We enjoyed a fine, more-than-usually boisterous seder at our friends', Donald and Sharon's, last night. It's always a pleasure--and always a different one--to celebrate Passover among friends and family, and to enact the familiar rituals and repeat the familiar words that commemorate the Jews' escape from slavery in Egypt to freedom. I had an uncomfortable thought as we read the passage that recounts the story: that Israel is perpetrating on the Palestinians something of the same oppression that they themselves suffered so long ago at the hands of the Egyptians. This somewhat heretical thought arose in the context of words describing the expansion of the Jewish population under Pharaoh, and the untenability of a situation that kept them subdued whilst other thrived. It's a sad thing, for me--and I know not for me alone--to watch the continuing growth of settlements on the land that's supposed to be under consideration for an eventual Palestinian state; and the power of an intransigeant right wing that believes unquestioningly in its God-given rights. Where, I wonder, is there room for negotiation? And where is the will to make the needed sacrifice on each side?
The Passover festival is all about freedom. The words of the seder refer often to the need to spread freedom to all those for whom it remains a distant dream. Would that they were taken at face value, and that this human species of ours were as devoted to that cause as we pretend to be. We make much of our own freedom in this country--and rightly so. Those of us who enjoy the most of it, it seems, sadly, concern ourselves little with the right of those less fortunate to enjoy the same. I was interested, last night, to hear talk amongst the young participants about what they perceived to be the dictatorial powers and policies of Obama. They know little of real dictatorship, not having lived under its threat. They are the heirs to hard-won rights to freedom, and expect much of it for themselves. What's less clear is how much they/we/I are prepared to sacrifice of our own freedom to assure that of others.
Great thanks to our friend Sharon, for the enormous amount of hard work that went into making this evening possible!