Meir Shalev is a columnist for Yediot Aharonot and the author of A Pigeon and a Boy, recently published in English. My mom says it's a great novel, but Shalev is one of those Israeli intellectuals who's in deep denial about the strengths and weaknesses of his country and what it will take for it to prevail in its ongoing struggle for survival. Writing almost a year ago, he said
Forty years have passed since the Six-Day War... and Israel has indeed choked. The country is busy dealing with one matter: the occupation — the territories, the Palestinians, terror, holy sites, the establishment and evacuation of settlements. Forty years have passed, and Israel has neglected everything that the Israel of 1948 wished to occupy itself with: education, research, welfare, health.
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Forty years, and Israel is forced to decide which is more important: the lives of its sons and daughters or the graves of its ancestors.
Forty years of an army whose main occupation has been manning roadblocks, detaining suspects, assassinating enemies and guarding settlements have brought us to the high level of arrogance and low level of capability that the Israeli Defense Forces displayed during last year's war in Lebanon.
Forty years of deceitful, villainous dealing in the occupied territories have caused corruption to seep into our own politics and society.
Forty years, and we must come to terms with the fact that Israel cannot cultivate democracy at home and apartheid in the backyard.
Forty years, and for the first time one can hear voices doubting whether the Jewish state will be around for another 40.
Reading this drivel, I'm reminded why Israel today seems paralyzed by the threats from both the north and the south, unable to act effectively in its own justifiable defense. There are so very many intelligent, talented Israelis who think this way. The universities are full of them, the cafes are full of them, the arts and the sciences are full of them and no wonder. While the arabs indoctrinate their children with visions of blowing themselves to bits murdering Jews, we Jews are indoctrinating our children with visions of sugar plum peace fairies and the unbearable horror of being mean. This is what they learn in school now. Not about draining the swamps and making the dessert bloom and honorably defending their families, not about saving hundreds of thousands of lives, not to mention building a homeland for the Jewish People. Instead, they learn about multculturalism and "tolerance" and occupation and oppression and suffering and apartheid and, most of all, guilt. And more guilt. All our achievements have been built on the backs of the oppressed and atonement must be made. Then there will be peace. Right? Well, it's not right. Not at all right.
And reading this, I'm also uncomfortably aware that a lot of the same can be said of Americans, as well. And, of course, Europeans, too. Somewhere, everywhere, alarm bells have been going off unnoticed. We slumber on.
By the way (speaking of alarm bells) if you haven't yet seen Greg Davis' excellent documentary "Islam: What the West Needs to Know," you should and you can. It's here, on Google Video.