“Yesterday at dawn Ro’i was murdered… The quiet of the spring morning blinded him and he didn’t notice the ambush in the field… let’s not accuse the murderers today… for eight years they have been sitting in their refugee camps while we build our country in front of their eyes on a land of their old villages and forefathers… a group of Jewish youngsters, sitting in Nahal Oz, are carrying on their shoulders the heavy gates of Gaza…. This is our destiny and this is our only choice of life here: to be ready, to be armed and to be tough… we have to be able to defend ourselves…. Let’s face it: If the sword falls out of our fists, our lives here are cut off.”
In the same way that my skin is white, my eyes green and my hair red – I am also Jewish. This is an unchangeable fact that I do not control. Being Jewish means that I am burdened with being thoughtful in my action. The way I am today is judged, in my mind, through the eyes and lives of my ancestors. Some of those ancestors were more observant than others of Jewish ritual practices but all made a point of being part of the nation.
Being Jewish compels me to behave ethically, in the same way that staying away from the sun is a must due to my fair complexion. My morals, heritage and communal history command me to make ethical choices in this world:
– Support the State of Israel, be active in society
– Raise my family as secular & Jewish in Israel
– Work to make the world a better place
– Act in an ethical manner daily, question myself daily
By doing all of these things I gain a sense of satisfaction by knowing that I am living to be the person my ancestors would approve of. I believe that people are not born as a clean slate, history, community and language forge him into the person they are today. By not shying away from my heritage I am able to focus not on reinventing myself, but learning from the errors of the past and improving the present. One day my children will improve upon my errors.
My reliance on the experience of my ancestors and the traditions they upheld comes from a sense of humility. My forefathers accomplished great feats under dire circumstances and did not flinch – in today’s post-modern mix and match world I feel that straying away from their chosen path would be vain and disrespectful.
The Jewish tribe is open to all those who wish to pass its gates and I welcome the diversity that a modern nation needs. Once joining all must remember that as a nation we share a common goal: fixing the world, which requires in turn a devotion to ethical behaviour. Being Jewish requires above all else that one behaves in an ethical manner. The greatest embarrassment I felt as an adult was with the triumphant press releases of Israel being the 4th largest weapons exporter in the world. Second to that is every single story involving unethical or criminal behaviour by Jews or Israelis.
Despite that, as a nation, I take pride in our exemplary ethical record which is one of the best in the world – considering the extremely difficult conditions inflicted upon our nation. Like any nation we have much to improve and having the State of Israel, we have a home in which we can work on perfecting the Jewish nation – for the benefit of all mankind.
While not religious in any way shape or form I can recall myself as teenager talking to my father, excited about a business opportunity. He listened carefully and responded without hesitating or by running me down – “that’s an excellent idea, but from a moral perspective it’s hardly like working on a cure for cancer, is it?” That to me is how a Jew should think, religious or not, rich or poor – just focus on the ethical, all else is irrelevant.
May there peace in our time, amen ~ Nico Black
This month we learnt about the imperial nature of the US. Wikileaks have brought to our attention the puppeteering of the US government and it’s mass involvement across the globe. US diplomats have been quoted as calling the president of Iran Hitler, and saying it is a fascist state. Russia’s Putin has been accused of working hand in hand with organised crime and that the mafia and Russian state are indistinguishable. To an Israeli like myself non of this is surprising, we grew up in harsh world of realpolitik. A world where our neighbours the Palestinian people are used as pawns by their leadership to demolish the state of Israel. A world where civilian population is a substitute for bunkers and that children serve as suicide bombers.
The US has proven that interests, not ethics, rule it’s foreign policy. With more than 100,000 dead in Iraq you can’t help but wonder – what has the US accomplished if not help expand the borders of “fascist” Iran. Doing this while aligning itself with an equally odious regime, the Saudi one – where a women recently raped was put to death as she was attacked while “alone” in a car with another man.
In that respect Israel is a very different place than the US. Israel’s wars are what we call “wars of no choice”, wars that have been forced upon us, either by military attacks or invasions (in 1948, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2006 and 2009). Other wars are “wars of choice”, like the Sinai war of 1956 where we aligned ourselves with France and Great Britain to force the President of Egypt to cancel his nationalisation of the Suez canal. The US is a country that barring Pearl Harbour has always fought wars of choice – yes, including the war in Afghanistan. A war against a state harbouring terrorists, which has simply resulted in Al Quaeda moving over to Pakistan and hastening the destabilisation of that state (which begun with the Saudi take-over of the education system in the mid eighties).
Israel and US are very similar in many areas. Both are democratic and both cherish civil liberties and human rights. But that is where the similarities end.
The toll sum of our security sorrows are a derivative of the Arab refusal (whether based in religion or nationalism) to accept the link between the Jewish people and the land of Israel \ Palestine and allow for our self determination in this territory. The Palestinians and Israelis are embroiled in a national conflict. They treat us badly via suicide bombings, shootings, instigating boycotts and de-legitimizing our right to self determination and historical connection to the land of Israel. Israel in turn fights terrorism with shocking collateral damage (as is the case in all warfare), negotiates with a national movement that does not recognize the Jewish one, gives up land twice within the space of 15 years, only to be used as a launch-base for terrorism.
The “treatment” of Palestinians isn’t an intrinsic policy. It is a result of the fundamental rejection of the Jewish presence in the land by a violent political elite, which is hijacking the interests of the Palestinian people for more than 100 years.
Israel seeks secure borders and an end to hostilities. By and large the government of Israel has done so in earnest in 1948.
The Palestinians are suffering from that uncomfortable place any nation is in during it’s struggle for self determination and creating a national identity. Is perpetual war the best way to make sure they get “all” of “palestine” back? Maybe they should settle for what they can get? They will continue to be stuck in that non-state limbo until they decide that their national movement doesn’t equate the destruction of Israel – “democratically” or by armed struggle.
If they chose to accept the partition of the land both our nations will prosper. If they advocate the “one state” solution or conquest by force – it will mean a repeat of the tragedy of Yugoslavia (unification by force – breaking apart, mutual genocide, two state solution).
The pursuit of peace is intrinsic to the concept of Zionism. Zionism being the belief that Jews have a right to self determination in their historic land. All nations have a right to self determination in their historic land, and this is what Israel fights for. Wikileaks have shown that America though is waging global war to increase it’s coffers and imperial reach.