Esor Ben-Sorek

Israel “one” and Israel “two”

Sometime ago I arrived at the conclusion that there are two Israels, both similar yet both centuries apart.

In the Israel ONE of my proud and cherished memories, we were basically a tolerant nation. Yes, there were family squabbles over who supported the Irgun or Lehi and who supported the Haganah. But the squabbles were never violent and usually took place at the family dinner table. Appetites often spoiled.

In religious matters, the haredim restricted themselves to B’nai Brak or to Mea Shearim. We hardly ever saw them unless we happened for some God-forsaken reason to be in their neighborhoods. They were very loud but had little power over our lives.

I never heard the word “pot” in Israel ONE, never knew anyone who smoked it or who became attached to other narcotic drugs.

If someone was a homo ( or a “queer”) we never heard the word “gay”. For us gay meant to rejoice, to be happy.

Heterosexuals never carried flags and never marched blocking streets announcing, as they paraded, their pride in being happy heterosexuals. It was something we all took for granted.

In the past decade we have witnessed the pride of our homosexual and lesbian populations of the LGBT communities and the closeted by-standers who support them but who are too frightened or ashamed to admit it.

I have no objection to their annual Pride March anywhere in the country with the one exception of Jerusalem. There needs to be respect for a city that has been holy for thousands of years to Jews, Christians and Muslims. The LGBT marchers could take another route or the gay Jerusalemites can join their comrades marching together in Tel-Aviv. Plenty of room for all.

In my Israel ONE, no president or prime minister had been accused of sexual misconduct or had to serve jail time.

Rabbis in Israel ONE were strict in adherence to Torah laws but were compassionate men. Even if there were among them some who accepted bribes for favors, it rarely made the headlines.

Most of us in Israel ONE did not dream of a two-state solution to our quarrels with Arabs. Most of us, even the more liberal ones, did not particularly like Arabs and none wanted them in their cities or nearby centers.

In my Israel ONE, soldiers who completed military service vacationed in Eilat or in Nahariya. None that I ever heard of went to Thailand or South America. None went sky-diving nor rock climbing.

Israel ONE was never a boring society. We had good friends. We enjoyed the many open- air cafes on Dizengoff in Tel-Aviv where most of the country’s poets, writers and artists gathered to share friendly talk over bitter Turkish coffee.

From 1948 to 1967, Israel ONE was a delightful place to be.

Things changed after the1967 war. Divided Jerusalem became united Jerusalem. Palestinian Arabs who lived in West Bank mandated Palestine now found themselves living in Judea and Samaria overwhelmed by a new Jewish population known as “settlers”. Thus began the birth of Israel TWO.

Quarrels over land and ownership grew into wars. Young teen-agers, sons of settlers, took law into their own hands under the guidance of racist and fascist Jewish leaders like Rabbi Meier Kahane, an American-born trouble-maker in his native land and who made aliyah to save religious settlers from secular Jews.

Kahane was assassinated and replaced now by racist Knesset members in Utzma Yehudit and other Smotrich-like politicals and disgusting factions.

The teen-age settler youth of the hilltops became intoxicated and infested with the poison of hate.

Fifteen and sixteen year olds set fire to Arab farms destroying crops, orange groves, uprooting century-old olive trees, killing Arab cattle, slashing tires of Arab cars, burning Arab homes and killing without mercy Arab women and young children.

Reminiscences of 1933-1945 German policy of making all of Europe “judenrein”. No Jews allowed to survive.

In Israel TWO we are witness to growing intolerance, hatred, terrorism, murder in the name of “arabrein”.

Graffiti is scribbled on Arab homes and mosques and even on Christian churches and holy places.. “Itbach al-arab”…. Slaughter the Arabs.

In Israel TWO there is no talk of a two-state solution. There is only one landlord in all of mandate Palestine and beyond. It has become us… the Jews. That is the credo of the Kahanist settlers.

The most loyal, devoted and loving of our non-Arab minorities are the Druze of Galilee who have served with pride, dignity and honor in our military forces since 1948 in defense of the country and among whom, too many hundreds of them have sacrificed their lives on fields of battle in defense of the Jews.

They have recently been punished by the disastrous nation-state law pushed forward by a disastrous prime minister.

Since 1918 when the Ottoman Empire was defeated by the British, new laws were created by the new government of the British Mandate of Palestine. For the past 101 years our country has had three official languages: Hebrew , Arabic , and English.

Under the changes in the nation-state law, Arabic was removed as an official language for the past 101 years and was given instead something which none of us understand… a “special status”.

Since Arabic is the language of our beloved Druze population, it is easy to understand why they feel they are being punished.

Volumes can, and have been, written about Israel TWO.

It is no longer a place in which I wish to live. I am moving back to Israel ONE and hope that millions of others will follow me. “BRUCHIM HA-BA’IM HA-BAYTA”. Welcome back to our home !

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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