Sorry Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, but Only Israel Will Save Itself From Itself

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Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon in Susya.
Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon in Susya.Credit: Oren Ziv, Activestills

Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, a very attractive and in particular fashionable literary couple, visited Israel and decided after what they saw to organize a delegation of authors from around the world to write about life here under the occupation ("The power couple of American literature wants to save Israel from itself," June 3).

It was actually the first thought that popped into Waldman’s head when she returned to the United States, which was, as is sometimes the case, the correct one: “What am I and who am I? I am nothing. A 50-year-old woman from America. The ‘auntie’ from America, what can I do?”

But then she came to her senses, shook off the feeling of helplessness, remembered the checkpoints where Palestinians wait and the aggressiveness of the settlers in Hebron, in contrast to the good life people lead in Tel Aviv and in Israel in general. She decided, without blinking an eye, that publishing a book like this is her Zionism. She, who evidently lives in a fine home in America and has four children who don’t want to hear anything about Israel, will publish a book that will save Israel from itself and its occupation.

This empty pretense raised an angry thought in my mind: Only Israel will save itself from itself, and only an Israeli who lives in Israel – who languishes in the heat waves; suffers from Bibi’s dictatorship or enjoys it; sends children off to do combat duty in Hebron’s casbah or along the Gaza border, the Egyptian border or all kinds of other places, which we and they are forced to take an interest in; or who is an ultra-Orthodox person or an Arab who does not go to the army, but lives here and therefore pays the price of plans by all sorts of people who want to save us from ourselves – only these people will come up with a rescue plan.

Anybody with a fine house in America, American citizenship and a return ticket to America in case their rescue plan goes awry, should be so good as to keep quiet and should certainly not come along with all sorts of sugar-coated ideas for ending the occupation.

The occupation should not be "adorned" with literary anthologies. The occupation is cruel. Unnecessary, ruinous and a long list of other adjectives. But the main thing that allows it is intervention from outside, such as, for example, unlimited American support of Israel. And also, albeit to a lesser extent, publication of a book by the leading authors in the world, to lend the occupation an artistic dimension.

There is no artistic dimension to the occupation, nor should there be. The occupation must not be discussed in sublimated terms. And if we want to survive in the Middle East and not in the form of a villa in the jungle, but as a real entity, which fits in here – we must aspire to independent, unmediated life, artistic or otherwise. And that includes everything: gradually disengaging from American support, stopping contributions on the right and the left from all sorts of organizations whose precise interests are the devil-knows-what, as well as from all sorts of advice-givers and smart alecks who live in America or anywhere else on earth.

This will not be simple at all, either from an economic or a security standpoint or from many other standpoints. But it will make Israel confront its true strength and its real situation.

When we are able stand on our own two feet and not on the feet of America, which brought us to this point, and we see where the mud comes from, then perhaps we will be able to climb out of the mud we've created and in which we are mired. And if not, we will always be able to move to the town that Chabon created somewhere in Alaska in his book “The Yiddish Policemen’s Unit” after we lose a war – perish the thought.

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