Monday, June 30, 2003

While feeding our son before I put him in bed I watched the news on the commercial Channel 10. As part of a series of broadcasts from all over the country Micky Chaimovich, the anchorwoman of the channel's news program, was in the settlement of Eli. Watching the broadcast, part of which contained portraits of some older and younger settlers, I was left with very mixed feelings. On one hand I could not help but feeling some sort of admiration and enthusiasm when I heard these 'pioneers' talk about their love for the land, about the bond between themselves, about an idealism that in many ways is similar to that of the founding fathers and mothers of this state. On the other hand, I became very angry when one of the youngsters - one among a group of friends that had lost three or four of its members to terror - said that "people in the center of the country do not know what it is like to lose friends at such an early age". What about the friends and family members of all those soldiers, policemen and civilians from Tel Aviv, Rehovoth, Rishon Letzion who have been killed during the last years? What about those who lost their loved ones in the Dolfinarium bombing two years ago? Partly because settlements such as Eli exist, creating a defensable border has become almost impossible for political and other reasons. This makes crossing the Green Line for almost any determined, healthy Palestinian a piece of cake, and until now all the suicide bombers were both healthy and determined. The group of young friends from Eli, some of whom were identified as belonging to the "hilltop youth", then half jokingly talked about who was supposed to eulogize whom if any of them was to be killed, in which plot he or she was going to be buried, and next to whom. Such fatalist idealism should not be what Zionism, the dream of a state of its own for a truly independent Jewish people, is all about. These young men and women, "the salt of the earth", should not be occupying isolated hilltops and living in lonely caravans for the defense of which too many soldiers' lives unnecessarily have to be put in danger. We need them here, to help build, develop and enrich a truly Jewish homeland within defensable borders. In the meantime Jews on both sides of the Green Line, belonging to one and the same people, appear to live on different planets, and not just mere kilometers away from each other. Each side blames the other(s) for all or part of the misery that befalls us. That in such a situation we do not ( want to ) notice the even greater misery of most Palestinians - as Dany Rubinstein wrote today in Ha'Aretz - does not come as a surprise. Neither does the fact that young Palestinians who see the beautiful swimming pool in Eli, from where part of the program was broadcast, and think of their own living conditions and lack of freedom, become furious with anger, envy and frustration.