I have never, before this year, read this week’s ‘portion of the spies’ as a political text. Numbers 13:43, in which ten of the spies first deem themselves ‘grasshoppers’ and then become convinced that their enemies must see them as grasshoppers also, has only struck me as offering psychological insight. The way we see ourselves becomes the way others see us.
This year, with the waves of the flotilla still lapping at the newspaper front pages, the relationship between the way in which we see ourselves and the way others see us seems fraught with implications that result in loss of life. While the Israeli border guards sees themselves as the thin line protecting a democracy, refusing to back down in the face of terrorist rhetoric and action, sections of the crew of the Mavi Marmara see something quite different. In amongst all the claim and counter-claim, You-Tube links and interviews I’m left feeling profoundly angered that what should have been an act of non-violent civil disobedience ended so violently and profoundly saddened at the loss of life. I know that Israel has to police the borders of Gaza. I know also that the crew of Mavi Marmara were indeed waiting iron bars at the ready. But I refuse to believe that it has to be this way. For all the political and religious differences between Palestinian and Zionist, Jew and Muslim, flotilla protester and naval soldier we are all human beings, all created in the same image, all aspiring for something better than violence.
In the words of our Kabbalat Shabbat service;
‘Above the thunder of the mighty waters, more majestic than the breakers of the sea is Adonai above.’ (Psalm 93)