israel, the land of home and exile

PI_GOLBE_ISRAEL_CO_005Stefany Anne Golberg at The Smart Set:

For thousands of years, people have moved in and out and around the land of Israel as if on a cosmic conveyor belt—in, out, around, and also down, deep down into the Earth. In Israel, every bit of wall you can see stands for thousands of years of walls unseen. An anonymous, grassy hill on a roadside is 20 layers or more of competing civilizations in Israel, each layer crushing the other, informing the other, and also protecting each other from the forces of Nature that, eventually, come to erase them all. Israelites overtaken by Persians overtaken by Greeks overtaken by Romans overtaken by Arabs overtaken by Crusaders overtaken by Mamluks overtaken by Ottomans, etc. — and on top of the hill, some grass, maybe a goat. Israel is a story of human occupation and also human abandonment. If Israel could be seen on a map of time, you would see layers of people crashing into each other, collapsing on top of one another, pushing each other out, passing each other by, just missing each other, wandering away from each other, buried upon one another. Israel is thick with the endeavors and failures of people.

Home, in Israel, is unstable and always has been. Israel is forever re-organizing her temples, transmogrifying her language. In Israel, we start to wonder if “home” has ever been a place of respite or peace — if it isn’t, instead, a battle, a battle against Time, an attempt to make sense out of our existence on Earth, which comes out of nowhere and seems to go nowhere.

more here.