(cross-posted from Kosher Eucharist)
JERUSALEM (AP) — Meeting on the grounds of the Ophel, former site of the Jebusite city of Jerusalem, the Israeli Knesset voted unanimously Saturday to express “profound regret” for the Israelite people’s invasion and occupation of the land of Canaan and the expulsion and forcible conversion of many of its non-Israelite inhabitants.
Sponsors of the resolution say they know of no other country that has apologized for distant historical events, although Mongolian lawmakers are considering such a measure. The resolution does not carry the weight of law but sends an important symbolic message, supporters said.
“This session will be remembered for a lot of things, but 20 years hence I suspect one of those things will be the fact that we came together and passed this resolution. I only wish we could have succeeded in bringing a representative of the Canaanite people to the ceremony, but we failed to find a suitable candidate – or any candidate, for that matter,” said Uri Avneri, a politician and founder of the Gush Shalom movement who sponsored the resolution.
The measure also expressed regret for “the exploitation of Moabites.”
The resolution was introduced as Israel begins its celebration of the 3000th anniversary of the occupation of Jerusalem, where the first Israelites arrived in at the head of warrior-king David’s armies around the year 1000 BCE. Jerusalem, home to a popular assortment of sites of religious significance to the Israelite faith, later became a focal point for offshoot religions Christianity and Islam.
Oh, put down that Google News, I made it up. Well, sort of. I actually derived it from this – the Virginia General Assembly just voted to pass a resolution apologizing for slavery, thereby freeing America’s white citizens from their overpowering urge to clasp their black friends’ shoulders and wail “I’m sooorrryyyyyy!” God, I love it when the political system works for the people.
But seriously, although I appreciate an empty symbolic gesture as much as the next guy, slavery kind of…ended…something like…oh, 142 years ago, give or take? The best way to say “sorry” would probably have been to give ol’ Prissy a spot of monetary compensation, or at least 40 acres and a mule, back in 1865 – but I’m sure she’ll rest easy knowing that her great-great-great grandchildren have been officially apologized to for her suffering by the august State of Virginia.
Now, one might say that the American black community is suffering from the effects of slavery to this very day. I’ll buy that – I might roll my eyes ever so slightly, but I’ll buy it. Normally I’d suggest that the best way for American whites to assuage their apparently lingering guilt would be to stop moving out of their neighborhoods the minute somebody who owns the soundtrack to Superfly moves in, or maybe cutting a check for the UNCF, or at least gathering the children for a didactic family viewing of Ali, but fortunately for crackers none of that is necessary anymore. Virginia apologized – your responsibility is over, white America! Put your precious offspring in a private school where skin colors don’t get more threatening than yellow, spend the ticket price for the next Spike Lee joint on weed instead, throw out those Talib Kweli CDs you bought for indie cred and replace them with your Starland Vocal Band collection, let those inner cities decay, decay, decay – whatever you want, proud sons of Europe! Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, free at last!
It’s an inspiration to me that all it takes to solve – or at least sweep aside – long-seated racial issues is a ridiculous apology so overdue it no longer needed to be made.
But where do we, the Jews, fit in? I’ll leave it to that clarion voice of mainstream, centrist American Jewish thought, JVoices, who will be debuting a post crowing how this shining triumph for American blacks is a victory as well for American blacks’ BFFs, i.e. the Jews, probably within the next five minutes. As we all know, since the vast majority of American Jews’ ancestors began to arrive 20 years after the end of slavery in the country, the American Jewish community must shoulder the heavy burden of its complicity in the plight of the American black community. And anything that will help to make that burden lighter is welcome.