Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Shel Silverstein and Israel's Search for Peace

"And then the tree was happy... but not really."
The Giving Tree

A last thought for the evening.

One of Shel Silverstein's most well known and popular books is The Giving Tree.

Here is the summary provided on
...a tree starts out as a leafy playground, shade provider, and apple bearer for a rambunctious little boy. Making the boy happy makes the tree happy, but with time it becomes more challenging for the generous tree to meet his needs. When he asks for money, she suggests that he sell her apples. When he asks for a house, she offers her branches for lumber. When the boy is old, too old and sad to play in the tree, he asks the tree for a boat. She suggests that he cut her down to a stump so he can craft a boat out of her trunk. He unthinkingly does it. At this point in the story, the double-page spread shows a pathetic solitary stump, poignantly cut down to the heart the boy once carved into the tree as a child that said "M.E. + T." "And then the tree was happy... but not really." When there's nothing left of her, the boy returns again as an old man, needing a quiet place to sit and rest. The stump offers up her services, and he sits on it. "And the tree was happy."
Remember the 'old days' when Israel was always giving?

Each time that Israel had to go to war, fought against the odds--and beat the odds, she was expected to give back the land she had won. At least back then we didn't say that concessions like that would only encourage the Arabs. Returning the land hurt the security of Israel, but it did not make the Arabs eager for more war.

Today it is no longer a question of giving back land immediately following a war--then we were talking about bargaining chips

Now it is more personal.

With Oslo, we began to give the Palestinain Arabs a foothold and put areas under their own control. We allowed Arafat out of obscurity into the limelight, into a position of control.

Other agreements followed--both sides had obligation.

On paper at least.

Areas were given over to Arafat and his crew, so Palestinians could 'govern' themselves.

Israel thought it was happy with the Oslo Accords...but not really.

Israel has taken upon itself the giving mood, with an occasional shove now and then.

Gaza was given over to the Palestinians, in part so they could create an economy--at the expense of Jewish families that to this day are not resettled as they had been promised.

The Rafah pass was opened--Secretary of State Rice made sure of it--under Palestinian control. It was, said Rice, a necessary step in order for "the Palestinian people freedom to move, to trade, to live ordinary lives"

Now, with more talk of 'painful concessions' the West Bank is under discussion--by Sharon and Kadima.

There is talk in some quarters about the need to split Jerusalem--purely in the interests of peace, you understand--do it for the Palestinians. Sharon says this will never happen, but at this point I doubt if many Israelis, or Palestinians, take him at his word.

How far is this going to go?
When will it end?

The end of the review of The Giving Tree:
While the message of this book is unclear (Take and take and take? Give and give and give? Complete self-sacrifice is good? Complete self-sacrifice is infinitely sad?), Silverstein has perhaps deliberately left the book open to interpretation. (All ages) --Karin Snelson
The messages we receive from politicians--both in the White House and in Israel is unclear.
While the world seeks to pat Sharon on the back and tell him his sacrifice is good, it is in fact infinitely sad.

As 2005 draws to a close, 2006 is open to any number of possibilities--just as it has always been in our history.

In all ages.

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Soccer Dad said...

If we're talking Shel Silverstein, I much prefer "The cover of the Rolling Stone." Of course I'm not quite sure how to fit that into the Arab Israeli conflict.

Nice drasha!

Ze'ev said...

Interesting spin on a classic story.