Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Midnight Despair in the Garden

I am so filled with despair regarding Israel’s prospects. I can’t seem to write poetry. I can barely read it.

I have four step-children, whom I adore, who are good and kind and deserve bright futures. They will all serve in the Israeli army. The first, the dark-haired one with amber eyes and who likes to sleep late and is the only teenage girl I’ve met who doesn’t like Justin Bieber, enters next year. At no point in the last thirty years, has Israel been so isolated. At no point, has its soldiers been so unsafe. I blame Netanyahu and Lieberman, Israel’s current Prime Minister and Foreign Minster, respectively, who together formed alliances with the Israel’s religious Orthodox parties and right-wing to obtain majority in the Knesset (the Orthodox who could care less about the futures of my stepchildren except that their taxes fund their religious schools and pay for their innumerable children).  In return, the government continues to pour money into the coffers of the religious, the right-wing settlers, and those who believe any settlement with the Arabs represents existential suicide.

I also blame the Palestinians who elect rabid fundamentalist leaders who yearn for Israel's destruction. I am realistic enough to know that Israel often felt it had no choice but to react violently when the rockets were being fired, its own people were being slaughtered. But there have been moments of potential compromise. Compromise desired by good people on both sides.

There were so many missed opportunities that a little imagination and compassion could have taken advantage of. They say that many Israeli Arabs cried the night Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin was murdered by a Jewish extremist, that many are still crying.

Instead, settlements have expanded 50% since Oslo, Israel is more isolated, Egypt and Turkey who once were partners at least on paper, burn down our embassies. My own father asks, what does Israel want? We have treated the Arabs so long as enemy they have become enemy.

Many Israelis and Jews dismiss Obama, who while perhaps not doing enough in terms of tough love, had Israel’s back even in the worst of times. Didn’t he sit their, his hand under his chin, while Netanyahu lectured him on the error of returning to 1967 borders? Even I couldn’t watch that charade.

Now, I feel, we are in the worst of times again.

There are so many kind, generous, intelligent people here, in Israel. I believe that even the hearts of the right wing are not evil. Why are they being gagged? Why are we letting the fanatics and ignorant decide our fate?

I wish Israel would do something insane. Assuming a Security Council vote is delayed (which it probably will be), and the Palestinians take a vote to the UN General Assembly.  The GA doesn’t have the power to create a sovereign state, but it can upgrade the Palestinians’ current status at the UN from a non-member “observer entity” to a non-member “observer state.” That would give the Palestinians the same status at the world body as the Vatican (not that Catholics don't have a lot of injustice to answer for). That means it could become a member of a variety of UN organizations such as UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. What if Israel voted ‘YES.’ The facts on the ground would not change for anyone, BUT it might force the Palestinians to begin acting like a real country and perhaps recognize Israel’s right to exist, respect borders, step away from terrorism. It might also force real negotiations on both sides, force serious people to take charge. It’s a big ‘if.’

But what if Israel does nothing?

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