I Wish I Was an Israeli Leftist
Life would be so much easier if I could just let myself go back to being a Leftist. I could beat my compassionate heart for all to see, proud of my righteousness, proud of my humanity. I would not have been called a fascist by academic friends who look at me as if I have become a hard-assed uncaring bitch who they think is ready to lock up Palestinian Arabs into a kind of concentration camp, open-air prison, or Bantustan (depending on the metaphor you want to use) — that is, if I am not about to ethnically cleanse the land of the whole lot of them.
If I was a leftist, I could feel justified in scorning those who raise issues concerning history, as if history has any meaning or any say in how things should be today. Or better yet, I could pick and choose which pieces of history I use and which pieces I discard as irrelevant.
It would be so much easier if I just joined their side and held up anti-Apartheid placards and shouted out against the evil Rightists who have no sense of human rights.
I could openly care for all the suffering strangers, the “bleeding crowd”; I could show how everyone in need, even my so-called enemy, has a place in my heart (I wonder if that includes the beggar I just passed on the street).
Oh! How I long to march through the streets shouting out for shalom now and forever! Asking the world to lend a hand in forcing my country to make peace.
If I was a Leftist I could walk the earth secure in the knowledge that I know all that I need to know. No more questions; I have all the answers. The answers are: peace through negotiation, peace through giving up land and making it Judenfrei, we don’t have peace because our Rightist leaders don’t really want peace – they like this ongoing state of war with our neighbours. What more is there to know?
After an emotional conversation with a friend, I suddenly had the appropriate metaphor to describe what is irking me so badly, making me so frustrated and distressed that I find myself sobbing out loud, my voice betraying me with its quivering. Left and right are like two parents – the one the permissive one who agrees to continue playing when it is time for bath and bed, and the more disciplinary one, who keeps the boundaries clear and is often far less fun.
I also want to be the good parent, the fun one, the one who says “yes, of course” and not the one who is always the kill-joy.
Perhaps I too want to go on record as caring so much about the Syrian refugees that I ask my government to open the gates of their Hell and let them in. And if someone doesn’t agree with this, I could say that that someone is a cold-hearted uncaring so-and-so. And I could ask if he or she doesn’t remember the Holocaust and how many countries refused to let the Jewish refugees in as if that had any relevance. I could even remind them of the “Voyage of the Damned” as if it exactly matched the Syrian refugee problem. Oh how good I would feel then!
How I long for the days when I was a leftist and every complex situation was reduced to its lowest common denominator.
I am so glad that I am not a member of the Government of Israel. Much like being the disciplinary parent, it is a thankless job, a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t kind of job: If the government lowers its guard a little bit, all hell can break loose – and who will be to blame? And if it keeps up its guard, critics at home and abroad will blame them for being so intractable in protecting their citizens so that it will be seen that all that the other side does is our fault as well.
I would love for Meretz to win the next election and for Zehava Galon to be our Prime Minister (update: today the chair of Meretz is Tamar Zandberg). With her actually holding the reins, bearing the weighty responsibility of keeping this country safe for all of us, I’d like to see what kind of a Leftist she remains.
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