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Sunday, October 31, 2010

From nightmare to nightmare

RivkA's (A"H) funeral last night was as painful as I imagined it would be. People spoke beautifully about her as the rest of us stood around her wrapped body and wept.

I can't imagine what it must be like for a parent to have to bury a child, but IMHO, her father gave her the most moving tribute of all. After he finished telling her how much he loved her and how much he had learned from her... he concluded his eulogy by telling RivkA that even if she had not been his daughter, he would still have picked her from among strangers to be his friend.

Zahava, Ariella and I got home well after midnight from the burial, and realized that in our funk over Shabbat, we hadn't eaten very much. So we warmed up some left-over roast chicken and potato kugel, washed it down with cola, and sat around the dining room table sharing our memories of RivkA.

For the record, burying a close friend late at night, followed by the consumption of heavy, greasy food, is a sure-fire recipe for Frume Sarah nightmares (no offense intended to the excellent blogger by that name).

Don't ask.

And when I woke up this morning, I experienced a waking nightmare in the form of the news from the Rabin memorial which was held last night.

It seems that our President, Shimon Peres, has once again forgotten that he is supposed to be the president of all Israelis... not just the president of the Labor party, Kadima and Meretz.

In an annual memorial event that is supposed to be an opportunity to encourage unity and help heal old wounds, Peres (as keynote speaker) got up and offered the following gems:

"In this square they killed Yitzhak [Rabin], they tried to kill peace...we are more determined than the enemies of peace and we will be victorious." [emphasis mine] ... “It is completely obvious that Rabin didn’t believe that a Jewish state must require discrimination against the Arab minority; or for the state to be controlled by the religious.” [emphasis mine]

In the first quote Peres willfully ignores the fact that Rabin was killed by a lone gunman... not the entire right wing of Israel's political spectrum. Then after dividing the country along political lines with his first quote, he goes on to neatly split the country again, this time along religious lines.

It was always my understanding that the president of Israel is supposed to unite the country, not dabble in party politics. But in our present state of war (what else can you call it when the only thing everyone agrees upon is the need for peace?), how dare he help the enemy by neatly dividing the country against itself?!

In his call for a two state solution as Rabin's legacy, Peres conveniently ignored the fact that in all the speeches delivered in the weeks before he was killed, Rabin made it crystal clear that he opposed the creation of a Palestinian State. When pressed to describe what he did envision for the Palestinians, Rabin used the words "something less than a state".

Every year when I make these points and ask people to remember that the religious right did not kill Rabin, somebody invariably responds that, yes, it was Yigal Amir who pulled the trigger, but that it was the violent rhetoric of the religious right which pushed him to do so. And every year I call bullsh*t on such tripe.

Ineternal Israeli political discourse - on all sides - has always been among the crudest and most disrespectful in the civilized world. Not a day goes by without words such as 'fascist' and 'nazi' being tossed around on the floor of the Knesset as ad hominem attacks on people and ideas with which the name caller disagrees. This is true of both the right and the left... religious and secular.

As president, Shimon Peres could single-handedly force a change in the tone of political discourse. But he hasn't... and he won't.

Whether Yigal Amir was influenced by such disgusting language is immaterial since it was only a matter of time before someone took such hateful words to heart.

Yesterday Shimon Peres woke up and was handed another opportunity to unite the Israeli people. But instead he decided to divide us against ourselves... reinforcing our enemies' deepest conviction that it will be far easier to conquer us than to try to make peace.

Only when Israel is led by real leaders who possess vision and a true love of all the people, will we be able to wake from our national nightmare... and emerge into the light.

Posted by David Bogner on October 31, 2010 | Permalink

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Has the President ever served as a unifying force? At least in the last few decades? Eliminate the position and call the Prime Minister "President." Problems solved.

Posted by: Nachum | Oct 31, 2010 2:11:38 PM

I`ve noticed lately that Peres can be somewhat logical when speaking to foreign reps and newsmen in English. But,when speaking in Hebrew at certain events,he becomes very partisan.He`s still trying to push his political agenda and fighting old battles.

Posted by: Ed | Oct 31, 2010 6:46:43 PM

I noticed those "theys" too, and they bothered me just as much as they did you, even though I'm a secular Leftie kibbutznik.I'm afraid to have to say that much of the Left still hasn't learned the real lessons of 15 years ago.

Posted by: Israelinurse | Oct 31, 2010 9:55:28 PM

First of all, no offense taken ;)

Next, though I often take issue with the control taken by the religious right in Israel, the notion that an entire segment of a population ought to be held responsible for the violent actions of one deranged individual is simply ridiculous. How easily the first line could have read in the singular -- and not ostracized those who were lumped together with the assassin.

And though I have long admired Rabin, z'l, to say that it was "completely obvious" is revisionist history.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts during this very sad time. RivkA bat Yishaya will remain as a blessing for us all.

Posted by: Frume Sarah | Oct 31, 2010 11:36:23 PM

I don't supposed we could get Peres and Jimmy Carter on to a space shuttle mission and have them delivered to the space station, permanently?
Very sorry to hear about Rivke...,my deepest condolences...

Posted by: Marsha | Nov 2, 2010 5:43:41 PM

Reminds me of the Crazy Horse Memorial they want to build in South Dakota's Black Mountains -- Carve a huge, larger-than-Mt. Rushmore sculpture of Crazy Horse into the hills he died trying to protect from development.

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Nov 3, 2010 3:27:01 PM

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