Judaism

About Charlie

I was actually going to write this post two weeks ago, following the Charlie Hebdo attacks on 7 January that rocked half of Europe – and quite possibly a good part of the remaining world.

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. – Voltaire

As much as I can relate to the epidemic of “Je suis Charlie” postings on Facebook I could not quite go along with it. Is it okay to ridicule someone else’s believes by publishing caricatures violating every inch of religious feeling? No, it most certainly is not. But it is of course even less okay to decide to go out and kill journalists just because you do not agree with what they are publishing. Just as the famous Voltaire quote goes freedom of speech only works when it is granted even to those we disagree with most.

So far for the regular European perspective; the notion of standing up and saying “enough is enough”. But for me, of course, there is more to it than meets the eye. And these things are right at the centre of the themes this blog has always been about: My connection to Israel and her people and my own identity as a European Pagan.

(c) Rafael Mantesso

(c) Rafael Mantesso

As far as the Israeli perspective goes the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the aftermath were a sad wake-up call that radical Islam is a force to be reckoned with even in the very heard of Europe. And to add insult to injury there was, of course, the whole Pallywood circus about how allegedly Mossad directed the attacks in order to blame radical Islam and stall peace talks in Israel. (What peace talks exactly that would be referring to right now and how it could stall them is, of course, a completely different question).

The sad truth is that Jews in Europe still do not feel safe. And sometimes I catch myself thinking that no, maybe they indeed should not. In France, I read the other day 50% of all racist attacks are directed against Jews who make only 1% of the population. At the moment there hardly seems to be a week going by without a Synagogue or other place frequented by Jews burning somewhere in Europe; 70 years after the end of Jewish prosecution in Europe Jews still rightfully feel they need extra security for their venues even though they are a tiny little group of “different” people against which there is little to no public outcry. Am I the only European who feels the people of Europe ought to be rallying behind their Jewish population just like they did behind the Charlie Hebdo victims? Yet when another Synagogue burns down it is hardly worth a front-page article in the local news.

 

“Do you know why I care so much about a tolerant Europe?”, I asked my mom the other day. It is because I am Pagan and chances are so will be my children. And with the rise of more self-confident second and third generation Paganism I am convinced that sooner or later we will also be more present in public life. A lot is already happening in the US in respect to recognition and protection of Pagan rights. Europe might right now be a calmer – and safer – place for a Pagan to live but eventually European Pagans, too, will become more visible.

Paganism is a completely different beast to all the religions we are struggling to deal with in European society right now. There is a relatively easy way of grasping who and what “the Christians”, “the Muslims”, “the Jews” and even “the Hindus” and “the Buddhists” are. It won’t be so simple with Paganism. We are a way more diverse group; we have no internal organisation worth speaking of; nobody that could speak for all or at least many of us. And of course we have a mindset that is becoming increasingly more different to that of followers of the Abrahamite religions. I see it in myself and also in may others in the Pagan blog sphere; once you have been Pagan for 15 or 20 years you start to feel how you think differently to non-Pagans; how your value system changes. The Wild Hunt for instance just recently posted an article about how Pagan religion afflicts the treatment of mental disorder but it is only a small spotlight on an increasingly different world view.

Coping with Paganism as a part of the intercultural mix that is Europe will be a challenge for our society. It will mean that people have to widen their horizons and look behind shared Abrahamite norms in order to allow Pagans in their midst. How are we going to accomplish that if European society cannot even cope with the variety Judaism and Islam add?

I feel that I need Europe to become more tolerant so I know my children and children’s children can be the self-confident, strong Pagans that I would want them to be. And ultimately, as sad as it is to think this way, I need Europe to become more tolerant so I will never have to fear for their safety and they will never have to hide their Pagan identity out of fear of prosecution.

– Migdalit

The Imbred Antisemitism of Upper Austria

Hello there,

Reading „der Lindwurm“’s blog on an Austrian Nazi-guy in a Klagenfurt hospital I started wondering about how much really is left of Nazi opinion in Austria. As a matter of fact the whole topic never was anyhow important to me until – and this awas mostly good luck – I ended up going to Tel Aviv. The only story of my own I can share here is on Skinheads in the Austrian town of Ried – besides Braunau the one Upper Austrian town to be known for a serious Skinhead problem. When visiting friends in Ried as a teenager I got to know first-hand about a „Skins night out“ – even if only later I learnt the term to go with it. We were just enjoying ourselves when we heard drunken singing comming close. I couldn’t even understand the words but the locals knew very well. And they knew the night was over; we went back home and in the next morning I saw the windows that had been destroyed by multiple flying objects.

Skinheads, true, but I have always had that theory that if you shaved the head of some other drunk, hitting-each-other youthgroup and put them in the midst of a Skinhead gang nobody would recognize – and vice versa. (I would love to try this one day!) I have never perceived Skinheads as a problem of nazi revival, but rather as a problem of empty youth’s heads filled with the first brainless slogan that came their way, paired with violence aired at the first target available. There is no nazi motive behind scaring other teenagers and breaking random windows. All there is as a motive is the orgasm of power in a group.

However I have a very dear and good Jewish Israeli friend – who has never actually been to Germany and to Austria only later – who wouldn’t get tired of explaining to me that Germans and Austrians were racist, antisemitic nazis in the midst of their heard as if it was bred into both peoples. When I had her over for Christmas / Yule a year later she told me she was afraid. She told me to think twice whom I told she was a Jew. But she trusted me enough to come.

There sure is trouble when you are actively looking for it. My father – to whom I owe the delight in debates and politics – said one sentence she took as a sign for hidden antisemitism and she would be telling me she told me for the rest of her stay. It was the old thing about „The Jews killed Jesus“ she keeps pointing at as the cause of the inbred antisemitism of Europe. And of course he – he’s my dad, remember – said so exactly because I had dropped the phrase would send her ablaze. My father might be Christian, but he is no kind of after-the-book Christian, but one by heard and daily life. Even if „the Jews“ indeed killed Jesus it would be no more for him then – plain – history. Besides before S. got me started on the issue I had never heard a sentence like „The Jews killed Jesus“, nor had I ever been aware of anyone using it to push antisemitism.

What I was pretty aware of during and before those weeks she spent with me in Austria was the out-of-the-book Austrian hospitality that arose as soon as I announced her comming. People all the way from my family to my friends made such an efford! People kept my telephone busy asking questions about kosher cusine. My dad, for instance, who runs a restaurant had invited us over for the staff Christmas dinner. He’s normally doing Austrian cuisine full of pork, creamy sauces and butter as a basic ingredience to every dish imaginable. S. would just offer she’d stick to vegetables but by dad wouldn’t have any of it. I don’t know how many hours I spent on the phone with him figuring out how to change the dinner so S. would have a decent meal. Funny enough that way we created a dish – a kind of a chicken „Schweinsbraten“ – that has made it to his menue as a low-fat alternative afterwards. People at the dinner – as far as their English supported it – were really great too. They were so warm and interested in Israel and kosher kitchen. Not from the conflict-perspecitve and not from the Jew-as-something-odd-perspecitive but simply from the „What do you eat there?“ „What are beautiful places to go?“ „Do you ever get to see snow?“ kind of angle. Exactly this was the naive, genuine reaction of random Austrians to the first ever Israeli and Jew they had met.

My mom made an efford showing off Austria. I know she was absolutely enjoying it. So we drove down to Gmunden – which is were the Alps start – and though it was terribly cold and we had a good laugh about S. being clad like a Yeti it was magic. We took a cable car up one of the mountains driving over the mist that covered the valley. At the snowy top of the mountain we had a breathtaking view at mountain tops rising over the mist. It looked like in a cheesy movie and my mom nearly bust from pride when S. pointed out it could stand besides the view of the Himalaya.

No, as far as (Upper) Austrians go, there definitely is no imbred racism or antisemitism or alike. There wasn’t a single raise of an eyebrow during all the stay that would have let me assume somebody objecting S. as a Jew or Israeli. There weren’t any second thoughts on whom to have her meet or where to take her to. What was there, instead, was an overwhelming hospitality I’ve heard people report on but had, until then, never experienced first-hand. Hospitality and pride showing off a small country I openly declare deserves it.

yours,

Migdalit

The Pagan Community

Merry meet,

as it appears Leileigh, a fellow pagan blogger, came across my recent articles on Beltaine and community. She contributed quite a bunch of interesting ideas I feel I cannot just write about in a comment so why don’t follow Avarra’s example and write a full blog entry about them, I thought.

Right in her first paragraph Leileigh states:

What made me consider this was a recent blog entry from Migdalit. She said that Paganism without community was not possible and I think I do not agree but more on that later.

I am afraid she got something wrong here. I did state that community was something special about Paganism, that’s true, and especially the way our communities function (or are meant to function) as opposed to Christian communities (just why does writing about Paganism always tend to turn into comparing Paganism to Christianity? May that be a normal mechanism given that having grown up as a Christian and “converted” to Paganism later on I’ll, in way, always be a child of two worlds?) however what I never intended to was to give the idea that Paganism was impossible without community. I do think that community is an important, if not vital part of basically any given religion – as Leileigh explains herself:

Imagine Jesus would have been a silent scholar. Not a preacher who talked to people and convinced them but someone who had it just thought up and maybe written it down. We wouldn’t have the Christianity we have today.

And also, imagine the people who were early Christians wouldn’t have cared that there were other Christians who believed the same thing. We also would have a very different picture (of course in the making of the picture we have today there are other important forces than just the people who felt they made up a community).  Without the sense of community there is no growth, no impact. And this also holds true for other non-religious movements like the Enlightenment. […]

However of course somebody can be a Pagan without being part of a “Pagan” community! As far as I, personally, am considered it will never be “the real thing”, but of course it is possible. I too, have – regrettably – been a Pagan without a community for too many years. And I’ll rather stay one then become a part of a community that doesn’t fit with my way of living Paganism (which of course includes communities of another tradition that shares my idea of multi-traditionalism). If Paganism wouldn’t be possible, I neither would be a “real Pagan”.

So much about that, but now on the questions as asked by Leileigh – and they sure are tough ones:

I mean, what is the “use” of being Pagan? That’s in itself such a personal thing. I am Pagan because that is my path. Why can’t you celebrate our festivals alone? Most my Pagan life I have celebrated alone. And I am content with it, maybe just because that’s all I know, but still, I do not miss like-minded people at those occasions. And when I did celebrate with other people, those weren’t even Pagan. (Last year on Beltane I had my best friend and girlfriend over and we just sat and chatted about this and that and on Litha we were at an amusement park. Great things to do for these festivals I thought.)

In a way this is sad: As I just recently discussed with Avarra we’re living in a world where people don’t do things without a reward. Humans don’t do things without a reward. I’d love to claim I was different, but I know my shades: I neither do things without a reward. So when Leileigh asks about the “use” of being Pagan she’s right to ask and “That is my path!” sure would be an appealing answer, but if I answered that way the logical next question would have to be: “Why is it my path?” And actually the longer I think about what to answer to this, the more I consider this might be a question to ask to every aspiring young witch starting her education on the Pagan 101: Why do you think Paganism is your path? What do you think it will give to you?

However, I start to ask questions instead of answering them. First of all, of course, I am Pagan because it just feels right. Because I know from the depth of my heard that this is where I belong, this is what fits my life, my philosophy. So what is my reward on that one? The good feeling of being on my way, being where I belong. Maybe nearly equally important is the control and power Paganism gives to me – prove me wrong: I don’t think there’s any Pagan out there who’s not hooked on that power – Paganism gives you the tools to seize control of your own life. It teaches you from the first day you hear about it that you have to take responsibility and that taking responsibility means being responsible for both your loss and your gain. In the end the only person who can bring a change upon your life is you – and you alone. The best of all opportunities could be given to you, but if you don’t see and seize it, it won’t change a thing (Actually there’s that great tale on the Jew sitting on his rooftop during a flood rejecting ladder, boat and helicopter for god is going to rescue him. The man dies and goes straight up to god where he complains god had left him alone. God answers: “I didn’t! I sent you a ladder, then a boat, finally even a helicopter but you didn’t use them!”).

Anyhow, the community-thing is included in my first sentence above. Community is a part of “where I belong”, for I think people do just belong with people. That community doesn’t necessarily need to be a Pagan one though; I too have celebrated Pagan fests with Christians, Jews and worse. And I’ve had quite a lot of fun doing so. However the real thing, the feeling that really gets you going and nearly high on energy – as esoteric as it may sound – is sharing that special day with like-minded people. Being part of a group of people and knowing that everybody there knows exactly about the importance and specialty of the day and everybody is just enjoying himself to honor it and, more important, to honor himself. I’ve had that in the past and I can’t help it but on every single one of those occasions it just felt so “right”, so meant to be. I just knew from the depth of my heard – the very same part then the one that told me Paganism was what got along with myself – that this was what it should be like and that, as hard as this may sound for you, Leileigh, everything else, every ritual done in private, was just an excuse for not being able to honor the earth and the sky, the elements and the gods in the proper way.

As Leileigh stated Paganism is a religion – or umbrella term for many religions, or philosophical ways – of many traditions. So my point of view, my feelings about the Pagan community might not necessarily be true for others. If someone says he’s fine with being alone on Beltaine I’m alright with it – I might even envy the person, actually – however for me it is not and will never be. And, to be frank, I do have a hard time imagining that Leileigh and like-minded would stay with their lone rituals if they had the opportunity to hook up with others and be part of the real big party. I do have a hard time believing that their solitude is a real chosen-by-themselves one, not one impressed upon them by a cosmos on hidden-in-the-broom-closet Pagans – worst of all hidden not from other religions’ members but rather from our own nudnikim. It’s fine to arrange with a situation you can’t quite change anyhow, however knowing your shade can spare you a lot of troubles so don’t take it as an offense if I ask you, Leileigh: Do you know your shade?

With the Earth’s blessings

Migdalit

Does medinat ysrael belong to erez ysrael?

shalom everybody,

so this is the day: The comments of Poor Insane – which I appreciated a lot for he, finally, seems to be a person sincerely looking for a dialog where one listens to the other’s arguments – and a discussion I had with a dear friend, D., who is reading this blog though only commenting in private (why by the way?) pushed me into getting something written down I have pushed off for quite a while now. Nearly a year to be specific; as long as I have had this blog: Does Israel belong there?

First of all I feel I have to make you learn two pieces of vocabulary so we can tell things from each other in this posting: medinat ysrael, the State of Israel, referring to today’s political nation Israel and erez ysrael, referring to the historic-geographic land of Israel as it is described in the bible.

So far … any more to procrastinate the “hard issue”? I am afraid nothing that wouldn’t be all to obviousely distracting from it …

To put it in a nutshell: I don’t have an answer to that question. There’s just too much information amiss or information I’ve only gotten from untrustworthy (either pro-Zionist or pro-Palestinian) sources to come to a solution. I’ll include those questions I’d love to have answered and if somebody can provide sources to any of them he’s more then welcome!

Nevertheless, me not being able to answer that question doesn’t change anything about the right of existence of today’s medinat ysrael, State of Israel. As far as the situation goes today the world – and that does include the Arab and thereby also the Palestinian world – will have to accept Israel existing and Israeli and Palestinians will ultimately have to come to a solution that grants both populations a peaceful, free and sustainable way of living. Whether that will be a classical two-state-solution or one or another kind of a joined state or maybe a completely different approach is another topic and a question only to be answered by history in the years to come. Even if Israel was to be proven “guilty” as the trigger of the current conflict (though I suppose even in the worst case scenario plenty of other entities would have their part too) it cannot be suggested today’s Israeli population (neither the Jewish nor the Muslim or any other) is punished for what their parents might have done wrong. This is why untouched by the historic “truth” I will never accept any voices questioning today’s medinat ysrael‘s right of existence.

As far as history goes – and I hope Poor Insane and others are with me as far as that – there was some kind of political entity inhabited by Jews at some point in history at least to the Jewish rebellion against Rome and the destruction of the second temple by the Romans in 70 CE. And this is where my first questions to historians enter the stage: Who – ethnically – were the inhabitants of erez ysrael up to 70 CE? Was there already an Arab (Jordanian / Palestinian) population in erez ysrael? (remember there where no Muslims back then!) and about what percentage of the total population were they? What other minorities (?) used to live there in that time? (Today it’d be Druze and Beduin people and a number of other minorities).

Around 70 CE and the centuries following would also be the time when Rome did its best to get rid of the Jews of Israel. They did prohibit teaching of Judaism – Rabbis had to teach in hiding – and destroy everything and everybody Jewish they could get hold of. Also they “exported” plenty of Jews off to Europe as slaves (the last “Roman” diaspora). What I don’t know, though would love to find out is how many (what percentage of the total population) Jews remained in erez ysrael in about 700 CE? How and when did they disappear from the land that apparently at one point was inhabited mainly by them? When would be the first time there where more Arabs (Jordanians / Palestinians) then Israelis (Hebrews) in erez ysrael?

The 8th century CE brought about the rise of Islam and subsequently them taking over erez ysrael. But what happened to the Jews living there? My idea of it – though I might be mistaken so feel free to correct me – is that a number of them apparently converted to Islam and another group was killed (let’s avoid the g-word here). If this is correct it’d mean that ethnically today’s “Palestinian” population of erez ysrael was no more no less then Jews who converted to Islam at one point around the 8th century. Which is interesting if you consider that Judaism isn’t only about what religion one chooses but also about genetics – inherited belonging to the tribe of Israel.  ((I’ve suggested that to some rather zionist friends of mine once and they nearly freaked out *lol*. I wonder how pro-Palestinians ‘d react to that one?))

I know for sure though that there were some places in Israel that are known to have continuously and in direct line been inhabited by Jews all the time from the time of the second temple: Jerusalem, Hevron (well, no longer, apparently), Zfat and Pki’in.  So I dare to claim that there have, since the days of Moses, been Jews living in erez ysrael. It’s not like they completely disappeared at any given time … they just declined from a majority to a minority in the land that used to be their’s.

Anyway: After the Muslims came the Crusaders or better to say the split the country between the two of them for a while. There’s plenty of records of Jews living in erez ysrael during crusader time and the impression I got – though I am not a historian nor an expert of any kind – is that the population seems to have been rather mixed at that time with no population outnumbering the other all too much. In general Jews seemed to have had quite a lot of power and influence when it came to trade whilst political power, unless it was with the Christians, was more likely to be with Muslims. But again: That could be my fantasy going wild.

Later on, however, Muslims took back the land and held it basically until Ottomane times. By then Aliya Alef, the first wave of, mostly European, Jews migrating back to Israel would already have started. David Ben Gurion, for instance, legendary first Israeli Prime Minister, used to have a Turkish passport at some point. So now we are well into Zionism and Jews already moving back to Israel. A Israel that, by that time, hadn’t been existing anymore for about 1’800 years but then, though it was in contemporary literature referred to as “Palestine” talking about the geographic area wasn’t Palestine either but a part of the Ottomane empire until World War I in which it was taken over by Great Britain until medinat ysrael‘s Independence in 1948.  An Independence that, according to Israeli sources, wasn’t all to much Great Britain’s doing anyway for apparently (according to Israeli sources) Jewish underground organisations, such as the Ha-Ganah, had already fought a decent battle against Britain’s rule for some decades pushing her to the point of getting out of the region before they completely lost their face.

I’ve read in a book about Theodor Herzl’s life once that in the beginning of Zionism many weren’t all too concerned about where that Jewish State would be located. The most important point about it, at that point, was to have a state that was mainly Jewish in order to protect Jews from persecution. There were talks about giving the Jews some piece of land in today’s Uganda (Africa) but it never happened for one reason or the other. Only later on Zionists chose their old homeland, erez ysrael, as the target for Jewish migration in order to establish that Jewish State.

What I’d love to have are reliable sources about the percentages of ethnic groups in erez ysrael around 1800 and their development during the 19th century yet I haven’t found any reliable (paid neither by Jews, nor Ottomanes) sources about that one. So I can’t tell you anything about who “inhabited” erez ysrael when Aliya Alef started. I’d love to know. I’ve seen some charts but not only am I afraid their numbers mirror that of those who paid the author but also did it strike me that the numbers only consist of “Jews” and “Muslims” or similar but there’s no word about Christians, Beduins, Druze safe any other minority and no difference between a “Palestinian” Arab and a Turk which limits the reliability of the sources to nil in my opinion.

The time of the foundation of the State of Israel is known as the “nakba”, the catastrophe, in Palestinian and Arab history. For Jews of course it was exactly the opposite: They finally had a country of their own, a place where they could feel safe. Well, mostly. At least now their enemies came from outside and they knew who they were.

I know some survivors of the Shoah and I can clearly depict what a great feeling it must have been for them. One lovely elderly lady, an Auschwitz survivor, H., whom I love dearly and who – in her way and perhaps without knowing of it – taught me a couple of very important lessons about “life” and “fate”, told me the point where she had really been able to make her peace with her past was the day when her son, while at the army, visited Auschwitz with his unit; that regular Israeli soldiers could go and visit there was the greatest of all feelings to her. Anyway where I want this to lead to is the following: Of course Jews at that time had a lot of wounds to hatch – psychologically as well als physically – and a whole state to build up so yes, it is perfectly possible that they forgot about those who had to innocently suffer for their happyness. I am sure wrong has been done and people have come to harm without contributing to it.

As concerns the “nakba” there’s quite a lot of controversial information again that makes it hard for me to sort out who’s “right” and who not. Whilst Palestinian sources claim “Palestinians” had been displaced from their homes by Israelis or similar I’ve read and heard plenty of Israeli sources claiming the only people that called for Arabs to leave the newly founded medinat ysrael was Arabs. I couldn’t remember ever having heard of Israelis actually killing or driving Arab people out by force – though this, again, might be due to me lacking sources so feel free to supply any. Anyway apparently for one reason or another many Arabs didn’t feel welcome in a Jewish state so they left to neighbouring countries who in the subsequent decades gravely betrayed them by declining even second and third generation refugees citizenship, work permits and a live outside refugee camps. (Or am I mistaken concerning this? How do you think about this, Poor Insane? Why do they do that?)

Talking about medinat ysrael and its foundation: British Mandate Palestine consisted not of today’s medinat ysrael but rather of both today’s medinat ysrael plus today’s Jordan. So when UN allowed – more or less voluntarely – medinat ysreal to be founded it already split the land and gave the bigger part, Transjordan – today’s Jordan – to the Arab population. A part of land Israel wasn’t all too interested into anyway for first of all they just wanted some land where they could finally settle down in peace and second of all according to bible sources it didn’t belong to them or their ancestors anyway.

So I can kinda understand why many Israelis claim they have already given half of the land to the Arabs anyway and them feeling the Arabs are just taking more and more of the land until, if they keep giving the Arabs more land, there will be no land left for Israel in the end. From the Israeli perspective it looks like every time they give land to the Arabs they just want more which of course makes Israel reluctant to give them any.

Another word to the name “Palestine”: There is two possible roots for the name “Palestine”. One of them being the ancient people of the Philisters, a people of whom we hardly know a thing but that they settled down in today’s Gaza strip and were pretty misterioue tradesmen – there’s quite a lot of really cool archaeological stuff left over from the Philistines in Gaza. Some say they were responsible for a series of raids in all the Eastern Mediterranean in that time but there’s not sufficient proof to be sure yet. Anyway it seems that those Philistines were no Semitic people, neither Arab nor Hebrew, but indogermanic spoken so they didn’t “belong” to the area at all. So I suppose as “original Palestines” the Philistines can be ruled out (though I’d love to run some genetic testing on today’s Gaza population (the part of it that’s not refugees from somewhere else) to find out if they are the actual descendants of Philistines).

Possibility number two and what is broadly accepted as historic truth (again I am open for sources suggesting the opposite) is the Romans renamed what used to be Judea into Palestine in order to disconnect the Jews with Judea; as a punishment for the Jewish revolts so to say. So as far as I am concerned there has never been such a thing as a “tribe of Palestine” that today’s Palestinians could derive their name and identity from. So here – again – comes one question: When and why did Palestinians begin to call themselves “Palestinians”? And what did they call themselves before that? I’ve heard rumors though unfortunately nothing reliable (sources anybody?) that up to some point in the 1960ies the average Palestinian would identify himself as “Jordanian” and only as the Palestinian liberation movement gained momentum were they told to call themselves “Palestinians”. There is hearsay about some elderly Palestinian people telling they were born “Jordanian” until one day somebody dropped by telling them that now they were “Palestinian”. I’d love to know whether there’s truth in that for that really makes it sound as if there is a possibility that “Palestinians” and thereby “Palestine” is no more no less then an artificially constructed entity in order to be used for Arab foreign politics (while nobody cares what happens to those being called “Palestinians”). Which even in the worst case scenario of  medinat ysrael not “belonging” to erez ysrael wouldn’t make “Palestinians” any better then “Israeli”.

This is just a rather random serving of aspects being part of the big question. There’s plenty more where that comes from at nearly every blog concerned with the area and its politics and history.

So here comes the thing with the question asked above: Who is to judge which people “belongs” to erez ysrael? What conditions have to be met for a people to rightfully “own” the land they are living in and what conditions have to be met in order for a people to loose that right? Poor Insane is absolutely right that, if following the logic of the Jews belonging to Israel because they did live there at some point you had to displace half of mankind and draw a completely new map. Many Jews claim they are a special case because of being persecuted for so many millenia and that historically proven the only way to grant their savety is by giving them the possibility to stand up for themselves by giving them a state of their own – medinat ysrael. Is this valid? I don’t know but I think if we have a look into history we cannot completely dismiss the argument nor the one that whilst Arabs do have half a continent to run to Jews have nothing but that tiny place called “Israel”. But then of course I can perfectly understand every Palestinian asking what the heck this does have to do with him and why this means his grandmother had to (?) leave her home in order to go someplace else.

I don’t believe anyhow that further forced displacements (neither of Jews nor Muslims) can pose a solution to the conflict but rather does a solution have to be found with everybody staying in the place he is living in now (which of course leaves open the question of what to happen with millions of “Palestinian” second and third generation “refugees” that likely couldn’t be supported by the pure size and resources of erez ysrael whatsoever.)

That’d be my personal overview of the situation. I think it’s the longest posting I’ve written so far but still merely scratches the surface of the whole problem, anyway I hope I could give you an idea of how complicated and multi-layered it is. I am more then open to any questions and any further discussion and if you are interested in any particular aspect just tell me and I’ll see what information I can get.

looking forward to a great discussion

Migdalit

“Darling, I am a Witch!”

Merry Meet,

being Pagan is, as far as I am concerned, a wonderful thing: It means being responsible first of all for one self, as Sarah put it in words in her blog recently:

For us the gods are something like guides. It almost seems that religion in paganism is, first and foremost concerned with personal growth so what good would it do to have a god who would just be nice even if we screwed up? I mean, yes, there are that kind, “parent gods” and maybe you need them at times. But then, if you want to grow you need tasks as well and a god who sets them.

Yet of course being responsible for yourself requires you to be rather strong and self-conscious. In fact there are some Pagan teachers (every kind from “guru” to “parent-” or “siblinglike” can be found) that would require their students to have a secure rooting in “worldly” spheresbefore they can enter the realms of the magic. A prerequisite that can also be found for Kaballah students– and I guess in many other places – too where whoever wants to become a student of Kaballlah has to be of about fourty years age or older, financially independant and a parent as only those circumstances will allow him or her to be earthed enough to be able to deal with the strong and potentially dangerous energies and wisdomof Kaballah. I have no idea whether that applies to Hollywood-Kaballah too, yet this is the version I was told in Israel where Madonna and collegues are in generally looked at a little … sceptical (as you might imagine).

Fellow Pagans sometime look a bit puzzled (sometimes even funny) when I tell them I am not forcing “magic” abilities at the moment for I am just too concerned with worldly things such as my career and, well, just being young and enjoying life. I know the Pagan 101, both concerning techniques and ethnics, and that’s it for the moment and I am happy with it. Maybe one day when I will have grown older and have settled down (which would include stopping changing countries on a two-year basis or so *g*) I might sit down and exercise or bury myself in literature searching for whatever I think is important. And who knows maybe by the time my hair has grown grey (which with my genetics could take some decades) I will also start teaching. If I can get a whole new generation of Pagans started with my crazy ideas about Paganism, why not?

Yet not now. Not today. Today the only thing I mess around with is Pagan Politics😉 You already know my point of view if you’ve been reading my blog from its beginnings: I just don’t see why every Pagan needs to be a high priest (or worse). Unfortunately that makes it hard to share my way of life with fellow Pagans for many of them regard my lack of (Pagan) ambitions as a sign of fear or lack of strenght and talents. It’s one of those things where people need to get to know you first but that takes some time and you don’t always feel like taking that time. It’s just a pain in the ass if you either keep your mouth shut or have to defend yourself every time you meet new Pagans.

People always tell you if somebody’s worth it, he will accept what’s different about you. Of course that applies to the mere fact of being Pagan too. Yet if you fall in love with that guy-next-door it doesn’t make things any less difficult at all. Telling him that you are Pagan and that Paganism means something to you and that, yes, you do believe in magic, still resembles the classical TV-series or movie-situation of “Oh darling, there’s something you need to know: I’ am witch.” Even without the broomstick. You know it’s true that if he can’t live with it he’s not the right one anyway but all those great advises don’t change a thing about the fact that you might be hurt badly by a person you love. And there’s no worse feeling in the world then being let down by your friends just because you told them you were Pagan and now they think something’s wrong with you for you are a little backwards believing in magic and so on.

I always try to tell new friends as soon as possible, mostly colloquial while in some discussion that comes close to the topic, without making a huge thing about it. It’d be something like “you know, I believe in magic too, why not?”. Funny enough I have experienced that often enough about ten minutes later we have found out that that person’s either Pagan too or thinks it’s a really interesting way of life or at least doesn’t care too much. It seems we naturally get along best from the first minutes with those people that have a similar general idea of life and how it works. Actually there’s not a single friend in my life at the moment who thinks I am nuts– which I am, no doubt about that – because I believe in the “extranatural” (which I consider the most natural thing in the world …).

Israeli Jews, by the by, are great with Pagans. At least those I met. Most of them are so grateful for the fact that you aren’t Christian that it doesn’t even cross their mind to regard you as some kind of “evil witch” or “savage” or so. Once I met an ex-orthodox-Jew-friend of a friend of mine and we where out eating (unkosher) seafood at the port when my friend, who always considered me being Pagan “cool” said: “You know, Migdalit’s a Pagan!”. What came next was that it took us the best part of an hour to convince him that I didn’t believe in Jesus Christ (well, I do regard him as a great philosopher but that’s about it) we never got to the point of him understanding what a “Pagan” was. Most people are really curious about Paganism in Israel and as bad as it is, I feel more religiousely free and understood within the Jews of Israel then within the Christians of Europe. If I think about where I would like my kids to grow up with no Pagan state to run to: Israel or Europe I’d absolutely opt for Israel, though it’s not the country that supports our way of life on an energetic level. Sad, I know. But who knows: Perhaps Austria too has opened up by the time I have kids; there are so many of us out there by now

see you soon

yours,

Migdalit