My Love for Israel Has Been Replaced by Shame

More than anything else, I am ashamed because of Israel’s locked gates when refugees from all over the world are begging for a gate to open.

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Syrian refugees wait at the barbed wire fence, on the border between Hungary from Serbia, near Roszke, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015.Credit: AP
Yossi Sarid

I love you no longer, my homeland. This is no longer “my country.” As far as I’m concerned, you can scream or be silent – do whatever you want, unbeloved land. The place of love has been taken by shame. I am ashamed, which means I still care, it still hurts, but less. See how you look, our little country, our petty country.

I am ashamed of a country that regards every rag as a flag. That is prepared to die for its symbols yet is not prepared to give its soul for its values.

I am ashamed of a country that is foreign to me, which sells weapons to every murderer for black lucre; who knows how many refugees are now fleeing for their lives from a pure Israeli rifle?

I am ashamed of a country that has trouble appointing an army chief of staff or a police commissioner as if it has no people. And those who appoint them – would you appoint them?

I am ashamed of a country that sends its soldiers to capture a child, to beat a girl. I, too, as a father, would bite your hand.

I am ashamed of a country whose blood shouts from the village of Duma and whose spillers of blood go free in Jerusalem. Instead of arresting them, they arrest people who steal formula for a baby, and those are the ones they put on trial.

I am ashamed of a country that persecutes its teachers and silences its broadcasters, that exiles its artists domestically – and Sayed Kashua abroad.

I am ashamed of a country that starts the school year “in an orderly fashion” – but just didn’t count more than 30,000 schoolchildren who are striking because they are “the other.”

It still claims to be a democracy – although it is ruled by tax- and gas-stealing thugs – but it has long not been “Jewish”; what does it have to do with me, what does a Jew like me have to do with it?

And more than anything else I am ashamed now – on the eve of the New Year and before Yom Kippur – because of its locked gates when refugees from all over the world are begging for a gate to open. They are terrorizing us with numbers – soon the country will be filled with them, in addition to our enemies. Don’t look at the streaming masses but at those who are among them; don’t look that those who are coming, but at those who are here.

Look at the blind Eritrean. “I got to him because someone saw him crying in the street,” a volunteer for Asaf, a refugee and asylum-seeker assistance group, said. “Unfortunately, in Israel there is no one to care for him. The United States agreed to take him in.”

Look at the refugee single mother from Sudan and her little daughter who “suffers from kidney problems, respiratory difficulties and inability to swallow. She cannot live a dignified life in Israel. Sweden will take her in soon,” another said.

Two stories out of hundreds who were referred to the local office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for “resettlement.” Even for the few who are sick, Israel cannot find place.

Who is it that calls out here at night to settle tens of thousands of the healthy? Don’t make our government laugh; it too cries crocodile tears over the baby Aylan Kurdi, who drowned in water and ignited a fire.

“We don’t want a population that changes us, our national and religious character,” the prime minister of Hungary said. Those are the words of a fascist, that is also the spirit of the words of the prime minister of Israel. The anti-Semite and the Semite, both prophesying in the same style.

Throughout Europe there were solidarity demonstrations this week, tens of thousands stood by the tracks, welcoming the rescued with chocolate and bananas; and where is the bread and salt? Israel was looking at that same time for its additional soul, for its X-factor, in “reality” and not necessarily in reality.

The chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced that Germany would not limit the number of refugees to enter. “The right to political asylum has no limits on the number of asylum seekers,” she said. Suddenly they sound like Jews, and we sound like Germans.

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