August 16, 2012

Lapid and Einstein

Telegenic journalist and broadcaster is founder of the new party of Israel's Middle Class - "Yesh Atid" (meaning: there is a future).

He has just blogged a pretty strong and defiant piece entitled: "Someone is trying to kill me" which I have pasted below in full with some commentary at the end:

"The recent terror attempt at Sinai, which was miraculously thwarted at the last minute, reminded me of a very painful truth that has been with me since I was born: Somebody out there wants to kill me.

I've never actually met him; he knows nothing about me. Strangely and outrageously enough, it isn't even personal. Bizarre, no? There is someone out there who has devoted his life to trying to kill me, but I'm not supposed to be insulted.

I try to look back on my life, in an unprejudiced fashion, in order to determine if there isn't something that somehow justifies someone wanting so badly to kill me, but I come up with nothing.

I'm almost 49 years old, a father of three, who still has a soft spot for guitar-based rock and roll – primarily Springstein and Clapton, but also Dire Straits. I believe in basic democratic values: freedom of religion, equality, the right to eat a whole ice cream cone in front of the TV. Surely there are more righteous folks than me, but I've nonetheless never ever been involved in illegal activity and just this week I visited my mother twice. I recently posted on Facebook that my favorite movie is Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven", though my wife, may she be forever healthy, knows I also can appreciate a romantic comedy now and then. I admit that a guy who's watched Reese Witherspoon's "Sweet Home Alabama" twice deserves some punishment – but death sentence?! Isn't that a bit extreme?

Of course, it's clear to me that this state of normalcy is a form of self-delusion. After all, I live in a country embroiled in a protracted conflict with its neighbors and, like most other Israelis, I recognize that it will ultimately have to be resolved by partition. The Palestinians will receive a state and we'll receive the right to divorce them. This is the only viable solution and I'm willing to struggle for its implementation; but this won't change anything for the guy hell-bent on killing me. He'll keep on trying.

Because contrary to the propaganda being disseminated by well-meaning peace-loving people, his desire to kill me has nothing to do with the injustices committed against the Palestinian people. Usually, the guy trying to kill me isn’t even Palestinian. In most cases, he was born in some far off desert, in countries I've never ever visited and to whose existence I pose no threat whatsoever. For his part, he claims he wants me dead because he identifies with the suffering of his brethren, but that's simply untrue. In Sudan, close to 3 million Muslims like him were massacred by his own ideological allies. In Somalia, more than half a million were killed, in Bangladesh 1.5 million, in Yemen 150,000 – and this list goes on – but the guy who wants to kill me has never tried to stop the killing. Their suffering bores him. The only thing that interests him is that I die.

The desire to kill me is not a means to an end, but rather an end in itself. He doesn't care if I'm outraged or if I withdraw – he merely wants to hear my croak and die. He wants to see me lying dead on the floor, in a puddle of blood, without a pulse and not breathing, with a bullet in the head and another in the heart.

You must admit – this is enough to disturb one's afternoon nap.

The standard Western narrative posits that all human beings are alike, and we all fundamentally want the same things: a small house, a piece of land, a livelihood, 2 kids and a national synchronized swimming team. That's a lovely idea; unfortunately it means nothing to the guy who is trying to kill me. For if that's what he too wanted, he could have achieved it many years ago. Alas, he prefers instead to continue shooting at targets bearing a picture of my face. To kill me with a knife, or with a pistol, or better yet, with an explosive device that will also kill those standing nearby.

His desire to kill me is so profound, that he doesn't even mind being blown up himself, as long as I'm killed. He is ready to transform himself into a pile of shattered limbs and organs just in order to be able to say to himself during the last seconds of his life – that I was killed along with him.

This is definitely a very disturbing thought, because I have no way of possibly comprehending it. Nothing in my education or in the basic values that form my worldview, or in the bedtime stories I was told as a child, takes into account the notion that there is someone out there I don’t know who so loathes my very existence.

No matter how hard I try, I am not able to enter the mind of this guy who wishes to kill me and understand why it's so important to him that I die.

That I'm able to somehow live with this is a small miracle that attests to the human being's capacity to adapt. And yet, it still surprises me that I'm able to ponder this with such equanimity, as if it is some obscure news item reported from a far off foreign land. I've succeeded in not becoming paranoid only because I made the decision not to dwell on the fact that there is a killer lurking next door.

I suppose I'm somewhat in denial, but what choice do I have? In order to sleep at nights, I have created a life that is a strange mixture of normality and insanity. For decades now, I've paid a rather pricey mortgage for a house located in an area in which suicide bombers have blown themselves up and missiles have been fired. I vacation in areas deemed dangerous for American citizens by the CIA. This summer, my kids went off to a summer camp and I didn’t even pay attention to the reference in the Letter to Parents to an "armed escort". It sounds frightening, but I know that the escort in question is my neighbor, an eye doctor, and that his wife will also be at camp on volunteer kitchen duty. That he is armed is an everyday fact of life – like the mosquitoes and the inevitability of our kids returning home with stomach aches. Of course it's true that kids shouldn’t need to be accompanied by armed guards as they build tree houses in the forest, but it seems the guy who wants to kill me also wants to kill my children.

I try to explain to my kids that despite the desire of this guy to kill me, I'm not out to kill anyone. It's sometimes difficult, since my heart is often so filled with anger, but I keep on telling myself that the day I seek to kill him is the day he's won. This means that he has succeeded in dragging me down to his tiny dark world and I'm now trapped inside.

This won't happen.

I will defend myself against him with all my might and if he gets too close to my children, or to my country, he'll discover that I can be no less ruthless than he. Despite this, I have no intention of succumbing to his culture of hate.

Instead, I'll continue living my life in the country that isn’t always right, but at least tries to be and only once in a while will I ask myself why, for God's sake, he is so determined to kill me. "

A good article, clearly grounded in the lessons of the Holocaust, of which his late father Tommy Lapid - former head of the Shinui party - was an iconic survivor.
But if Yair admits to such people being committed to killing Jews for its very own sake, why is he in favour of giving them a state in our midst? Muslims have 22 states to choose from - Jews only one.  

We have seen that whatever lands we have ceded to Arabs (South Lebanon, Gaza and now - very clearly - the Sinai) have been converted into terror bases to launch rockets at our schools and infiltrate killers into our population centers. The only place this has NOT happened is the West Bank under IDF control. Here Arab family and business life bustles in Jenin, Bethlehem, Jericho etc and there have been no rocket attacks launched from these areas.  

Autonomy works just fine in the West Bank, so it must be clear lunacy to convert that status quo into the failed model of South Lebanon, Gaza and Sinai.  There Israel at least had some strategic depth and its Oslo dreamers could afford to make mistakes.   

But the killers Lapid writes about are people with a messianic passion and religious imperative to kill the maximum number of Jews possible.  For such people, the true Nirvana is being within mortar range of Ben Gurion airport.  Why on earth would any sane Israeli vote for such lunacy?

And how many times must Israel commentaries invoke Einstein's definition of lunacy: repeating the same mistakes over and over and expecting a different result.  

I would put only one further 'point' to Mr Lapid. It's a simple punctuation mark. You see, if you put a ?-mark after the name of his party, in Hebrew it transforms rhetorically to: "Is there a future?" So, if you are convinced these people are Jew killers for its own sake, can there be a future for any Israelis - middle class not least - with a terror state smack in the centre of their heartland?  

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