Opinion

In the New Order of Trump and Netanyahu, Resistance Is an Act of Love

We can't hate our way out of this. Hate is how we got here. We can't intimidate our way out of this either. No one can. Because fear and hatred are what keep us stuck mired where we are. No matter what side you're on.

Protesters march at a rally against the President-elect Donald Trump in Los Angeles, December 18, 2016.
KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/REUTERS

BERKELEY - You can't argue with a dream.

Visiting family and friends in California, I had this dream the other night: Berkeley, which on a good day is as close to heaven as anyone gets in this life, is soot dark and drowning in a storm. The only sound I can make out over the sluice of rain is one sentence, repeated over and over:

"The battles you fight in your life, will only be won by your descendants."

What if the voice in that dream is right? What if in Trump's New Order, you, my friends and family here in America, are now looking at years and years of what we in Israel have for so long grown so deathly used to?

What if the country you love is about to break your f-ing heart – every single day?

One thing is clear. Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu want the same thing of you and me. They want us all to roll over and play dead.

They want to break you. And they know how.

You will be assaulted – as we are in Israel, every single morning – with a fresh outrage. Some obscene diversion, some infuriating crack, all meant to mask a much deeper, more elegantly malignant, more frightening permanent offensive against the remaining foundations of democracy.

All of us. Here and there.

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Trump and Netanyahu want us to believe that resistance is futile. They want us to believe that if you oppose them, expose them, build coalitions, widen conversations, organize and hit the streets and work to defeat them at the ballot box, the backlash will only make them stronger.

They want to break you. And they know how.

They want you to hate. They want you to fume and vent and wince so hard and get so deeply disgusted that you find that you can no longer move forward. Or at all. They want you to say to yourself. "I can't take any more." And shut down.

Friends here tell me that since the election, they're scared to turn on the news. They're dreading what they might hear. Millions of Israelis know that feeling. Donald Trump wouldn't have it any other way. Neither would Benjamin Netanyahu. They want you dead inside. They want you to give in and give up.

They want you to hate because they know that resistance is an act of love.

Resistance – non-violent, radical, creative, relentless – is an act of love because America is worth the pain it's about to cause you every day of this new year.

Just as Israel is worth the pain it's going to cause us every day of this new year.

That voice in the dream was saying: You fight for what you love. And if what you love is threatened, you fight harder, and smarter, and longer.

If there's one thing we in Israel and Palestine have proven over the last half century and more, it is this: We can't hate our way out of this. Hate is how we got here.

We can't intimidate our way out of this either. No one can. Because fear and hatred are what keep us stuck mired where we are. No matter what side you're on.

When and where there is terrorism, the murderer may well believe that his works are God's gain. But who, in the end, really benefits from the ruins of families destroyed and societies weakened? Only the kind of leader who's learned to milk terror for bigotry, and bigotry for votes. Like Benjamin Netanyahu or Donald Trump.

They know how to break you. They want you to get used to this. They want you to believe that your vote doesn't count, your voice doesn't count, your truth doesn't matter, your deepest-held values have expired. 

They want you to believe that the game is so profoundly rigged, that a fundamentalist minority fueled by big money and old hatreds and new fears cannot be deterred from instituting one-party government for as long as we all shall live.

In America, just in time for the inauguration, the next stage is about to hit. The part where the shock, the foreboding, and the anger are fused by an indwelling pain. 

The part where you wake up day after day having been handed a fresh reason to mourn the ideals your core is made of. To mourn the idea of striving for equality of rights and freedoms. To mourn the idea of treating decent people, whoever they are, as just that. Rather than as a color or a culture or a creed. Mourning the idea of hope itself.

The part where you watch the nation you love grow ever more isolated, ever more atomized by hatred, ever more weakened by despair.

The part where non-violent forms of protest and sincere expressions of opposition opinion are branded as treason.

The part where you decide that it's not worth it anymore. 

The part where you don't march on January 21, not in Washington, nor in the parallel protest to be held by a coalition of groups outside the American embassy in Tel Aviv.  

To my surprise, though, I'm finding that the more I listen to the voice in that dream, the more I can stand – and stand up to – the unmistakable, omnipresent, smugly sickening voices of Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump. 

I believe that what the dream was saying, was that no matter how long it takes, no matter how dark it gets, fight back. Even if some of us won't live to see the change for the better. Resist. Keep on. Resist by helping the people whom the New Order is harming and depriving of equal rights and vital freedoms.

Because standing up for women's rights to their own bodies and to their safety and to equal pay, is an act of love. Because standing up for freedom of speech and religion for minorities, and and security and equality for minorities, is an act of love. Because standing up for the separation of powers, for a strong and independent judiciary, for safeguards for civil society and a free press, and for the sanctity and fairness of the electoral process, is an act of love.

Donald Trump is betting that he will stay in power because Americans have lost their hope for equality. Just as Benjamin Netanyahu is betting that he will stay in power because Israelis have lost their hope for peace.

"The world was gloomy before I won," Donald Trump tweeted his followers the day after Christmas. "There was no hope."

Just wait.

Donald Trump is betting that he can succeed in doing nothing about climate change, on the hope that unimaginable global catastrophe may take place only after his watch. Just as Benjamin Netanyahu is betting that he can do nothing about the Occupation, on the hope that repression, demography, inequality, and despair will destroy Israel only after his watch.

Maybe they're right. For the present. But our descendants deserve better.

Here's what gives me hope: Broken societies often produce beautifully independent children. And one day – in America, in Israel, and in Palestine as well – a young generation will arise, look with new eyes at its legacy of leaders, and say "Our parents were idiots." And then things will truly change.

I doubt that I'll live to see it. But you never know. A little pink champagne can go a long way.

Until then, though, from as many of us as possible, for as long as it turns out to be necessary, it's going to take rivers of love to drain the floods of hate that power this foul New Order. It's going to take years of resistance to turn this tide. It's up to us now.

Our descendants deserve no less.