Our friend and colleague, Hillel Schenker, co-editor of the Palestine-Israel Journal, sent the following message on his visit with relatives for the Passover seder at Kibbutz Hatzor:
“I am happy to report from the frontlines of Kibbutz Hatzor that they still have a very vibrant kibbutz seder in the cheder ochel (dining room), with their own kibbutz Hagaddah, lovely performances, shira b’tzibur (community singing) and their own very unique way of ending the seder. The 5th grade class chosen to perform ‘Had Gadya’ goes through the entire imaginative choreography, and then…they do it again. No one seems to know why, but it’s a tradition. They even have an Em Haseder (mother of the seder) who runs things, and the seder was opened by a musical call played not by a bugle or a shofar, but a French Horn. They add their own interpretations of things, and also included Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem the Golden) and the Hebrew version of Shlach Na Et Ami (Let My People Go), which we never did at Barkai [the kibbutz where Hillel once lived].
“I was particularly impressed by the interpretation given to the 3rd cup of wine, when the blesser added that we should not rejoice that “Pharoah’s army got drounded” in the sea, since we should feel empathy for the losses of the enemy who are also human beings. She added that God commanded us not to rejoice at the losses of the enemy. The seder even included a very sharp philiton (satirical, rhymed commentary?) which contained barbs about the elements of privatization that the kibbutz has undergone, while still maintaining its strong sense of community.”
It’s part of the teachings and ritual of Passover that we do not rejoice at the suffering of our enemies. I have this in mind when I think of what’s going on in and near the Gaza Strip. Hamas is a particularly difficult enemy that has apparently escalated from random rocket attacks into Israel to shooting civilians and soldiers directly along the border.
These attacks appear to be cynical efforts to disrupt the supply of fuel from Israel into Gaza, abetting the humanitarian disaster that they decry. Such attacks further goad Israel into unwisely hardening its blockade and launching counterattacks. Under these circumstances, a cease-fire is absolutely necessary but hard to envision. The latest word from Damascus that Hamas might offer a long-term truce (but not peace) in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem seems more a propaganda ploy than a serious proposal. Is the demand that one side make an enormous concession, which would normally come in the give-and-take of negotiations, meant to be taken seriously?
If you read the article, as opposed to the headline, the NY Times report on what Pres. Carter has claimed to achieve in Syria is far from encouraging. The layering of complicated conditions would mean, in effect, a capitulation to Hamas, with a referendum including the participation of Palestinians outside of the territories likely to result in a demand for an unlimited Palestinian “right of return” to Israel. — R. Seliger