All My People of the Year

All those who are joining forces to defy the government and say 'enough, this is too much already' - all of them are my People of the Year.

This column, like others, follows the custom of choosing a Person of the Year; to show that faith in mankind has not been lost, and that there are people in places where no one seems human.

Last year, Avi Toibin was chosen. You may have forgotten him, but I have not. He is the person who fulfilled his civic and humanitarian duty while others looked on from the sidelines. The water was stagnant and people, too, did not move. He was the person who jumped into the murky waters of the Yarkon River and saved the life of Yasmin Feingold, the rower whose kayak had capsized and was about to drown.

Ilana Hammerman, Daniel Tchetchik
Daniel Tchetchik

During the year, I search for such people and I find them. There are a great many worthy candidates, and the choice is difficult. As the Jewish year drew to a close, there were more and more people for whom standing on the sidelines became unbearable, people who were fed up with nastiness and decided to act.

It is not only the world that has lost its patience after 43 years of complaints and responses; patience is being lost here at home, too. For how long can one show understanding for all the self-righteous pretexts and sinful excuses, all of which have been purified in the ritual bath of self-pity? Is it surprising that goodwill is running out and that there are signs of impatience and revulsion even among the Israel-lovers? No nation can enjoy excessive rights and permanent status as the one and only victim.

Who would have believed that the Six-Day War would continue to this very day and that Israel would neither swallow nor throw up but would choke? Two generations have been occupied with this one matter - yes, territories; no, territories - and they have bequeathed dead areas to the coming generations. From the lookout one sees nothing but past and present while the future is hidden from the eye, even if it is close. The people of the past no longer have the strength or the time today to worry about tomorrow. They are going to Washington once again and they know the way and the speeches by heart. How many times have we taken this same route - we went out to seek peace and we returned in peace to another war? My Lord, it will never end, the bereavement and the blood!

More and more Israelis are beginning to understand at long last that we shall neither profit nor be saved by another place but only by this place here. Foreigners will not set us free from the prison that we entered with our own free will, and only we can set ourselves free. Therefore, as the Jewish year wanes, people shake themselves free and say - thus far, and from here we shall not go with you in the caravan, we prefer to be dogs that do not make do with barking but instead begin to bite.

Is this the start of a civic revolt? Will it intensify in the new year that is starting? The demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah and Bil'in, the women at the checkpoints, the people of the New Israel Fund, the lecturers at the universities, the writers and artists, all those who have broken the silence and are joining forces to defy the government and say "enough, this is too much already" - all of them are my People of the Year. The betrayal of the intellectuals has come to an end.

Someone has to represent them and to symbolize them, and the choice fell on Ilana Hammerman, who at her own initiative decided to translate words into action. She invited three young Palestinian women for a day of fun in Tel Aviv, overcoming the roadblocks on the way and in the mind. Her inner voice called on her to break the barrier of sound. Meanwhile, she has been joined by other Israeli women and hundreds more will soon join them.

Hammerman refuses to "flow" with the stream. You will not find her and her friends at the estuary near the sea with the dead fish that have been swept away there. She swims at the ascent of the stream and against the stream.

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel complained about her to the attorney general and demanded a criminal probe. For some reason, the Justice Ministry sent the complaint to the police for investigation. It will be interesting to open the file of "The State vs. Ilana," that same criminal state that has not managed to evacuate Beit Yonatan in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, uproot an illegal outpost, investigate a rabbi who incites and agitates and bring to trial someone who "collects a price tag."

What kind of state is this, where there is a competition about who will represent its image, between Ilana Hammerman and the former soldier Eden Abergil who published pictures of herself smiling with blindfolded Palestinian prisoners? And some people still remain on the sidelines and have not yet chosen sides.

At the last minute, another excellent candidate has appeared for the Person of the Year, and I shall keep his name for next year. He is Rabbi Amiel Keinan whose son, Ran, began first grade this week. He will be the only white child among 289 children of Ethiopian origin at the Ner Etzion school in Petah Tikva.