Homes found and homes lost

As President Obama correctly noted in his speech in Jerusalem, Zionism and America’s founding myth spring from a common quest: the yearning for a homeland.

But this human search is not universal — even if modernity has produced an ever expanding sense of rootlessness in populations made up of individuals for whom home is an abstraction buried in lost memories or unrealized hopes, not an intimately known place of birth.

People who know exactly where they were born and know this as the point on the planet from which they crawled, walked, climbed and by whatever other means slowly ventured out into the world, form a picture of the world resting on a very granular and specific foundation. Home known this way is not a disputed territory or a divine gift — it’s simply the place one knows better than any other.

From such a home a world is constructed that begins with definite articles: the hill, the river, the house, the field. Out of these utterly unique details a wider world of less distinct generalities only later emerges.

Homes yearned for, on the other hand, are homes to be discovered, created, invoked, declared, and claimed and for Americans and Israelis such homes could only be found by denying the existence of the homes of others.

This act of denial required that each nation fabricate or reinvent a founding mythology in which God gave a land with no people to a people with no land. An earthly paradise could only be created and believed in by destroying the past, dispossessing the native population and driving people out of their homeland.

This is our bond — but it’s not one to celebrate.

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1 thought on “Homes found and homes lost

  1. Óscar Palacios

    I was once meditating on the subject, and I came to a similar conclusion: I thought: sure, Americans identify perhaps on a subconscious level to Israelis in that both countries share a history of conquest and dispossession of a land and its original inhabitants. Pity -for hardcore Zionists- that their country didn’t come into existence a couple of centuries earlier, when “no-one was looking”. They could have simply exterminated the natives, as happened in what is now the territory of the United States, and it would all now be a long forgotten memory.

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