Sunday, August 09, 2009

A Free Country

Alexander Jacobson has a great piece in Haaretz today, which for some reason doesn't appear in the English version. I'll translate a few parts.

He starts out by recalling something he experienced during the peace rally on November 4, 1995, the one that ended with the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He was in the crowd, and next to him were two religious teenagers who were arguing with those attending the rally. They accused the left of not allowing dissent. "I thought to myself, you [the religious teenagers] have a lot of confidence in the tolerance and non-violence of the Israeli left. You're standing in a sea of leftists and arguing with them without fear, and even accusing them of silencing dissent. Would any of us dare to venture into a crowd of right-wing protestors and open our mouths?", he writes.

Then he tells the story of the annual memorial service for the victims of the 2002 terrorist attack at the Hebrew University. The ceremony ended with the singing of "HaTikvah", the Israeli national anthem. One of the lecturers stayed put in his seat. He doesn't name him, but says it's a leftist Jewish lecturer who isn't even much of an extreme leftist. Jacobson says this was quite rude, but nobody said anything. This made Jacobson proud.

"[The lecturer] doesn't even think of appreciating the freedom he enjoys - he's Israeli, and freedom runs through his veins. He doesn't even think of fearing state or university authorities - and really, where has it been heard of that a brave dissident in a brutal apartheid state (one whose anthem is worthy of contempt) needs to fear the authorities?"

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