A Nation of Interests, Not of Principles

'Interests' have become a cover story, concealed inside it are scoundrels and injustices.

Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid
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Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid

Runny-nosed good-for-nothings are teaching U.S. President Barack Obama how he should wipe his nose and cause an uproar. They have complaints, from here to Washington, about “fantasies” and “defeatism”: What a weak-kneed president, who is once again missing an opportunity for a second Crimean War and even World War III.

How fortunate we are, because we have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose exciting tango on the AIPAC dance floor has no need for two. It’s enough to have one dancer, who is also an actor and a liar, who was never really serious about “two states.”

America is large but humiliated, while Israel, small but proud, is forced to deal with a power like Uganda, where “homosexual activity” is punished by a life sentence. This week Jerusalem made do with a limp acknowledgement that it was sending African asylum-seekers to Uganda, forced to do so by our correspondent Barak Ravid. Our preaching is our strength, our morality is our weakness. “We have special interests,” it was reported, as though Russia has no interests in Ukraine, and China has none in Tibet.

I received this phone call on my way to a meeting with the Dalai Lama during his visit to Israel way back when: “Just this morning Beijing sent another harsh warning telegram,” wrote some anonymous vice president. “And you, as a minister in the government, cannot ignore our interests.” I ignored it and met with the Dalai Lama; interests-shminterests, in which a momentary gain ends up being a permanent loss.

The “Jewish state” is not above becoming brutalized. Although the dream of light was once dreamed here, it has long since become extinguished. Someone disconnected the current in the main clause of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Israel is not the worst of countries, not like Uganda; it’s somewhere in a bad place in the middle, and is continuing to slide down on the scale of social gaps, tolerance and corruption. And whichever country lifts its eyes to its neighbor – is committing an act of occupation and asking for a reward as an enlightened democracy in a benighted neighborhood.

It may already be past midnight, and the dream can no longer be made real. Not only is giving it up painful, it’s also very dangerous. I’m not giving up, because it’s not a dream, it’s a necessity. Without it there is no guarantee that the Zionist enterprise will enjoy a long life, and won’t lose its raison d’etre. As opposed to Netanyahu’s Hollywood-style arrogance – “I will stand firm on Israel’s vital interests” – I am planting the seed of existential doubt: “Interests” aren’t everything, principles and values often take precedence.

Was cooperation with apartheid beneficial in the long term? Did we achieve any sustainable profit from hanging around with generals in Argentina and the military junta in Chile? Is there any black hole remaining where we haven’t stuck in our long nose?

Until you arose, Erdogan, and slandered us — until then we also denied the Armenian genocide. “Don’t forget our interests,” Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak scolded me, after I had visited the church and identified with the memory and the demand for recognition. One day it’s Turkey and one day it’s Uganda, to which we sell weapons, and to which we are expelling gay refugees from Africa.

That’s what everyone does, that’s what Israel does, and in doing so it intensifies the Zionist anomaly. After all, even our location in the region is beyond the bounds of nature and history: Suddenly a nation arises and goes to a distant land, which is not empty. And to this day there is a debate as to which was stronger – the push from there or the pull from here.

The council of the international community enabled us to return by dint of the Old Testament, and the Jewish people were supposed to pay it back by bringing a new message. And now “another country” is born, which doesn’t improve things, and even makes them worse. You promised light and an olive branch, and we got Yitzhak Shamir and Bibi Netanyahu et al. Where is the hidden light, that’s the question, which I’m asking too.

“Interests” have become a cover story, concealed inside it are scoundrels and injustices. Today Netanyahu will return to Israel, after defending its interests heroically, and in effect – abandoning them. To this day he doesn’t understand in what a glass country we are all living, and which he leads.

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