The title of this article has a question mark. "A Positive or a Negative Event in Jewish History?" The future will tell us.
A Positive or a Negative Event in Jewish History?
Translated by the author from his article which
appeared on July 27 2005 in Guysen Israel News
For the first time in the history of the Jewish people, an event of such magnitude and with an unforeseeable impact is unfolding these days in front of our eyes. We are the observers who see the things, each one in his way, and each one according to his perception and his concern for Israel.I prefer leaving the debate to the inhabitants, to sort out the rules of democracy. What makes me write these lines is especially the distorted image of Judaism in general, of the religious and of the secular Jewish people, which is projected every evening on our screens and in the minds of Jews and of non-Jews. These Israeli television and press comments deform the facts and the images of reality. The distorted image of religious Jews and of Jews in general will damage the entire Jewish people, wherever it is, may they be religious, or of the left, liberal or conservative. It is the exploitation of this image by extremists and enemies of the people, which will damage all of us.
I do not dare enter into the argument, whether it is necessary that Israel leave Gaza or not. I prefer leaving this debate to the inhabitants of Israel. However, what worries me is to see the Jewish people divided and torn apart between the left, the right, the religious, the moderate, and the others. Each group believes that its actions benefit the Jewish people, because they are secular, or because they are left or because they are religious or opposed to the disengagement without being associated with any specific affiliation. We know well that each force is perceiving and applying the rule of democracy, each one according to its understanding.
I have much admiration for the Israeli intellectual class and for its achievements in every field of life, but sometimes I wonder where this beautiful class is headed now and where its compass of balance remains. It is not by pointing the finger towards one group or towards another, or towards those who struggle for their lot, that this intellectual class will distinguish itself better. The complete silence of the Israeli and Jewish intellectuals weighs heavily on our hearts. I would say openly that the American Jews that I see every day believe to escape from the evil, because they do not say anything and do not even start one single discussion about the fate of their brothers in distress.
When the Gentiles criticized the Jews, they did not make any distinction of their affiliation. I spoke with Israelis from Jerusalem, from Beer Sheva, from Natania, from Haifa, from Ashkelon, from kiboutzim, from moshavim and from almost all the corners of Israel. I did not have anyone on the phone who complained about the religious or about the "settlers" as they say it today, or about the right wing. I wonder who of the Israelis is not of settler origin.
When in the Forties the Jews were hardly a half-million inhabitants in Israel, all the Israeli left wished that the Jews immigrated to Israel. In that time, nobody made any distinction between Jews. It was of the essence, as David Ben Gourion said it: "LEYASHEV ET HAARETZ" to populate the country, and Menahem Begin said: "We all are Mitnahalim" we are all settlers.
Today they call the Jews who are not of the left "the extremist Jews" because they defend their civic rights and their religious rights and because they express their love for the land of Israel and for those who fell to defend it. Precisely it is thanks to this love and this enthusiasm that Israel was able to be reborn. It is thanks to Trumpeldor that Tel Hai did not fall. It is thanks to the sacrifices at Latroun, Bab El Ouad and to the heroic spirit of the men who had made the breakthrough of Derekh Burma that Jerusalem did not fall. It is thanks to these settlers, the men and women of kibbutz Degania that the Syrian army did not invade Tiberia. I can cite on and on, the villages and the Moshavim, which stood up in 1948 and 1949. It is thanks to these settlers that Israel had been able to hold against all its enemies. Let us not make the fatal error of Oslo. The entire Jewish people wishes for peace but peace does not come without strength and negotiation.
The media show only the negative sides of this mass of Jews, which marches in order to protest against Sharon’s decision, which was not marked in his party’s platform at the time of his election. Why are these media not showing the positive side, which resembles a merry pilgrimage? It is perhaps for the first time that one sees this beautiful image of the people in movement and who show only joy. Are we not all brothers, is our fate not dependent on one another? In this pilgrimage, I see for first time the Jewish people singing together, sharing drinks and food together. Entire families are camping under the black sky of summer. Young people are playing the guitar, others the violin.
Joy and cheer are bursting out of the camps in the fields, under the trees. What a pleasure seeing entire families walking together for the same cause; seeing the inhabitants of the Maimon village opening their doors to the mothers with babies, sharing water and food with them, their gardens and their living rooms, without counting those who offered their showers. Here is what I see in this protest walk, the spirit of the people that emerges and shows its peaceful will, without violence and resentment towards the police officers and the soldiers who encircle them where they are. One is mistaken about the real enemies; these demonstrators are the enemies neither of the country, nor of the army.
If the people cannot express themselves like they do it now and like the Jewish Americans, the African Americans, the Irish Americans, the Italian Americans etc., etc. do it, where is the freedom? We followed the news in various media about the marches that we had here in the United States, those of New York, those of Washington, and those of Alabama. The role of the police force is to protect the demonstrators and not to badger them and spy on them by infiltrating agitators in order to distort the image of the demonstrators.
We should not forget that it is only by involving all the Israelis that Israel will be able to survive. I know that a great part of Israel is for the disengagement, but this is not a reason to ignore, belittle, or bring down a large segment of the population that does not agree with the decisions of the government. What is then the democracy, which one wants to inculcate in the Arab people? Is it the iron arm of Hamas or Hezballah? I prefer seeing this vibrant young generation dancing and loving their country, rather than young people using drugs and alcohol, as we find everywhere in the cities.
Besides, I do not understand how President Bush let Sharon take such a decision. However, maybe the long term motive of the Americans was to separate Gaza from the West Bank. We know Sharon and his feats, some are great, and some are questionable. How can we explain to the Republican Party, for which we fought to win the election against Kerry, that the American right is actually aiding the Israeli left? How can it accept today that Sharon gives up his fellow conservatives, and makes an alliance with the Israeli left, which is Clinton’s and Kerry’s ally?
Even if they give up Gaza or if they abandon certain Jewish settlements in the West Bank, it is of the essence not to be mistaken about the objective and to treat their opponents with dignity, in order not to leave scars in the people. No matter which decision they will make, I hope that it will be the right one, because nobody knows where the future will take Israel. I hope that one will not have to worry about the villages of the new border such as: Keren Shalom, Suf, Nir Oz, Ein HaShlosha, Kissufim, Nahal Oz, etc., etc.