Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Two Summers, Two Lessons

After living in Israel for 15 years, and reaching my (gulp) mid-forties, I have developed a very deep cynicism for politicians. At the same time I have kept my almost Pollyanna-ish optimism about my fellow "simple" Jews. I retain my hope that even those of us with very different backgrounds and political views can talk to, and more importantly, listen to each other - and perhaps actually do something to improve this little G-d given country of ours.

Now that there is a ceasefire, I can take a break from the fast-paced present events, and write about what I hope we can all learn from the past two summers.

First, what I have learned from this summer. (I apologize in advance if what I say sounds condescending. This is not my intention).

Listening to the radio and reading various articles, I have been surprised at the change in some of the left wing journalists and intellectuals. Yes, some of them repeated the same-old platitudes - and did not acknowledge the new reality revealed by this war. But quite a few did change, and proved that they are open to new ways of thinking. To oversimplify, until now I have usually labeled most left wingers as "self-hating" - and dismissed what they had to say in the past based on my assumption that they love the Arabs more than they love their brothers, and sometimes even themselves. I see now that in many cases this assumption was wrong - and I hope that this will help me listen in the future.

Second, what I hope others have learned from those of us on the right - and more specifically, from the settlers, from the events of last summer.

Before the disengagement there was a great fear of a civil war. Part of this was due to the media's demonization of the settlers, and part of it was due to the true reading of just how passionately we opposed the plan. Most people (including myself) who haven't been forced out of our homes can only dimly imagine just how painful it really is - but all of us knew that the pain would be profound. The fact that many people made great sacrifices before last summer - getting arrested for blocking roads, getting arrested for refusing orders, moving to Gush Katif and living in tents for months - sharpened the fears and led to the question many asked themselves - "just how far will they go to stop this from hapening?" Many on the left feared that the settlers would go so far as to kill other Jews, because of the assumption that they love the land under their feet more than they love their brothers, and sometimes even themselves.

I hope that the fact that the civil war did not materialize last summer has shattered this assumption, and that there are those out there who can now listen to us.

Will we learn our lessons this time?


Blogger Batya said...

You know what they say about no athiests in the foxholes, but when they're back home, they're athiests again.

We have to keep reminding them that the whold country is a foxhole.

12:59 PM, August 15, 2006  
Blogger Pinchas Floyd said...

the only good thing ot come out of this bobbled war effort is that olmert has lost his "mandate" to make big change decisions and unilateral withdrawals have been shown for the catastrophic mistakes that they are

11:43 PM, August 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:17 AM, August 16, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

batya - we will see how many people need reminding

phishaliya - you are right. I don't think I have to worry about losing my home - at least for the next few years

kahanaloyalist - I am deleting your comments. You have crossed the line and I hope you stay away from my blog from now on

7:57 AM, August 16, 2006  
Blogger Jack Steiner said...

Interesting. So much passion and so many different thoughts on how to best use that passion.

9:29 AM, August 16, 2006  
Blogger tafka PP said...

Thank you for this post, WBM: It is good medicine for the various traumatic exchanges we've all undergone on and off the blogosphere this summer. As is Jack's comment.

11:40 AM, August 16, 2006  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

The change isn't just here--I've corresponded with many friends, Jewish and non-Jewish, back in California and was pleasantly surprised by their changes in attitude---not only about Israel but about militant Islamic terror. Hezbollah's unprovoked attack and that just-busted plot to blow up airplanes helped move a lot of people away from Pollyanna Leftism.

2:28 PM, August 16, 2006  
Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

Good post, WBM. I am more optimistic about our ability to talk one to another - the fact is we are talking, isn't it?

I am less optimistic about the "Will we learn our lessons this time?".

The sad fact is that we, the Jooz, are on the forefront of the nations that do not learn from our own stupid deeds...

2:50 PM, August 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe this is out of place, this is my first time at this blog. maybe this is a forum for Jewish people.

However, do you ever spare a thought for innocent Palestinians who are in the west bank who are evicted and have their houses destroyed? They have nothing.

I am not talking about terrorists, militants or even organisers of popular un-armed resistance. I am talking about innocent ordinary people who have been living on their land for generations.

I am sure a settlement is a lovely place to live however, they are also a fundamental geopolitical tool aimed at fencing Palestinians into Bantustans.

Does that make you proud?

3:27 PM, August 16, 2006  
Blogger Emanuel Ben-Zion said...

How will things turn out in the future? In one hand if we withdraw from West Bank we will lose face and jewish religious approval. If we don't withdraw we will continue to have problems in the Middle East and a sense of the same old thing, no evolution of the palestinian issue. Let's be honest, Palestinians will not agree to have settlers in their future State, and we sure don't want to show them that agree all their requests

We talk about the left-wing and the right-wing and I realise that we are talking about political extremes, because I know that the majority of Israeli society, lay or religious, are center-wing. They are the ones who must be conviced by both parts, I included, because I really don't know where I stand about your issue.

3:52 PM, August 16, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

jack - passionate is the word here!

tafka - I agree. The problem here is that we don't get a chance to chill out enough to really talk and listen.

aliyah06 -yes, I have heard that also from other people with relatives in the US

snoopy- the need to feel "right" is sometimes too strong

odog - this is not a forum for just Jewish people - I welcome anyone to my blog who sincerely wants to learn about another perspective. A good source for information on "my" side of the conflict is here: Myths and Facts

The entire site is good, but I have sent you to a specific place which discusses the settlements.

And no, I am not happy that the Arabs are poor - but that is not my responsibility, it is theirs.

emanuel - if we withdraw from the westbank we will lose much more than "face" - we will lose our lives. The Six Day War was not fought by Israel in order to conquer this part of the land, it was a defensive war fought because the Arabs wanted to wipe us off the face of the earth. The fact that I live here now is to prevent them from using this corner of earth in order to kill more Jews. Even those who are not religious and perhaps don't "believe" that G-d gave this land to us (as is clearly stated many times in the Bible)can understand that point. The problem is that they sometimes forget it - because in general we are safe, and strong here in Israel.

6:50 AM, August 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have a few points about the israeli withdrawal, disengagement is a necessity.Israel can not continue to give priviledges to jews while simultaneously denying
palestinians their resources and soverignty. Israel policies are denying equality to a portion of its population on the basis of ethnicity and thus constitutes as a form of apartheid.

The only wat for Israel to maintain a jewish majority and the moral dilema of racial discrimination is to diverge from the Palestinians and give them a state in the proposed Bantustan format similar to what South Africa did when it tried to deal with its ethnic problems...

Your comments make me quite mad, "I am sorry that the Arabs are poor but its their problem"

Israel has systematically denied water resources and access to land for palestinians, destroyed crops, orchards and fields. 44,000 orchard trees have been uprooted for the apartheid wall alone so far

Israel utilisises 80% of palestinian ground water and often sells it back to them through Mekerot. Palestinians have no access to the Jordan for irrigation or other puposes. Israelis consume four time as much water is palestinians. Palestinian per capita water allocation is well below World health Organisation standards. Israelis must see themselves as the master race, how else can they justify denying another human being of this vital resource.

Illegal settlers such as your self contribute to unsustainable water consumption and waste disposal problems. 80% os solid waste from Israeli colonies is dumped in Palestinian territory. By pass roads a cutting the WB upo like chees forming mini "security barriers". Israel and its colonial ambitions are systematically undermining the capacity for sustainable development for Palestinians.

Many of the actions of the israeli state can not be justified using the tired old security argument.

I don't care if the bible, or Torah, or any other book said this is ok, the the settlement programm is blatent occupation and colonialisation.

I will read your link, perhaps you would like to visit our website some time.

From the bethlehem ghetto

12:13 PM, August 17, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

odog - if you are sincere about this discussion, please read the link before you discuss this further.

On the myth about Israel stealing water from the Palestinians, see here: www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/myths/mf18.html#g

3:43 PM, August 17, 2006  
Blogger Emanuel Ben-Zion said...

WestBankMama: We only know if this Lebanon war was a victory for us or for them when in future we will see Hezbollah without any means of attack and Iran without their playground in Lebanon. It's the same in West Bank, we will only know if we did the right choice to retreat win the future. I want a free Palestine but I know it's hard for those who live in the West Bank, but do we, the majority of the Jewish people, desire to continue in the West Bank? REmember that Israel is ours, not the left-wing or the right-wing only.

Odog: Look at this side, do you think that we would be free to express our religion in Saudi Arabia, even before the creation of Israel? No, and you know that this is true. No churches and synagogues are allowed in the homeland of Islam. You live very near to Israel, can you go to a mosque in Tel Aviv? or Zion/Jerusalem? Think about it. We are not a superior race, but sure we are proud of what we are: Free.

3:44 PM, August 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the Israeli propaganda site.

Look, I work for an environmental research institute in Palestine which runs joint projects with Israeli institutes, especially water resource management.

The "facts" which this site presents do not represent the actual FACTS on the ground and manipulates the data to make Israel looking squeaky clean.

Even the Israeli experts who we work with by their own admission, know that the allocation of water in palestine is unequitable and Israeli consumption unsustainable.

Sorry to say this, but this site is for people not smart enough to read and think for themselves, a training manual for people to defend Israel who know very little about the "facts".

Visit my site there is a good article which my friend wrote about the water situation. This is original research, by someone who actually thinks and can be bothered to do original reserach.

Not find a website to do the arguing for them

4:11 PM, August 22, 2006  
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