continued from hidden in plain sight
what are we hiding (from)?
As of this writing, the phrase “hidden in plain sight” appears in a Google search 142,000 times. It must refer to a wide variety of concepts and situations. How many things to we encounter and pass by that are as though they are hidden from us in plain sight? I asked my colleagues to consider some of this in relation to a commercial that appeared on Israeli television and has received some significant discussion.
in reality, if a Palestinian comes close to the fence to return a football or to wave a flag he is likely to get shot; the whole reality of the occupation, is something Israelis are refusing to see…
My friend and guide Rabbi Walter Zanger tells me that the likelihood of getting shot is a serious overstatement. However, my point is metaphoric: The separation barrier (some 90% of it is a wire fence) and the people from whom it separates “us” has become so “normal” that its existence is “hidden” in plain sight. A more “realistic” presentation appears in this non-commercial video (which may be a metaphor for “waiting for the phone to ring” (towards the bottom))
The video is made by a satirical team Yossi Atia and Itamar Rose. According to an article on Ynet:
In their outrageously funny short satirical movies, Yossi Atia and Itamar Rose aim to expose Israel’s true face by breaking every taboo possible. From suicide bombings to the occupation, rape and homosexuality, no cow is sacred. Their mission, as they define it, is to make people look at their reality from a different angle
Someone else took the original Cellcom video did a bit of editing, adding a couple of brief scenes of what might be happening on the other side. (A minor industry of spin-offs seems to be developing on YouTube… each one a bit harsher than the previous.)
If Israelis and Palestinians want to come together, communicate and share a good game of soccer or volleyball they can do that. There are venues. And, yes, I know: they are all in Israel, organized by Jews, not Arabs (Muslims or Christians).
what does it take to reveal what is “hidden in plain sight”?
For the past three weeks I have been wearing a lapel button with the image of Raoul Wallenberg on it. (I have four different buttons that refer to him, two of them in the blue and yellow colors of Sweden produced for The Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States.) The button says “Help Save Raoul Wallenberg” even though the commonly accepted version suggests that he was killed by the Soviets on this date, July 17, 1947. Raoul himself is still hidden. He does not have an official death certificate. Stories of him appeared throughout the Gulag at least into the 1960s. I can count on one hand the number of people I encounter daily (tellers, clerks, friends) who pay any attention to the button and ask about Raoul Wallenberg.
I paused at the bronze reproduction of his briefcase and wondered about him. “What would Raoul do?” As I finish writing this post on July 16, I am fasting, once again. Raoul was a man of action. He would probably laugh at my fasting. I do not believe there is a moral equivalence, however, in the words of my friend and colleague Rabbi Haim Beliak:
A fast is personal, if a minor sacrifice. The fast is a gesture that lays prostrate the very essence of a person. It reminds us that we are offering ourselves to be a signal of solidarity and contrition.
We know that the suffering of the people of Gaza is far greater than our one day gesture can express. Nevertheless, I am bolstered in this gesture because it presents us with a reminder of Palestinian humanity. We need that reminder because we are assaulted with attempts to deny Palestinian humanity. It is in the nature of wars and occupations to demonize and demean. The obliteration of the humanity of the Palestinians by blockades that deny food, medicines, and life — restoring material conditions is now forty — two years old.
How could we (rabbis) be silent? How could we not hear the cry of children and mothers in their desperation? In our gesture we signal our hope for peace and maybe some day, reconciliation. We don’t seek to deny the suffering of Israelis by our gesture. We affirm the human agency of all parties to stop fighting and turn to peace.
If Raoul Wallenberg was alive today (were he not murdered on this date in 1947, or “allowed” to die in some ignominious manner in the Gulag) which is rather unlikely, he would now be 97 years old. I hope that I have done my small part to bring him out of where he has been hidden.
|Text||Help Save Raoul Wallenberg Savior of 100,000 Jews|