What did JFK say when he went to Berlin? Ich bin ein Berliner.”   He self-identified as a powerful way to show his political empathy.  Here is more of that speech from 1963:

Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was civis romanus sum [“I am a Roman citizen”]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner!”… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner!”

In the same Wiki article, more background information is given about the power of the quote:

The Ich bin ein Berliner speech is in part derived from a speech Kennedy gave at a Civic Reception on May 4, 1962, in New Orleans; there also he used the phrase civis Romanus sum by saying “Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was to say, “I am a citizen of Rome.” Today, I believe, in 1962 the proudest boast is to say, “I am a citizen of the United States.” And it is not enough to merely say it; we must live it. Anyone can say it. But Americans who serve today in West Berlin—your sons and brothers –[…] are the Americans who are bearing the great burden.”[2]

Yes, I drew you in to think that I meant “those people who live in disputed areas”. That’s what you would expect me to talk about, if you know me, or even if you see the topics I cover. And of course, I do mean that anyone who is honest about Israel today should admit that people who live in Tel Aviv are as much settlers as those who live in any of the “Judea and Samaria” enclaves. For that is what those who want Israel’s destruction mean. They want us out of the whole country, not just the areas past the Green Line.

But that’s really not what I wanted to talk about.

We’re all settlers. That’s what we do. We settle. That’s Life, and all the pursuant cliches that come along with growing up. For, of course, we don’t ever grow up, but just grow older. If we are truly lucky and so blessed, we admit how little we know.

Or, we admit that we don’t know enough. Ever. And so we should keep learning.

About ourselves, about the world that we find ourselves in, about those opportunities that we can use the skills that we have managed to obtain to be of good use and perhaps make a difference.

So, of course, this may present itself as the opposite of settling. In that same way, then, it’s settling in our own skin, finding our own true way.

And that, then, should never mean settling.



2 thoughts on “Settlers

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