i come from you.
November 24, 2009 § Leave a comment
what i find interesting about this article from the new york times is that the expulsion of jews from jerusalem acts as a central origin myth not only in popular jewish culture, but also in the founding documents of the state israel. how in this contemporary age one of the most entrenched and politically significant conflicts/occupations is in part based upon an inaccurate myth. the power of the ‘origin myth’.
what are the origin myths that i tell myself? origins of africa, middle passage, slavery, underground railroad, redemption songs. how accurate or comprehensive is that myth?
who doesnt it include? my native ancestry? my white ancestry? why not?
and why do i tell my story this way? is it not just as accurate to say that i come from the stars? i come from a womb? i come from lucy?
The Israeli Declaration of Independence states: “After being forcibly exiled from their Land, the People kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it.”
also how conversion actually played a huge role in the maintaining and re creating the jewish culture/folk. have been thinking a lot about marge piercey’s book that i read this summer. woman out of time. and how in the future, one’s culture was not based on genetics, but on the culture that you felt called to participate/be a member of. so then culture identification was not linked with skin color, hair texture, and other physical characteristics. it seems to me that this has been the way of maintaining cultures throughout histories much more than i have thought. what does it mean to be trans-cultural? can we convert/revert from one culture to another? and what is the difference between a respectful conversion and the many oppressive forms of cultural appropriation?
Despite the fragmented and incomplete historical record, experts pretty much agree that some popular beliefs about Jewish history simply don’t hold up: there was no sudden expulsion of all Jews from Jerusalem in A.D. 70, for instance. What’s more, modern Jews owe their ancestry as much to converts from the first millennium and early Middle Ages as to the Jews of antiquity.
Other theories, like the notion that many of today’s Palestinians can legitimately claim to be descended from the ancient Jews, are familiar and serious subjects of study, even if no definitive answer yet exists.
and how political power is highly invested in what origin myths we believe about ourselves…
Consider, for instance, Professor Sand’s assertion that Palestinian Arab villagers are descended from the original Jewish farmers. Nearly a century ago, early Zionists and Arab nationalists touted the blood relationship as the basis of a potential alliance in their respective struggles for independence. Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and Yitzhak Ben Zvi, Israel’s longest-serving president, made this very argument in a book they wrote together in 1918. The next year, Emir Feisal, who organized the Arab revolt against the Ottoman empire and tried to create a united Arab nation, signed a cooperation agreement with the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann that declared the two were “mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people.”
what is the political power of my origin myth? and in whose interests is my origin myth?