I write the Holidays and Holy Days blog to educate the OSU community about significant religious and spiritual observances. Tuesday was Yom Haatzma’ut, Israel’s Independence Day that celebrates the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14th, 1948. I hesitated to write the Holidays and Holy Days blog post to honor this Israeli holiday when religious turmoil was making front-page news after the Boston Marathon Bombing.
In the hours following the blast, a Saudi man was arrested because he was seen running away from the blast. Meanwhile my Muslim friends flooded social media with the plea, “Please don’t let the attacker be a Muslim.” The Westboro Baptist Church announced their plan to shout at victim’s funerals because they think the bombing was a result God’s wrath for legalizing gay marriage in Massachusetts. One terrible act of violence was followed by more acts of hate and violence.
The Israel and Palestine region is an international symbol of religious conflict. When the United Nations General Assembly declared the Establishment of State for Israel in 1948, diaspora Jews around the world celebrated but the surrounding Arab states marched their troops into the area in protest of western politics determining the geographic and political structure of Palestine.
For other citizens of Israel, Yom Haatzm’ut is regarded as “al-Nakba,” meaning the “Day of Catastrophe.” Nakba recognizes the Palestinian bloodshed that occurred during the decision to make Israel and independent state. Currently, legal action can be taken against Palestinian communities holding Nakba events in Israel.
Muslims, Jews, and Christians are all descended from the historical figure of Abraham, and each of these religious communities regard the geographical location of Israel and Palestine as a holy land for their spiritual traditions. Claims on this strip of desert land have historical centuries of religious turmoil. Today, many who are invested in the conflict believe that the only solution is to divide the property into two independent states. Many Jewish, Muslim, and Christian residents of Israel are convinced that peace and resolution cannot be accomplished under the current political framework.
For some of our OSU community, Israel’s Independence Day is a time of celebration. For some, it is a day of mourning and sorrow. For others, it is a symbol of the need for interfaith dialogue, relationship, and conversation. I am not claiming that simple conversations can solve this ancient conflict, or that one conversation can prevent future violent acts like what happened in Boston this week. But I do believe that violent acts only invite more violence.
I believe that the only way to combat violence is through peaceful relationships that prioritize intentional interfaith literacy between friends. I have experienced that once friendships are formed between Muslims and Jews, Christians and LGBTQ individuals, the bond of friendship permits people to understand the other’s perspective. Friends join alongside one another to fight injustice and violence.
Traditions and Rituals of Yom Haatzma’ut:
Feasting at picnics or barbecues
Official ceremony held on Mount Herzl
Lighting twelve torches that signify the Tribes of Israel
International Bible Contest in Jerusalem
Israel Defense forces open some of its bases to the public
Israeli flags for decorations
Traditions and Rituals of Nakba:
Visiting sites of destroyed Palestinian villages
Speeches and rallies on the West Bank, Gaza, and Palestinian refugee camps