Damn you, I love you…

In Middle East on June 16, 2010 at 2:14 PM

I am mad. No, I am furious. I am absolutely bloody livid. I have been silenced. Somewhere between an outspoken teenage-hood and a nearly middle-aged apathy, I stopped speaking out. Fearful of what others may think, feel or do. Silenced by my own censorship. Silenced by wanting to be liked. Admired. Respected. Silenced by men, threatened, and by women, cowered. Silenced.

Well, I have had a bloody nough’. It is time to speak up, stand strong and re-open my taped shut mouth. Be warned world, you may not like what I say. You may not like me. I no longer care. Damn you.

And to start off – damn you Israel. Damn you. At eighteen years of age I believed in you. I believed that peace was possible. I believed that despite what they say, you had the higher moral ground. You had a moral ground. I fell in love with you. Your strength, your past, your rugged landscape and proud people. I loved you as a woman-child does. With rose coloured glasses and cups full of infatuation. I wanted to be just like you. Brave, strong and confident.

So from a shy, sensitive and anglo soul, I too became a brave, strong and confident child of the Middle East. Or at least tried to be. I declared that we were meant to be. Offered you my life. Sought your embrace.

But instead of warm hugs, I got punches to the face. Still, I loved you. Poor Israel. You have had it so hard. Poor Israel. The abused. Poor Israel. The ostracized. I cried for you, the misunderstood, just like me.

I still cry for you, but now my tears are different. I cry for you, because the place I love no longer exists. I cry for you, because now I know it never did.

Looking back I am not sure when the change happened. The exact moment I saw you for what you were. A country like any other. No higher ground. No excuses. No ‘there is no cycle of violence, its them not us.’ None of that. Only the cold, hard slap of reality of an idealized love, now just human.

One incident stands out however. Whilst working for the embassy in Canberra, a kind soul from the Northern Territory gave me a call. An elderly man, who said he was from Amnesty International was on the phone. It was 2002, a few days earlier a direct Israeli air-strike killed a wanted Hamas leader, and took out 18-members of his immediate family, mostly women and children. Revenge for an earlier Palestinian suicide bombing. He asked me why? How? You the chosen ones, you of all peoples knows better. A light onto other nations whose globe stands shattered. I closed the door to my office and cried.

To be honest there were too many tears. I needed you to be something you were not. I wanted you to be the answer. But you were not. And that is okay. I still care for you, but it is more of a nostalgic variety reserved for first loves. Age has wearied us, and no longer does my heart flutter but some distant memories still put a smile on my face.

The first time I saw Jerusalem, on a bus ride through the hills on a German-speaking tour bus, and not understanding a word, wondering if that indeed was the holy city oft spoken about. Meeting relatives with a treasure trove of stories and welcoming hearts of yore. Hitchhiking through the countryside. Rallies for peace hundreds of thousands strong. The ‘best time of my life’ of times.

So when I question your actions, its not out of hatred. It is because I seek to understand. When I am furious at your behavior, it is because I care. When I openly criticize you, it is because I still want you to be better.

I was asked recently how can ‘I’, the poster child of Israel and the Jewish diaspora dare voice my criticism of you? How can I not? I no longer understand your decisions, your actions or your excuses. I do not agree with your government and am abhorred by fair and democratic opposition silenced, in Israel and abroad. The ‘we will all go down together’ Masada mentality.

I was taught by my community, by you, that bad things happen when good people do nothing. That silence is the voice of complicity. That ‘never again’ would inhumanity like the Holocaust happen. But what you meant is ‘never again to us’. But now I have mentioned the ‘H’ word, I fear your ears will close, your eyes will shut and your tongue will fall limp.

But we have become wholly defined by what happened to us. We are held hostage by what the Nazi’s did to us. They wanted kill us all. Throw us into the sea. Enslave and humiliate us. We are hated throughout, so our actions don’t matter. It is us against the world. A world that did not help us then, so why would they now or in the future? This belief drives all policy in Israel. Fear drives every single decision. Who is a bully but an insecure, fearful child?

How can we placate you Israel? Reassure you? Support you? You need help. Some cognitive therapy. You cannot do it alone. The key to peace in the Middle East is not sitting the Israelis and Palestinians down at a table and asking them to work it out. It is not sanctions. And it is not marching through the streets of world deeming Israel an evil entity and calling for its downfall. Effigy-burning Islamists and socialists I am talking to you. Instead of screaming hate, how about organizing hundreds of thousands, millions even, to march for peace? If only hell froze over.

The true key to peace in the Middle East is in ensuring that Israel as a country, is safe, secure and will not be harmed within close to pre-1967 borders. That once the Palestinians get their state, in Gaza and the West Bank, under full and total sovereignty that they will not procure weapons and will not attack Israel in the future. And neither will Israel, them. That once final status is agreed upon, it is war over. Scoreboard fixed. Team jerseys swapped. Over. Done. Finished. Stadium shut. The anti-climactic end.

And the only way this can happen is through international adjudication. More, we need referees who must remain balanced despite personal feelings. They need to be part of the game to ensure fair play. I call on the international community to get up off their over-indulged arses, stop playing to internal lobby politics and do something concrete. We will need a well-equipped task-force, we will need international peace-keepers and we will need balls of steel to deal with two parties, who are equally to blame for their own positions. What on earth are you waiting for?

We need you to act now, while the two-state solution is still possible, when the fundamentalists whilst vocal do not yet have full control and when there is still a tiny fragment of a small thing called hope left in the vocabulary. Before it is too late. Before tomorrow and before next week. Before the game changes so much, that instead of reconciliation again all we will hear is dead body counts and bloody claims of heroes and honor.

And who am I to request this? I am absolutely no-one, but I am one of you, I am angry and I will not be shut-up.

  1. Eloquent. I hear and understand your pain. I hope your voice is heard, just as I hope mine is heard in Australia. We need more of this: passion for peace and rationality, anger at apathy and blindness.

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