Godspeed Blog

Godspeed Blog
October 22
Welcome to Godspeed, the blog of the Godspeed Institute, written by CAER HALLUNDBAEK, award-winning author, educator and communicator on contemporary faith. A founding director of the Institute, she is the host of the popular radio program Godspeed which airs on the Progressive Radio Network and online every week. For inspiration and upbeat conversations with spiritual leaders around the world, visit: www.godspeedinstitute.com.


JUNE 2, 2010 6:34PM

Wandering Jew, Wandering Arab

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"The struggle to put an end to the Wandering Jew could not have,
as its result, the creation of the Wandering Arab."
-Baron Edmond de Rothschild, 1934

The state of Israel was established sixty two years ago in 1948, but its story begins long before that and has many participants.

One of the more interesting family histories in Europe belongs to the Rothschilds, a Jewish family that pulled itself up from generations of poverty. Their rise began with Mayer Amschel Rothschild, born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1744 in the ghetto called “Judengasse,” or Jew Alley. Their name, Rothchild, comes from the German for red shield or sign, literally describing the location of their home (the house by the red shield).

Mayer became the “founding father of international finance” by working as an apprentice in finance in Hamburg, developing his own banking business, and then assigning his sons to ‘branch’ offices in Europe. Together they developed a dynasty.

Their power became controversial as the years passed, but their journey very much resembled what we would consider the American Dream, and in 2005 Mayer was ranked #7 of the “20 Most Influential Businessmen of All Time” by Forbes magazine.


 Baron Edmond de Rothschild

Later, one of his descendants, Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) was not a banker, but a philanthropist and supporter of the arts who sponsored archaeological digs in  Egypt,  Syria, and  Palestine.

Edmond was a leading advocate of the  Zionist movement and began buying land in Palestine beginning in 1882. In 1924, he founded the  Palestine Jewish Colonization Association, which bought more than 125,000 acres of land. In all, it is estimated that Edmond de Rothschild spent over $50 million dollars in founding and supporting the settlements, including the first site at  Rishon LeZion.

In the midst of all this, it is important to note that in a 1934 letter to the  League of Nations, Edmond de Rothschild stated that "The struggle to put an end to the  Wandering Jew could not have, as its result, the creation of the Wandering Arab."


Declaration of founding of Israel, 1948

The establishment of Israel following World War II was a cause for great celebration for the Jewish people, and for anyone who felt the atrocity and near-decimation touch their family or awareness in any way.

The years that followed did not put an end to war, but launched instead a whole new experience of homeland insecurity, beginning with the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 that resulted in the Gaza strip.

The Gaza strip borders Egypt to the southwest and  Israel to the south, east and north. It is about 25 miles long, between 4–7 miles wide, and holds a population of 1.5 million people. Displaced people. Incarcerated people. Suffering people.

But this would come as no surprise:

“If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country.
Why would they accept that?”

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister 1948-1953

 Child in Gaza rubble, 2009

I ask: Why must the tables turn?

Why must the settlement of one people result in the displacement of another?

Why must the newfound identity of one people result in the destruction of another’s?

Why doesn’t the knowledge of the horror of war result in the living out of compassion and forgiveness?

Why can’t we live beside each other and simply share the land that belongs to all and none of us?

Why must the children continue to suffer?

The last words of Anne Frank’s diary read, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”


In the end... we are all children of one family.

And we all just want to go home.



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It's hard to tell where the quoted material ends and your own thoughts begin (or visa versa).
Good observation, Mark. This writer always weaves thoughts and words together so well. It's like a tapestry, and always meaningful.

Carole, the end of this post brought tears to my eyes

It seems clear to me what is quoted, Mark? I assume you fixed something, Carole? It all just seems so much more complicated than this when you add in the politics of the rest of the Middle East, starting with the arbitrary division of the area in 1921 by Europeans. Actually, that does not even begin to be the start of it all...
Excellent piece. Sad and very true.The victims become the victimizers, and it will go on until people say "enough." It's like someone who grows up in an abusive family, only to become abusive themselves - they have never worked through their trauma and still see themselves as victims; where the only way they feel they can have peace is to have absolute control - never understanding they will only create more victims and never have peace.

I had a discussion a couple of years ago with a staunch Zionist who believed in the preservation of Israel at any price. Her justification for violence was because of the Holocaust, an even I doubt any Palestinian had a part of.
Sorry, typo: I meant "an event I doubt any Palestinian had a part of."
@Mark - the quotes are in italics - I hope that's clear -

@Lightning - thank you :)

@Susan - "It all just seems so much more complicated than this when you add in the politics." Agreed. In my work I try to get to the heart of the matter, which to me in this case is home.

@Amy - "It's like someone who grows up in an abusive family, only to become abusive themselves." Well said. This whole situation breaks my heart, and no details - political, national, nautical, historical, or whatever - address the core of it, which is a spiritual (not religious) malady that can only be healed with LOVE.
ben gurion knew what he was doing, and the irgun site has some frank language too. there is no excuse for israel's existence beyond the rule of violence, which is why israel has no means to deal with their neighbors beyond violence.

the west apologizes for israel endlessly, because europe is complicit in the holocaust, and america supported the invasion as a quid pro quo in american elections. harry truman needed the jewish vote.

having created the monster, western governments are loath to cry "monster!" lest the world ask "who are its parents?"

ordinary people are now wondering why their governments do not recognize this reality. so at last, european governments are being led to ask for some more civilized behavior from israel. america is lacking here, still in thrall to aipac and the oil corporations.
Thank God for people like you Carole. Otherwise it's all just cynical and childish insistence on "who is right and what is mine and how do I get that larger slice of pie" even until death.
What children we are and how much we hurt each other.

Bottom line is that we need to share everything and care for everyone equally. So we must parent our selves to learn manners and play well with others. It's really that simple.

All those "complicated political challenges" would all go away if we had the idea that we need to share and care and that it is not acceptable to defend anyone who aggressively and violently forces his or her way.

We are billions of people refusing to engage and respond with aggression and violence. Even the mighty and misguided US military acknowledges publicly that only the very small majority of soldier are willing to discharge their weapons in combat. Just read Brigadier Gen. S.L.A. Marshall "Men against fire".

Your voice is vital to our human family and you remind me that
when the power of love is greater than that love of power, there will be peace.

We can fight and kill and hurt but in the end only love and care for each other and our home will make us feel that we are here for a reason.

We are beings of goodness and of love. Those who have forgotten that are the confused and bewildered (and usually loudest) ones but they are the tiny minority.

Keep writing - You show the way and there are billions of us on the path.
Thank you for posting these very basic questions that Arabs have been raised for years!!
Carole this is such an excellent, thoughtful post. You ask the definitive question: "Why must the settlement of one people result in the displacement of another?" R
Wonderful post. You have a new fan in me.
I like so much here last words in the diary: “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” I think we should follow her example in life and try to be more sensitive to people's suffering and show them that we all have a heart in our bodies. Cazare Praid

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