Nomi Venkert

The Sins of Their Fathers

I have three children who are young adults. Prior to 7/10 I lamented their generation’s lack of knowledge of history and often quoted Yigal Alon: “A nation who forgets its past is a nation with a paltry present and a murky future” (unofficial translation).

Only recently have I realized that their generation is paying for our sins, for our total denial of the past. Their whole generation suffered from a disturbed and inadequate coming of age due to Corona effects and restrictions. Since 2020, Israelis of their generation have known nothing “normal”. They are familiar with disease, destruction, hate, antisemitism, rape, hardship, impossible financial challenges, horrible behavior from their leaders, and most deeply disturbing- death. They are dealing with these challenges bravely and with the admirable naivete of young people. They are marching off to their deaths in the hope to ensure the continuation of Israel as a Democratic Jewish State. It is as admirable as it is heart breaking.

All of these things were created and nurtured during my generation’s turn. Born in the seventies, we were the product of parents who went through the tail end of the Holocaust and grew up as first and second-generation survivors. They experimented with free love, some drugs, and in general searched for a better world (e.g. “Imagine”). My parents and I grew up in the States, during the Cold War (“I Hope the Russians Love Their Children Too”).

So, we should have known better. After all, we are not talking about ancient history, it is enough to be familiar with just the past one hundred years. There are still people alive who have lived through these things.

Yet, we have chosen comfort over safety. Our whole generation is guilty of complacency, maybe of appeasement. We ignore so many things because they do not fit in the box of the ideal society that we wished we lived in. We seal ourselves off from things that challenge our beliefs or are too hard to deal with.

There are so many examples- from the wanton violence surrounding us in entertainment, music, news, etc. to the events we chose to ignore (Tiananman Square riots and massacre, Kurds in Turkey, Burkina Faso massacre (look it up from April 2024), internment camps for Muslims (over 1 million people) in China, slave labor that supports cheap products online, etc.). We all know these things and ignore them. We are complacent with political correctness to the point where there are no guides to anything- the world as an amoeba.

We also ignore the signs that were and are abundant. For example, we embraced the “conception” we were all too happy to adopt because it lulled us into a sense of security. We are the best and the strongest. We will train and they will be scared; because we finally have the upper hand. Despite the lessons we were supposed to have learned from the Yom Kippur War (1973), we became utterly complacent.  Voices of dissension, from both sides of the political spectrum, were dismissed as hallucinatory.

We are also guilty of viewing everything and everyone through our own glasses, not having any desire to truly understand and accept real diversity in value systems while drawing clear lines.

If that was not enough, we were so enamored with our comfortable status that we swept aside controversial fundamental issues to deal with later. We allowed things to become so polarized by ignoring them and leaving them to the extreme elements. For example, the issue with army conscription developed into something that may literally tear us apart and turn Jew against Jew. We were so comfortable that we ignored the complex situation in the territories, knowing that the current status is not sustainable but not coming up with any feasible solutions. We allowed the crime rate in the Arab sector to sky rocket while providing lip service. It is a sensitive and “private” issue, so let’s ignore it.

We ignored the fact that Hizballah fighters patrolled along our borders in defiance of all agreements despite the cries of the citizens in the North. We ignored, and actually degraded the lookouts who warned of Hamas’ recent activities before the attack.

We were so guilty with such tragic outcomes, and yet we continue. We ignore the fact that our prime minister barely addresses the public, we ignore the displacement of the residents of the North and the incessant bombings. It really hit me yesterday, when I was listening to a silly interview on the radio. In the middle of it a newscaster broke into the program and announced, “Sirens in the North in the following areas…please seek shelter immediately”. When she finished her announcement, the radio broadcaster just continued her sentence and the silly interview continued. The dissonance hit me hard.

As the head of a local emergency response team, it is my stated goal to return the community to routine functioning as quickly as possible. After many years in the position, I deeply understand the importance of routine to maintaining resilience.  However, sticking to routine does not include ignoring reality. The reality is that we are at war. We are losing people, fighting for our hostages, fighting for our freedom and sovereignty, defending our lands (hopefully), fighting antisemitism and searching for solutions. These things must occur coincidentally with routine.

We must ourselves be brave. Brigadier General Goldfus implored our leaders, “You have to be worthy of IDF soldiers. You have to be worthy of the fighters who gave their lives, worthy of the reservists who put no stock in political sides, but rather fight side by side [with their brethren from all sides of the political map].”  I urge us all, leaders and citizens, to be worthy. We have to be brave outside of the battlefield. It is obvious that there is no such thing as a purely military victory. I urge my non-Jewish friends to speak up, ignorance turned out not to be bliss.

I apologize to the next generation for the mess we left you. I apologize for belittling you for being flighty, when complacency is no better. Please try to fix what you can.  I think my generation can give advice coming from our experience, but I honestly believe that we have forfeited our right to lead the world. I am heartbroken that our mistakes are being paid for by your generation in such a cruel manner. This is not new. “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:5–6).  I hope that Jeremiah was correct when he clarified “In those days it will no longer be said the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge “(Jeremiah 31:29-30). I am confident that our children do not eat sour grapes, and they will bring about positive change. My humble advice is to be properly informed and to learn history and try not to let it repeat itself.

About the Author
Nomi Venkert returned to Israel in 1988 when she was almost 18, expecting to stay for one year. She served in the army and studied psychology and education at the Hebrew University. Since 1997, she has been working with autistic people and their families in a wide range of areas (homes, family support, workplace). She now works as a socio-sex educator for teens and adults on the spectrum and people with intellectual disability in a public clinic and her private clinic. She is married with 3 adult children. In her spare time, she volunteers in several capacities. She has been in charge of her community's emergency response team for eight years, where she has gained perspectives on different aspects of our unique life style in Israel.
Related Topics
Related Posts