Im Osten Nichts Neues

– “So how are you doing these days? Is your family OK? Are they safe”? I am being asked frequently in the past week here in New York City.

– “Yes, they are safe. You see – the missiles are only in the south of Israel, or in the north, and Jerusalem is in the middle”.

Yes, they are safe. But very near them people are starving, dying, being buried under the ruins of their houses. People have lost their mothers, their brothers, their sisters, their fathers. They have lost all hope, all freedom. They have lost all faith that anyone in the world would care.

For generations we Israelis said to ourselves: “we have no choice. This is our only country. We have nowhere else to go. If we do not kill, we will get killed. If we are not strong, we will be stepped over”. This paranoia mixed with aggression is a normal behavior in Israel. The way of war is the mainstream. Every politician who was not a general is mistrusted. But actually – everyone is mistrusted, since anyone might turn out to be your enemy. Some Americans are impressed with that tendency, they call it ‘maturity’. But this is the opposite. This is fear and blindness to others. This state of mind that seems so natural in Israel, from my studio in New York City seems completely sick. Israel is not going to disappear. Why does it act like it is fighting for survival while in fact it is killing innocent people for pure political reasons? How can millions be blind to that? I am ashamed to be part of a nation that carries such a heavy psychological defect with it for 60 years. The defect of destroying others, while truly believing this is ethical and right. The defect of depriving normal life from Palestinians, as well as any sense of humanity, and fighting against them as if they were all terrorists – all of them. This is unbearable to me.

I can already hear voices in my head saying – but they do the same. Suicide bombers are killing innocent people. Hammas is throwing missiles on Israeli homes. The fear is real. But I still cannot accept it. I still believe we, as human beings, can do better than that.


4 Responses to Im Osten Nichts Neues

  1. lola says:

    I know, it is so strange being away from it. In Israel i know exactly to which demonstration I am going, I put on my black clothes and go to stand with the women in Hagar square. Here I don’t know. As an Israeli, I appreciate the people that go in -7C to a rally, to stand for a few hours in this freezing weather saying that my country has a right to defend it self. I fear the crowd outside the embassy calling for Hitler to finish the job. All is mixed up. People talk to me about how Israel has no choice and I try to say there is always a choice of talking things out… they are surprised, are you an Israeli?

  2. Yochai Primak says:

    different way of thinking: Stop the War and Don’t Take Sides!

    I recently came in term with the fact that among too many protestors agains the war, Israelis\Jews\Muslis or whatever, an endorsement of a rather dangerous political aspect took place. That is the de-ligitimization of the state of Israel. It is evident on slogans in demonstrations and on places like profiles of people on Facebook. I’m sorry but I cannot associate with that political aspect.

    I think that a protest against the war is very important to do these days, and I join you guys for that, like thousands of other Israelis. But I cannot accept that a protest against the current Israeli government carelessly moves to a total de-ligitimization of the state of Israel and the call for its destruction. These are totally two different things, and the latter is a very dangerous one to support:
    If you are supporting the ending of this war in Gaza then that is a good thing and I join you. But, if you move to support the destruction of the overall state of Israel then you are nothing but supporting a bigger war, that I don’t understand what good will it bring?
    Death and killing of many millions of people? A creation of a refugee problem of millions of people? What good would come out of it??!
    By supporting a destruction of Israel you support a war, not peace and quiet.

    The Israeli violence mechanism which is pretty much behind its aggressiveness in Gaza nowadays is generated by a self perception of a ‘besieged and constantly threatened nation’. This of course is a direct product of years and years of persecution of Jews, that eventually affected the psychology of its identity. I’m not saying it’s good or bad but simply that it is a fact that we all need to work with in order to be able to change it maybe. Therefore, when Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah for example, defines themselves as an entity that is aimed at the destruction of Israel (ever since they were created), and send suicide bombers and launch rockets to realize that, that is something that doesn’t really make simple Israelis think that they are safe. It doesn’t help simple Israelis think that there is any chance to make peace with the Palestinians or with Lebanon. And it doesn’t help the simple Palestinian citizens’ safety either. The only thing it helps to is making the Israeli government paranoiac about the existence of Israel and generating its full aggressiveness to defend it. For example, like a tiger with puppies that is trapped down and pushed against a wall where it cannot escape and therefore becomes extremely aggressive and dangerous. Ahmadinejad of Iran likewise strengthens this feeling among Israelis. Well that’s because he really does support war and suffering for all of those people in Israel, he hates so much. He’s not for peace of course.

    I personally hate this perception of being ‘besieged’ all the time, because it makes politicians very reluctant and suspicious about trying to really make peace and believe in it. It makes them, like other Israelis too, to concentrate only o those bellicose politicians and organizations around us instead of concentrating on the positive neighbors, those who do maintain a sometimes difficult but generally healthy dialogue with Israel. Such as: Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Oman, Qatar and the Former Soviet Central Asian republics.

    It is very easy and comfortable for all of us to fall into the tempting hands of supporting one side of the war, the Israeli (for me as one) or the Palestinian (for Muslims for example even if they are atheists). What we choose to do here is not to take sides but, stop the useless justification of any of the sides. What we should do here is to do the uneasy, uncomfortable thing of breaking the cycle of revenge and violence. Because if we don’t do that, we will simply continue to support the vengeful violence that blinds people like us of good reason and adherence to normal peaceful livelihood. 60 years ago Europe experienced a world war that took dozens of millions of lives. No one in Europe during that war thought that there was a chance of a peaceful coexistence between its different peoples, like today. No matter what were the causes or consequences but the reason Europe had managed to achieve its amazing current peace and quiet is largely due to the fact politicians there decided to switch their way of thinking and altogether change their point of view and priorities towards peace. Fascism could have continued to prevail there otherwise. Europeans, in order to do this ‘switch’ did not have to give up their identity or their religion. They did have to give up their old fears that made them so selfish and careless of damaging other people there.

    What I am suggesting here is simply to support the end of the war, support peace but do not take sides. In order to consider accepting that one does not have to “convert” and give up one’s points of view.

    For example, in order to recognize Israel as a legitimate state one doesn’t have to stop being a Muslim or give up one’s cultural values (unless they are to make war). Likewise, in order to support the end of the Gaza War one doesn’t have to de-legitimize the state of Israel as a whole or, to abandon a fair territorial solution for the two nations on both our land.

    Thank you very much, I hope you guys are with me.

    Yochai Primak

  3. Noa says:

    I think in this situation, complicated as it is, the first thing should not be to kill children, and it is very clear, that our military is killing children.

  4. Yochai Primak says:

    From your words the picture that’s portrayed is that the Israeli military’s main objective in this war is a killing of children. Whereas a killing of children is one of the worst and most horrible consequences of aggressive human behaviour, which unfortunately is likely to be realized in any state of war, it is not the objective of the Israeli military. When the Israeli government decide that war was the means wiht wich it wishes to solve Hamas’ aggressiveness it most likely took into consideration that a killing of civilians (on both sides) would be an inevitable thing. That is why I hate war, hate the fact that people’s lives are that cheap that they can be played as a game in the hands of politicians. That is why for long periods of time previously in my life I was identifying with anarchist thought, eventhough I never seized to acknowledge the institution of the state.

    Realizing that anarchism is in many ways a ‘comfort zone’, which facilitates the lives of people who have some conscience, I also came in terms with the fact that the specific comfort it gives does not really affect politics and that the picture is more complicated. Getting out of the ‘comfort zone’ of criticizing for the sake of criticizing, I stumbled into the difficulty of accounting for the problems and views of both sides.
    Of course I found that each side simply percepts itself as a victim of the other side and therefor generating yet another very powerful comfort zone, that of justification.
    Trying to clean myself from the oil of the justification mechanism I found myself with yet anoter difficult situation. Either to leave the place and stop being bothered with it anymore (which I think neither of us can) or, go back to the start: chose a side and try to change it from within and do whatever you can in order to get it closer to my values, (that of YES for dialogue and NO for war- in this case).

    By doing that I take in consideration bearing with the responsibility of the mistakes of the ‘side that I take’ and be more responsible of its future policies as much as I could. I do not exclude myself of criticizing the other side and of trying to measure its responsibility in the situation. The other side is people like you and me and they do need to take responsibility on their likewise aggressiveness.

    Hamas’ policy and political agenda is a horrible one: they define themselves as adherants to the annihilation of the State of Israel. Their acts in the past years cannot be reduced this time to the picture of the ‘Palestinian boy that throughs a rock over an Israeli tank much bigger than him’. This time it’s simply not the case. Rockets are not stones and an autonomy that is gradually forming into an independent state cannot define itself with the desire and action of destroying it’s neighbor and be exempt of the violence it embodies. It’s simply impossible of them to operate in this direction and not being hit by Israel. The most absurd thing is that Israel is much stronger than the Hamas and therefor their attempt to destroy it naturally means wxposing Palestionian citizens in Gaza to the strong power of Israel. Hamas commited a sensless, selfish, ego-generated, civilian endangering policy that the realization of which is way out of its ability. Thank God Hamas is not strong enough to kill children, as it does not even have a problem expressing such will in the media.

    The situation, as complicated and difficult to acknowledge it may be, cannot be reduced and limited to slogans. Because they are ‘comfort zones’ for us and do not facilitate things in reality.

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