Monday, September 07, 2009

Different times

That I hardly write any new postings, apart from automatically posted video clips on Saturday evening, does not mean that I am not interested in or do not get excited about or depressed from the news. I am just too busy with - sorry - more important things than this weblog right now. Most of those things are related to the news, one or two are not. My wife and our children have returned to school, so at least I have more time and energy to work now. Here are links to only four of the many interesting articles and reports that I read in recent weeks:
  • Gideon Levy and Anshel Pfeffer on the Swedish-organ-harvesting affair
  • A very true comment by the German Bundeskanzlerin.
  • An opinion article by Yael Gvirtz, with some pain- but also truthful observations about the way in which the State of Israel is - or rather isn't - functioning and being led: "Everyone admits that everything is being managed through impromptu solutions and that the thinkers behind 'reforms' and the true masters are the low-ranked officials. There is not sort of planning from above or future strategy. " When I searched for more articles by Yael Gvirtz I came across two other, pretty good, not too recent but still very relevant, pieces that she wrote: about the security fence ( June 2006; I could not help but thinking about the diplomatic row between Norway and Israel of the past week ) and about Tzipi Livni ( January 2007 ).

Finally, somebody sent me this link. The YouTube video shows two Dutch-Jewish musicians who perform a song, written by one of them just a few weeks before, in front of wounded Israelis soldiers and their caretakers, at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem during the Yom Kippur War. A very moving video. According to the show's host, the song was played often on Dutch radio, right before and even more during the war. I don't remember that, I was only five years old in those days, it would take at least another five, six years before I was able to find Israel on the worldmap, I believe. I do remember a renewed version of the song which was recorded by a number of Dutch artists - Jewish and non-Jewish - as a token of solidarity with Israel during the Gulf War of 1991. Or rather, I remember the Israeli parody of that song, that I saw in the summer of 1991 or 1992 ( I cannot find that parody on YouTube ). The 1991 version looks a bit kitschy, but I am absolutely sure that the solidarity of all the participants was heartfelt and true. No doubt the same goes for the feelings of Mr Hammelburg and Klipstein in 1973. During the last two wars that Israel fought, in the summer of 2006 and the winter of 2008-2009, I was happy to see, hear and feel some of that solidarity myself, online and elsewhere. Why do I write this? I think because I realized that - as opposed to 1973 and, also, 1991 - today supporting and understanding Israel has become less a matter of course for outsiders, both Jewish and non-Jewish. To me it appears that these days by far the most foreign supporters and 'supporters' of Israel are led by religious and/or rightwing/extreme-rightwing political motives, among which 'the enemy of my enemy of my enemy' is but one. A very large part of the hasbara is being directed and carried out by ( very ) right-wing Israelis and Jews, and their non-Jewish supporters. All criticism of Israel is disposed of hateful, anti-Semitic, and unworthy of any real consideration or serious response. Don't get me wrong, I very much appreciate some of the outside support, and I know from my own experience that much of it is genuine and helpful, but I find it sad and worrisome that very, very few leftwing and so-called progressive Westerners choose to express their solidarity with Israel. That fact is partly explained by changes in the Muslim world and says a lot about the metamorphoses undergone by the European, American etc. Left, but those changes do not explain it all. Israel today is also very different from Israel in 1973 and 1991, and not only in a positive sense. On the contrary. While the Jewish state has become more affluent and - militarily - stronger, Israeli society has also become more violent, more racist, more polarized and divided, than ever before. As Yael Gvirtz writes, ad-hoc policies have become the norm, and if there is a foreign policy, it is dictated by Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah and the settlers. Bibi and Barak say that they agree to freezing building in the occupied territories, but only for a short time and only after several hundreds of more houses have been built in those territories. Do they really believe that they can fool all the world all the time and get away with tricks like these? Since Israel managed to really anger even the current Dutch Foreign Minister - who is the most Israel-friendly Dutch FM that I can remember, the kind of true friends that Jerusalem should listen to - I would say that it should do some serious thinking. Could it be that former - and potential new - supporters simply do not recognize themselves and their values in today's Jewish State, and that they are under the impression - with or without good reason - that real friendship is hardly appreciated by Israelis today?

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