A bold voice is needed

What hasn’t been said by now of denial, apathy and despair in Israel? We were all born into this impossible reality.

By
April 23, 2013 23:16
4 minute read.
Palestinians celebrate UN statehood in Ramallah

Palestinians celebrate UN statehood in Ramallah 370 (R). (photo credit: Marko Djurica / Reuters)

 
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The ground is shaking in the West Bank, or in Judea and Samaria, depending on who you ask. If you ask the settlers the ground is shaking and the roads cracking from a daily shower of stones thrown at Jewish drivers in the occupied territories. If you ask the Palestinians, they will tell you rocks are thrown at cars with green Palestinian plates, too. One hardly finds any reference to all of this on mainstream media channels. All across Israel, there are very few who hear, or are even willing to hear, of all that is happening in Israel’s “Wild East.”

What hasn’t been said by now of denial, apathy and despair in Israel? We were all born into this impossible reality.

This is a reality in which rockets fall on Israeli towns, soldiers are required to take part in the ongoing military control of a civil population instead of getting ready to fight real wars, and a defense budget that is five times larger than the OECD average.

Surprisingly enough, it appears a similar phenomenon exists on the Palestinian side, where too many people are simply coming to terms with the way things are. Even at the peak of hostility between the two nations following Operation Cast Lead in 2009, a poll published by the OneVoice Movement exposed this truth. Ending the conflict and the occupation based on the twostate solution was the top priority of most Israelis and Palestinians, but coming in at a not-too-distant second place was the maintenance of the status quo.

When ending the conflict demands huge effort, great compromises and entails great domestic political challenges, managing the conflict seems like a reasonable alternative to many. With that in mind, we continue to nod our heads in agreement when Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid concludes: “The greatest tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that everyone knows how it will end. We will divide up the region. Israel will return most of the West Bank, and the Palestinian flag will fly on public buildings in east Jerusalem. The only unanswered question is how many more people will have to die along the way.”

Makes sense, doesn’t it? While the words of our finance minister, Israel’s strongest politician next to prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, ring true to most of us, it is apparently easier to focus on equal sharing of the burden instead of minimizing the burden itself by taking on the extremists on both sides.

Nevertheless, shutting our eyes is, obviously, far from being a serious policy on dealing with the conflict. That is why countless military experts and statesmen have coined the phrase that time is not on the moderates’ side, and that the “status quo is unsustainable.

In the midst of the Israeli government’s silence on the issue of peace arose a different voice from within the coalition itself. The Hebrew word for “voice” is “kol,” and quite fittingly it was the message of MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) which invoked a lively discussion of the need to resolve the conflict.

A couple of days ago Dr. Kol came back from a visit to Ramallah.

She posted her impressions on her Facebook page.

“Even if I were to upload a photo of the freezing, filthy enclosure at the Kalandia checkpoint that I passed through yesterday on my way back from Ramallah, you wouldn’t be able to see, and certainly wouldn’t be able to feel, the humiliation and insult that I felt – and that the Palestinians with permits, who are forced to pass [through] here day after day feel,” she wrote. “I am scared. I am scared that we will continue living like this.”

Alongside thousands of likes and shares, the post received many hostile reactions. Facebook user Nati writes on Kol’s wall, “what a satanic inferior leftist.”

Ido writes, “advocate for terrorists!” and Anat summarizes the criticism by using words not appropriate for print.

This sort of verbal filth is tossed at the young MK, whose background includes helping underprivileged children and communities in Israel gain access to higher education, just as it is likely to be thrown at me in talkbacks and comments to this op-ed.

It happens because the Israeli and Palestinian governments choose repression and avoidance instead of facing down the extremists in the region. It is tossed at her along with the stones and rocks thrown every day in the West Bank. And we all know that it won’t end there. When eyes are shut, a bold voice is needed. When I read Adi Kol’s words, the little I could do was to write on her wall: “Thank you. We are with you.”

The writer is executive director of the OneVoice Movement in Israel, a movement to empower moderates seeking a two-state solution.

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