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WORRIED

August 6, 2016

It’s not that our prime minister is at this moment unabashedly acting to take control of the media. It’s not that our defense minister just compared the US’s nuclear agreement with Iran to the Munich agreements with the Nazis. It’s not that the Supreme Court ruled that the Bedouin village Umm Hiran will be destroyed, its long-time residents relocated and a new Jewish town, Hiran, will be built on the ruins. And it’s not that two bored soldiers stopped a five year old girl in a Hebron street, the other day, sent her terrified, crying away, took her tiny bicycle and threw it into the bushes. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MWiPhRylGg)

It’s that we accept this. Some of us embrace it. Exploring the ways of the settlement movement, Eva Ilouz writes, “Greedy land grabbers have become the moral compass of Israeli Judaism.” Yet this is not only about land, it is about our Land, the Land of Israel/Palestine, and the people in it. Greed, control, power, the nurturing of political careers….these are our moral compass. We are fish in these waters, most of us never stopping to examine the sea in which we swim. We just know that there are big fish out there, and we frightened little fish must be clever and take care of me and mine. We don’t notice that we are learning to accept injustice and human cruelty as integral parts of our lives.

I can imagine what that little girl is feeling. What puzzles me is what the soldier is feeling as he hurls the bike away. What horrifies me is what he is not feeling.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Revolver. I put the album on the turntable and crank it up. As I listen to the joy of creation, the breaking of new ground, ideas never before tried in rock music, the courage and imagination and vision and reaching beyond what is safe, when I listen to the passion,  I am filled with longing for a time when we sat glued all afternoon in ’66, in our musty students’ living room in Madison, Wisconsin, playing Revolver over and over, seeking the nuances of lyric and harmony, thrilling to witness the making of music history. Leaders in every field are either making history or repeating what has already been tried. If it’s the latter, they’re not leaders. We are leader-less these days.

I think of our Israeli youth. I think of thump, thump, thumping trance and house music and the raves where young people dance all night to music that may as well have no lyrics, where one chord is played for twenty minutes, and the rhythm comes from a computer. Where is Paul McCartney’s poetry? “Father McKensie, writing the words to a sermon that no one will hear.” Where is John Lennon, where is Aretha Franklin when we need them so?

I think of couples sitting together in coffee shops, each glued to their smart-phones. This is not a passing fad. This is a mood, a growing culture, a trend. In a recent survey of Israeli youth, among 11th and 12th graders polled, 59 percent identified themselves as right-wing, and only 13 percent said they considered themselves left-wing. 65 percent said they agree with the line, attributed to pre-state military hero Joseph Trumpeldor, that, “It is good to die for one’s country.” Good? The same poll found nearly half of Jewish Israeli high-school students agreeing that Arabs should not have the right to vote. To the question, “Do you think Arab Israelis should be represented in the Knesset?” 48 percent of those polled responded, “no.”

Over dinner with friends, people spoke of the fortunate Israelis like us whose children have foreign passports. I choked on the spring rolls that our friends learned to make on their Thai holiday. But somewhere, in each casual gathering, the “situation” comes up, and we worry together, tisk over the latest catastrophes wrought by our leaders, and discuss how we are each coping. Then get in our cars and go home for a cozy sleep, while across the plains, a tornado is gathering momentum, honing in on us, as we hunker down.

Yoav Peck

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One Comment
  1. Michael Greene permalink

    As we are worried that millions of voters have embraced Trump.

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