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?