It's Spit, Not Rain

Dear thug who attacked me, do you really think an Israel with no remnant of the peace camp, no High Court of Justice, no human rights groups, no Haaretz, no ‘Israel haters,’ no ‘Arab lovers’ and even no yours truly will be a better country?

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Most of all, these lines are meant for one reader - you, the thug who came up behind me late Friday afternoon on the way out of Tel Aviv's Carmel Market. You threatened to beat me up and screamed in a hoarse voice and bursting veins "leftist," "Israel hater" and "Arab lover" - not to mention unprintable vulgar comments - in your English mother tongue and in accented Hebrew. Then you spit in my face and in my partner Catrin's face.

You're not the first to attack me in the street like that, and probably not the last, but you're the first to spit. I got angry at you, kicked your behind, and wiped the spit off my face but not the insult.

Curious onlookers gathered around, some of them supporting you. But my curiosity is greater than theirs. What drove you to attack a man and woman you didn't know? Where did this rage come from that erupted with just seeing me, without any words passing between us? What brought on such fury, probably unplanned, as you spotted me from behind schlepping a wagon in the bustling market?

How is it that of all people it's little me - who writes for a modest-sized newspaper, whose op-ed pieces you're invited not to read - that prompts such hatred and rage in you?

Let's leave the psychological diagnoses to the professionals. Is it possible that the raging anger flows from the simple fact that in your heart of hearts, deep in your undeveloped consciousness, there is still some doubt about whether you're right, about the path you're trying to protect with your saliva? After all, if you were so certain you were right, a little journalist who never wrote about you personally wouldn't bother you so much.

I'm guessing you wanted to silence me. You thought your spit would make me alter my views, change my profession, be silent forever. You thought I'd no longer criticize Israel, which I love at least as much as you do and whose future and image I fear for much more than you do.

I wanted to tell you that maybe you should go back to where you came from, whether the United States or Britain - we don't need such violent people here, we have more than enough of them made in Israel. But here you are, claiming to be a Zionist and to love Israel.

So I want to ask you - what kind of Israel do you want? You grew up in a country at least as democratic as Israel. The remains of your new country's reputation are based on the remains of its democracy, which you want to silence with your saliva and body.

Do you really think an Israel with no remnant of the peace camp, no High Court of Justice, no human rights groups, no Haaretz, no "Israel haters," no "Arab lovers" and even no yours truly will be a better country? Less abominable?

Imagine the Israel of your dreams. A homogenous nationalist choir singing racism and hatred with no background music. Its army ruling ruthlessly (and in your dreams unhindered by criticism ), a country dripping with milk and honey. Do you really want to live in such a country? I suppose you do.

If so, you and your like deserve to live in such a state. But unfortunately for you, there are still others here who deserve something else. They dream of a more just state and society, and they're even willing to take your spit for it.

I'm quickly forgetting you; I'm even having a hard time remembering what you look like. You probably boasted to your friends and family how you "showed him." You did - you showed me that I must carry on at any price. That if people like you become not merely a majority - they're already a majority - but absolute tyrants, the dream will really be over.

Not your dream, of course, which is a nightmare, but still a dream, even if it's the dream of the few. What's falling on those few now is spit, not rain.

Right-wing demonstrators at Tel Aviv University holding a sign reading 'hypocritical leftists.' Credit: Alon Ron

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