Nisan Jaffee
Former Ornithologist

To Save a People


I have never felt Tisha B’Av so strongly as I have this year.

So much hatred. Will no one ever learn? Any excuse will do.

If this keeps up, is there a point in my remaining? If my dreams turn to dust, should I go down with the sinking ship, or make exile a choice rather than a condition imposed upon me by history?

The verbal and physical violence expressed by my own people toward each other is done under the self-righteous guise of defending democracy, and orchestrated by frustrated political “leaders” who were defeated by the very democratic process they claim to defend.

The precipitating action is a rather benign attempt to prevent usurpation of the power of an elected legislature by an unelected legal structure based not upon law, but upon a subjective and self-defined measure of “reasonableness”.  

In reality, this is an expression of the fear that exists regarding the demographic shift away from the historical secular socialist elite, for which that court is the last stronghold. It is democracy itself that they fear, rather than defend.

I didn’t make aliya because I admire Israel’s democracy. I came because I am a Jew, and the Jewish state has been restored after 2000 years of exile. This is apparent in the מגלת העצמאות, not written by what we would commonly call religious Jews. They got it. They understood. 

If I were too choose a country to live in based upon my opinion of its democracy, it would not be this one. 

I would have stayed in the USA but for what that generation of giants, and those who came before, established here, as a Jewish state. For the survival of the Jewish people.

Not to save democracy. But to save a people. 

Why has that image been lost?

How we govern ourselves is supposed to be decided by votes at the ballot box, not by mobs blocking highways, threats to the security of the country, refusal to care for the sick. 

And the response to that misbehavior shouldn’t be provocative statements by one issue politicians who happen to be in the ruling coalition.

If we are to be one, we must act as one, and with unification as our goal. All of us.

About the Author
Born in New York City in 1952, Nisan moved in 1967 to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. He graduated from Colgate University, and received an MA in Biology from William and Mary. Nisan resided in Charlottesville, VA, Newtonville, MA, and Baltimore, MD before making aliyah in 2013. He has been married for 40 years, with three adult children and ten grandchildren. He lives in Efrat.
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