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Thursday, August 07, 2003

Post Tisha B'Av MUST READ

Israel Without Apology by Sol Stern
Three decades ago, I was a Berkeley New Leftist with a political and personal problem. I had been born in Israel, and, though I didn’t consider myself a Zionist, I certainly didn’t want to see the Jewish state disappear. Yet my comrades on the Left were starting on a long march whose ultimate objective was to demonize Israel and turn it into a pariah among the nations. At Bay Area meetings, I heard Israel denounced as an imperialist aggressor that had “ripped off” the land from the native population and had aligned itself with the most reactionary forces in the world. The Arabs, on the other hand, were the truly victimized, the wretched of the earth, right up there in the pantheon of our movement’s other heroes, the Cubans and the Vietnamese.
Three decades reads more quickly than one would think. Stern ends with his recent visit to Israel:
This year my wife and I and our 16-year-old son went to spend Passover with our “tribe” in Israel. Since 9/11, when my son fled north from Stuyvesant High School, three blocks from the World Trade Center—and when so many phoned from Israel to ask if we were safe, as we have phoned so often after suicide bombings in Israel—we have understood in the most intimate way what our Israeli friends and family go through every day. This year I went to Israel with deep trepidation, expecting the worst. We understood what a devastating impact the suicide bombings were having on Israeli life, what numbing fear families felt as their children went off to school or merely to the corner playground. We had heard about people losing their jobs or leaving the country, and about a growing sense that the government might not be up to the job of smashing the terror networks or finding some way out of the impasse. Some people had even begun to think the unthinkable—that Israel might not bear up indefinitely under the stress.

Yet what I saw moved me deeply and renewed my hope that the Israeli people would bend but not break.