The “Backyard” of our War of Independence/Yael Maayan
What do you have in your backyard? In mine I have an old mattress on its way to the trash heap, a vaporizer on it’s way to the storage shed, some broken pipes, an old mattress frame, squashed plastic balls. There is always stuff waiting there, for some change of seasons that will force me to deal with all that I have neglected for a whole season. By way of comparison, what is in the “backyard” of my Jewish Israeli identity? Pieces of war, people who have died, hopes, half-baked historical facts, and lots of stories on the threshold of the storehouse.
My personal need to start making some sort of order in the “backyard” of my Jewish Israeli consciousness started way back when I was serving my army service, when I was in the Old City in Jerusalem. Something seemed out of order. A gap appeared in my knowledge, and I needed to add parts to the story so that that I could tell the story in a whole and coherent manner.
To tidy up your back yard means that you have to abandon the “front” or the representational aspect for a moment, and to put aside time for that which is hidden, unorganized, neglected. To make order, to add parts to the story, to understand more, to desire to know more. To go forth on a journey of discovery.
I naturally started to look for the missing pieces in my story by going to the “enemy”. I participated in and facilitated many groups, and through them I was exposed to hundreds of stories, thoughts, ideas, possibilities. My story was constructed and deconstructed many times. There were moments which were impossible to bear, as well as beautiful and touching moments, and throughout it all - it was possible to see glimpses of truth, who’s beauty inevitably lit the way.
However, I would like to actually share with you two short journeys that I did with two groups of Jewish Israelis, in my house in Tivon, under the title: “A Critical Examination of the War of Independence.” Each of these “journeys” included 5 sessions of two and a half hours duration.
I started this journey with friends and acquaintances with diverse political leanings and possessing a basic acquaintance with narratives that challenge our major narrative of the arrival in Israel, settling the land, and the war that gave birth to the sovereign State of Israel. The goal was to study together, to listen to the different voices that exist, and to examine how we meet with new knowledge.
[The stops along the journey included the examination of a variety of different texts, movies, presentations - some of which are quite controversial - and all of which raised provocative questions and thoughts about Zionism, Palestinians, the conflict, etc. Rachel]
I would like to thank all of those who took place in these sessions. I was very influenced by them. Recognizing the complexity of our picture enables all of us to be more attentive to the gentle pounding of the heart.
I invite all those that are interested in future groups to make contact with me.
May we leave the right footprints behind us.