Criticism and Commitment

This past Monday evening in Sharon we studied the struggle for statehood, the period of 1945-1948, a time of tremendous tragedy in Jewish life, as world Jewry came to terms with the enormity of the loss of European Jewry, and a time of high hopes for the Jewish people in the land of Israel, as it worked its way toward the creation of a Jewish state.  We read sources that ran the gamut of the emotional register of Jewry, the anger of U.Z. Greenberg's poetry and the more quietly inspired vision of Natan Alterman, dreaming of the beauty of a natural life for Jews.  And we read Ari Shavit's account recently published in The New Yorker about the battle for Lydda in the '48 war.  Few if any of us knew the story, pain and regret filled the room.  Yet no one questioned the need to know such things nor the obligation of thinking about history morally as well as intellectually.  We study seriously so we can think about such questions.  Yet, ironically or not, like Shavit, at the end the dominant note in the room registered both the complexity of such histories and the right to have a worldview, in this case the right of the Jews to have a state.  Criticism and commitment.  Not so disconnected.