An Old Man in an Old Country

Not everything I did and said in 40 years of politics was right, but nothing was so shameful that I hid myself away in my house.

Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid
Yossi SaridCredit: Gali Eytan
Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid

This week, I made a note to myself: I reached the age of 75. I “noted” and didn’t “celebrate,” because our family only celebrates for the children. Why, what’s the matter: What will old men like me rejoice about, another year that has passed and will never return? And why should they see being our age as a personal achievement, which is a sort of Parisian affectation in a land that is bereaved of its children.

In reaching Talmudic old age plus five, and the age of strength minus five, I have decided to reveal a secret to you: No, I am not writing to mark out a path in the desert. I am writing out of selfishness in order to drain the poisons that have accumulated, to unburden myself from anger and disgust. And I do not care if you become angry along the way.

Now, let us conduct the experiment together and be convinced: Recognize the words of truth from Abbas' speech at the United Nations; he is not the master inciter, instead it is Benjamin Netanyahu, whose incitement is his art. Those who are bursting with rage may go ahead and burst.

Because at my age, I am exempt from accounts of profit and loss. What I have accumulated is mine, who will take from me that which is mine; and what I have missed out on, it is already too late to achieve. At this stage of my life, nothing will bother or harm me. You cannot even vote against me anymore. So it’s a waste of the spontaneous-organized and financed effort, don’t bother my enemies, most of whose responses only strengthen my hand: I outrage, a sign that I still penetrate. And what will you do to me; not accompany me on the way to my final resting place? As if on my original path you accompanied me.

Not just now; I always aspired to be a free man. There are more successful politicians than me, and there are not many politicians like me; but in any case there is something to me. I have never been kept by a well-known benefactor, or an anonymous one; I have not fallen into a “conflict of interest,” my name is not “Moshe” and I don’t have a tycoon friend named “Kobi.”

And I haven’t forgotten what my friends from my radio days, Dan Shilon and Yaron London, told me: “You, Yossi, are not a good friend, because you never asked for help.” Yaron, Dan, who knows like you do, that I didn’t want to owe anyone anything, not even to you.

Not everything I did and said in 40 years of politics was right; if only that was true. But nothing was so shameful that I hid myself away in my house. I look back without rage, without remorse; but also without longing. You can use this nice sentence in the modest necrologies that will be written about me.

I look ahead, missing the future and dreaming about it: As Joseph the dreamer. I will tell you at the appropriate opportunity about the advantages of the pit: How hearing becomes sharper and befriends the surroundings. Suddenly you hear footsteps from a distance and hear confused voices. Whoever volunteers to extricate me and raise me out of the pit, don’t expect gratitude from me.

No my ears are not foreign, and from time to time I bend them to rebuke: “Your time has passed,” “your bitterness makes me crazy,” “your old age shames your youth.” But isn’t the opposite really true? Is it not my youth that embarrasses me because of the too rotten compromises I forced on myself?

To all my accusers I wish you should be healthy and live long as I did: For a person who knows illness, I am actually quite healthy. I had a heart attack before my jubilee and a growth in my head a decade ago — and I swore off foolishness. And now the sufferers of hemorrhoids have been added to my enemies.

Rejoice: From my family I came and to them I have returned, and only to them do I give an accounting. And if, sometimes, I sound to you as if I’m grumbling — it’s not because of me, it’s because of you. We do not always understand our situation, not all of us always know where we are living, and dying.

Every week I meet with various groups of the public that invite me for a talk. Mostly they look young to me, but sound so old. Only then can I tell myself: Rejoice young man in your old age.

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