AS AN ISRAELI BORN AND RAISED in Jerusalem, when I visit with Jewish communities of the Diaspora—from San Francisco to Melbourne to Rio de Janeiro—I hear a global discussion regarding current realities in Israel and the “question of Palestine” that sounds entirely outdated. It is evident there is a disconnect between the ideological notions of the Diasporic Zionist narrative and present-day circumstances and factors of the realpolitik in Jerusalem.
I assume you, the reader, are familiar with the classic historic narrative: The biblical roots tying the Jewish people to the land of Eretz Yisrael, the need for a Jewish safe haven in the aftermath of the Holocaust and World War II, and finally, the return home after 2,000 years of exile and persecution. We are all familiar with the story of hope and promise for the Jewish people facing constant hardship since it sprouted just seventy years ago: The miraculous triumph against seven enemy Arab armies and gaining independence in 1948, followed by the victorious Six-Day War in 1967, tripling the country’s size in six days. Foreigners often reminisce about volunteering on a 1970s kibbutz, hitching rides across the romantic Middle Eastern landscape to eat delicious hummus in Nablus and drink good coffee in Jerusalem.
I remember the Peace Camp’s hopes for a two-state solution—the compromise of land for peace during the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s. Growing up in Jerusalem at the time, there is no way I can ever forget the bombs in the buses and cafes, the friends and family we lost. I remember Israel’s generous offer at Camp David, and the disappointment later when it turned out there was “no partner for peace.” And I certainly remember the Second Palestinian Uprising and the concrete slabs that were put in place around the city separating, seemingly forever, economies and communities. There seemed to always be a constant threat of violence, whether it was attacks in South Lebanon, chemical warfare from Iraq, rockets from Gaza, or the threat of nuclear warfare from Iran. The news on the radio was always blaring, announcing something awful. And now, according to comments from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that ran in The Guardian, the second largest existential threat to Israel is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (the first is still a nuclear Iran).
Growing up an Israeli patriot, a youth counselor and leader in the Israeli Scouts, and later a veteran combat soldier, I’ve recited these narratives most of my life. Around the world they have been shared for decades as historic fact in classrooms, synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, churches, parliaments, and businesses. The stories are woven into an impenetrable truth, one that many around the world sadly still refuse to question.
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Source Citation: Tikkun 2017 Volume 32, Number 2:69-72