Sept 3, 2001
Sept 3, 2001
This afternoon, as I was preparing tonight’s talk, my pager started beeping. The message read, “a soldier shot near Gross Square, being treated at the site.”
Grabbing my camera and running outside, I found a young warrior lying in the street, his leg opened up by an Arafat-initiated assault. His patrol was attacked when a bomb exploded next to them. Then Arafat’s terrorist soldiers started shooting at them. Two soldiers were wounded, one in the arm and the other in the leg. Thank G-d, miraculously the injuries are not life-threatening and both wll recover.
The shooting continues, day after day, night after night. Yet, as far as Ariel Sharon, Shimon Peres, and Fuad ben Eliezer are concerned, the ‘red line’ doesn’t reach Hebron. It stretches only as far south as Gilo, in Jerusalem. The Prime Minister, speaking to children in Gilo schools yesterday, the first day of the new school year, promised the children, ‘no more shooting on Gilo.’ “I will not allow any more shooting at Gilo.” But the Prime Minister has not yet said to Hebron’s children, “no more shooting in Hebron. I won’t let them keep shooting at you.”
Ariel Sharon ignores our existence. He refuses to allow the Israeli army to take the measures necessary to stop the attacks. It took an entire year of war for Sharon to allow IDF explosives experts to destroy two houses at the top of the Abu Sneneh hills, houses that had been empty for at least 6 months.
One might not have expected Sharon’s predecessor to fight back, but Ariel Sharon was elected, in his words, ‘to provide security for Israelis.’
So Arik, I ask you, why don’t we deserve the same consideration as Jews living in Jerusalem? Why doesn’t the red line include all Israelis, whether in Homesh, Psagot, Hebron or Kfar Darom?
My original talk tonight was going to focus on what happened in Durban, South Africa.
Yesterday the Human Rights Forum branded Israel a “racist apartheid state” guilty of “war crimes, acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing” and called for the establishment of a U.N. committee to prosecute Israeli war crimes and the complete isolation of Israel as an apartheid state
This kind of declaration might surprise some. After all, Israel has been bending over backwards for years, trying to convince the world that we really ‘aren’t like that.’ We’ve sacrificed almost 500 Jews since Rabin signed the original Oslo accords in 1993. In the last year alone almost 200 Israelis have been murdered by Arafat’s armed forces, ‘in the name of peace.’ So why should the world hate us, when we are willing to sacrifice so much, for so little in return?
One of the most common answers suggested in trying to solve this dilemma deals with public relations. Very frequently I hear tourists bitterly complaining about Israel’s poor public relations. And it’s difficult to understand why. We have the money and we have the brains. So, what’s missing?
The answer is, I think, sadly enough, simple desire. We don’t want to explain ourselves. We have a problem legitimizing our rights to the Land of Israel, and to a great degree we question our very being. Perhaps that isn’t expressed right. We may not really question our right to exist, but we don’t know why we exist. We don’t understand who we are, we don’t understand what we are, and we don’t understand where we are. When we don’t comprehend ourselves, it’s virtually impossible to explain ourselves to others. And in the end, we let them walk all over us.
When Shimon Peres received the Nobel Peace Prize, together with Arafat and Rabin, he was quoted as having told the King of Sweden that Israel looks to Sweden as an example of ‘what we should be.’ We, the Jewish people, 4,000 years old, offspring of Abraham, Moses, David, we look to Sweden as a model for ourselves?
Israeli lifestyle attempts to mimic European and American traditions, again, viewing their standard of living as a prototype for ourselves. Many Israeli values zero in on those of our international neighbors, resulting in an almost total disregard for our own, original principals.
All this, without realizing that the very values we are trying to copy are intrinsically contrary to the ideals upon which we, as a people, exist. Of course the nations of the world do not want us in the land of Israel – they actively participated in keeping ous out of Israel for 2,000 years! Not too long ago they did just everything possible to keep us from coming back. Of course they refuse to recognize our religious purity – who burned us at the stake, and who baked us in the ovens of Aushweitz? And for what reasons?
In other words, the standards we are setting for ourselves today, in 2001, are diametrically opposed to the roots of our being, the foundations of our existence. It is, therefore, impossible to rationally explain ourselves to those who are still trying to bring about our disappearance as a people, i.e., there are too many Israelis who fully believe that Israel is a “racist apartheid state” guilty of “war crimes, acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing” After all, how else can you explain our “behavior towards the poor palestinians?”
Israel’s identity crisis is in full swing. It vacuumed us into the Oslo catastrophe and will, more than likely, envelope us in an inevitable all out war. True, Israel was reborn 52 years ago, but measured in minutes and hours of eternity, we are still in the teenage stage, trying to figure out what we want out of life. And as any parent knows, it’s not an easy stage to go through. In our case, it is downright dangerous. The effects of a 2000 year old dispersion amongst the peoples of the world have not yet rubbed off, and we are continuing to eat the fruit of that poisonous assimilation.
However, slowly, perhaps too slowly, yet slowly, people are starting to wake up, starting to ask themselves questions, deep down inside, even if they still don’t want to openly admit it. And eventually, those questions will lead to answers which will leave no doubt as to our legitimacy, our legitimacy in Eretz Yisrael, and our legitimacy as the Jewish people. The solution to our problems is almost upon us. For even if we don’t wish to face the questions head on, our neighbors will not allow us evade them.
After that, we won’t have any problems with PR. And Hebron’s residents will no longer be pawns in Shimon’s match with Yassir.
With blessings from Hebron,
This is David Wilder