Shabbat Talmud Study: Developing Moral Language to Talk About Their Nakba


We are going to be hearing a lot about Nakba Day in the next two weeks. An article yesterday in the Israeli paper Haaretz had this to say about Nakba Day on May 15:

Hamas has been ramping up the drama in the run-up to Nakba Day, which will be marked precisely between the transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the beginning of Ramadan. Hamas’ leaders in Gaza plan a mass storming of the border that will bring down the fence, highlighting Gazans’ distress and symbolizing the Palestinian refugees’ claim to a right of return to pre-1967 Israel.

How do we think and talk about their Nakba? How do we teach their Nakba to our children?

Tomorrow we will consider the Nakba through the lens of one man’s story, Jamal Munheir, who had lived in Hulda, on ancestral property for many generations, side by side with a Jewish community that was also in Hulda. On April 6, 1948, a Zionist battalion conquered the Arab village. What had been Arab Hulda became Jewish Hulda. What had been Jamal Munheir’s home is now an Israeli winery. In My Promised Land, Ari Shavit takes Jamal Munheir, now a penniless refugee in the West Bank, back to what had been his home. There is a lot of pathos in these pages.

We will consider Jamal Munheir’s story of loss, his nightmare, through the lens of four great Zionist thinkers: Ahad Ha’am, Theodor Herzl, Vladimir Jabotinsky, and David Ben Gurion.

We must develop moral vocabulary and moral categories to help us understand Jamal Munheir. We must find a way to teach our children that Israel is morally justified, and morally complicated, and that is okay. Denial will not help our children when they face a BDS petition in college. An honest conversation can.

See you tomorrow at 8:30.

Shabbat shalom,
Wes