Saturday, August 12, 2006

Personal Voices within the Unified Noise of Patriotism

Last Sunday (August 6, 2006) two very interesting interviews to the Greek newspaper Eleutherotypia ( were published: one by Gideon Levi, one of the prominent journalists of Israel working for the newspaper Haaretz, while the other was given by Peretz Kidron, one of the founders of the movement against serving one’s own military service in dubious areas and missions. Kidron says that the principle of their organization “Yesh Gvul” (“There is a Limit”) is that there are things which a respectful human being would not do and it came up in 1982 as a response to the first war in Lebanon. “The problem with Israel”, he says, “is that it refuses the process of dialogue with the parties it faces disagreements. In 1960 it did not discuss with Nasser, later on it did not discuss with Sadat, because he was weak, it did not negotiate with PLO because they were terrorists, nor with Hamas because they are equally terrorists. The Israeli government always prefers war. To them, war is not the ultimate but the first solution.” Levi, on the other hand, declares strongly that in Lebanon war crimes take place. He admits that he feels shuttered by the recent developments and pessimistic about the future. “In the case of Lebanon, we are the intruders, the conquerors. There was the provocation of Hezbollah, the kidnapping of the two soldiers, but our reaction has been disproportionate. You cannot destroy a whole country, a whole people for the sake of two soldiers. This is madness, insanity. The actions that take place in Lebanon are war crimes, and Israel should be taken to the International Court.” It needs guts after all for a nation on war, to oppose the tolerant silence and selective morality of public opinion and to keep one’s eyes open and logic alert. I was surprised to read that Amos Oz and Abraham Yeshua did not oppose the bloodstained actions of Israeli “Defence” Forces. Readership and sales give usually second thoughts. Don’t they?
I wonder how the U.S. newspapers present such voices of resentment, skepticism and criticism. But in Greece they find their way and they express the general feeling of the public opinion, as far as I can judge from the discussions I have with various people, from a wide range of professional, social and educational status. I watch the reactions to the broadcasting of the news and the expressions of the people. There is no statement of islamophobia, but a deep sorrow and bitterness against Israel, not unexpected for a nation that has many times experienced the cold touch of exile, injustice and weakness. And, in the end, militant Islamists will appear with the glory of heroes, if that is the latent target of constructing the actual configuration of the most simplistic and stupid political statement of the last 50 years, concerning the Axis of Evil.
For the last three days (Wed-Fri) I was at a spa, Aidipsos, with my father: A place well arranged for its elderly crowd (I believe that the average age there, was no less than 70 years) with all the funny aspects of such a congregation: nice family taverns, large groups of ladies seated by the doorstep, dozens of patisseries, bakeries, flat, easy promenades. But they were watching the news carefully and they were opinionated, anti-israeli 100%. Even the Communist Party organized an event against the war in Lebanon, on Thursday at the port, but they were forced to reschedule for the coming day, due to a sudden rain, which would not allow the fragile audience to attend.


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