Fools to the left of me, jokers to the right
by Tricia Schwitzer
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you, crooned Stealer's Wheel in 1972. And here I am, in Israel in the year 2016 - and all the jokers and all the clowns are busy blogging, posting and tweeting their political differences when, in fact, what is really needed around these parts is, dare I say it, more unity and less bitching about the political leanings of the other.
Don't get me wrong. Free speech is good, actually, it's great and it is the very underpinning of democracy, one of the principles upon which the State of Israel stands. Political persuasion is a matter of free choice and not forced upon us by dictatorial regimes, as practiced by the near neighbours.
Here in Israel, we listen to the political jargon of would-be leaders, we evaluate promises, false or far reaching, we watch party political broadcasts and we make our own informed conclusions, whether rightly or leftly and echoing the mantra of whichever party we happen to trust at that crucial moment of the polls. And then, we go into the booth and cast our vote.
And that is as it should be. The criticisms and rants that ensue when one or the other politician says something remotely daring are to be expected. Below the belt jibes make for entertaining TV viewing and the more ambiguous a remark the better for the popular press that love to jump on a 'he said, she said' bandwagon. Sensationalism
Sensationalism sells and a good old rummage through the dustbins of power to see what naughty bits can be unearthed is the stuff that copywriters dreams are made of. Any Brit who ever watched Prime Minister's Question Time is used to the slings and arrows of the game, set and match of the liberals, left wing and right wing.
But you know what? Now is just not the time for heated exchanges on everything that is wrong with us as a nation. Not here in Israel, when we are all bleeding from the same wound.
Now is the time when the Israeli nation needs to chuck its political differences out of the window and stand united against terror. In its fight for survival, Israel needs to put her best foot forward and practice some good old-fashioned unity.
With the exception of last Friday's atrocity when two young men were murdered and seven others were injured in a little pub on Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street and many of us changed our Facebook status to 'We are all Tel Aviv' and ran to light memorial candles at the scene of the crime in an outpouring of sympathy, we no longer wring our hands in despair when yet another attack is reported. No. Some of those among us give credence to the perpetrators citing human rights issues - as if we Israelis are not deserving of the most basic human right - to actually be alive.
In the past three months, Israel has suffered the most horrific terror attacks imaginable. Horrific in their sporadic frequency, their simple brutality and almost effortless execution. This wave of terror that has taken the lives of 30 people and rising, that has ruined the lives of scores more and that threatens every Israeli everywhere, escalates - and with it so does our immunity.
Are we, as a nation, so naive to think that criticism of political figures, of blaming the government, of pointing the finger at our leaders will actually put an end to this terror? Are we really so foolish that we effectively anesthetize our own pain and our own fears and yet deal with great sensitivity those who openly and brazenly call for our destruction?
Oh I see, you've raised your eyebrows. How dare I say that? Doesn't every Israeli bleed when another Israeli is mowed down, stabbed, run over or shot? Don't we wring our hands, look up to the skies and plead with God to make this torment stop?
Well, yes we do but with each passing attack, we reinforce our own personal defense mechanism of detachment and thank our lucky stars that we were not there, at that time in that place, because we could have been and will be again. And as the frequency of these evil attacks peaks, our reaction reaches new troughs. And by that fact, we are as guilty as the world's media for ignoring Israel's reality. And why? Because as much as we try, and we have tried, we just cannot fathom it.
To our Western values, to our moral compass, it is beyond our power of reason. It is incomprehensible, as inconceivable as Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas's credibility as a partner for peace when he quite openly states that stabbing and mowing down Jews in Israel is justified, and who incites terror with every word he utters and as incomprehensible as the apologists amongst us who make feeble excuses for the perpetrators of this terror based on some misguided belief that somehow it can be avoided if we appease the dragon.
So, without answers to the real issues, we resort to playing the blasphemy game - defaming the politicians that we did not vote for and besmirching their policies, their ethics and in doing so, we invite the contempt of an already fuming world, frustrated by its own shortcomings in dealing with a peril so much larger than we are. We invite them to look into our transparent world of democracy and find us wanting.
As we with one hand sift through the dustbins of those who swear allegiance to the state, and with the other hand we hold out an olive branch to those who spit in our faces time after time, isn't it time we looked in the mirror and saw the Jew staring us back in the face? And as Jews, shouldn't we march proudly shoulder-to-shoulder into the fray instead of bickering between ourselves on political technicalities?
As history has proved, as Jews we will not be judged by our political affiliations When we are marched, we are marched as Jews. As one.
Tricia Schwitzer serves on both the World WIZO Executive and the Executive of Friends of WIZO. Prior to joining the executive, Tricia was the assistant editor of the WIZO Review. Special projects undertaken for World WIZO include Israel advocacy, social media marketing material and promotional writing. Read her blog HERE.