I envy the people who hate Israel
By Bradley Burston
At times like these, I envy the people who passionately, frankly, with all their hearts, despise Israel. Hate Israel enough, and the Jewish state’s failings and blunders, its self-satisfied blindness and its resultant self-destructive policies, cause not pain, but delight. Hate Israel enough, and you’re spared all inclination to try to fix what’s wrong, to work to set it right. On the contrary, hate Israel enough, and you may come to believe not only that that the country deserves to be punished to the point of replacement by a different state – Israel may well do the job all by itself. This is one of those times. I have made my peace with the fact that this is not the same country I moved to, so long ago. I learned when I first came, that Israel was not the country I’d thought I was moving to. But this is different. This time is a test for every Israeli, and so far, we are failing. There was once a time when Israel longed to be a member in good standing of the community of nations. There was a time when one of its fondest goals was to end its status as a nation in quarantine, boycotted, unrecognized, unwanted, kept firmly at arm’s length. No longer. Without asking its people, without a second thought, Israel, at its highest level, has taken an executive decision. Unable to beat the forces who want to see Israel as one of the world’s primary pariah states, it has resolved to join them. Determined to take our fate into its own hands. Israel, at its highest level, has decided that the job of delegitimizing the Jewish state must not be left to foreigners and amateurs. Showing itself desperate to be a pariah state, Israel will now get it done on its own. What the far-left from Britain to Berkeley has been been unable to bring off – a sense among Israel’s allies that Israel has become a heartless, morally heedless aggressor state worthy of sanction and shunning – the far-right in Israel’s own government, and in particular, its Foreign Ministry, seems determined to inculcate to the full. We should have known that something like the Dubai assassination debacle was going to happen. The process of de-legitimizing Israel from within was going too slowly. It was not enough choose a pathetic side issue, a Turkish television show with anti-Israel scenes, as grounds to humiliate with infantile malice the highly respected ambassador of Turkey – a nation whose relationship with Israel, though troubled, remains crucial from every strategic and diplomatic standpoint. It was necessary for Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who as the recently returned former ambassador to Washington certainly knows much better, to compound the insult on the eve of a fence-mending visit to Turkey by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, by declaring diplomatic war on the rest of the world: Referring to the bellicose, confessed and convicted disgrace who is his foreign minister and superior, Ayalon told Channel Two, “His policy is proving to be effective. We will not allow a situation where every country will kick us. If there will be an attack [even if verbal or cultural] on Israel, we will leave all options open, including the expulsion of ambassadors.” It wasn’t enough to threaten our relations with the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Austria and the whole of the European Union, as well as the emirates and other moderate Muslim states, by apparently violating the basic conventions of all civilized states in the Dubai murder. It was necessary to stage a quick follow-up, for the sake of balance, perhaps, in going after our relations with Israel’s indispensable ally. In a gratuitous move breathtaking in its haughtiness, its ignorance of and disrespect for the United States and the American Jewish community, the Foreign Ministry – spearhead of Israel’s campaign against boycotts abroad – elected this week to boycott a meeting with five U.S. Congressmen visiting Israel. Why? The representatives were visiting under the auspices of J Street. J Street, in the ministry’s eyes, is guilty of the crime of explicitly calling itself pro-Israel, while not agreeing wholeheartedly with everything the government of Israel says and does. I have come to envy the people who hate Israel. They’ve got every reason to smile. There was a time when you could reasonably blame Israel’s execrable public relations officials for much of Israel’s bad press. No longer. No one can defend this anymore. There’s too much that looks bad, and much too much of it is true. Like so many of Israel’s recent actions, the motives for the Dubai assassination are debatable. The negative impact is inarguable. My heart goes out to the people who care about Israel. My wife, who cares about this country as deeply as anyone, was singing this morning, but with a smile I have come to recognize as a sign of pain. ” … And they call the state Pariah.” All those years of isolation, of quarantine, are coming home to haunt us. Now it turns out that the contempt for the rest of the world that it bred in Israeli Jews, extended to contempt for immigrant Jews as well. The response of many Israelis to what appears to be officially sanctioned theft, exploitation, and ruin of the identities of immigrants to Israel, was terrifying in its good humor, with morning talk-show hosts making fun of their Hebrew, even as they made light of their plight. There are times when I envy the people who hate Israel. There is no sense of betrayal, not a tinge of loss. Only simhah la’ed, a vengeful joy in our sorrow. This is what I have learned about the government of this place, and many of the voters who put it there. Intelligent people who are too smart to be able to see themselves clearly, render themselves stupid. And countries which cannot bear to look, even if they have good reasons, render themselves dangerous – first of all, to themselves. This is not the country I first came to. But I still care about it, even if I know it may care much less than I would like, about me. I have come to envy the people who hate Israel, because they cannot feel the tragedy in the phenomenal possibility, the depth and breadth of humanity that is going to waste here. Someday soon, if only because Avigdor Lieberman is indicted for money-laundering in countries which hate us, this is going to begin to turn around. I believe that. I have to. My father did not flee the Soviet Union just so his son could one day have the chance to live in a place just like it.