Demonstration of courage

Sensitivity is not enough. Nor is the shield provided by ideological principles, even when these are deeply rooted and not dictated by hypocrisy. It takes incredible courage to turn openly against the iron-clad cliches that dominate one’s country. It takes great courage to protest in one’s conflict-ridden country, not only for peace, but also for the right of the nation’s enemies to acquire their own state. And Israel is, in any case, in a state of war. What is more, this is not a war against a distant country, as was the case, for example, when the United States attacked Vietnam. Then, the anti-war demonstrators were protesting many miles away from the field of combat. Although the popular view is that sentiments don’t count in politics and that peoples cannot determine their own fate, the striking demonstration by 50,000 Israeli citizens in Tel Aviv is worth 10 UN resolutions, 100 strongly-worded statements by the leaders of the international community, or 1,000 peace rallies in European cities. Those who demanded that the Israeli troops pull out from occupied Palestinian territory – though they might not be mourning their own dead – are aware that they are expressing a rightful claim in a land ruled by nationalist rage, that they are putting their life in peril, that they run the risk of being stigmatized for life as unpatriotic, as traitors, or as pro-terrorists. Before we rush to discover – in line with an incurable habit that seems to be the offspring of a nearly defunct anti-Semitism – some Zionist conspiracy behind this extraordinary demonstration, we should first ponder, with all the sincerity that this requires, one simple thing: How else other than traitors or deserters would people be described in Greece or in any other country if they dared declare, in a time of war, that their country was not entirely in the right and that their enemies are also entitled to dream?