Why am I so concerned? Why spend time writing and corresponding on issues regarding Palestinians and Israeli Arabs?
I receive many comments deploring the awful behavior of “some” of our Israeli settlers towards their Palestinian neighbors. Many responses lead me to believe that most of us humanistic Zionist Jews see this as a very small side-show which doesn’t really depict the general behavior towards the Palestinian Arabs by our Israeli people nor by our government and its policies. This is not so. The deplorable behavior of “some” of the settlers in the West Bank is supported either openly or tacitly by the overall great majority of West Bank settlers. The deplorable behavior is supported by large segments of our people, our Knesset and our coalition government. The deplorable behavior is an important element in the larger picture of the policies directed by those of our politicians and political parties who are creating the face of the future Israel.
Regardless of what we may be saying in the newspapers or in the U.N. or to foreign dignitaries, on ground zero we are pursuing policies meant to make life highly uncomfortable for Arabs in Israel and highly untenable for Palestinians. These are policies meant to arrive at a minimum of Arabs within the confines of the future Greater Israel.
I am woefully troubled on many levels.
These are policies which are extending forever the enmity and violence between Jew and Arab. They promise a continuation of more and more killing. Killing promises a continuation of more and more enmity and violence. Enmity and violence promise a continuation of more killing. Killing promises a continuation of more and…………..
These are policies meant to scuttle the Two-State possibility (whether as separate States or as a Federation) and ensure the creation of Greater Israel between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. While present policies attempt to encourage Arabs to leave the confines of what will be Greater Israel, it is recognized that only a small minority will actually do so. In the course of that creation, we shall become some kind of bi-national entity with an eventual (near future) minority of Jews within what was the dream of a Jewish Homeland. The demographic answer by those engineering the Greater Israel policies is the reliance on most Arabs being residents without full citizenship rights, thereby anchoring us Jews as the Lords of the Land and perpetuating our large majority in the government. Laws leading to that effect are already being formulized and passed by our present government. These formulations would, for example, essentially require an oath of loyalty to Judaism of any Arab wanting to be a citizen in the land of his birth. These formulations would, for example, constrict radically the ability of human rights organizations to work within the confines of our country. These formulations are not the ranting of the “periphery”. They are being formulated today within the walls of our largely right-wing Knesset and with the support of most ministers in our largely right-wing coalition government. The process is in the works. We will move so much further from being a democratic society.
The changing face of Israel will no doubt have a long-term resounding affect on the Jews of the Diaspora. Time takes its toll and we forget that it was not the horror of the Holocaust that minimized overt anti-Semitism in our Western World. It was the new respect given to David against Goliath after our war of Independence and furthered even more after the 1956 Sinai Campaign. Since then Israel has fairly well remained the bulwark of world respect for the Chosen People. We buttressed that respect by creating a fairly democratic society within our highly complicated and non-democratic region. But events also take their toll and we are becoming so less David and so less democratic. Jews in the Diaspora, as in the past, won’t admit to seeing it coming, but the changing face of Israel will have its unfortunate affect on the changing security of world Jewry.
My grandchildren. I fear for their future. Certainly I fear for their safety in a national environment that lives from one war to the next with constant violent episodes filling the space in-between. But more than anything, I fear for the kind of Israel and the kind of Judaism that they will be growing into. “v’ahavta le’rei-acha kamocha” will be a very segregated phrase. “ki metziyon teitzei Tora” and “or lagoyim” will be empty phrases reminding us, perhaps, of another kind of Judaism belonging to those ancient prophets of ours who saw humility and humanity as a basis for Jewish nationhood. Power is important in our complicated region, but loosing our head over power also looses our soul. I want my grandchildren to grow into a powerful country, a humanistic society and a people with a soul. I write what I write, I say what I say, I go where I go because I’m looking for a way to preserve and rejuvenate that soul.
What can be done?
1. Speak up!! Where ? anywhere, everywhere.
2. Don’t be apathetic or lazy……find ways to be active.
3. O.K., not every day…once a week??…..once a month ??
I’m worried about my grandchildren. I know you worry about yours.
True, we may only cause a small crack, but in our lifetime we have seen small cracks suddenly collapse an entire structure. Ours is not to measure the crack, but to be in it.