Sep 5 2010
Hopefully, this cover of TIME will do the same.
Israel National News The September 13, 2010 issue of TIME Magazine arrived yesterday. The cover story is titled “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace” and is illustrated by a large Jewish star composed of daisies. Yes, daises—as in “counting daisies, don’t have a care in the world.”
This is precisely the point of Karl Vick’s article. He writes: Israelis are no longer preoccupied with the matter [of peace with the Palestinians]. They’re otherwise engaged: They’re making money; they’re enjoying the rays of the late summer … they have moved on quotes an Israeli real estate agent in Ashdod, one Eli, who tells him: People are indifferent. They don’t care if there’s going to be war. They don’t care if there’s going to be peace. They don’t care. They live in the day.
According to Vick, Israelis don’t care about peace, peace negotiations, or about the Palestinians because they are simply having too good a time: sunbathing, swimming, café-hopping, profiting from start-up companies, and, according to polls cited by Vick, utterly disconnected from “politics;” indeed Vick suggests that Israelis resemble Californians more than they resemble Egyptians. These are all points which scream: Israel does not fit in; if Israelis were only more impoverished, more indolent, and paradoxically, even more “laid back,” they might be recognizable as indigenous to the region, a true part of the Middle East.
These are Vick’s thoughts, not mine. Of course, Jews are the original Palestinians and the most indigenous of the region’s inhabitants; yes, there are many impoverished Israelis, both Jews and non-Jews; and, let’s not forget that there are even some Israelis who remain permanently on high alert for the next terrorist attack, permanently scarred by the last ones. For a moment, let’s forget about all that. Allow me to ask: Why doesn’t Vick also point out that Palestinians are leading the high life on the West Bank and in sumptuous villas on both the West Bank and in Gaza; that they, too, are sunbathing, swimming, shopping, dining out, and relaxing at the beach—at least as much as the Islamist thugs who run the lives of Palestinians will allow it?
Vick and his editors at TIME seem to think that showing six photos of Israelis at leisure: blowing smoke on a beach chair, lounging on a beach chair, resting in an army uniform on the beach without a chair, playing with one’s baby in a stroller, sitting at a café—are proof that Israelis are engaging in activities which are not admirable, are, in fact, “proof” that they are not suffering but rather, proof that Israelis simply don’t care about peace with the Palestinians. And Vick brings in polls as well as expert and person-in-the-street opinions to back up this claim.
Vick writes that real estate is booming, as is business in general, Israeli “brainiacs” have helped their nation avoid the economic disasters that have plunged Europe and America into a recession. He literally writes this. “Israel avoided the debt traps that dragged the U.S. and Europe into recession. It is known as a start-up nation—second only to the U.S. companies listed on the Nasdaq exchange.”
Is Vick aware that, consciously or not, intentionally or not, he is counting on the world’s long-held resentment about Jewish creativity, genius, and scientific and economic success—counting on the world’s willingness to scapegoat Israel once again for crimes that it has not committed? Or because Jews seem to “know something,” maybe they are channeling God directly and thus, the deck is stacked against non-Jews. Vick presents Israel’s “success” as somehow unseemly, because it makes other nations look bad. Does he harbor the suspicion that Jewish prosperity has been “stolen” from non-Jews or is he merely advertising that Jewish gold is there, ripe for the taking?
Buried—but really buried– in Vick’s four page cover piece are snippets of true facts: That the Israelis are weary of peace negotiations which never succeed because the Palestinians do not want peace; that Arabs and Palestinians want to destroy the Jewish state and as many Jews as possible.
But Vick fails to convey that negotiations cannot work as long as the ultra-Nazified Arab Islamic propaganda against Jews and Israel continues to turn out children who hate Jews and who become human homicide bombs, snipers, kidnappers, kassam rocket throwers, etc.
Here is what Vick utterly fails to comprehend, namely, that the Israelis are not merely tired, disenchanted, living in la-la land a la southern Californians (hence, the Jewish star made of daisies on the cover). The Israelis are actually showing the entire world how to embrace life, even as they live, trembling, in the shadow of death. They are teaching the world how to “love life more than they fear death.” A new and wonderful book A New Shoah. The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism by Italian journalist Giulio Meotti, which is not yet out, makes precisely this point.
The Jewish insistence on life may be the key to our survival as a people despite ceaseless persecution. It might be the lesson, the model, for all humanity in an era of genocides, civil wars, torture chambers, tyrannies, and totalitarian regimes. Why is TIME turning things on their head and refusing to recognize the courage and the heroism of Jewish Israelis who choose to live in the moment when the moment is all they have? Against all odds, the Jews simply refuse to give up. As Meotti writes of the numerous victims of terrorism during the ongoing Intifada of 2000, “Israel teaches the world love of life, not in the sense of a banal joie de vivre, but as a solemn celebration.”
Meotti begins where I began in early 2004, when I wrote about a new Holocaust in the pages of The Jewish Press, a Holocaust which is now based in Israel. At the time, I was not heard beyond a small circle. I did what Meotti now does in his opening pages. Meotti fully understands that Israel is the “first country ever to experience suicide terrorism on a mass scale: that more than 150 suicide attacks have been carried out plus 500 have been prevented.” According to Meotti, there have been “1,723 people (murdered) and 10,000 injured” in Israel. Meotti does what I did: He converts these numbers into the demographic equivalent of attacks on Americans. When I did so there were somewhat fewer people in both categories. Thus, Meotti writes that in American population terms, this means that “74,000 Americans” would have been killed and “400,000 injured.”
Vick does not factor this grave reality into his article. Nor does he seem to know how high the Jewish population growth was in the DP camps right after the Holocaust. Can he comprehend that permanently endangered Jews—a people that has survived as a people for nearly six thousand years—the Chosen People—have always chosen life in the moment, have chosen to seize life with both hands, even as they memorialize their dead and make sense of their persecution in a way that illuminates this particular Hell for all humanity?
What Meotti is doing is remembering the lives and the deaths of the Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism during the last decade. I have only read the first few chapters but cannot put it down. These are unknown stories, unnamed victims, whose mortal remains have often evaporated, disintegrated as surely as those Jews who literally went up in smoke during the Nazi Holocaust. His stories are mainly of victims who were unarmed and helpless and who, it turns out, were actually exceptionally kind to others, often to the very Arab Palestinians who shot them down, bludgeoned them to death, or blew them up into unrecognizable bone fragments, drops of blood, perhaps a few teeth.
I look forward to completing Meotti’s book. I hope that people more fully understand that TIME Magazine as well as countless other media in the Western world, can no longer be trusted to tell the truth.
Prof. Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at City University of New York.