Dear Members of
Peace Alternatives and Guests: Israel
I noted that my old friend Hillel Damron will be speaking to you on November 29th about the “survival of democracy” in
the “fading dream” of the two-state solution, and the “Jewish Holy War”
involving “Price Tags.” Israel
I have known Hillel for many years and have great respect for him and his service to
. My daughter and his son were good friends
when they were growing up in Israel . Sacramento
Like Americans who love and are concerned about the
Hillel can be quite critical of U.S. . As he has said to me, it has been quite a
long time since he lived in Israel and, to his regret, he does not get to go
back home often. Israel
I am a more recent citizen of
and I live here about seven months a year.
I am at my apartment in Israel
now, just as Jerusalemites are opening their homes so that the million-plus
Israeli civilians who are the target of rockets from Jerusalem
can come and hopefully get a peaceful night’s rest. Gaza
Like Hillel, I am sometimes critical of
. As in every country, there is plenty of room
for improvement. However, as someone who
lives in Israel
a good part of the year now but who is not a native Israeli, I think I can
provide a little different perspective than Hillel. Israel
My main concern is that Hillel, as a native Israeli, may, just like Americans who argue about the
not give the context and perspective that should accompany his criticisms. I would like to provide some of that. U.S.
The “survival of democracy” in
implies that there is a question about whether Israel ’s
democracy will survive. Israel
As in the
the campaigns are vibrant, and are bare knuckles. Ridiculous charges are flying, hyperbole is
the standard of the day, promises are being made, and shady practices are going
on. No matter who you are for, you think
the press is biased for the other side.
Sound familiar? U.S.
Last night my wife and I were in Tel Aviv for a reception in honor of a friend who is retiring as the
representative of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation. The entertainment was provided by a group of
elementary school students from the Israel , a south Tel Aviv school
dedicated to educating and nurturing the children of foreign workers and
We were treated to wonderful singing by a rainbow of beautiful children, all singing in Hebrew. These were students whose parents came here with nothing, many escaping oppression and quite possibly death. They were happy and confident, and it was inspiring and heartwarming to see them living freely in
. It made me proud to be an Israeli citizen. Israel
After our Ulpan (Hebrew class) today, I walked over to
Yehuda Street to run some errands with my wife.
While she was inside some stores, I sat outside watching the scene. The scene included Israeli Arabs, on a day
when rockets from were killing
and injuring people about an hour away, going about their business, shopping,
and eating. I saw Israeli Arab teenage
boys and girls doing what teenagers do:
laugh, tease each other, make a scene, act a little crazy, and act like
they didn’t have a care in the world. Gaza
This is not to say that Israeli Arabs do not sometimes face discrimination, or that some Israeli Jews are not bigots.
just like the Israel
and other countries, has a lot of room for improvement when it comes to
treatment of its minority populations.
But, as in other societies, there are plenty of good people here working
to improve the status of U.S. ’s
minority populations. Israel
Life is not perfect here. There is a nationalistic streak amongst some Israelis, much of it stemming from the Aliyah of a million Russian Jews, many of them with a nationalistic bent and without a deep understanding of democracy and tolerance. Additionally, some Jews from Arab countries are embittered by their years living in Arab nations and are also not steeped in democratic traditions.
And then there are a fringe group of nationalistic “settlers” who act out in reprehensible ways against Palestinians and, often, Israeli soldiers. They are a tiny minority of those living across the green line, and an even tinier percentage of the population.
They are condemned by the vast majority of Israelis, including many “settlers,” and the government has taken action to try to prevent and punish their behavior. That does not make their conduct any less wrong. But it does put it in context.
Does any of this mean that Israeli democracy is in jeopardy? Absolutely not.
Asking that question is as ludicrous as asking if French democracy will survive because the right wing party of Le Pen has gotten some support recently.
When the racist Alabama Governor George Wallace got as much as 40% of the vote in Democratic (yes, Democratic) primaries in 1968, did it mean that our democracy was about to be eliminated? When
and other states propose or pass discriminatory, hate-motivated
anti-immigration legislation, does it mean that American democracy is near the
Of course not. It means that there are misguided, nationalistic, often racist people in the society. They need to be countered by good people who stand up and speak out. That is what happens in the
and it is what happens in U.S.
all the time. Israel
About a year ago, the international media, many in the American Jewish community, and my friend Hillel focused on some nefarious legislation on immigration and freedoms that was introduced in the Knesset. What they may have failed to report on is that every piece of that legislation either died or was amended so as to delete the offensive provisions. Good people in and outside of government here in
stood up and opposed the legislation. Israel
More recently much was made of a few publicity-seeking politicians who made despicable comments about illegal immigrants. They have proposed deporting helpless people who have few options and nowhere to go. Good people have spoken up and opposed those proposals. Well, the same thing has happened in
The point is that, while there are problems in
and there are some people doing things and proposing things and saying things
that you, Hillel, and I do not like, it needs to be kept in context. Israeli democracy is alive and well. Israel
I would simply add that Israeli democracy could use people like you. I saw the impact on Israeli society from a million Russians coming. The Russians brought symphony, science, culture, crime, and pork. Virtually every problem of concern to Hillel, to me, and to you would be greatly improved if a million American Jews who care like you do came here, spoke up, and voted.
As I write this, reports continue to come in of the hundreds of rockets that have been fired at Israeli civilian centers in the last 48 hours. They have reached the Tel Aviv area. For the first time since the first Gulf War, sirens are sounding in Tel Aviv. We have called friends of our daughter’s to see if they want to come and stay with us.
Given the new Muslim Brotherhood government in
we are concerned about its support for Hamas, the growing radical presence in
Sinai, and the long border there. The
Syrian slaughter goes on (ignored by much of the world), and Syrian mortars and
bullets have been shot into Egypt . Syrian tanks came across the border. At anytime Israel
could unleash Hezbollah and its 60,000 missiles and rockets on the Lebanese
border in order to divert attention from its support of Assad or its nuclear
And, of course, there is the growing threat that
whose leaders proclaim their hope to destroy six million plus Jews on a weekly
basis, will soon complete development of its nuclear weapon. Iran
When you are done discussing the domestic situation, I hope you will then turn your attention to how you might support Israel at a time when its people are suffering under a barrage of terrifying rockets and when it is facing an existential threat from an almost nuclear Iran.
With very best wishes from
This is like the 100 years war. It will never end. Two state solution is impossible unless there is some type of "coming to G-d moment " from Hamas OR if the Palestinian authority (which I think has the west Bank quieter and quieter) resumes control over Gaza which seems impossible. Hamas has decided that this current life is worthless and that it fights for a a perceived and misguided greater good and does not care how much misery it causes Israel or its own people for that matter. It will never end.ReplyDelete
Thank you again for taking the time to share your insights and perspective. I greatly appreciate it.ReplyDelete
Right on, brother!ReplyDelete