Our Children Are The Guarantors

Defending Zionism from its detractors. Anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism. Let the other side apologize for a change.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Gavriela Avigur-Rotem’s Story (Sobol II)

Way back in September, I posted a translation of the interview with Israeli playwright Yehoshua Sobol, a fascinating example of how the 2006 Lebanon War drove an Israeli Jew to rethink this entire conflict. Today I bring a similar, though shorter, piece from the same Israeli newspaper (Yediot Achronot); shorter, unfortunately, because the bulk of the article is comprised of irrelevant gossip, while only the first few paragraphs are about the change of political view.

From Friday, May 25, 2007, from the section “7 Days” (Shiv’ah Yamim) of Yediot Achronot, concerning the writer Gavriela Avigur-Rotem’s new book, Ancient Red. Avigur-Rotem is one of the Zionist pioneers who left life in Europe to inhabit the Land of Israel when it was still under the British Mandate. When she says the October 2000 riots (the beginning of the Second Intifada) reminded her of the War of Independence (1947–9), she knows whereof she speaks. Here follow the scans of the relevant newspaper snippets, my translation and finally my commentary.


Scan: Yediot Achronot, May 25, 2007, "7 Days", p. 66

Scan: Yediot Achronot, May 25, 2007, "7 Days", p. 67

Scans at 200 DPI. Click to view full size.


On October 1, 2000 the phone rang in the house of the writer Gavriela Avigur-Rotem and her partner, Dr. Aharon Avivi, in the inhabitation of Avtalion, in Gush Segev in the Galilee. “‘All men who bear arms are to take them and go out, and all the women and children are to stay closed in the house’, they said to us”, Avigur-Rotem recollects. “My first reaction was disbelief: Sorry, are we in the War of Independence?! And then I opened the radio and the TV and saw the demonstrations and the Molotov bottles and the gunshots. And I thought, Where exactly can you run away to from here?!”

The landscape seen from the gigantic window of the villa is admittedly superb, but when the owner of the house counts one by one the Arab villages surrounding them from all sides, she conveys a feeling of siege. At the events of October 2000, multitudes of young people from the neighboring village Arabeh did indeed get out and step up with Molotov bottles on the hill overlooking Avtalion. “36 hours we were besieged, it was impossible to get into or out of the inhabitation, and we searched everywhere for policemen but they didn’t arrive. The experience was dreadful, mainly because, up to that day, we were in good terms with the Arabs of the area”, says Avigur-Rotem. She was then just about to finish her previous book, Khamsin and Crazy Birds, and as part of the research she had read tens of books about the Holocaust. “The writing was then written down on the wall, and nobody wanted to read it. Even when the Holocaust arrived for one Jewish community, people in other communities didn’t believe it would reach them. I thought, maybe now too a writing is written down on the wall and we’re inclined not to read it because it’s threatening, it’s frightening and necessitates coming to conclusions we don’t want to come to. And maybe one day people will come and ask: The writing was on the wall, how could you not read it?”

Gavriela Avigur-Rotem’s new novel, Ancient Red (published by Kinneret-Zmorah-Beitan), which was written in the last four years, opens with the assassination of Rabin and ends with the October events; not a few of the details are drawn from the life of the writer, who had moved from Gush Dan [the conglomerate of Tel-Aviv and the nearby cities. —ZY] to the Galilee in 1997. “Those were still the days of Oslo, and the feeling was that finally this accursed conflict was coming to an end. Finally the formula had been found: we’ll concede a little and they’ll concede a little and we’ll live in peace. We thought our neighbors were happy we lived here, because, following the inhabitations of Gush Segev, new roads were laid and opportunities for livelihood and cooperation were created. Our attitude was: they’re the sons of this land, we’re the sons of this land, and we all live together and learn from each other what we can learn. And suddenly, we saw we’d told ourselves an incorrect tale, we’d painted a picture of the world that might be pleasant for us to look at and believe in, but is far from reality”.

[Translation ends here.]


Here are the salient points made by Avigur-Rotem:

  1. We’ve been here before. (“Sorry, are we in the War of Independence?!”)
  2. Leaving any part of the Land of Israel for the sake of peace only brings the enemy further home. (“Where exactly can you run away to from here?!”)
  3. Contrary to the misconception of the geographically-challenged that this is an attempt of colonialist invaders to hold vast swathes of land against the indigenous resistance, the fact is that, even within the internationally-recognized (1949 Armistice Line) borders, the Israeli Jews are engulfed by a sea of enemies. (“[…] but when the owner of the house counts one by one the Arab villages surrounding them from all sides, she conveys a feeling of siege.”)
  4. The authorities, the purported guardians of the very state that was set up in order to enable Jews to defend themselves (as not in the Diaspora), are in no hurry to do their job. (“36 hours we were besieged, it was impossible to get into or out of the inhabitation, and we searched everywhere for policemen but they didn’t arrive.”)
  5. Decades of peaceful, friendly life with the Muslims mean nothing; it can all end violently (G-d forbid) in one sudden moment. (“The experience was dreadful, mainly because, up to that day, we were in good terms with the Arabs of the area.”)
  6. The idea that the other side desires no less than our demise (G-d forbid) is rejected for the harsh, disturbing truth it is. (“[…] Maybe now too a writing is written down on the wall and we’re inclined not to read it because it’s threatening, it’s frightening and necessitates coming to conclusions we don’t want to come to.”)
  7. The desire of the Israeli Jews for peace is so strong that we gave the Oslo Accords repeated chances for at least seven years (1993–2000), and some of us beyond that (right up to 2006), despite the constant flow of evidence of the other side’s aforementioned desire. (“Those were still the days of Oslo, and the feeling was that finally this accursed conflict was coming to an end.” &c.)
  8. The misconception that the other side’s grievances were material had predominated, as it still does for so many of the world’s leaders and policymakers. (“We thought our neighbors were happy we lived here, because, following the inhabitations of Gush Segev, new roads were laid and opportunities for livelihood and cooperation were created.”)
  9. The Israeli Jews’ attempts to listen to the other side and relate to them as peers have not been reciprocated. (“Our attitude was: they’re the sons of this land, we’re the sons of this land, and we all live together and learn from each other what we can learn.”)

As far as political opinions go, Avigur-Rotem’s process is the same one I underwent, from complete belief in the Oslo Accords for seven years, then with increasing attacks of doubt from October 2000, through September 11, 2001, through the Kassam rockets on Sderot after the abandonment of Gaza in August 2005, through the Danish Cartoons Affair in September 2005, to the final shattering of whatever was left of my belief in negotiated peace on July 12, 2006, when the Second Lebanon War broke out.

Sobol, Avigur-Rotem and I are just a tiny sample of the minds that were changed by this course of events. I would venture to say, that it behooves the anti-Zionist peaceniks (yes, I’m talking about you, Daily Kos diarists and commenters) to consider that fact before proposing those boycotts of theirs. And the Muslims should take note that their victories, in Israel in particular, all the world over in general, are totally dependent on the reign of non-Muslim leaders who are out of touch with the reality to which the people are waking up in droves.

Labels: ,

4 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

I think we're all waking up to it, ZY. For me, Aliyah was part of the process, too.

May 30, 2007 3:41 PM  
Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

hiya ZY!..thanks for the compliments on my logo..heh...as for this..u say: (“Where exactly can you run away to from here?!”)
..and the answer is no where..it is our LAND!..why cant the liberals finally comprehend that reality!

May 30, 2007 9:01 PM  
Blogger ZionistYoungster said...

No doubt everybody is waking up. My frustration stems from the fact that this awakening has yet to reach the governmental level. Oh, for the critical mass to be attained soon! Olmert said once, "Ashkelon will not be like Sderot" (an ugly, insensitive thing to say in and of itself), but I don't think he'll do anything unless his own opulent life were on the line.

They say a long time cooking means a good meal at the end. I can only hope.

June 01, 2007 12:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget to mention the events that led to these riots: Sharon's ill-advised and provocative walk in Jerusalem. He knew this was dangerous and decided to go ahead with it anyway.

October 04, 2007 12:36 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home