Nothing is going as planned today. Somehow the tv ended up stuck on a documentary about a female Jewish reporter who was a PhD by 20 and covered some pivotal Jewish history. Not only did Ruth Gruber greet and interview Jewish refugees coming to the US, she also covered the journey of the ship Exodus and captured the picture of the swastika drawn on the Union Jack.
One thing she said stuck with me, because it’s something I’d wondered myself since I was a child. She said no one was offering to take in Jewish refugees, not even the United States. I’ve never been able to reconcile the creation of the state of Israel with the vision of Emma Lazarus:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I’m not a Zionist or an anti-Semite. I don’t believe the Fertile Crescent is any more holy than any other stretch of land. I don’t pretend to know the answers to the problems plaguing the Middle East, and I can’t say I understand all the nuances. What I do know is religion, natural resources, and politics have combined to make a difficult environment, and it’s an environment that I think polytheists have an interesting perspective on.Polytheists don’t see the Middle East as the holy land, unless they are Canaanite-Phoenician recons, in which case they have no particular sympathy for any of the faiths trying to lay claim to the region. Pagans in general are environmentally conscious and not committed to the idea of oil as being a solution to our energy needs. As a polytheistic religious minority we have a unique perspective on safety, persecution and homeland.
Today I wanted to focus a bit more broadly on the Middle East in general, but now that question I had as a child is reverberating through my brain. Is the US a place where religious minorities can find a safe and permanent home? Is it welcoming to religious minority refugees? Is this a place where religious minorities are welcome to create communities where they can preserve their faith and culture? Why didn’t the US invite the Jewish people fleeing Europe to settle here? Has the United States been welcoming to the Mormons, Santeria or other religious minorities?