In a different voice: a letter from Israel

Ronen Shamir, a professor of sociology and law who chairs the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University, writes in Today’s Zaman:

The truth must be said: The present-day Israeli regime is not interested in peace. The Israeli establishment has become prisoner to an ever growing public of Jewish fanatics — informed by messianic visions of Greater Israel — who over the years not only irreversibly settled in the occupied West Bank, with state funding, but have also penetrated the ranks of army officers, the civil service and the government. The outcome is that the current Israeli regime is firmly grounded in a religiously guided, ultranationalist and xenophobic worldview, one which is bound to bring calamity to the whole region, including Israel.

Deteriorating relations with Turkey are, sadly, an inevitable outcome of a siege mentality common among Israelis. For many, criticism of Israel’s policies from abroad is not heeded as yet more proof that “the world is against us” in general and that “the world is anti-Semitic” in particular. The Israeli regime, for its part, fosters this view, one that deliberately obscures the crucial difference between criticism of Israeli policies and a principled stand against Israel’s right to exist. The two become one in the Israeli media, the Israeli political propaganda machine, and ultimately, in the Israeli mind. Things became worse when criticism came from Turkey. Over the course of less than two years, following a string of events that reached its tragic climax last month, Turkey has been systematically demonized by the Israeli government. Relying on and further fostering well-embedded stereotypes of Muslims among Israeli Jews, Turkey — abstracted and depicted as a homogenous social-political entity — is now portrayed as the natural ally of militant and radical Islamists around the world.

It is in the context of such a cynical trope, at this dangerous juncture, that I wish to express my personal apology to the Turkish people for the deadly attack on the flotilla. It is also at this point in time that I believe it important to remember that there are many Israelis who are shocked and dismayed by the way Israel is governed, by the continuous blockade of Gaza and by Israel’s unwillingness to put an end to its occupation and repression of the Palestinian people. There are also many Israelis who understand and lament the folly involved in losing a long-time ally like Turkey, another step along a suicidal road that is leading us into an abyss.

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Comments

  1. mark Molin says:

    Well said . This is a must read . I think Ronen Shamir speaks for many of us .
    To quote a cartoon character ” I saw the enemy and the enemy is us”

  2. Indeed. There is likely to be a huge tragedy before a just peace can be established, and perhaps the greatest tragedy within the tragedy will be the suffering of the innocent instead of the guilty.
    Isn’t true democracy supposed to protect against or mitigate such calamities? Clearly it is either a chimera or it has no power when corruption and insanity rules.