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The Future belongs to the Optimists

By       Message Uri Avnery       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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Reprinted from Gush Shalom

IF I were a cartoonist, I would draw Israel as a length of hose pipe.

At one end, Jews are flowing in, encouraged by anti-Semites and a large Zionist apparatus.

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At the other end, young disappointed Israelis are flowing out and settling in Berlin and other places.

By the way, the numbers entering and leaving seem to be about equal.

FOR SOME weeks now, I have felt like a boy who has thrown a stone into a pool. Rings of water created by the splash get larger and larger and expand more and more.

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All I did was write a short article in Haaretz, calling upon Israeli emigrants in Berlin and other places to come home and take part in the struggle to save Israel from itself.

I readily conceded that every human being has the right to choose where he or she wants to live (provided the local authorities welcome them), but I appealed to them not to give up on their home country. Come back and fight, I pleaded.

An Israeli who lives in Berlin, the son of a well-known Israeli professor (who I appreciate very much) answered with an article entitled "Thank you, No!" He asserted that he has finally despaired of Israel and its eternal wars. He wants his children to grow up in a normal, peaceful country.

This started a furious debate which is still going on.

WHAT IS new about this verbal fight is that both sides have given up pretense.

From the first days of Israel, there have always been Israelis who preferred to live somewhere else. But they always pretended that their stay abroad was temporary, just to finish their studies, just to earn some money, just to convince their non-Israeli spouse. Soon, very soon, they would return and become full-fledged Israelis.

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Not anymore. Today's emigrants proudly proclaim that they do not want to live and raise their children here, that they have finally despaired of Israel, that they see their future in their new homelands. They do not even pretend that they have any plan to return.

On the other hand, Israelis have ceased to treat the emigrants as traitors, deserters, scum of the earth. It was not so long ago that Yitzhak Rabin, who had a talent for turning a Hebrew phrase, called emigrants "the fall-out of weaklings." (In Hebrew it sounds far more insulting.)

The almost official designation of emigrants was "yordim," those who go down. Immigrants are continuing to be called "olim," those who go up.

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Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)

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