Israel mirrors the worst of Western societies. It's one of the most unequal OECD countries. Its privileged do extraordinarily well. Most others fall far behind. The gap between rich and poor expands exponentially.
"The number of people living below the poverty line rose rapidly - including among working people, whose wages stagnated or declined as pensions, unemployment benefits and income protection schemes, meant to defend them against falling into poverty, were all severely cut," said Bauman.
In 1971, he left Israel. He did so disillusioned and disappointed. He criticized Israel's conquest of Arab territories.
Before her death, his wife Janina called Israel a "nationalist country. We had just run away from nationalism," she said. "We didn't want to go from being victims of one nationalism to being perpetrators of another."
Bauman decries how Israel exploits the holocaust. It does so for political reasons. Jewish suffering isn't unique. Calling it special belittles many other human tragedies. Some far exceed what Jews endured.
Claiming Israel faces potential holocaust 2.0 leads to insularity and isolationism. It prevents reconciliation with Palestinians, other Arabs, and international community countries.
Bauman compared Israel's Separation Wall to how Nazi Germany ghettoized Warsaw. He did so in the context of separating one population from another.
He called building the Wall "Hitler's posthumous triumph." It's trying to accomplish what he failed to achieve - "to set Jews and the rest of the world at loggerheads and make their peaceful coexistence all but inconceivable or impossible."
"In our collective unconscious, the image of a wall is established as the archetype of exclusion, break of communication, degradation, denial of human rights."
"Were that not the case, it is doubtful whether the idea of building a wall around Israel and its settlements on the occupied land would occur to Israeli leaders as the means to deal with a vicinity of undesirables, and become an ultimate symbol of unilateral but irrevocable separation and refusal to communicate."
"The higher and tighter the wall, the slimmer the chance of talking to each other, empathizing with each other's pains and sufferings, and coming to terms with each other - let alone working toward a mutually agreeable and beneficial mode of coexistence."
Bauman today feels much like he did decades earlier. Israel goes out of its way to spurn peace. Protracted occupation morally denigrates the occupier.- Advertisement -
"Militarized political thought, debate and action" don't work. Israel lost its moral bearings. It lost the capacity to deal with social problems.
"It pains me, pains me tremendously, to watch the forgetting and abandoning of our collective mission and duty, imposed upon us by the tragic Jewish history: the duty to alert the world - lest it forget - to the evil endemic in all and any nationalist hatred, and to be in the forefront of the ongoing fight against its breeding."
"And of the ambition of the founders of Israel to serve as 'a light unto the nations.' " It never was and isn't now.