My Dear Suckers in the South: Does the Gaza Operation Make You Feel Safe?

Now, as refugees in your own country, when the bomb shelters you had hoped to abandon are back, and when Gaza is mired in blood and ruins, do you feel safer?

Yossi Sarid
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Israelis run toward a bomb shelter as a siren sounds, warning of incoming rockets in the southern city of Ashkelon, July 9, 2014.Credit: Reuters
Yossi Sarid

I actually wanted to attend the demonstration of solidarity with the residents of the south of the country. I had already made all the emotional preparations, because I’m no longer used to demonstrations. They deserve to have us leave our homes and the silence, and for their sake we will not remain silent. Your punishment will suit your crime, my friends.

Yes, I have personal friends and colleagues there, who even voted for me when I was still up for election. And not only in the kibbutzim: I had friends and students in Sderot too.

At the last moment I decided to stay home. Because I heard over the radio that the demonstration in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square was “non- political,” and I recalled those politicians and rabbis who even then, 20 years ago, did not spill this blood, as though we didn’t know who struck Rabin down. And I also learned from the news broadcast that the prime minister left the cabinet meeting for a few minutes, which he devoted to the heads of the regional councils in the south, in an attempt to moderate their speeches at the rally. Suddenly I felt nauseated.

A “nonpolitical” act is sometimes an immoral one, just as an excess of “national responsibility” is sometimes a communal lack of responsibility. You, my friends, are complaining that “they ignore us.” And why shouldn’t they? All of you together are not worth even half a Knesset seat, which once was “half a transit camp.” The communities on the Gazan border are not suffused with Likud and flooded with Yisrael Beitenu. Even Sderot, a city in Israel, is not important, because how many members of the Likud central committee does it have?

Not only do they “pay you no mind,” but they make a mockery of you. In the midst of the war, when the damage to property and lives is still being assessed, they are already paying hefty compensation – but not to you. The Knesset Finance Committee cries out, and additional tens of millions are transferred to the account of the settlers, for the purpose of “physical and emotional reinforcement.” Another example of emotional blackmail, in the wake of the murder of the three kidnapped yeshiva boys.

And the defense minister, who a week before Operation Protective Edge wanted to get rid of the security officers in your communities, is now promising the Gush Etzion Regional Council the laundering of an illegal outpost, approval of expansions and establishment of an agricultural farm – as long as it agrees to evacuate a pseudo-outpost that the council itself built without a permit.

A kibbutz cowshed worker knows his animals: You are the sheep and the cattle who will agree to continue to give of their milk and their meat, and will make do with a “nonpolitical” demonstration. The social welfare protest of the 2011 summer was Janus-faced, it turned to the right and to the left, and we discovered what came of that. Bibi and Bogie have managed to sear it into your consciousness: The settlers are masters of the land, whereas you are its servants. They didn’t even install safety barriers at the openings to the Hamas tunnels for you.

You should have understood a long time ago where they are heading: neither to the north nor to the south, but only to the east. Because their political future lies in the settlements; because in the east the sun of their careers will rise or set. Therefore, a demonstration without a clear address is no more than a demonstration of acceptance; you deserve to be ignored.

The time has come for you to grow up and wise up: You, who open a window and see all of Hamas-infested Gaza spread out before your eyes, you of all people are qualified to explain to the politicians and the generals that another Pillar of Defense and another Cast Lead and another Protective Edge will not scatter the black cloud of enmity with the mutinous neighbors, but will only darken our shared sky even more. Tell the truth to the cabinet and to yourselves: Now, as refugees in your own country, when the bomb shelters you had hoped to abandon are back, and when Gaza is mired in blood and ruins, do you feel safer?

Even in your distress, don’t assume that your situation is the worst possible: A few weeks ago I stopped to eat in Kiryat Shmona, on my way home from Tel Hai Academic College. Old acquaintances approached me and poured out their hearts: Sometimes, they said, we miss the Katyusha rockets. One Katyusha would remind this government of our existence, and all the ministers would report here for a quick visit.

All the promises to the “northerners” were forgotten at the Rosh Pina junction, and the promises to the “southerners” are being forgotten at Kastina. Will you too eventually miss the Qassam rockets and the mortar shells? See you at the next demonstration.

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