I Have No Brother

When I see West Bank settlers hitting Palestinian children on their way to school, I deny any kinship.

"The settlers are our brothers," Prime Minister Netanyahu said this week, trying to convey their holy wrath. But let me make it clear: T hey are not my brothers. I don't have any brothers like that, or sisters.

It's hard to be a Jew. Recently it's been even harder, and not because the whole world is against us, but because we are against the whole world. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was right. It's important what Jews do - and what we did was cut ourselves off, like an errant planet that has strayed out of orbit. The settlers have cut us off. The world is looking at us through its telescope and asking "Is this Israel?" I am also asking the same question.

Unless we were switched at birth, or there was a horrible case of mistaken identity. This is not our imagination. We don't belong to the same family. When I see them burning with desire to use improper means, setting fields alight, chopping down olive trees, hitting children on their way to school, beating soldiers and chasing away inspectors, I immediately look at myself to make sure that they are not me. I deny any kinship. I am not part of them.

When I see a Jew running over a wounded Arab terrorist again and again, I am absolutely certain that any connection between us is coincidental, happenstance, and that I'm obligated to sever it completely. I have to save my human image before I, too, am run over by that silver Mercedes. And when I see Jews expelling Palestinians from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah - evicting and taking over, getting into warm beds that haven't even had a chance to cool, leaving entire families in the cold - I am filled with disgust.

What do I have to do with these people? Brothers we are not, but rather strangers in the night. It is said that there are judges in Jerusalem. Where are the judges? What happened to them? Were they also born into this?

It is actually those who preach but don't practice love of one's fellow Jew who show a greater readiness to commit hate crimes. Actually he who at every opportunity mentions that "we are all Jews" is the one who relies on blood ties and ignores common values.

True, we are not responsible for the blood type running in our veins. Dad and especially mom are responsible for it. We were born like that, born and that's how it is. We have no reason to complain about it; we never wanted to be otherwise. It's good for us to have our no-fault-of-ours Judaism, but it's a bitter pill to be in the company of scoundrels who justify their deeds through race theory.

Why don't they part ways with us, ridding us of responsibility for them? Why don't we part company from them before their heresy brings the house down on our heads?

The connection based on values and culture is our responsibility, and we don't always recognize the full gravity of our responsibility.

This requires me to say: it is better to have a close or distant neighbor than a very distant brother beyond the hills of darkness, and with whom I have no dealings.

A connection by blood is not a condition or guarantee of a common language regarding a few values. And not every one of our compatriots is an ally; sometimes he has his own interests.

Let Shimon Peres stand up and give us his views. What will we do with the rebel state he founded in Sebastia in the West Bank, which is now endangering the existence of another state - the one Herzl and Ben-Gurion founded before him in Basel and Tel Aviv?