A recent issue of the New York Review of Books contained an essay about the West Bank separation wall, which included this quote by an Israeli man:
It’s incredible but the country still feels provisional. Of what other state can this be said? I notice that when I am in Britain that you plan for 2038, you say there will be this railway or that airport. But no Israeli plans so far ahead without feeling a pang in his heart which asks whether we shall be here at all. We look so strong from the outside, we have such a large army, so many nuclear weapons, we’re so certain in our expansion, and yet from the inside it doesn’t feel like that. We feel our being is not guaranteed. You might say we have imported from the Diaspora the Jewish disease – a sense of rootlessness, an ability to adapt and make do, but not to settle. After sixty years, Israel is not yet a home.
Sometimes Israelis are good for a laugh.
Let’s think about this. You live in a country that has been at war for 60 years. You’ve been occupying another country for the past 40 years. You’re currently building an 8 meter high, 436 miles long wall to keep the people you’re occupying away from you, and visitors have to ask you to keep your stamp out of their passports if they want to visit one of your neighbors.
In a completely unrelated matter, you’re not sure your country will exist in 30 years. Why? Because Diaspora Jews are diseased. Yup – us poor Diaspora Jews are so pitifully damaged and rootless that even the gleaming sabras have inherited our taint.
Look, I know the speaker’s trying to be poetic and all, but he fails on a couple of counts. First off, even if it’s a metaphor, it’s still a cop-out. Notice how he manages to eloquently explore Israel’s sense of fragility and existential fears without mentioning the occupation at all? I’m sorry, but poetry that isn’t honest simply isn’t good poetry. Secondly, there’s no way a statement like that can be separated from the weak Jew/strong Jew narrative that Israelis have been pushing for decades.
What you hear going bump in the night isn’t your ancestors’ fault. It’s yours. And it’s long past time to deal with it.