THE land for the Jews?: Enough with Despair
World Zionist Organization | WZO
Resources » Zionism
Author: Yair Sheleg

The national mood is something very real in Israel. In this article the author touches upon the realism of the difficulties of life in Israel versus the meaning of life; all of which find expression in the national mood and the Zionist platform that shape Israeli society.

It was a difficult experience: At a meeting of friends a few weeks back, similar probably to hundreds of other meetings in the past few months, many of those invited, some of them immigrants from the United States who had left comfortable homes for Zionist reasons, spoke of despair, of their joy that they had American citizenship for a rainy day, of other friends who have taken care to renew their European citizenship. 

It cannot be denied that these conversations were representative of an ill wind that has been blowing across the country in the past few months: despair, depression, lack of faith in the long-term future of the national home. 

On the face of it, the despair itself is evidence of the spirit of pampering that has taken hold of Israeli society. Life in Israel, after all, has always been accompanied by enormous difficulties. And nevertheless, objectively speaking, the present situation is much better than the difficulties with which our fathers and grandfathers had to deal: the economy is booming (it did not collapse even in the face of the war in Lebanon) and a strong battle against corruption has begun. The country's military might is greater than ever before. Even Israel's famous isolation is not what it was. Alongside Israel, against the Iranian threat, there is a covert alliance of most of the moderate Arab states which do not even have the capability of presenting Iran with a "balance of terror."

But the story is apparently more complex. What has changed over the past few years is not merely the need for indulgence but also "the light at the end of the tunnel." If during the 1980s and 1990s there was a feeling that if we merely make the necessary concessions, we could ensure our future in the region, the past few years have severely damaged that security. The strongest threat today comes from a side that does not lay down any conditions for an agreement - it simply wants to annihilate the state of Israel. The Palestinians, too, since the failure of Camp David in 2000, broadcast the message that they prefer to harm Israel rather than build their future. 

The fluctuation in the national mood has therefore returned to the classic Zionist feeling, the feeling that there is an existential struggle.

That is the common denominator for all the significant phenomena, different as they are, of the past months: the support of the "left-wing" media for the war in Lebanon; the struggle against corruption (out of a feeling that corrupt leadership does not have the moral right to lead a nation that is in existential danger); the struggle over the Supreme Court and the judicial system (the fact that members of the Zionist left have joined in the criticism stems mainly from the fear that the legalization of society makes it difficult for the leadership to act in real time). From this point of view, both the despair and the talk about additional foreign citizenship are not new, but rather express a return to the situations of fear that were known in the history of Zionism. There were also always people who gave up in despair, but in the past they were not the ones who set the tone. 

It is indeed possible to understand the difficulty in choosing life when there is a constant pall of danger over life. But it is worth recalling that this is the situation of mankind in general. After all, everyone faces the danger that when he leaves his home in the morning, he will not return in the evening. The vast majority of people do not allow this fact to hamper their joy of life or their ability to stick by the missions they have undertaken. 

Human decisions are made therefore not only according to the risk involved, but also with a life that is worth living, that has significance. Alongside the recognition that Israel has not managed to turn into the safest place for the Jewish individual - from many points of view, the opposite is true - the Zionist choice is still the most correct choice for someone who wants to live a Jewish life that is worth living - life in the only place where Jews are not a minority fighting for the very survival of their identity.
Print Version   |   Send to Friend