These are the concluding paragraphs of Gershon Baskin’s latest “Encountering Peace” column in The Jerusalem Post:
…. In 1984, when Meir Kahane was elected to the Knesset, I brought to the Education Committee a copy of the Nuremberg laws and superimposed Kahane’s political platform. This made the front pages, and most Israelis were shocked by Kahane’s extreme racism. Today, no one is particularly upset that our Knesset has become a bastion of xenophobia.
The rise of racism is a direct outgrowth of our refusal to make peace with our Palestinian neighbors. Yes, it is our refusal. There is a Palestinian partner for peace, and anyone who doubts that is ignorant of the facts. Our publicists and politicians can rewrite the “narrative” as they please, but it will not change the fact that if Israel was serious about making peace on the basis of what has already been negotiated, it would be possible to end this conflict.
We might feel secure because the US used its veto in the UN, but we shouldn’t live with the illusion that US support is a form of security. Israel is being delegitimized by its own actions. The legislative agenda of Avigdor Lieberman, Shas, the National Union and a significant part of the Likud, together with the continuation of the occupation, settlement building, the destruction of Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem, the removal of Jerusalem residency rights from hundreds of Palestinians each year who were born in the city, the taking over of Palestinian properties owned by Jews prior to 1948 while denying Arabs the same rights, no longer fools the world. Our policies and democracy do not go hand-in-hand. The charade is over. Instead of a “light unto the nations” Israel’s policies are leading us into the darkest era we have known as a state.
I write this with rage in my heart, and a deep sense of pain. I am filled with rage at the public’s silence in the face of our ugliness. I’m furious that voices of people such as Bennie Begin and Dan Meridor are not heard.
Those who propose racist and xenophobic legislation in the name of “saving Jews and Judaism” are acting in my name. My Judaism does not include hatred of non-Jews. My Israel is one that seeks peace with its neighbors and sees our future linked to our ability to reach agreements that sustain life, build prosperity and care about the welfare of people less fortunate than us.
I want to believe that the reality we see today is symptomatic of a society in the final days of a conflict. I want to believe that Israel has already recognized there will be a Palestinian state, and that the occupation must end. There are anti-Semites who work to delegitimize Israel, but they can cease their activities because our government is doing it so much better. The mirror eventually shows us reality, regardless of how much makeup we use.