say things like this because the writers were residents of the Land of Israel, including Samaria and Judea.

This important point is too often left out of the narrative about the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Or it is left only to the religious Zionists, and other opponents of peace, to point out. It is not that Jewish “settlers” have to evacuate “occupied Palestinian land”, but that Jews must find a way to share with another people the very land on which our people was forged in ancient times.

I’m not a negotiator, or even a student of negotiations. But the narrative should be more like the one in the bold text than the one we normally see in the media.

Meanwhile, in these Yamim Noraim, ((Days of Awe, the days between Rosh haShannah and Yom Kippur, which starts at sundown tonight.)) a terrible crime was committed in Tuba-Zangaria, an Arab town in hills above Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee). A suspect has been arrested. ((Not incidentally, the suspect is from Samaria.)) However, Judaism teaches that all of us are responsible as a community for the acts of any. This attack, during the Yamim Noraim, bring great shame to us all. What is an appropriate Teshuvah? ((Turning, as in finding the correct path. Often translated “repentance” but I don’t think that really captures the Jewish spirituality of it.))

Somehow we have to find a way to share the land. Mosques in Galilee and (Jewish) vineyards in Samaria are equally “legitimate”. May the coming year be the year we (at least start to) learn to live to enjoy them together.

gmar chatima tova

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