Yesterday was a whirlwind of activity. It started with brunch in the West Village, following by a late afternoon movie in Midtown (Life of Pi – it was beautiful I thought) and ended with a Sandra Bernhard performance at Joe’s Pub in the East Village. While for the most part I felt she was just phoning it in, there were a few funny stories and good song numbers. The most interesting part of the night for me though, was when Sandra was telling some story about the strangeness of the orthodox Jews she had encountered on a trip to Israel. There was nothing political about this story at all, and nothing pro Israel nor anti Arab or Palestinian. But a woman in the crowd was moved to yell out “THE PALESTINIANS, DON’T FORGET THEM.” To which Sandra replied “I don’t honey, I pray for them every day.” And then, clearly a little pissed at this woman’s self-righteous non sequitur, launched into a little diatribe about having washed her hands of the entire region since they are all crazy.
It made me think. I have to admit to a little of the same. Despite my personal desire for a “one state” solution that would involve a boundary encompassing Israel proper, Gaza and the West Bank with a secular constitution guaranteeing equal rights for all who live there, I realize this is a pipe dream given the current situation. I look at the hatred on all sides, and the reprehensible violence of all involved, and like Sandra throw up my hands. My pacifist self truly believes that violence just begets more violence, no matter who is doing it. I get truly disgusted by anyone excusing any form of violence or killing, yet I watch people do it all the time. People have a strong need to see things in black and white, good guys versus bad, but I am unable to. I see people suffering and dying. And after countless years of no progress, it just looks hopeless. I don’t like admitting that, because in the abstract I don’t believe in hopeless causes. I tend to think there is always a solution to any problem. But sometimes we have to admit to being powerless, and while continuing to support fair outcomes for all and speaking up whenever we see injustice, accept that we may never see them.