Yossi Klein Halevi —
Thin Places, Thick Realities

A new show from Jerusalem with American-Israeli journalist Yossi Klein Halevi, who says Jerusalem is a place where the essential human story plays itself out with particular intensity.

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is a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and the author of Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist and At the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land.

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The story of an 8-Ball Crip and Jewish convert who served in the IDF and asked whether he "started placing the state of Israel in the position of God." A guest report from Rosalina Nieves of USC's Annenberg School of Journalism.

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Yossi Klein Halevi in his offices at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

Photo by Trent Gilliss

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Here is a quote from Pity the Nation, which I am reading as I type these lines:

Speaking these words is Shlomo Green, when being told that about Damiani, a Palestinian whose house he is inhabiting now.

...the old Jew sat for a long time in silence as the wind and rain in the darkness outside lashed at the windows of Damiiani's old home. Then he looked up quite suddenly with tears in his eyes. "I am very moved by what you have told me,"...What can I say? I would like to meet these people. If you can say for me...Here he paused, but he wanted to go on. "it is a tragedy of both our people. How can I explain in my poor English? I think the Arabs have the same rights as the Jews and I think it is a tragedy of history that a people who are refugees make new refugees. I have nothing against the Arabs. I am living here with Arab people in peace and I have some friends among them. They are nice people. They are the same as us. I don't know that we Jews did this tragedy- but it happened. I want only one thing: peace for the new generation and progress. How can I say more than this? I feel at home here."

Fisk, Robert. Pity the Nation (p. 31)

You say "There are no facts here" (in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). And you go on to suggest:

"In this newest most tangible representation of the divide between Israelis and Palestinians [the wall], a quintessential characteristic of multiple narratives about the same "facts" emerges. For one side, the wall signifies security and safety; for the other, separation and oppression. Both reactions to it are valid on some deep level."

But there are facts. There is the fact that the Zionists (my father was one) colonized Palestine by the ethnic cleansing of its indigenous inhabitants, much the same way that the American colonists took over this land with genocidal actions against its indigenous residents.

There is the fact that the state of Israel is the primary violator of UN resolutions in the world, with no penalty or sanction. And there is the fact that the separation wall, which is yet another confiscatory imposition on the native peoples, is illegal and an abomination to all standards of morality and human decency.

Different peoples with different agendas and intellectual and moral blinders can "validly" react in different ways to the same facts. But the facts on the ground do not change according to one's response to them.

Israel is a rogue state and the only violence that the UN Charter accepts as legitimate is self-defense or campaigns against an occupying or oppressive regime. By law and morality, the Palestinians are in the right and the Israelis are in the wrong. That is the fact. The rest is rationalization.

from Krista on line re the religious divide and the Middle East: "The future is always, undeniably and everywhere, a far more fluid, expansive, and surprising thing than we ever take for granted." I am quoting this, from her recent, fascinating piece on Yossi Klein Halevi. I found At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for God Within Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land" remaindered some time ago at the Jewish Book Store in Brookline, MA. The title, so evocative of yearning, and so poetic, called to me and I purchased this book, for a song. When you examine the underlying spirituality of all religions you discover there is a deep well they are all drawing from, and it is, what waters us all, that same water, for that same thirst for knowledge about what we're doing here, to "divine" deep and deeper truths about our universe and Creation. I have been writing letters for a long time, and it seems, my letters are perhaps, going unheard, but I do it, with letters, and have written thousands around the world, because I do it, with words, and this is about the letters, in every possible way, meaning the world was first created out of the potentials of the Hebrew letters, and all letters, because there is a unity that crosses Babel. It's spring, and everything, particularly here in New England, is bursting into bloom. All springs, tightly coiled, as the Jewish Torah, as in all furled parchments, as fern, are opening, as I say perhaps spring is a time of all openings, of eye openings, of I openings. There are deep and ongoing metaphoric connects running up and down all creation. This mirroring one ness, once perceived, and available to us all, is beautiful. And, as Keats wrote, Beauty IS truth. Yes, to the first statement of Krista's about what is fluid, as in movement, as also in spring. It is written in the Zohar, the mystical book of Splendor, that "A river runs through Eden." I want to draw attention to this as we're all drawing from that same well, and I say, the Promise, has everything to do with water, as water is also solution, a word, that is deeply about what nourishes us all. Tippett and, The Tipping Point. I say, we're getting to that part of the story, a story deeply coded in words, in all names and naming, that will sweep the world.

I am a 68 year old, teacher, and have wanted to understand, as much as I can, the complexities challenging Isreal and the Middle East, in general. Your interview with Mr. Halevi was so helpful. His level of sensitivity and clarity regarding Isreal's challenges were presented with an extroadinary degree of insight and reason. After listening to your interview, I am left with a higher degree of understanding. Mr. Halevi clearly combines compassion with intellect, which can only lead to wisdom.

Thank You,
Norton F. Richman

In giving so much time to a virulently racist, anti-Palestinian bigot like Halevi, is Krista Tippett just betraying a racist streak she herself has? Her grossly ill-informed comments about the Guardian's coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict suggest this is the case.

When there are so many Israelis of so many political persuasions -- including many who criticize Palestinians, but with genuine fairness -- to give so much time to Halevi, who sounds like a white southern American racist circa 1955, raises serious questions about Tippett's motivation.

Very much enjoying series on Israel-Palestine; wonderful to witness Krista's personal transformation through direct experience. Three observations:

--Mohammed Darawshe is described as a "moderate" for his willingness to "accept" Israel on its own terms. Many Palestinian citizens of Israel understand, correctly, that a "Jewish state" is inherently discriminatory. That does not make them "immoderate" or "extremist," it puts them in the fine tradition of American Jews who fought the housing discrimination of "restrictive covenants" and the education discrimination of Ivy League "Jewish quotas."

--In the Yossi segment, Krista refers to the barrier by its Israel-apologist name, the "security barrier." An error, I believe, to not also describe its function in expropriating Palestinian land from its owners and in otherwise imposing a two-tier system of justice in the West Bank, rightly termed "apartheid."

--Be careful when describing checkpoints as passages "into Israel," as most of them are actually not on the border at all, but entirely within Palestinian occupied territory.

Thank you for your exploration, your steadfast and difficult project to reveal, understand, transform consciousness, foster a healing worldview.

I was profoundly moved by Yossi Klein Halevi's devotion to Israel, and that it is this devotion that drives him not to join with those who can only show their love for Israel by denigrating the "other," or with those who have despaired of a solution to the conflict. He acknowledges all the hard realities, but still retains his vision of peace and of a future in which Israel is truly a light unto the nations.