Saturday, October 04, 2003

Following my post of the 23th, Oscar sent me this. I have been meaning to post it but forgot.

I agree with most of what you say, except for one thing. There is a sense in which we are not worse than we were before the Oslo accords. We are now wiser. Lots of people opened their eyes, see reality as it is, and are less inclined to daydream. And more importantly, people do not hate right-wing people so much anymore.

I came back to Jerusalem on August 1998 for two years, after having spent five years abroad, and I was amazed by the hate people professed to Netanyahu and anything related to him. I could understand that some people opposed his views, but I couldn't see why people hated him so much. I mean, I couldn't see anything he did or said that was so terrible. He wanted to move directly to a final settlement with the Palestinians instead of going through all the phases of the Oslo agreement, something that I found reasonable. But people interpreted this as a sign that he did not want peace. He insisted on the "reciprocity" principle, which sounded reasonable to me, but all people around me interpreted this as another sign that he does not want peace. During the elections, when I said that I planned to vote for Netanyahu, people looked at me as if I was joking. They were incapable of conceiving that anybody would vote for him.

But the worse symptom of the state of delusion that the society was in, occurred on a Friday afternoon, while I was driving back from my usual coffee meeting with my friends. It was during the election campaign, and Shlomo Artzi was talking on his radio show about the (admittedly dumb) Likud slogan: manhig hazak le 'am hazak. (A strong leader for a strong people – I.J.). Shlomo Artzi commented that the previous night he was with a couple of Argentine friends of his who told him about the atrocities the military government in Argentina had done during the last dictatorship. In particular, he mentioned the fact that some prisoners (kidnapped by the armed forces) were thrown out of planes to the river, while they were still alive. And these stories came to his mind when he heard people talking about manhig hazak le 'am hazak. This I couldn't take. Hearing the comparison of somebody whom I considered one of the most democratic leaders Israel had, to criminals who did not have any respect for human life persuaded me that there was something really wrong with Shlomo Artzi and people who think like him.

I think things are very different now. Some things are much worse now, as you said. But we know this. And this makes a huge difference. And I definitely prefer the situation today, when people seem to be conscious of what is going on, to the years of blindness and gratuitous hatred.