Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Six of My Many Worries

It seems events both near and far are moving faster than in the past. At times it seems difficult to keep track of the various things to worry about, while each worry seems to have tentacles connected to every other worry. Here are six of the worries keeping me awake and troubled:

1.   I worry about the "Democratic Awakening" in the Arab world….from Egypt through lands that engulf us all the way to Syria (Nor do I leave out Lybia west of us or Turkey up north). I have a great respect and awe for that part of the younger generation that started with Facebook and Twitter and ended up on the city streets demanding freedom and reform towards a democratic society. These are the rebels that are bringing down the despotism of the old order and creating the vacuum that will invite a different order. I worry about that "different" order. I fear that the rebels of the young generation who dared to stand up to despotism will, in the final analysis, be drowned out by the much better organized and well prepared wave of Muslim Radical Fundamentalism. This wave has been waiting impatiently to replace Arab despots from Egypt to Syria with their own brand of despotism. It would be a despotism much more dangerous to the entire western world, and ever more so to us in Israel. I fail to see strong organized elements steering the rebels towards a "Democratic Awakening".

2.   Deja-vu in Gaza:…..I worry about the up and coming second round of "Cast Lead", a military campaign of great strength and length to demobilize and demoralize (and crush?) the Hamas in Gaza. All in the wake of the latest continuance of rocket attacks from Gaza on our civilian areas in the south. Again we see rockets being launched from populated areas in Gaza. Again the outcome will be death and destruction within civilian Gaza. We didn't need Goldstone's corrections about what happened in the first "Cast Lead". So many men and women and children will die, not intentionally, but because they are in the line of fire, and because so many bombs or bullets don't land according to plan. In January of 2009, after the first days of "Cast Lead" I wrote an answer to a friend who placed the full blame for the campaign on Israel's devious policies. I reread that letter. With a minor change of dates and and situations, I would probably write a very similar letter today . Interested ?..... Read the letter here: "Our Attack of Gaza" (click or Control+click on link) .

3.   I worry about the demise of a two-state modus-vivendi to our Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A Palestinian state created through willingness and mutual agreements would be able to bolster moderate and democratic elements within the Palestinian society. A Palestinian state foisted on us unwillingly via the UN, via a Western world tired of our deliberate foot-dragging, via the loss of mediators within our region, will lose faith in the power of mutual moderation and be so much more open to the power of traditional radical and despotic fundamentalism as professed by the Hamas. I worry because of my government's expertise at foot-dragging and at creating for us the choice between a Palestinian State driven to the radical corner of the Muslim world, or a Jewish State, bi-national in nature, with a majority of belligerent non-Jews enjoying (?!) limited civil and human rights……..while we will still be brazen enough to call ourselves "the only democratic country in the Middle East".

4.   I worry about the Jewish nature of our country. I embraced my Zionism as a dual-headed purpose with each head being dependant on the other. We returned to Zion in order to "solve" the problem of the wandering Jew, persecuted from generation to generation, from country to country. We returned also in order to fulfill being "a light unto the nations" according to voices of our prophets such as by Micha who encouraged us to place minor value on ceremonial religion while to excel in "justice, benevolence, and humility". On that basis, Micha adds, will "the law come forth from Zion" (Ki me-Tziyon Tetze Tora). Micha pursued a just and democratic cosmopolitan Judaism in Zion. Only on that basis can we be "a light unto the nations". A "Light" unto the nations ?? I worry that today the light is a small pocket flashlight with over depleted batteries.

5.   I worry about our democratic nature. Events pile up on each other. Remember the chief rabbi of Tzfat ?...that rabbinical pillar who wrote an open letter forbidding the rental or sale of lodging to Israeli Arab citizens…… and remember the hundreds of other rabbis in our country who decided to join and countersign his letter ?....wellllll……he announced lately how proud he is that his city, Tzfat, is listening to his message and becoming more totally Jewish and "clean" of Arabs. His salary is still being paid by my taxes. My Government still lives peacefully with his message. O.K., another story: in 1976 my government confiscated great tracts of land from their Arab owners for the open purpose of "Judaizing" the Galil. In an explosion of Arab protest (not too peaceful), six protesters were shot and killed. Since then the Israeli Arab Public commemorates a yearly "Land Day" to mourn and protest the discrimination and injustice towards the Arab citizens of our country. This year, for the first time in the annals of "Land Day", our Department of Education demanded of each school a list of Arab teachers who failed to appear for classes on "Land Day" while joining their community protest. All this of course follows a series of laws that passed and some that almost passed our Knesset this year, all mainly designed to further hamper the civil rights of our Israeli Arab citizens. (So why should the chief rabbi of Tzfat and his 300 cosigners worry about their salaries being paid by our taxes ?)

6.   I worry because I meet fewer and fewer Jewish Israelis who are actively and openly worried about those things which I worry about. Active "worriers" are disorganized and have no outstanding national leadership. Today's active worriers seem to have little effect on the politics and policies of our country. I worry about the kind of democratic society which will lead my grandchildren into their adult years. Will they be part of a pluralistic Jewish society or of a Jewish society cowed by the narrow fundamentalism displayed thru the chief rabbi of Tzfat. And I worry whether my grandchildren, in their adult years, will actually understand why I spend my time worrying.