Friday, May 09, 2008

On Coming Home

Shari Motro, is a professor of law at the University of Richmond in Virginia. She wrote a poignant piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday on her decision to return to Israel after an extended absence. The article is here.

It's really a beautiful reflection on home, nation, and the complexity of history. A quote:

Being American, I imagined, meant that it didn't matter what I came from: that I could shed my grandparents' traumas and my parents' generation's sins; that I could claim America's light without seeing its darkness; that I could take its freedom without its slavery and its Indians.

I was wrong. Slavery is part of my American self just as the Nakba is part of my Israeli self. America has taught me that these truths coexist, and that I can't be a full human being without acknowledging and honoring what I come from. So I'm going home.

I didn't choose these places, and I didn't expel anybody. But that doesn't change the fact that my joy is someone else's pain. My home is someone else's home, a home they can't return to, because of me. I can't reconcile this, but running from it doesn't reconcile it either.

She talks about what makes home home: "the dust and the sun, the warm salty Mediterranean, watermelon with Bulgarian cheese".

This is culture.

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