The panic and anger and denial in the face of Judge Goldstone’s Gaza report illustrates how far we went in escaping reality. Up until recently we would look into our sins and failures and appointed commissions of inquiry. Our leading national poets described needless killing.
Of course, we always had people who fought the need for investigation, but the desire to cleanse and ameliorate, and the understanding that without this we cannot survive, overcame the denial.
We had Goldstones rise from among our own ranks. Truth-seekers, who dug through the ruins of history and didn’t sleep at night because of what they saw and heard from witnesses, the officers and soldiers.
Later these people wrote down what they discovered, knowing that the sky will fall on them, that they will lose friends, and that their lives will not revert to what they used to be. Nonetheless, they wrote it down, and then sat before the cameras and read out what they wrote, and faced the storm almost alone, knowing that the state exists because of the rehabilitation they forced upon it, not because of the denial.
These people were always faced by those who didn’t know and didn’t bother, those who did not lose even one hour of sleep, and once the report was published said: “Go to hell” – eliciting cheap love, before going back to their business.
Local judges disappearedThis ability to give rise from within us to judges and investigators, courageous witnesses and those who refuse to be silent was the source of our strength. Israeli democracy was powerful and rehabilitative, and flourished beyond the regimes of all its neighbors – because of the ability to talk. Because of the witnesses who did not shy away, because of the soldiers who did not remain silent, because of the witnesses who screamed in their sleep as result of the things they were reminded of, and because of former judges who enlisted themselves to the ungrateful cause of cleansing.
Yet slowly the courage ran out. The greater the injustice, both inside and outside, the greater the silencing and the noise aimed at swallowing up the truth. Yet without it, in the next crisis, not only we will be crueler – we will also make the same mistakes we didn’t correct. We will be weaker. Because even to save us from ourselves we had to have Goldstone, a foreign Jewish judge who speaks English, in place of the local judges who disappeared.