Yair Lapid

We’re coming back

Lull we enjoyed in past two years evaporating; Israelis reverting to old, bad selves

We’re coming back. As if nothing ever happened. We’re reverting to the way we used to be, in the bad sense of the word. We’re going back to being torn, angry, wide-eyed, and clenched fisted. We’re reverting to being two peoples, or three. We’re going back to the feeling that mad people are in control of our lives. We’re going back to thinking twice before we let our daughter board a bus. Yes, this too is on the way. Do you have any doubt? Did you think you’ll get notified beforehand?


After all, it always starts unplanned, with a series of incidents whose proximity is the only thing that hints they’re part of the same thing. Yuval Rabin’s speech, which came on the heels of the Amir family’s twisted celebration, which resonated in the chanting of Beitar Jerusalem fans during the moment-of-no-silence.


Close your eyes and concentrate – after all, you know how this story continues. You can already hear the hysteric-yet-dignified report from the scene where the suicide bomber blew himself up in order to hinder an agreement with his own body parts. You can already hear the “I told you so” choir from the Right and the “this is precisely why we need peace” choir from the Left. You already know the prime minister’s determined yet dull speech, and the opposition chairman’s arrogant contempt. You know the unbearable gap between the tailored suits of those shaking hands at the Annapolis conference and the sweaty screams around here.


I’m an optimist, perhaps too much so. On more than one occasion I took the risk and declared that life is good here. Not only don’t I have another country to call my own, I don’t need one. However, right now we’re coming back, and we didn’t miss us.


The process that started now may be unavoidable. Perhaps it’s even essential. It’s likely that until we are scorched by fire and fury, we won’t be able to get anywhere. It’s only this nagging fear that we have no more strength left. Not again. Not this.


Right will be much more desperate  

On Monday I landed at Ben Gurion International Airport after a night flight. A bearded man with a round-brimmed hat walked ahead of me. A group of about 30 ultra-Orthodox was waiting for him in the middle of the terminal. The moment they saw him, they organized a circle and started to dance, putting their arms around each other’s shoulders.


Old women who arrived from Kiev and were pushing carts packed with crates were pushed aside impolitely, children could not find their parents, red-eyed passengers were unable to make their way to the salvaging taxicab, yet those people kept on dancing. Because the moment you put Israelis, either religious or secular, in a group, they immediately stop caring about those who are not with them, and they feel they can do everything. They’re the masters of the land.


Yet this land is fed up with all the masters. Each one of its beaten up parts is already sick and tired of the sense that the other part pushed it aside in favor of its own dance. If you think the worst is already behind us, get new glasses.


The Right will be much more desperate after the disengagement. Once upon a time they didn’t believe it can happen, but today they know exactly what the IDF convoy of containers with their lives packed in them looks like. They already discovered what it’s like to be a refugee in their own country, and what happens what most of the public decides that the time has come to make them pay the price. They swore this won’t happen to them again.


Meanwhile, the Left knows that the problem is not a knife in the back, but rather, a bullet in the back. They remember the feeling of their dreams being murdered. They know the big problems won’t come from the outside, but rather, from home. They know that those who will be thwarting an agreement or resorting to assassinations would be members of their own people. And they too, what else, have sworn this won’t happen to them again.


It was terrible last time, and it will be worse this time around. The artificial lull of the past two years is evaporating and crumbling. Did only a handful of Beitar Jerusalem fans praise Yigal Amir? And what happened to the other fans in the bleachers? How do you explain their silence? And the strange mumbling of justification on the part of comrade Gaydamak? Is this the dress rehearsal to what we can expect in the coming year? A handful here, a handful there, and all the rest will be sitting and crying?


Worse than ever 

Because make no mistake about it, we’re coming back. Time did not cause the colors to fade, but rather, it only allowed each side to gather strength, dig in deeper, and prepare the next civil war. All the components are still here: The people who speak on behalf of God, on behalf of peace, on behalf of those who hate Arabs, those who hate Jews, those who hate foreigners, and those who hate the haters.


They started to reemerge so quickly. One rally, one peace conference that is yet to be born, and already we’re preparing to confront each other at the barricades. You pull out the sidewalk tiles and barricade behind them. After that, it doesn’t matter if you won or lost – the town is already ruined anyway.


We may have been ugly last time, but we will be uglier now. We may have been violent, but the violence will only get worse. If last time we were willing to risk, with unbelievable carelessness, the fragile fundamentals that Israeli society is premised on, this time we may end up throwing them straight to hell.


Our comeback is already here, along with the sense of suffocation – as well as the knowledge that “they,” whoever they may be, are capable of anything. Attacking IDF soldiers, killing someone again, deciding that if we’re already split to sane and crazy, it’s better to be the craziest guy in the neighborhood.


It’s not a peace deal that threatens Israel (in my view it will save us, but there are quite a few people, the vast majority of whom are sane, who think otherwise), and it’s not the withdrawal from territory either. It’s us who threaten Israel.


Us, who are coming back with all our ugliness. Us, who decide that if our own path won’t come easy, at least we’ll make the other side’s path full of anguish. Us, who decided that this time around we will take it all the way, that we are through with being nice, that we have no intention to give up, and that if the country will be ruined because it, let it be ruined already.


We haven’t been around for a while now, but if nobody will stand in our way, we’re coming back. Worse than ever.


פרסום ראשון: 11.10.07, 17:20
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