Wednesday, August 04, 2010

This Time We'll Wake Up on Time

By Moshe Feiglin

24 Av, 5770
August 4, '10

Translated from the Makor Rishon newspaper

I sat in the garage waiting room. The air conditioner in my car was no match for the July heat. Yehudah the mechanic understood that I was on my way to the hospital and took care of me right away.

"Excuse me, perhaps you are Feiglin?" asked the man sitting next to me.

"Yes, pleased to meet you."

"Do you mind if I ask you a question?"

"Feel free. Maybe I will have an answer."

"Are you really as extreme and dangerous as they say?"

"Maybe you can explain what you think is extreme so that I can answer."

"Look, before the Disengagement, people from Gush Katif came to my moshav and attempted to explain their point of view. I invited them in and they were happy because not everyone was excited about allowing them into their living rooms. They explained themselves pretty well, until they said that the East Bank of the Jordan is also ours. That is where they lost me, because I understood that nothing will satisfy them. Even if all the Arabs get up and leave, they will still want more. That is what I call extreme," he declared.

"I am loyal to the entire Land of Israel and its borders as they are delineated in the Bible," I answered him. "I do not think that we have to initiate wars today to conquer the East Bank of the Jordan, but it must be clear that this is our Land. In the event that parts of that territory fall into our hands in a war of self-defense, we must declare sovereignty over them, just as we did in the Golan Heights. Israel should enact a Law of Return for land. That, by the way, will bring peace, because the Arabs will have what to lose from wars."

"I think that it was right to retreat from Gush Katif, but that we should have responded with more force the moment that they started to shoot," the man continued.

"What is your dream?" I tried to get him onto a more substantive track. "What are you ultimately trying to achieve?"

"I don't believe that we will have peace with them, but we can achieve some sort of calm if in addition to retreat we also display determination," he added.

"In other words, your dream is calm, or some sort of peace," I said to him. "So why not in Australia? Or New Zealand?"

"No, no," said the man. "I believe that this is my place because of our history, and I have no intention of giving that up. But what do I need Shechem for? Do you want to tell me that you want to return to Gaza? I prefer to leave the places that have Arabs."

I tried to refute his claims, I said that in the Galilee there is an Arab majority, I demonstrated that questions of majority or minority never prevented the Arabs from fighting us and I got dragged into an exhausting discussion. All the facts were on my side. I showed him how he had been deceived until now and how, despite the fact that all his basic assumptions have already exploded in his face time and again, he still stands by them. "The State of Israel is rapidly losing its right to exist on the face of the globe; senior ministers are wanted for war crimes in European capitals - and all this after you expelled eight thousand Jews from their homes and gave the entire Gaza Strip to the Arabs. What does that say about your concept?" I asked.

"I think that if we create good living conditions for them, they will have less children and will stop inciting wars," he answered.

Another person joined the discussion and adamantly claimed that half of Israel's population is Arab. I told him that there are 1.4 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria and he claimed that there is a professor with much higher statistics. I fell into the trap and submersed myself in the sea of details. Because it really makes no difference if there are one million Arabs or ten million. As soon as I surrendered the question of substance, I lost. Even if the statistics that I quote are irrefutable, they serve the basic assumptions of the other side. If the argument is over how many Arabs are here, that means that the factor that will determine to whom this Land belongs is quantitative and not substantive. As soon as I was dragged into that debate, I had surrendered the Jewish truth, futilely attempting to prove my points according to democratic and other foundations. And on that arena - even if the facts are on my side - I have already lost my moral foundation.

"Your car's ready," Yehudah called out, and handed me the keys. The man from the moshav and the man who had chimed in attempted to continue to argue - but I was already on my way out with a feeling of having missed the mark.

Once again I realized that facts are insignificant. The basic assumptions of the Israeli public are still the assumptions of Oslo. The public is certainly more rightist, but it makes no difference. On its conceptual arena, reality has no significance. Until we manage to move the public onto a different conceptual arena, it will be willing to buy Oslo 3, 4 and 5.

Late at night, as I neared home, I drove by a billboard put up by the Yesha Council: "This time we will wake up on time."

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