Samuel Heilman
Distinguished Professor of Sociology Emeritus CUNY

To the current government: How do I resent thee?

With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, here are my feelings to the current government and its leader.

How do I resent thee? Let me count the ways. I resent thee making the top item on your agenda after coming to power an assault on the independence of the judiciary and the associated assault on our democracy. I resent thy failure to use your time in power to improve the lives of the people of Israel, their defense, and their unity but rather to focus primarily on remaining in power, supporting thy private political and economic agenda, dividing the people of Israel and demonizing those with whom you disagree while alienating our allies in the United States and destroying Israel’s good name in the world. I resent thy incompetence in maintaining Israeli preparedness and defense, and then failing to take responsibility for your failures and refusal do the honorable thing and resign in favor of new free and fair elections. I resent thy lack of humanity and compassion for those whom you allowed to be taken hostage and your failure to make bringing them home the top priority while claiming you will fight to the last against Hamas, the group you installed and sustained in Gaza and who like you share a belief that only an unending war will enable you both to remain in power – even if it provides only death and misery to the people you claim to lead.

I resent the fact that since October 7 you have managed not only to arouse a feeling in our state, formed to guarantee that “never again” would the Jewish people feel existentially threatened, that a holocaust has been executed against us, but you have also managed to turn an initial world sympathy for our plight into an antipathy against us that has threatened to make us once again a pariah people. I resent that you continue to claim that victory is about to occur even though you have not achieved any of your goals, neither defeating the enemy Hamas nor Hezbollah, but managing to put Israel in its most vulnerable situation since the earliest days of independence. I resent you because you are traumatizing a generation of children, both in Israel and Palestine, and leaving this country with a huge economic debt that will sap us for years. I resent you for amassing private wealth and ignoring the economic burden your policies have placed on generations to come.

I resent thee for transforming the dream of Israel being a light onto the nations into its being accused of being genocidal and xenophobic, as well as practicing apartheid. I resent thee for the tears you have brought to so many and for failing to ask forgiveness for what you have done. And finally, I resent thee for your lies, deceit, and selfishness where we need love, consolation, and peace.  Do us all the favor of resigning and allow others to lead us out of the darkness you keep us in. On this independence day, give us back our independence by saying good bye.

About the Author
Until his retirement in August 2020, Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Queens College CUNY, Samuel Heilman held the Harold Proshansky Chair in Jewish Studies at the Graduate Center. He is author of 15 books some of which have been translated into Spanish and Hebrew, and is the winner of three National Jewish Book Awards, as well as a number of other prestigious book prizes, and was awarded the Marshall Sklare Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry, as well as four Distinguished Faculty Awards at the City University of New York.He has been a Fulbright Fellow and Senior Specialist in Australia, China, and Poland, and lectured in many universities throughout the United States and the world. He was for many years Editor of Contemporary Jewry and is a frequent columnist at Ha'Aretz and was one at the New York Jewish Week. Since his retirement, he and his family have resided in Jerusalem.