Thursday, January 20, 2005

Look what I've found - The famous lost post!

The specter of civil war.
You’ll laugh, but one of the reasons Bish and I decided to get married when we did was the fear that if we waited too long, we wouldn’t be able to afford to buy an apartment because the prices would go up. The reason that this would happen, we reckoned, was that a Palestinian state would be established before too long, and tens of thousands of evacuated settlers would descend on Tel Aviv. This was 1988 (although we only actually tied the knot in 1989). Weren’t we the optimistic ones?

Prices did go up, and we were right in investing in real estate when we did (with the kind help of our parents), but not for the reason we thought. Prices went up mainly because of the influx of immigrants from the former Soviet Union countries that came pouring into Israel following the fall of Soviet communism.

* * * *

Is it any wonder I’m acting the ostrich these days? How can I write about the public debate going on about the discussed disengagement from Gaza and a few settlements in the north of the West Bank and about what we probably have in store, when it’s all so horrible?

In the heat of the argument (not recently, I haven’t been in the mood for any good political arguments recently, but in the past, when I was more clearly identified as a Lefty), people have asked me what I would do if it were my home that had to be evacuated, if it was me that would have to move?

I’m maybe the wrong person to ask such a question. I’m not very house proud. These days, I live in a rented flat out of choice. I’m easy.

On the other hand I love Tel Aviv. I don’t want to live anywhere else, besides perhaps Mitzpe Ramon, if I could make a living there. So if I had to leave Tel Aviv for peace, would I?

Say I was living in disputed territory, and that by moving to an area that was also kind of disputed but more internationally accepted I would, in the short run, save lives and get the international community off our backs, and, in the long run, solve a demographic problem and perhaps even increase the feasibility of real peace between my people and our main current enemy, without completely compromising chances for future survival and hopefully even considerably improving them, would I leave? (you can breath now…)

You betcha. With tears in my eyes and sadness in my heart. But then again, maybe I wouldn’t be living in such an ultra-‘disputed area’ in the first place.

The thing is that people we’re being exposed to on the TV a lot lately don’t believe that this disengagement will bring peace. And they have a point. I too am worried that it might turn out to be a miscalculation. I too am worried that it will be rewarding terrorism and give the Palestinians the feeling that just a few more years of pressure, just a little more blood and sacrifice, and they’ll be rid of us; and that it isn’t time yet, although I have a feeling that it is time, what with Arafat gone.

So leave Tel Aviv, never to come back, to see it in strangers’ hands, maybe destroyed, for something I don’t believe in, for something I am skeptical about happening, for something I fear will make things far worse? That’s a much harder question.

And we have to remember that that is the dilemma that is facing settlers.

But if my democratically elected government had made a decision, would I fight or would I leave quietly, even if I didn’t believe in it?

I would like to think that I would go quietly. I believe that once a decision has been made, like it or not, we should all pull together to make it work. Of course, it is quite understandable that people opposed to it would want it not to work, so that everyone would know that they were right all along. Sadly this approach could kill us all.

What I find very troubling and very frustrating are the people who are talking about our irrevocable historic God-given right to this land, all of it, even the parts inhabited by the Philistines in the olden days. It is as if two thousand years of exile caused by infighting, fanaticism, and lack of flexibility never happened. It’s like the Palestinians are air. No compassion. Worse - peace appears not to be a concept that interests them in the least. Living by the sword, on the other hand, seems to hold some romantic biblical meaning.

Scares the hell out of me.

And everyone pussyfoots around them, as if they are misunderstood children and must be treated gently. Mind you, some of them are, literally.

I know I’m falling into the trap the mass media have prepared for me. I know it, because I have become aware of the manipulations they do, and because religious people I know personally who live in the territories do have compassion, and are not frothing at the mouth with religious fervor. They show us the fruitcases and we get the impression they are all fruitcases.

I hate getting all worked up over this, especially as I personally know some of the people who will have the unenviable job of dragging these people -- men, women and children; kicking, spitting and clawing -- from their homes and from the vacant homes of those who have left quietly, should the disengagement go ahead. It’s all very worrying.

So much easier to pretend it isn’t there, and curl up in bed with a nice book.

Update: Our Sis wishes to point out that as far as she knows a fruitcase is just a case for fruit. She thinks I should have written 'nutcase'.

Well, I'm very sorry, I'm sure. Is it my fault I'm a bloody foreigner? No, it isn't! It's Mum and Dad's. I had absolutely no say in the matter.

On the other hand, I did choose to ignore that little squiggly red line underneath the word 'fruitcase' in MS Word when I was writing this post, so I can't really blame previous generations with a clean conscience.