I look at my government and my capital and feel deep disgrace. Who are these hoodlums who have taken over the government offices and begun smashing and shattering everything precious and sublime that was created here?
Ever since I could think for myself I’ve been proud of my country.
Proud that the generation of my grandmothers’ parents saw the disaster in time and tried to set up a safe haven for the Jewish people before it was destroyed. Proud that my grandmothers’ generation plowed and sowed and planted until it created, from scratch, an oasis of life. Proud that my parents’ generation endured the tragedy forced on it and fought the war and absorbed immigrants and set up a state, whose very existence is a wonder. Proud that my generation catapulted the Israeli frontier state and turned it into a thriving liberal democracy, whose achievements place it at the forefront of human progress. Proud that my children’s generation is normalizing Israel and making it a bustling place of unequaled passion, creativity and vitality.
I’m proud that since my grandmother’s father arrived at Jaffa Port in 1891 to heal a sick nation, we have indeed recovered here and grown stronger. We’ve built and been rebuilt and have done the impossible. There were always shadows. In the late ‘30s Jewish terrorists committed acts of horror in the Arab marketplaces of Jerusalem, Jaffa and Haifa. In the ‘40s the awful disasters of Lydda, Abu Shusha, Al-Dawayima and countless other villages took place. Then Kibya, Kafr Qasem, Latrun. The occupation, the settlements, the intifadas. War after war in Gaza. War after war in Lebanon.
And yet, throughout this obstacle course we did not lose sight of who we are. In all these horrors we remained true to ourselves. Beside David Ben-Gurion there was S. Yizhar, beside Moshe Dayan there was the soldiers’ testimonies in “The Seventh Day,” and opposite Sabra and Shatila stood Aharon Barak.
Menachem Begin turned out to be a liberal, Yitzhak Shamir was restrained and Benjamin Netanyahu was surrounded for a while by Dan Meridor, Benny Begin and Dorit Beinisch. Night had not descended on Jerusalem. Darkness did not yet cover the land. Even in the darkest hours there was light. There was reason and justification for pride.
But now I am ashamed. I look at my government and my capital and feel deep disgrace. Who are these hoodlums who have taken over the government offices in Jerusalem and begun smashing and shattering everything precious and subline that was created here? Who are these ignorant hooligans who curse leftists all day long and search for traitors and are constantly busy silencing every criticism? Who are these boorish people advancing the so-called suspension bill, and in doing so are contaminating Israeli democracy? Who are these uncultured ones who censor books and intimidate theaters and undermine higher education, to which we owe our existence here?
My honorable ministers and elected officials, have you gone out of your minds? Do you really not have a clue who was (liberal) Binyamin Ze’ev Herzl and who was (liberal) Chaim Weizmann and who was (liberal) Ze’ev Jabotinsky and who was (progressive) David Ben-Gurion? Do you not know anything about how the national Jewish movement erected and maintained the third temple? Do you really think we can survive and thrive here as a fortified, isolated, desperate Sparta of zealots?
The present is yours, fanatics. At this point in time you have the required majority to destroy every institution and distort every law and corrupt every norm and tear down everything that’s good. But the past and the future are not yours. Look back – it wasn’t the crude and the cruel such as yourselves who made this miracle happen. Zionism was created by people who held “Altneuland” in one hand and Voltaire in the other and created here an enlightened nation-state.
And look ahead – it isn’t narrow-minded people such as yourselves who will save this state. In the end, you haven’t got a chance. Hubris and folly will bring you down. It will take a little time, but true Zionism will rise up and strike you. Israel will purge itself of the idol you place today in its temple.
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