Homer Simpson’s Jerusalem policy

Over the last two weeks, I have become increasingly convinced that for too many people, their love of Jerusalem is … Continued

Over the last two weeks, I have become increasingly convinced that for too many people, their love of Jerusalem is inversely proportional to their wisdom about the city’s future. From left to right, we have seen the same old arguments, hurts, and charges traded. It’s time for a fresh perspective.

On March 28, Homer and the rest of the Simpson family will head to Jerusalem. This much fought-over city, and all those who fight over it, could learn a thing or two from the big yellow guy and his experiences there.

At the urging of their all-too-sweet, but entirely sincere “very Christian” neighbor, Ned Flanders, the Simpsons will visit the holy land in the hope that it will inspire them to be better people. That alone is revolutionary. Imagine — people visiting sites of spiritual significance not primarily to rally around a particular flag or faith, but in order to become better human beings. For that insight alone, the show’s producers are to be congratulated. And it works, sort of.

Homer comes down with a bit of Jerusalem syndrome. This is an actual psychological disorder in which visitors to the holy city become convinced they are the Messiah. Apparently Homer doesn’t get that wacky, but he does become convinced that he can unite the world’s Abrahamic faiths around the fact that they all like chicken.

Rather than see this as mocking Jerusalem, the importance different faiths attach to it, or even Homer, the show reminds us that Jerusalem, like any spiritual center, can wake up our best angels (the desire to see people united) and our worst demons (the arrogance to think that we alone know how to do it). It also points out that it’s not always clear, even to those with the best of intentions, which is which.

At a moment when Jerusalem is very much in the news, and activities there are so capable of dividing even the best of friends, that seems like a good thing to bear in mind. What it would mean to see one’s greatest fidelity to the importance of Jerusalem as being a commitment to it being a place of maximal unity? What would it mean to stop fighting over who cares about the city more and ask what each community could do to move in that direction.

Battling over who has the right to do what is not a recipe for success, unless by success one means eternal battling. If we want something else, all parties to this ongoing conflict are going to have to start with new premises and Homer Simpson’s might not be the worst place to begin.

The rabbis of the Talmud imagined a Jerusalem not unlike Homer’s, at least in one very significant way. They imagined a city which actually expanded to make room for all those who wanted to be there. Without necessarily buying into that supernatural architectural plan, I wonder what would happen if that notion of a non-zero sum city guided all subsequent conversations about who builds where, what they build, what we mean by sovereignty, etc.

Perhaps that it too much to ask for, but if it’s something upon which ancient sages and a contemporary cartoon character can agree on, perhaps we should give it a shot.

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Brad Hirschfield
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  • YEAL9

    A crushing blow to all that is Jerusalem:Abraham founder/father of three major religions was either the embellishment of the lives of three different men or a An excerpt:”Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

  • Athena4

    “Oooooooh, bagels!”

  • YEAL9

    “Over the last two weeks, I (the Rabbi Hirschfield) have become increasingly convinced that for too many people, their love of Jerusalem is inversely proportional to their wisdom about the city’s future. From left to right, we have seen the same old arguments, hurts, and charges traded. It’s time for a fresh perspective.”And what does the rabbi get paid every year for his concern? As per guidestar.org, 331,708/yr. The co-president Rabbi Kula makes approximately the same salary. The office manager Dale Brown makes over $100,000/yr as do six other directors and administratorsNet assets for 2008 were over $8 million with over $3 million invested in US Treasury bills. Note, non-profits pay no taxes on interest, dividends or capital gains.”His salary by the way is twice that of a US Congressman.

  • FarnazMansouri

    The fact that the two bigots post at OnFaith is disturbing. Even more disturbing is the fact that critics of Wright are barred from posting.Interestingly enough, Wright is not the only antisemite posting for the OnFaith powers that be. There is the infamous Arun Gandhi, still on board, whose antisemitic rant garnared hundreds of protests, cost him his job, but not his position here. We were informed by Quinn that Gandhi would post on what he had learned from the aftermath of his racist rant.In its wake he learned very little, except to spew more antisemitism in other venues, as I posted on this blog (with pastes and links).We await Arun Gandhi’s report. I await David Waters’ reply to my email asking how it is that antisemites (add Arroyo) are guests and panelists here. I asked when he planned to have a White Christian minister addressing the subject of “them blacks.” No reply thus far.In the meantime, anti-gay ministers, antisemitic clergy come and go.HIgh time, btw., that we had a representative from the anti-gay black churches, perhaps, Jakes, elaborating on their position

  • FarnazMansouri

    My earlier post concerns three bigot essayists for OnFaith: Jeremiah Wright, TJ Jakes, and Arun Gandhi.

  • FarnazMansouri

    You evidently missed Arun’s earlier post, JJ. How could that be.

  • YEAL9

    Minor correction:Over the last two weeks, I (the Rabbi Hirschfield) have become increasingly convinced that for too many people, their love of Jerusalem is inversely proportional to their wisdom about the city’s future. From left to right, we have seen the same old arguments, hurts, and charges traded. It’s time for a fresh perspective.”His salary by the way is twice that of a US Congressman.

  • iamamerican

    Daynnight24:Your comment: “Todays Palestinians also known as CANAANITES should make GAZA their Capital not JERUSALEM. WHY; Because it was the ARABS, from the South, who invaded and Conquered JERUSALEM around 637 AD and had nerve to build a Grand Mosque on top of Israeli Ancients Sites around 691 AD.”That is very open minded of you. Actually, it does make lots of sense. I’m Jewish and not by choice, but by Natural-Selection. But unfortunately the Arabs or Palistinians are never going to happy unless they know what it’s like being a minority (Jew) in the Middle East or anywhere in this new world. The answer to such dicordia is time. Guess we’ll have to put up with all there jealous outbursts and mad actions long after i’m dead. If i only had a crystal ball. Forget Tarot Cards. Israel should be America’s 51st State. Or All Bonofide Israeli’s, also known as Sabra’s, should have Automatic American Citizenship. Unlike like 1948 or thereafter i imagine a senerio, As an insurance Policy or as Diplo/Politico Strategy, that incase Israel is overwhelmed/attacked by more Modern and richer Arab Nations which seems more real by the day, should enjoin America Citizenship wise.Better Israel than Rome or Sicily becoming America’s 51st State. i predict that America will be more than the current 50 States of our Union, in the next 50 Years or so. i see an additional 10 states or so via Mergers or Acuisitions with Mexico, Panama etc.. Yes, plus Israel. Note: i’m from Brooklyn, NY.