Opinion

22 Reasons I’m Ashamed of Israel

I’m ashamed of living in a country where instead of fraternity and solidarity there is hatred of the other. Yet, despite all this, I love living in this country

Palestinians sit with their belongings in a street outside their destroyed house after an Israeli missile targeted a nearby Hamas site, in Gaza City March 26, 2019.
\ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS

I’m ashamed to live in a country in which the prime minister is facing a hearing, and a possible trial, over so many serious charges.

I’m ashamed of living in a country in which election campaigning stoops to such a foul level, including allegations of secrets the Iranians know from Gantz’s mobile phone, or claims that Gantz is unfit for office. What nonsense. Bibi, he was your chief of staff!

I’m ashamed of living in a country in which an actor was made up to look like journalist Amnon Abramovich, mocking a decorated war hero who was seriously burned in the 1973 war, with someone believing that this would impress and influence anyone and affect the election results.

I’m ashamed of living in a country in which 1.8 million people live below the poverty line, almost half of them children. One can argue about the level of that line, but it’s clear that an unbelievable number of people here live in degrading poverty.

I’m ashamed of living in a country that has 200,000 battered women, 13,000 incidents of violence against women a year, and so many cases of women being murdered.

I’m ashamed of living in a country in which 400,000 children are at risk; children living in neglect and exposed to violence, poverty and incest.

I’m ashamed of living in a country in which hostels and shelters for youths in distress are shut down, casting their tenants onto the street.

I’m ashamed of living in a country that wishes to expel, 34,000 asylum seekers who fled from horrific dangers, passing through hellish captivity in the Sinai desert, people who work at jobs that we, the spoiled ones, are unprepared to take. I’m ashamed when someone calls them “a cancer.”

I feel shame over the 9,000 members of the Falashmura community in Ethiopia, who are prevented from joining their relatives in Israel, told that “soon you’ll be immigrating,” with some having waited for 20 years.

I feel shame when watching debates at the Knesset or on TV, in which everyone is yelling at everyone else, cutting each other off, with no one listening to what others are saying.

I’m ashamed when I read about a newspaper that fired a cartoonist who drew the best political cartoon ever to appear here.

I’m ashamed when I enter a classroom and ask “who hates reading books?”, discovering that half the class raises their hands.

I’m ashamed over every Palestinian olive tree uprooted by settlers and hilltop youth, over every stolen spring or well that’s been poisoned with sheep carcasses.

I’m ashamed over every settler, a member of my nation, who settles on private land belonging to Arabs, in an area covering 60,000 square kilometers. If this were done to Jews anywhere in the world, you’d be screaming: Anti-Semitism! Discrimination! Theft!

I’m ashamed of every online post, article and expression of hatred addressed at Gideon Levy, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Peace Now and similar organizations. In this country these seem to me to be the voice of conscience for every enlightened person who introspects and reflects on his deeds in order to discern whether he’s done the right thing in the eyes of God and man. If Jeremiah were here to preach and castigate, you would also throw him into the pit.

I’m ashamed of anyone calling leftists “traitors.” What, are you more patriotic than we are?

I’m ashamed of all of Israel’s governments that constantly fostered the settlements in the territories, dispersing them in a manner that leaves no chance for a territorial resolution with the Palestinians – governments which in fact did not and do not want peace, preferring a state of constant war.

I’m ashamed of living in a country that lets racists of the Kahanist school into the Knesset, and I will be ashamed to live in a country in which Smotrich is minister of education and Feiglin the minister of health.

I’m ashamed to live in a country whose leaders and rulers have sat in jail, a prime minister for bribery, a finance minister for embezzlement and theft, the current minister of interior for bribery, a chief rabbi for bribery, breach of trust and forgery, and a president for rape, indecent acts and sexual harassment. “If the mighty have succumbed how shall the weak emerge unscathed?”

I’m ashamed to live in a country in which people earn 50,000, 80,000 or 200,000 shekels a month while there are others here making only 5,000 shekels a month or less.

I’m ashamed to live in a country in which many of the 180,000 Holocaust survivors living here are in a state of dire poverty, unable to purchase a heater or enough food or medications, or to pay for maintaining an apartment.

I’m ashamed of living in a country where, instead of adopting a policy, the government is taking no action, where instead of morals there are plots and intrigue, where instead of fraternity and solidarity there is hatred of the other and those who are different.

Yet, despite all this, I love living in this country, where my best friends live, where my language is spoken; I love its anemones and narcissuses, as well as its rains and heat waves, its children and its elderly, even those who wish to put me and my friends on trucks and send us to Gaza, who will pounce on this column and wish for me plagues, exile or an immediate demise.