Few things are prettier than a rainbow. The picturesque spectrum of color across an ashen, rain-filled sky elicits feelings of calm, gratitude and awe in even the most jaded of people. But a rainbow is more than just a sight of beauty. The Jewish tradition pushes us to see each rainbow as a prismatic vision of a more perfect world.
Only months ago, our attention focussed on revolts and protests across the Arab world: millions of people demanding an end to the yoke of oppression and dictatorship. Like uncontrolled wildfire, the flames spread from Morocco to Iran, Yemen to Syria. The future of the Arab world – its potential, its promise – was altered immeasurably.
And then, as quickly as we learned to care about the Arab Spring, to be inspired by the passion of a people’s yearning to breath free, we forgot again, concerned instead with debt ceilings and Congressional ineptitute. Through the warm waves of summer we have drifted from one austerity plan to another, one made-up legislative fight to a second, and then a third and a fourth.
These are August days of melancholy. The heat wave sits over many of these united states and we all moan a collective sigh at the pessimism which abounds.
Where is that hope in which we all once believed? Where did it go? I want it back.
But then, far away, on the other side of the globe, another spark is lit. No, not the Arabs this time. This time that fire is Hebrew.
In these seasons covered by the dark clouds of far-right measures strangling the Israeli public, these times of loyalty oaths, and land appropriations, and far-reaching attacks on democratic pillars, from out of nowhere the public rose up to demand a grand vision of what modern societies can and should be: places centered upon the stability of the middle class, where wealth is not monopolized but the few, where education and health care are a right, not a privilege.
The tent cities represent the best of what the Hebrew Republic was built to be: Jews fighting for the their own self determination, not at the exclusion or expense of another people, but, rather, because they have the will and the power to build their own utopia in the land of their forefathers. This is the society that is a light to the nations, a society that fights for the prophets’ visions of equality and justice. This is the land of hatikva, the land of hope.
So the Arab Spring may have faded as quickly as the United States’ credit rating this summer, but I say cheers to the Hebrew Summer. Cheers to the Jews who can remind us of the power of the individual, of the promise of democracy, and of the eternal truth that the world continues to lean forward towards justice.
I wish them luck, and remain inspired by all they have done so far. Cheers.