It was not always like this. We loved to visit the West Bank in the past, but no more. Today, this land is one of moral turpitude, a blot on the family’s record, a historic disgrace. In the West Bank, the State of Israel has become an apartheid state, where our children carry out war crimes on our behalf; where the concept of population transfer has become a reality; where (in a sickening twist of history) the Jews have become a master race that is on a lofty and well-protected pedestal while the Other – the Palestinian – has no rights, no identity, and can be trampled upon by any soldier, any member of the Shin Bet security service – in fact, by anyone with a blue identity card.
Whenever the Jews have turned to the path of physical force, it has invariably ended in unforgettable catastrophe. One of the most prominent of those catastrophes was the Bar-Kokhba revolt, which was encouraged and supported by Rabbi Akiva and which led to the almost complete destruction of our people. In other eras, we Jews developed many different and sophisticated tools that enabled us to survive as weaklings among the powerful: study, enlightenment, patience, an understanding of the mighty forces surrounding us and the development of the ability to maneuver and survive in the midst of those forces. In the era of the Enlightenment, the Jews were able to build on these foundations and to excel in science, medicine, literature, music, political science, economics, law and commerce. There were many tools in the Jewish toolbox, but the use of force was not one of thom.
Today, the situation is different. The toolbox has emptied; gone are the wisdom, the patience, the moderation and the shrewdness. What has, however, remained is crude, brute force, seeking an outlet. The Six Day War of June 1967 was the greatest disaster that has ever befallen on the State of Israel, because it led Israelis to believe that physical force is the only lens through which the world should be viewed. The combination of being a bully and a victim at the same time has become Israel’s trademark and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is its spearhead.
For the government and, apparently, for the majority of the Israeli population, which supports it passively, people and human kindness are not part of the Jewish toolbox. Similarly, the famous aphorism stated by the great Jewish sage, Hillel, who lived 2,000 years ago, “What is hateful to you do not do unto others,” is not part of the conceptual infrastructure of the State of Israel. What should you do when you realize that your country, your homeland, your beloved land has become a frightening, sickening monster, has become one of those states that caused you to thank your lucky stars that you were not one of their citizens – the Bosnias, Somalias, Burmas and Rwandas, with all their war crimes, ethnic cleansings and racial segregation?
Over the years, I have been weaned from a total identification with the State of Israel. When my eldest son reached the age of 18, I realized (painfully) that he would have to be drafted into the Israel Defense Forces. A few years later, when my youngest son reached induction age, I tried very hard not to decide for him. Today, I am not sure what advice I would give to an 18-year-old Israeli who is on the threshold of being drafted.
I am not some deranged leftist who supports the Arabs. I love Jews, I love Zionists, I love my land, the Land of Israel. As a Jew, I want Israel to be a model state; a light unto the nations; a center of science, culture, economic activity, health services, justice, equality and morality. Is this an unrealistic hope?
Israel has become a leper state that is viewed by others with disgust; ; a state that is systematically sabotaging the Zionist project and is turning it into another fleeting – and sad – episode in the gloomy history of the Jewish people.
I propose that we learn another language – in addition to the language of force. I am starting to learn Dutch.
The author is the owner of the Meishar winery in the moshav (semi-cooperative rural settlement) of Meishar in the southern coastal plain near Gedera.