Esor Ben-Sorek

The State of Israel Ghetto

Prime Minister Netanyahu has announced this week that security fences and walls will be built across the entire State of Israel in order, he says, “to protect ourselves from wild beasts”.

Such a security fence across the entire country will be the creation of the Israeli national ghetto.

We left the ghettos of Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Napoleon Bonaparte was the first to free the Jews of Eastern Europe from the walled-in choking streets to which they were confined by the Catholic Church and by the laws of the kingdom or national state.

Those were the years of emancipation and haskalah and during that period Hebrew literature flourished, Jews published scientific books, attended universities, developed skills in medicine, because the walls of the ghettos had been opened after many centuries, and once freed, the Jews never returned.

In Israel we have ghettos in which Naturei Karta, Satmar, B’nai Brak and Hassidic sects live in order to isolate themselves from the secular culture of the “outside” world.

In their schools secular subjects are not taught. No English. No mathematics. No sciences. No world history. Nothing to prepare ultra-Orthodox Jewish youth to take their place in the “modern” world outside the confines of their secure ghetto life.

They are not equipped to find work which would require some of those skills. So they spend their days and nights studying Talmud and holy books and do not work, many living like parasites from government funds.

We cannot change them because they do not wish to change. They condemn us for our liberal and free and open life-styles which they detest.

We did not build our State to create Jewish ghettos. For that, the ultra-Orthodox would find comfort in communities outside of Israel…places like Borough Park and Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Monsey and New Square in communities distant from New York City. Yiddish and Hungarian are widely spoken there.

Building a security fence, like the Great Wall of China, may protect us from the “wild beasts” of whom Bibi refers to, but it will smother us and enclose us in a prison-like atmosphere only we, the prisoners, will have the privilege to move and travel freely within our State.

It would be better to build such fences in Palestinian areas and communities to separate us from them and they from us, but there is no reasonable excuse to attempt to fence us in within our own country’s borders.

We once had a “Good Fence” on the northern border with Lebanon. I remember visiting it on several occasions, chatting with Lebanese on the other side. There was a sense of friendship and security. But with the increase of terrorist activity, the “Good Fence” ceased to exist.

The American poet Robert Frost wrote that “fences make good neighbors”. Maybe so in areas where there are no conflicts, no terrorism, no suicide attacks. But a fence or wall is only a temporary solution.

Let us remember that the infamous Berlin Wall eventually was torn down brick by brick by citizens who refused to be separated from family, friends and comrades on the other side. One day, the proposed national security fence which will cost billions of shekels to build may meet the same fate as the Berlin Wall.

Say a resounding NO to the proposal to build a Jewish ghetto in the free and democratic State of Israel.

But if Bibi is into fence-building, he might consider fencing in the dominant member of his household to curb her excessive spending sprees at the government’s expense. Meanwhile, I’m saving up all my empty bottles to send to her for their return.

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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