want more prominent Jews people with a profile higher than mine to
at least come out and say publicly that Israel has a right to
exist. I feel like the silence tacitly endorses the opinion
that somehow Israel is the bully and the Palestinians are the
actor on "The West Wing," Forward
hear a lot about Israel's "right to exist," but the issue is
settled. The state of Israel exists and will continue to as long as the planet has
trees and the U.S. Treasury has ink. Roll over Osama (soon,
I hope) and tell Khomeini the news.
is here to stay, but what does "Israel" even mean? I imagine
that the 577
Palestinians and 237 Israelis who died over this question
Rosh Hashanah and the last would like to know. I also suspect
that American Zionists, whether born-again, neoconservative,
would rather not.
Abu Latifi is the fifth child to be killed here in recent months
in the same place, in the same circumstances. IDF soldiers
versus kids from the Qalandiyah refugee camp, and the score
is 5:0 at the half. A live bullet for every stone, a burst of
gunfire for every attempt to vandalize the fence that surrounds
the now-defunct airport. In the killing fields of Qalandiyah,
there are no other ways to disperse children: no hoses or teargas,
no megaphones, no plastic shields, not even rubber bullets.
Just live fire from a short range and to hell with the rules
of engagement and with basic justice, which should tell the
soldiers: You don't shoot at children. Period. Ever. No ifs,
ands or buts."
fingers tremble to type such virulent anti-Semitism, but there
it is in an Israeli paper. Wait, there's more. Last week, 27
Israeli pilots signed a letter to the commander of the air force.
It read, in part: "We, who were taught to love Israel and contribute
to the Zionist enterprise, refuse to take part in attacks on
civilian population centers." Ezer Weitzman, Israel's former
president and ex-air force commander, said that he "would ground
them immediately. It's like… cancer it will spread if it isn't
choice of words there. As the dread Susan Sontag wrote in Illness
as Metaphor (1977),
standard metaphor of Arab polemics heard by Israelis on the
radio every day for the last twenty years is that Israel is
'a cancer in the heart of the Arab world' or 'the cancer of
the Middle East'…"
cosmopolitan Theodore Herzl
must be spinning in the hereafter as he watches Israel become
what it hates. Is the existence of a nominally Jewish state
worth the destruction of Jewish civilization? I wish that this
were none of my business, but I'm paying for those bullets fired
lesser sons, those who only glimpse that blooming
desert through razor wire. I have the right, nay, the duty
to make some observations. Ariel Sharon can quit taking my money
if he doesn't like it.
Monday is Yom Kippur,
the time to atone for one's sins against God. Surely Israel's
treatment of the Palestinians counts as a sin against the God
who made them both. What will Israel do? Will one real settlement
come down? Will one family behind the wall
be given restitution for lost property? Will Sharon take
responsibility for his butchery at Sabra and Shatila?
If the Israeli government stood for anything more than brute
strength or mere tribalism, then we might expect such acts of
atonement. What we will see instead is more violence from Likud,
more vitriol from Norman Podhoretz,
gibberish from Pat Robertson, and more whining from the
likes of Josh Malina.
Israel needs, in addition to better friends and leaders, is
something to brake its slide into barbarism. I humbly suggest
the Jewish tradition. Its spirit of introspection, justice,
and mercy lives on in the refuseniks and in those civilians
who resist what Batya Gur calls "the glittering edge of the boot."
They can save the nation of Israel because they know what really
threatens it the militarism of the Israeli state.