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Who Said God Is Dead?

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Not me, though I was never much of a believer in his—her/its—existence to begin with. But the closer Netanyahu is getting to the end of his reign, most probably in disgrace, the more I’m tempted to believe that someone up there still cares about Israel’s future. I doubt it will make me a believer, but for a naïve, idealistic-minded person such as myself, a renewed belief in the possibility of solving the eternal Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as opposed to just ‘managing’ it, and with it securing Israel’s future as a Jewish democratic state, is a big step forward.

Of course, we have a long way to go before both things—Netanyahu’s demise and a peaceful, secure resolution of the conflict—can become a reality, and can produce a real chance for success. Still, one can always hope. One can hope that Netanyahu’s hold on power, his Mafiosi-style, take-no-prisoners’ attitude to staying in power, the belief—both in large segment of the Israeli population, and in some quarters of the American Jewish population as well—that he’s the new “King David of Jerusalem” is coming to an end soon.

What’s my beef with Netanyahu, you ask? I’ll tell you what. But before I do that, something else that suddenly hits me. It is this: The most ardent, fanatic supporters of Netanyahu happened to be also the most fanatic supporters—hooligans, actually, is a better word to describe them; I know, I’ve seen them in action—of the Holy City’s soccer club ‘Beitar Jerusalem.’ It’s a known phenomenon in Israel, at least at the time when I was following Israel’s soccer games more closely, that whenever their beloved team scored a goal, their loudest, most unifying chant was “Yesh Elohim!” “There’s God!”

Go figure. I thought they are all believers, anyhow, goal or no goal. I suppose even such extreme fans need a ‘solid’ proof occasionally. But enough of that. Now to my beef with Netanyahu, who (supposedly) worked so hard for Israel’s security and prosperity. As for security, there are many things not to like about his long—longer than anybody else in modern Israel’s history, other than Ben Gurion—stay in power, but I will concentrate on three. First, for me, is his culpability in the assassination of the late prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. His guilt in one of the three, or four most momentous events in Israel’s short history is, of course, by association only. Nonetheless, the atmosphere he fostered and inflamed; the speeches he gave in a Jerusalem’s square from a hotel balcony—remind you of any other dictators?—calling Rabin a traitor, and not silencing the crowd and their thirst for blood, will never be forgotten. It brought upon the country a tragic, major moment of crisis.

And, if you want proof for his guilt, I give you this: Netanyahu was, still is—together with the settlement movement—the main beneficiary of that political assassination. As result of that, here comes the second argument against him: His grab of power by any, and all means. It is said that all politicians are corrupted this way, but I beg to differ. Some lose a battle and continue on to other fields, to other arenas. Just look at a case here in America, with Al Gore, who should’ve been the president but lost anyhow (to a 5-4 Supreme Court decision), and continued to serve us all with his fight against global warming. But not Netanyahu. He vanquished all opposition, disposed of all previous allies and friends, and made deals with anybody who will keep him in power.

Power that became the main reason to stay in power. As opposed to the real, important reasons to be in charge, and usher positive, desirable changes. Which brings me to the third reason: His ‘do nothing,’ at all costs—other than continuing, and solidifying the occupation—in regard to the conflict with the Palestinians. He is gutless. He is coward—despite what all his followers and worshipers in Israel and in America would like you to believe. The ‘magician,’ as they like to call him, used all the tricks in his arsenal to run away from peace at any opportunity he’s had, or created, in order to just ‘manage’ the situation. And we are left to pay—for many years, I’m afraid, and who knows at what costs—for his mistakes.

As for prosperity, in a word, it seems—judging by what we know about the cases against him being investigated currently by the police, but not only from that—that he was mainly interested in his own family’s prosperity (like all dictators). But, no mistake here, I’m not so delusional as to believe that all the problems, even just the most crucial ones facing Israel, we’ll be solved with ‘King Bibi’s’ exit. Far from it. The occupation is here to stay. The heart of the dispute with the Palestinians will continue to beat. And there’s no guarantee whatsoever that those elected to replace him we’ll do a better job. The harm that has been done is cutting too deep and is too everlasting to disappear magically. But… there will be a chance for change again. There will be a chance for peace again. How to go about it will be up to the people of Israel. Stay tune.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue

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Six Days & Fifty Years

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This Monday evening, June 5th, we at the Mosaic Law Congregation of Sacramento, and its KOH Library and Cultural Center, will be commemorating—with a special program and an excellent film—the 50-year anniversary to the Six-Day War of 1967. A war in which I fought as a young soldier, both at the Egyptian front and at the Syrian front (see the picture above of young paratroopers about to embark on a plane; I’m second from the left). I will take an active role in the program by recalling my experience during that war (to hear my story you’ll have to come to the event itself). I’m mentioning this upfront because many of you, who have been following my political writings here, and events throughout our community, and know my political views regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, may raise an eyebrow or two, to say the least, in wondering how someone with my opinions and inclinations, is so readily participating and organizing such a program.

Well… here’s my explanation. To begin with, our event is not a ‘celebration’ per se, nor it is a ‘mourning’ of sorts. (Most certainly it is not a political event.) Rather—though both elements would be present—it is a commemoration. We will be observing and reflecting on the days leading to the war. Days that began with an act of aggression by Egypt and its leader Camal Abdel Nasser, being pushed from behind by the Russians, which led to a joint effort by all the Arab countries surrounding Israel, aiming to annihilate the young nation and its Jewish people from the face of the earth. Days that plunged Israel into a collective state of anxiety, great worry for its survival, and preparation for the upcoming war. Days of mobilization of all the country’s resources, human and machine, dedicated to the defense of the Jewish state. Days of no school; of no theater; of no street cafes and normal life. Culminating in six days of war that would prove to be decisive, destructive to our enemies, and glorious in term of modern history warfare.

What we will not be observing, reflecting on or discussing, would be the aftermath of that war. The day after. Fifty long years of wars, battles, and yes, some peace. In those years Israel, which at the end of the war—a war of survival per excellence, make no mistake about it—not only secured its long-term existence, but was also began a downfall of sort. At the time, it was situated at its modern zenith as a country, at the highest point on top of the ‘wheel of history.’ But unfortunately, thereafter, it began a downward spiral, continuing to this day. This disastrous descent included, among its many casualties, two warrior leaders turned peacemakers: an Egyptian President and an Israeli Prime Minister, assassinated on the altar of peace. But true: not everything has been bad since then. Far from it: The country, its army, its economy, its high-tech industry—not only its agricultural marvel as before the war—grew into a global leading proportions. After the terrible blunder of the Yom Kippur War, the country had made peace with two of its strongest enemies: Egypt and Jordan. A peace that is lasting, so far. A country of two million people is now a country of more than eight million people. Despite some challenges, it’s still a democracy. Not bad at all.

What went wrong was, still is, the occupation. I’m talking, of course, of the colonial grabbing of the West Bank (the Golan Heights too, to a degree), and the continuation of the conflict with the Palestinian people; which, in historical terms, had begun in 1948 and before. This occupation has led to a situation on the ground where the only solution available; the only solution acceptable on the majorly of both peoples; the only solution accepted on the international community—which regard, and rightly so, the Israeli settlement movement and activity as illegal—has brought us to the dying bed of that Two-State solution. It can still be resurrected and brought to life, I very much want to believe so. But in truth: I don’t see how. Again, I believe the majority of the people on both sides—more even than the politicians—are resigned now to the fact that it’s over and done with.

So what’s wrong with it, you ask? I tell you what. It can bring, potentially, not only the demise, but the end of Israel as a free society, and as a Jewish and democratic state. Maybe still in our lifetime, and maybe not. With it, it would also kill the Zionist dream. Here’s why: It cannot be both. Israel cannot be Jewish and also democratic state, while at the same time continuing to rule over millions of Palestinian people. If Israel would grant them citizenship, it soon won’t be a Jewish state anymore. If it would deprive them of these rights, while continuing to control their lives and treat them as second-class citizens, then it’s no longer a democratic state. It’s an Apartheid state. We did not—I repeat, did not—go to war for that!

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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