60 Years, And Here We Are
by Sharon Bacher

May, with its commemorations of Yom HaShoah, Yom Ha Zicharon and finally Yom Ha’atzmaut always put me into a contemplative state of mind. Like other Israelis, I share their sense of grief for our tragic past. I am reminded of the terrible afflictions perpetrated against our people by the Germans and others. I think about our 60 year struggle to survive and advance and puzzle over the fact that our lives continue to be dominated by the machinations of those obsessed with annihilating us.

I find the centrality of Jews in the world’s imagination and the readiness of Christians in the past, to hate us and want to be rid of us, impossible to understand. Once it was their need for a scapegoat to blame for their economic and even bodily ills – recall the dark days when we were blamed for the black plague.

Yesterday it was because we ‘killed’ their Lord, and today the Islamists have decided it’s because we’re infidels who must be obliterated together with the Jewish State.

Anti-Semitism has as many rationalizations as there are people with hatred in their hearts: we’re hated because we’re too powerful … too rich … too noisy … too arrogant … too successful … too family oriented. We’re hated because of our noses … because some of us dress and speak differently . . . because we aspire to better ourselves and our children. In a world where the ‘other’ has always been a reason for being despised, we provide the perfect projection for every base motive that resides within the human imagination.

What upsets me most is our tendency to look within ourselves in an effort to understand the distorted psyche of the anti-Semite. Absorbing the prejudices of those around us, we are harsh self critics, blaming ourselves for the qualities for which we think we are hated: we are too loud… we are bad mannered … arrogant and love money like rogues, we are more corrupt than others, and so on.

Listen to a group of Jews in the Diaspora, and you will hear shameful criticisms against us Israelis. There is something in the Diaspora psyche that makes for self consciousness, causes us always to walk on eggs, not wanting to draw attention; cringing when a Jew is found to commit a crime. We are constantly fearful of raising the ire of our fellow citizens. We seem to think that if only we were nicer, quieter, less successful, less preoccupied with moral issues etc… if only we would blend into the background and took care not to stand out – we would be acceptable, if not loved!

In Israel we delude ourselves that we have rid ourselves of the self consciousness of ‘what the goyim will say’, and that we are free to be ‘normal’ – but, I wonder. Here too, we are preoccupied with not upsetting the world by asserting our very right to protect ourselves and continue to live in this land that is ours if for no other reason than we have made it so; we have fought for it, brought it to fruition, raised our children here and allowed some 20,000 of them to be sacrificed for it.

We flinch when we are accused of practicing apartheid by building structures to keep ourselves safe from those who consider us fair game for killing – when in fact the only meaningful apartheid practiced in the region is by Arab nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists who are determined to keep their territories Judenrein. We restrain ourselves from imposing sanctions or taking the radical actions that would stop the terror being waged on our people, permitting our own children to be raised in an atmosphere of chronic and intolerable insecurity and in many cases, ravaging trauma.

On this Yom Ha’atzmaut and like all Israelis I am proud to be counted as pro-Jewish, pro-Israeli and pro-survival. I am not anti Arab – I am not anti anybody – but I do have a strong instinct to look after myself, my family and my community, when all we have worked for and won is threatened.

I look around and see the beautiful, vibrant, flourishing country we have built up over the 60 years while threats of genocide continue to hover over our heads in a mushroom shaped cloud. I am inspired by the vitality, initiative and resilience of our people. Unable to draw on a religious justification for my continued identification with Judaism, I proudly count myself as an Israeli – one of the noisy, argumentative, vibrant, purposeful people who make up our nation.

Like you, I choose to be actively engaged in a dialogue with our traditions and history. I have an ongoing argument with a creator who, if he exists, seems to have forsaken his special people when they were in greatest need. I strive to understand who we are and why we are here, yet am happy to be doing my humble share to live a life that is morally just in a land which is justly ours.

I am fired up by the song of the partizanim who in the forests of Poland, and against incredible odds, fought in the defense of the Jewish people and served as an example to the children of Israel in their new Jewish state. From the words of their song, I am proud to remind those who would remove us from this earth, that – “Mir zaynen doh” – we are still here.

3 Responses to “60 Years, And Here We Are
by Sharon Bacher”

  1. Tova Says:

    May 13, 2008

    Hello Sharon, Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I can relate to everything you wrote, especially the portions that touch on the reticence that many of us feel about standing up for ourselves and our homeland. I will be passing this along with the proper acknowledgement and thanks to you. B’shalom V’tikva, Tova

  2. Rose Radowsky Says:

    You write so beautifully. I enjoyed the article so much and I am taking it to our next Bnoth Zion WIZO Meeting to read to the ladies.

    Rose

  3. Adrian Says:

    I agree 100% with what you have written.

    I pray for peace everyday and that there will be war no more.

    My daughter was directly affected by two terrible attacks. She was on the airplane that was short at when leaving Mombasa at the same time as they bombed the hotel. A about two years later, she was in the dining area that was bombed in Rasa Sal Tan in Sinai during the Succoth holidays. Thankfully because of the quick thinking of her boyfriend who won’t let them stand up when they were thrown to the ground by the first bomb, they were saved from either death (a person at the next table was severely injured) or severe injury when the 2nd bomb went off.

    I wrote about it, but it is on another computer, so will find the article and send it to you. I must admit I was a little more liberal before the attacks.

    Its not as you say that I am anti-Arab, I am anti their regime what promotes killing and suicide bombers as the way to their heaven. As you say it is always us to blame, but we all know how nicely Suha, is living the millions that the international community gave to Arafat to improve the lot of the Palestinians. Best wishes

    Adriane