Thank you for this article, Mr. Liebovitz. I am a Jewish Hebrew-speaking American with close ties to Israel. I just finished half a year of service work in Nepal with an Israeli orgaanization called Tevel B'Tzedek, which examines social justice as it relates to globalization and the developing world.
Something I wanted to suggest, to help you reconcile this idea of the conflicts in Israeli behavior, is that these are not the same groups at all. During the course of this program, I came into contact with some of the most progressive people I have ever met. Yet we did not talk about the occupation and Gaza the entire time we were in Nepal, even as the plight of the Nepalis sometimes lined up so closely with that of the Palestinians. When I confronted my friends about why we never address these issues as a group, I was met with long sighs and shaking of heads. No one had the strength. One woman told me she was very active in politics until Rabin was assassinated, and then was so discouraged that she stopped checking the news entirely.
Now, I am traveling in India. I am meeting lots of Israelis and I consistantly ask them about the election results, which have disturbed me greatly. Most of the people I speak to are against what is happening in Israel, and hold generally progressive views, and yet very few of them voted in this election. Very few of them even knew if there was a procedure that would allow them to vote abroad. Very few of them knew who had won the election (the ones that thought they did thought it was Livni). The people who seemed to know changed the subject immediately.
For someone who kissed their ballot for Obama before handing it in at the American Embassy in Nepal, I cannot imagine not even knowing who won the elections. But I do remember a time when Bush politics were so bad that they made me hopeless and apathetic.
Perhaps these are not the same populations, the moviegoers and Lieberman voters. Perhaps it is simply easier, in a hopeless world, to show your support for a movie then it is to become an active political participant in a system you don't believe in or trust. Perhaps these people are simply exhausted.
What Israel really needs is someone to mobilize its left, to convince these kids looking for something more peaceful in the East and in South America that it's time to care again. Where is Israel's Obama?
Feb 23 2009 - 4:05am