Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Israeli Society - Adjusting Our Expectations

In the previous post I revisited the Sderot vote in the 2006 elections. The results were quite dismaying, and this was remarked upon in the comments. I agree that it is very sad to see that Israeli’s have such a difficult time learning from their mistakes, and it is particularly disheartening when the residents of a town literally fighting for it’s life still cannot muster the clarity of mind necessary to make the correct democratic choice. This is sad, but this is also not entirely surprising. After all, as a nation, we have been in exile for over 2000 years; we have been raped, and battered and repeatedly beaten to within an inch of our collective lives. As a result, we have learned to pay our way in this world by being the scapegoat, and we have learned to play this part so well, for so long, that it has become an integral part of our collective identity, and we can no sooner give up this act, then we can cut off our own hands.

A battered wife will take years to leave her husband, if she is fortunate enough to do so before he kills her. It will take her many, many more years to heal from her wounds, and especially to change the frame of mind that equates love with violence. Some of these women never do heal. So, really, what can we expect from a nation of battered wives, who have gotten used to surviving hell on a daily basis? What are a few people killed in Sderot, for a nation that has been through the holocaust?

We are a nation of sick people, and we must adjust our expectations accordingly. It is simply foolish, and unjust to expect us to recover from thousands of years of abuse in fifty years of statehood, none of which have been devoid of conflict.
No, on the contrary, what is extraordinary is that there actually exists a town called Sderot, in a Jewish state called Israel. What is incredible is that I live in a Hebrew speaking nation, where I can go to the supermarket and buy food with Hebrew labels, from Hebrew speaking cashiers. Even our taxes are done in Hebrew, paid in our own shekel, to our very own Jewish, Hebrew-speaking tax collectors. That is incredible (although not altogether painless).
The very existence of this country is a miracle, to be celebrated each and every day.

That said, I do not mean that we should forever wallow in this sentimental, self-congratulatory mood. We do have much work to do.
Like every battered wife, our first step in rehabilitation is to admit that we are sick. The second step is to simply refuse to hear negative things about us. We must refuse to let our souls be poisoned by other people, including, especially, Israeli media. The best cure for endless abuse is, for starters, endless but honest and accurate praise, and as a nation, we hold much that is praise-worthy.
In short, we must give up the rewarding role of scapegoat, and take our chances on being simply, ordinarily, healthily human. I am sure we can do this and still remain faithful to our Jewish heritage: after all we were chosen to be a moral light, not a human bonfire.

Just as I finish writing this I see that WestBankMomma has put up her collection of “Only In Israel Stories”. I found most of them delightful, and they confirm what I know – we are praiseworthy.

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