I have even less time to write now than I did when I wrote the below two years ago. But in the I/P conflict things rarely change and usually for the worse. Gunther Grass was right, and I only hope that more Germans draw the lesson from their history that no people has the right to be secure at the expense of another people.
More on Grass after the holiday. Let Passover start the countdown of nuclear disarmament in the Middle East -and elsewhere. No country should be allowed to have nuclear weapons.
I don't have time to write a proper Passover post, and I don't have the strength either. Only those who are of the "things-need-to-get-worse-in-order-to-get-better" school can take cheer this Passover. The State of Israel continues to disappoint erstwhile supporters. Liberal Zionists never expected Israel to be a Zionist utopia; they would have been happy with what the Israeli philosophy professor, Avishai Margalit, calls a 'decent society'. Israel, today, is not by any stretch of the imagination a decent society. That it contains many decent and truly good people, that many of its institutions are decent and good, provides comfort in the present and hope for the future. But, as Akiva Eldar points out in an excellent piece here, we are now suffering our own plague of darkness and hard-heartedness. And there is no end in sight.
Those Jews who suffer the most today are liberal Zionists like Eldar. For years they believed that they could wipe clean the stain of 1967 (and, with the resettlement of the refugees, of 1948), by a fair and decent compromise with the Palestinians. They believed that most Israelis were in favor of such a compromise. But at the same time they were aware that they were a dwindling breed, and as the years have gone by, they have become increasingly marginalized by the chauvinistic center, from Labor to the Likud. Most Israelis never supported a two-state solution; they simply supported getting rid of the Palestinians one way or the other. I am waiting for the liberal Zionist to realize, as I had to realize, that the problems for Israel are much deeper than land for peace, that a question mark hangs – or should hang – over the entire Zionist enterprise of creating a state against the will, and without the participation, of the natives of Palestine. Yet as long as there was hope that the Palestinians could have their own state, where they could exercise their self-determination, where they could receive the refugees, where they could build their own society with its own problems, then one could arguably defend the legitimacy of the Zionist state founded in 1948. But now that that hope has faded, what remains? What moral justification can remain for the systematic and never-ending deprivation of fundamental human rights? Only a society where Palestinians are accepted as equals; only a state which defends Jewish and Palestinians rights to self-determination will be sufficient. And how long will it take for that society to come about?
So the night is long and dark; the lights at the end of the tunnel are flashing, and the time between the flashes become longer. As many have recently pointed out, even the perennially clueless Tom Friedman, Israelis don't really care much about a just settlement with the Palestinians; they have lived very well without it, and as long as they are an economic power, who will refrain to do business with it? Demographically, politically, and, yes, Jewishly, Israel has moved to the right, but frankly, they haven't moved as much as is reported because the society always was on the right.
So what to do? Where there can be no liberation on the national front, one can only turn inward and seek personal liberation – liberation from prejudice, self-righteousness, intense tribalism, and from the insensitivity to the Palestinian, whose land we took and take, and whose aspirations we continue to deny. And to forge bonds with like-minded individuals of all types.
In that struggle for liberation from spiritual slavery, we Jews have much to learn from ourselves and our history, but also from others and their history. So tonight at your seder table (or some time over the holiday, if you don't like to let the contemporary intrude) you may want to ponder this post by my friend, Sam Bahour. Sam is a Palestinian-American businessman living in Ramallah who has taken the time to write his own interpretation of the foods of the Seder Plate. His interpretation is here; I urge you to see the original and to read the comments, which prove, by their very insensitivity, how hard our Jewish hearts have become.