The Hope And The Glory
Long since abandoned the masquerade dance
What men holding power ever meant to advance
Written-word pages of doctrinaire thought
Ritualized worship as divinity bought
Yet Israel and Jewish as a compound of time
God’s weary people with a truth they’d define
An essence identity by a light of the soul
Through suffering hatred of an unending toll
The Macabee princes who have stood ‘gainst the wall
No longer the timid of indignity’s call
Imperfections abounding by unsettling choice
Extremisms flourish in a far too right voice
And religion’s illusion grown apart from God’s word
Devoutness as pretence to round up the herd
Yet still admiration for the self-made great land
Israel as Zion since arisen from sand
These children of Israel are heroically bold
With a secular bonding the connection takes hold
Copyright SGW 2010
Commentary: I have rarely felt the need to have extensive remarks attached to a poem. However, this piece feels different. First, I should mention that this poem is based on the two Herman Wouk books, “The Hope” and “The Glory.” They have inspired me deeply with a desire to visit Israel.
They have also made me feel a need to distinguish between following Judaism as a religion and being Jewish as a people apart from organized religion. And that is what a large part of this poem’s message is. Early on, it speaks to the falseness of organized religion; the man-made creation used to formalize thought and action, which I feel is a device of those in power to control those who are not.
The poem then goes on to speak to the amazing accomplishments of the people of Israel – forming a nation surrounded by those that would destroy them after barely surviving the cauldron of NAZI-ism, creating a vibrant and lively society and economy from a desert wasteland and building a military that could protect all that they have given rise to.
The poem mentions Israel’s failings, too. The “unsettling choice” is the short-sighted and wrongheaded decision to build settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem that will be hard to dismantle and undo. Much of the difficulty lies in my original theme of religion’s extremism. These settlements, more than anything else that Israel controls, are an obstacle to Middle East peace. They have also damaged the moral rightness of Israel’s cause and position.
Without the settlements, there would be no legitimate claim that Israel in any way is the obstructing factor to peace. Taken out of the equation, the reasons for a lack of peace in the Middle East are all on the shoulders of the Arab nations. Their unwillingness to recognize Israel’s right to exist and of giving ground on military assurances to provide for that right, their stubborn resistance to removing the Hamas/Hezbollah presence, their promotion of an unreasonable right of return (that will need to be exchanged for financial compensation that Arab nations should be major contributors to), and the despotic rulers of their own countries with no exceptions are far more the cause of the circumstances in the Middle East than any Israeli positions.
In summation, this poem expresses love of Israel, despite its flaws, and a bond with the Israeli people that I feel as someone born a Jew. It hints at my previously versed views on organized religion, but with a belief that religion’s failings can be separated from a nationalist’s pro-Israeli sentiments.