Purim: accepting the highest Torah
Review of God is a Verb

New blog: Israel's Back Yard

There are a bunch of posts I'd like to write, among them an exploration of a sweetly lyrical chunk of Kedushat Levi (the Torah commentary of Hasidic master R' Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev) and a post about weekday davenen last summer and now -- but I'm buried in schoolwork today! This morning began with a dash to town for Torah study, then a dash back home for my liturgy class, and now I'm finally settling in to work on some translations for my next hevruta meeting and an outline for a short paper due next week.

But I got an email recently alerting me to the existence of a new blog, and I wanted to pass the link along to those of y'all who may be interested. The blog is called Israel's Back Yard, and it focuses on testimonies from checkpoints in the West Bank. It's written by an Israeli human rights activist, and has been running for more than a year in Hebrew. This is the new translated-into-English version.

The FAQ page offers answers to some questions about what the blog aims to do. Of the work of monitoring checkpoints, the author writes:

I am not there to ensure human rights. Freedom of movement is a basic human right. If that is taken, there is nothing to ensure anymore. The soldiers may be polite to the Palestinians, they may do everything to expedite the queue, they can even hand out fountain pens and flowers, for all I care. As long as the checkpoint is there, the freedom of movement isn’t.

I am not there to ensure human rights, I am recording the disenfranchisement of those very rights, for the sake of others. I am a witness, so you can't say you didn't know or it isn't happening.

For many years I claimed ignorance about the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian situation. I didn't want to look at it closely, it was too painful. I rationalized this by telling myself that all news sources are biased in one direction or another, and that from my comfortable Diaspora home I couldn't possibly know or understand what was happening over there anyway.

Last year I made a promise to myself and to God that I would open my eyes and ears. Those of you who read this blog last summer while I was living in Jerusalem have some sense for how much I found there to love, and also how much I found which pains me deeply. Anyway: this blog exists to help prevent people like me from closing our eyes. For that, I am grateful.

If you're interested, I recommend the first post: Checkpoint 101: with photos.

Technorati tags: , .