By Trudy Wischemann
“I’ll be home for Christmas,” the old song opens, and finishes “if only in my dreams.” In between the beginning and end, the lyrics describe a peopled place, with weather and vegetation we have to go away to get, sitting here on the Valley floor. Maybe the Sierra. Maybe Dunsmuir, on the toes of Mt. Shasta. Maybe Michigan.
The imagination is a wonderful place. You can find yourself winging home in a song. And for most of us, “home” has geographic coordinates, a place on the map. Thanks to that Mother, Change, we may not actually want to go there anymore, but the homing instinct remains to that place we once called home.
Do the people of Israel feel that way about Jerusalem? As the site of the Holy City in the Bible, the three thousand years of history as the center of the faith that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed over the weekend, meeting in France with its new President Macron, it’s easy to feel compassion for the Israelites. Our President has given them a great big Christmas present: home. In “their” land.
Unfortunately, they are not the only ones to feel that Jerusalem is home. That city is still the center of faith for the Palestinians and other Muslims, in that region and beyond. It is also home for Armenian Christians, as my friend Caitlin Croughan reminded me on the phone Sunday. She visited Jerusalem last year and brought me an Armenian cross from their quarter of town.
She also raised an important point about political states and religious nations. Our forefathers and mothers built America on the principle of separating politics from religion as a way of protecting religious freedom. We believe in that. Many nation-states do not. Israel appears to be one of them. That’s their business, but it surely is not ours.
So why did our fearless leader hand them this gift? Cait thinks it was actually a gift to Mike Pence and his fundamentalist followers. Something to do with the Book of Revelations, apparently, which is strikingly clear to some about the meaning of the preceding 65 Books. I’m not a scholar of Scripture, so I can’t help you out there.
What little I do know about the Bible concerns land, particularly the notion of the Promised Land. It’s a big topic that was opened by Walter Brueggemann in the late 1970s, and has continued scantily into the present. The main concept Brueggemann uncovered (for me) is the idea of Covenant. The land was promised to the Israelites as part of the covenant with their God. It was a gift, the gift of sustenance and placedness, but it was His half of the bargain. Israel’s half, in return for abundance and security, was to love their God with all their strength, soul and might and to keep His commandments, which unfortunately have been broken century after century (especially in the West Bank and Gaza most recently.)
Does Netanyahu remember the teachings about Exile? How the Jews lost Jerusalem over and over again, and why? More importantly for the current news, however, is this question: does Donald Trump even know?
Trudy Wischemann is a native Washingtonian who stays home for Christmas in Lindsay. You can send her your home-based dreams c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com and leave a comment there.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.