A Need to Run Away

Readers who knew Israel between 1948-1967, in spite of our wars with the Arab nations in the Middle (“Muddled”) East, will agree that it was a happier Israel, a friendlier Israel, a government of Israel which cared very much for the well-being of its citizens.

We are now living in another Israel. A less democratic Israel. An Israel of increased racism and hatred of others starting from the top. An Israel now autocratic and on the road to a formal dictatorship.

“Don’t like it? Leave.”, say disgruntled critics. But to a degree, I agree. I have a need to run away. If only for a few weeks.

I remember reading that many Americans during the years of the Vietnam war burned their American documents in protest of the war.

I want to protest against the riots on Balfour street and in Charles Clore Park but my heart will not allow it. My aged feet cannot endure standing for more than a few minutes before my body hits terra firma. So I remain close to reading the daily YISRAEL HAYOM and following the news from the TIMES OF ISRAEL.

Channel 12 of my television is on all hours of the day and night. I can hear its voices while I am in bed en route to dream-land.

The first tragedy is the continued leadership of a corrupt and criminally indicted prime minister who glances in his looking-glass several times each day, asking “mirror mirror on the wall, who is the smartest prime minister of all?”

If in reality there was a true someone to reply to him it would best be by the smashing of the mirror. He is not deserving of a reply.

The second tragedy is the deadly and feared coronavirus which has taken the lives of so many people and has affected millions more.

As a result, millions of our shops, places of culture, sports and entertainment, houses of religious worship are closed or are limited to only a handful of consumers and customers at specified times.

Thousands, far too many, of our citizens are unemployed and many with insufficient money to buy food for their hungry families. The leaders of our government feast on their delicacies with no thought of others who have not.

Attached to this tragedy are the brave citizens of Israel, young and old, who march or stand with the tens of thousands of protesters in heat and in rain, who want only to over-turn a corrupt leader and a Knesset of blind, deaf and dumb lawmakers whose first wish is to hold on to their seats and their power.

The third tragedy, the cruelest of all, are the sad number of babies and small children left in locked cars in a heat of 38 degrees while the parents shop, swim, converse with friends and neighbors, only to return to their locked cars which hold the bodies of 3 and 4 year-olds who died from suffocation in the heat.

I don’t know if I would shoot such parents or lock them in a barricaded room to suffer the death which they caused to innocent babies and young children who never had a chance to escape from the locked prison of cars. My eyes are red from weeping at these, albeit few, unnecessary tragedies.

It is due to these tragedies which sicken my old heart. And while it is still beating, I have the need to run away. Only to breathe cleaner air.

When air travel is permitted again, I want to enjoy the tranquility of Prague and Budapest. And unlike some Americans who burned documents and passports in protest of America’s long and violent war in Vietnam, I have no intention of destroying my Israeli passport nor any of my Israeli documents. God forbid it.

But to please my conscience I will not travel with it. I will be ashamed to show foreigners that I am an Israeli who does nothing to change the government and its negative policies. If asked why not, I would be at a loss to know how to answer.

Fortunately, I have the passport of another country which is welcomed at the entrance doors to almost all nations. I will show it at all airport entrances and exits, at all hotels where national identity is required.

I will secure my Israeli passport in my baggage but I will not show it. I have a need to run away for a short visit elsewhere where air is pure, where there are no protest marches, where autocratic governments can be toppled by the free will of free people.

And upon return to my Israel and to my home, I pray that I am returning to a nation enjoying a rebirth of its freedom, a nation where its citizens can laugh and refrain from weeping. A beloved Israel in which there is no autocracy, no dictator, no racism, no hatred, no despair. The Israel of which all of us dream.

One suitcase is “begging” to be packed. Please let me know if and when financially-strapped El Al will resume its flights.

In the meantime I am practicing up on my Czech and Hungarian.

Dekuji and Koszonom.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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