The vitality of anger

Published in The Jerusalem Post on January 27, 2002

A grotesque sort of quiet has taken root among Israelis in the Promised Land. A passivity that stems from depression and acquiescence; from the feeling that little can be done about “the situation”; from the paralyzing conclusion that there are no easy solutions in our war with the Palestinians.


And you have to wonder: when will we learn, finally, to harness the vitality of anger – anger that has built-up inside of us all — instead of wallowing in woe?


It is almost as if Israelis have been lulled into a stupor by the intractable nature of the conflict. No matter how hard Yasser Arafat’s terrorist gangs hit us, we fail to rise up in appropriate rage and demand that our government take even harsher action to shut Arafat down.


No matter how many times Palestinians violate their treaty obligations, Israelis, it seems, just settle back into the living room armchair to sigh and cluck in sadness.


No matter how horrific the latest terrorist outrage, we are wont to sorrowfully cry with the widows and orphans on TV, or mournfully mutter ‘how terrible it is’ around the coffee-maker at work. To release some bottled-up bitterness, someone will make a sarcastic remark about feeble Israeli leadership or crack some black humor about the situation.


How weak and how sad.


Immediately upon discovering the next Palestinian transgression, Defense Minister Binyamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer will emerge to tell us for the umpteenth-thousandth time that he views “this dangerous escalation with the utmost gravity”. Fuad will comically convene “urgent consultations” at the Defense Ministry, from which he will emerge hours later to inform us that “the IDF will respond at the time and place of its choosing”. Undoubtedly, these pronouncements have Arafat shaking in his boots.


And the people of Israel? We cluck and groan and murmur our discontent, and then get on with our daily business as best we can. Because we have no choice. Right?


I ask: what has happened to our determination and sense of national responsibility? Where are all the activists, the taxi drivers, the pioneers, the suffering victims and all those who sympathize with them?


Even after the Dolphinarium, Sbarro, Ben-Yehuda, Yaffo and Tel Aviv bombings and the Hadera bat-mitzva shootout – are we too afraid or tired or too downcast to take to the streets and to demand real action from our government? It is almost as if we are *embarrassed* to demonstrate; ashamed to let the blood get to our heads and make us real angry.


Anger, writes Maimonides, is a treacherous emotion to be avoided in most situations, as is hate (Codes, The Book of Knowledge, 2:3). Except when faced with evil. Then, anger is the appropriate, necessary, energizing, response. It is a *mitzva* to hate those who seek to undermine the morality of society or to destroy the nation.


Does anyone have any doubt that the Palestinian regime established alongside us over the past eight years is evil, malignant and destructive? And if so, are we forever going to sit back and sigh?


The neutralization of Arafat’s regime is not unthinkable nor impossible. It requires national will. Hundreds of thousands marching in the streets to say: “Enough!” might supply our government with the necessary spine.


Otherwise, our inaction and apparent indifference could yet be mistaken by enemies without and within as resignation and acceptance of the situation. The Beilins, Alonis and Avineris among us will continue running to smooch with Arafat, to lobby against our national interests abroad, and to broadcast their corrosive messages on national radio and TV.


Two thousand years after the destruction of the Second Jewish Commonwealth and only one generation after the Holocaust, the Jewish People have returned to Zion to reclaim their homeland, through much sweat and sacrifice. Despite a few post-Zionist intellectuals and a defeatist press, Zionism and patriotism is alive and well among large majorities of Israel’s varied sub-societies. Doing what is needed to improve our personal and national security does not require any apologies. We ought not weakly whimper away.


Time to angrily shake the trees and rustle-up the troops, I think. Even US Ambassador Danny Kurtzer wants Israelis to pressure their government. Well, let’s take his advice and show him just what we think. The “National Unity” government much more manifestly should feel that it has the overwhelming backing of Israelis for decisive, seismological action against the Palestinian Authority.

David M. Weinberg is a think tank director, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »
A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker

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