What Am I Trying To Do

Mori is still sitting in prison and I am still filling in on this blogalog. They are having him stomp around while wearing an army hat and, as far as I understand, sit around for a long time. This evening, we have a guest post from, Aaron Rotenberg. Aaron is the best sort of artist, film-maker, poet, thinker, and human being that I have encountered. He really is a special person. Here he is reflecting on Israel, Mori’s actions, and refusal. It is worth reading:
A year ago, after a panel on which Mori sat and spat (slam poetry) about activism and faith in Tel Aviv, he got a few of us North American leftists together to eat sushi and to talk. We were all expecting draft orders, for one reason or another, and Mori with his characteristic ability to identify opportunity and with openness and eloquence probed the possibility of a group conscientious refusal. We all had our own reasons for backing down. But I knew then, as I still know now, that Mori’s stance in favor of non-violence and non-militarism, in solidarity with the issues that Palestinians are facing daily under occupation was the message that I needed to be standing up for. As a Jewish person who has been able to learn about and experience a bit of the conditions of occupation firsthand it was (and is) abundantly clear that people who care about the future of our people and the legacy of our ethical tradition need to be taking stands– stands like the one Mori is currently taking sitting in jail in Northern Israel.
I’ve been following Mori’ draft tribulations with great interest, which is ultimately a personal interest, because I guess what I’m trying to say is that it seems to me that Mori is doing what I really should be doing. I immigrated to Israel a year ago but I’m back in Toronto these days. I didn’t want to say or post too much because while Mori was receiving letters and hanging out at lishkat hagius, I was arranging a meeting at the consulate here and I didn’t want them to stumble across something that might make them unsympathetic to me. Two days ago when Mori stood in front of the draft officers and said “I’m against the occupation” I found myself seated in front of an IDF representative who asked me, “What are you doing in Toronto?” And when they said to Mori, “You’re going to jail” they said to me, “Sometimes people try and it doesn’t work out.”
They gave me an exemption with hardly any questions at all, and all I could think about was Mori and how grateful I am for him and the others who are keeping on trying.  For activists like Mori who keep protesting, organizing, accompanying farmers, writing, taking pictures and and giving their time and energy in the efforts to bring about change and peace. I’m grateful for the sentiments Mori quotes in the name of Abraham Joshua Heschel at the end of his letter about why he’s refusing:
“R. Heschel teaches, to despair is the most selfish thing one can do, to say “this is hard for me,” or “it seems to me that the situation will never change,” and to thus be unable to serve God by serving others.”

What is hard for me? What am I trying to do? I’m trying not to be annoyed at the disparity between the green grocers here and the shuk, and that the siren that will be wailing past my apartment on Bloor Street in a little bit will not be signaling to the people in the street that Shabbat is coming and whether we like it or not we have to make time for acceptance and peace. It’s so important to me that in the meantime Mori and others like him are trying in meaningful ways to make things work better and are finding moving forms to help us expect the best. Thanks, Mori, for showing us the way. 

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