The first time I went to my current sublease in Bethlehem, I noticed something strange on the floor — the Star of David. When I moved into the place and looked closer at the pattern, I noticed a menorah. Here I was, in the heart of a Palestinian city, and the floor was “Jewish.”
My apartment is in a home that is at least 100 years old. Hand-painted floor tiles were common in wealthy homes — Christian, Muslim, and Jewish — throughout pre-state Palestine. While I know that the land wasn’t always divided, the current context makes it hard to imagine a Palestinian family putting such tiles into their home.
But here the floor is and it gives me hope. It reminds me that the land has seen better years and that better years might be on the horizon. Not in a divided land, because we’ve already seen that division doesn’t work, but in a land where symbols of Judaism or Christianity or Islam might appear in one another’s homes.
Those who are opposed to a shared, democratic state sometimes cite security as a reason that Israel must remain a Jewish-majority state. But a one-state solution would privilege the security of every individual rather than that of an individual religious (and/or ethnic) group. And to those who argue that the separation barrier has lead to a drop in suicide bombings, I offer a basic from Statistics 101: correlation doesn’t equal causation. Further, the fact that tens of thousands of Palestinian workers come into Israel without permits everyday suggests that if a suicide bomber really wanted to get in, he or she could. (The fact that some people manage to come in without permits does not mitigate Israeli restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement).
Some opponents of a one-state solution also say that the state’s character must remain Jewish for purposes of identity. But why?
If anything, having a Muslim partner has actually strengthened my understanding of and deepened my connection to Judaism. He is very curious about the religion and customs. Not only did he study up on Rosh Hashanah before he came to the holiday dinner, he had questions for...Read More