Little to celebrate

David Grossman, Salon, February 11:

Today, Israel is an intolerably opaque place. The public atmosphere is turbid, sometimes horrifically so. This did not, of course, begin with Ehud Olmert, nor during the last war. For many years we, the Israelis, have been sunk in internal strife, to the point that we have lost our ability to see the larger picture and our real interests as a people and a society. Sometimes it looks as if we have also lost a nation’s healthy, natural instincts, those that can direct us in setting our priorities and resolving our conflicts, before we lose everything.

Today we have the depressing possibility of witnessing how our destructive “gene,” the one we know all too well, is liable to lead us into fratricidal battle. Apparently, after many decades of unrelenting military and diplomatic struggles, of wars and military operations and endless cycles of revenge and retaliation, the suspicion and hostility we have become accustomed to directing at our enemies have become nearly automatic modes of thought and behavior toward everyone else. Toward anyone who is even slightly different — even if he is not a real enemy, even if he is a member of the family, in the broad sense of that term.

And we have no remaining compassion. Not for ourselves, and even less so for others. We do not take enough mutual responsibility, certainly not to the extent that Israel’s fragile existence requires. Sometimes it seems as if we do not have enough respect for the privilege we have been given — to maintain and preserve a sovereign Jewish state after dozens of generations and thousands of years in which no such state was possible.

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