Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm So Tired

I am living in a different country than the one to which I immigrated, back in 1972. There are so many times when I barely recognize it, and too many times when I am very frightened by what we have become. 

I know that what I once thought to be true, wasn't necessarily so, and I know that I was young and naive and ignorant when I came, and I know that we have a tendency to be nostalgic about the past, and to see it in a better light than it probably was. But still, it was better (At least if you were a secular Jew.)

Back then, we sang Hevenu shalom aleichem - we have brought you peace - and even meant it... Back then we sang Shir la'shalom (a song for peace) and even believed it... Back then we thought our democracy was as strong as strong could be, and relegated fascism to other distant regimes.

                       (Hevenu shalom aleichem - we brought you peace)

When I came to Israel, I thought I was coming to a country that embraced democracy, a country that valued equality, and freedoms. I thought the leaders of my new country would not lash out when they encountered diversity. I thought the society was one that encouraged the voices of different peoples, from different backgrounds, ethnicities and religions to be sounded and heard. I thought that its people knew what  racism, discrimination and persecution can lead to and why we must make sure it never occurs on our shores. I thought that my country would not only excel in scientific and creative initiatives, inventions and development, but also in the expression of values such as mutual caring, social and economic justice, community, solidarity.

The country in which I now live is focused on division, separation, and fear. The leaders of my country are focused on proposing law after law after law that aim to curtail freedoms, quash human rights, suffocate voices, negate anyone that is not Jewish. The country in which I live is becoming uglier and uglier. The country in which I now live is tiring, and angering, and frustrating. So frustrating.

How many petitions can I sign against draconian Knesset proposals to curtail yet another freedom?
How many emails can I send out to friends warning about this dangerous law proposal or that one?
How many news articles can I read that discuss another attempt, proposed by MKs from Yisrael Beitenu, the Likud, and Kadima, to do away with our democracy ?

How many blog posts can I write to protest the ugly country we have become?

1 comment:

  1. "But still, it was better (At least if you were a secular Jew.)"

    I think that is the crux of it. Things were better back then if you were a Jewish citizen of Israel. Had you been a 'present absentee', you would have had a very different experience - the ID card and the citizenship, but not the full rights. The community of Ayn Hawd only received basic services such as electricity and rubbish collection in 2005, after an enormous struggle against demolition orders, despite being tax-paying citizens with ostensibly equal rights. They weren't unique in that. Had you been a 'permanent resident of Jerusalem', things would have been even worse - no citizenship, no vote, political voicelessness. This being the case, it's hard for me to see that Israel was ever 'Jewish and democratic' - just 'democratic for Jews'. Soon I don't think it will even be that.

    I sympathise with Israeli Jews who are going through worry and pain about the future of the state right now - many of my good friends share your feelings. But what you and they are saying about the demise of Israeli democracy feels like the requiem for a phantom, not something that ever really existed.