With tears in my eyes and a broken heart, I admit: I, too, have sobered up

Their rule condemns everyone who lives here, on both sides of the border, to a life of endless mourning. We must wake up. We must stop “sobering up” and start resisting

The Palestine Project

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By Barak Heymann • (Translated by Sol Salbe)

I too sobered up.

True. It’s strange and surprising. Many of my loved ones and those who love me will not approve of it, but what can I do — this is the situation.

Like many others, I who have always preached dialogue and empathy, trying to understand the other side and getting to the bottom of their distress and fears — am no longer the same person I was. Nothing — not even the brutal occupation, blockade and Israeli Apartheid regime — can justify the traumatic October 7.

For many years I believed that there were people on the other side who could be talked to, understood. I tended to believe that there weren’t so many people on the other side motivated mainly by fear, ignorance and racism.

But I sobered up.

Their cruel regime first and foremost abuses their own people. The fact that it was democratically elected does not make it legitimate. Every human being with a heart and a brain must do everything possible to bring him down. Their regime condemns everyone who lives here, on both sides of the border and the conflict, to a life of death and endless mourning.

Instead of investing their money in education, welfare and health, their leadership has invested most of it in military armament. They do everything possible to persecute and outlaw the democratic parties, which preach justice, peace and equality.

Their education system instils fascist and racist messages in children. Their most popular hit right now is a song that preaches the complete erasure of the other people. When their citizens protest about what hurts them, they are set at by police officers who violently beat them. And in times of war, as now, they try to prohibit the right to protest using various excuses.

Their military command base is underground, in the heart of the civilian population, right next door to a hospital, a museum and a library. And while their soldiers and civilians are shot at like ducks in a barrel, because of an insane failure for which the higher ups are responsible, their corrupt leader and his family have a shelter designed to withstand a nuclear blast.

They give schools, streets and bridges the names of murderers. They tell their pupils, even at a young age, that the whole world wants to kill them because of their religion. And if there is one righteous teacher who dares to swim against the current and encourage critical thinking, they are arrested and charged with offences punishable by ten years in prison.

When brave journalists cover this terrible reality, they are subjected to deadly sniper fire. Their TV channels show nothing of what’s happening on the other side of the border, and the vast majority choose not to read, see or hear anything other than what their media feeds them. They simply do not know, and do not want to know, what crimes are committed in their name on a daily basis.

I tell you, with tears in my eyes and a broken heart, it is increasingly difficult to find there, that is, here, sane and decent people to talk to. Many people whom I mistakenly thought had hearts big enough to contain the sorrow, fear, and pain of both sides, turned out to be completely callous about the killing and suffering of the other.

It is perhaps natural and logical that those who rush from funeral to a shiva sitting with the mourners are not emotionally capable of sharing the pain of those on the other side of the border, unable to empathise with their suffering. But it is outrageous and disappointing that even those who have not lost a friend or relative in the war show no interest in the chilling fact that their country, that is, ours, has already killed more than 20,000 people, including nearly 7,000 children, and turned more than a million people into refugees. What a pity that there are no other people like Maoz Inon and David Zonsheine, who, despite losing their relatives in the horrific massacre of October 7, have not lost their conscience and moral and political compass and have not “sobered up”.

It saddens me that more and more good people are “sobering up” and don’t understand that what the State of Israel is doing now in Gaza is merciless and inhumane, and that there is nothing in the world that can justify it. Not even the horrific massacre carried out by Hamas, in which innocent people were murdered in one of the most horrific and traumatic events we have ever known in Israel.

Israel is not only responsible for the indiscriminate killing of tens of thousands of Palestinians, but it also devours its own inhabitants. The fact that IDF soldiers fired at three Israeli abductees waving a white flag proves that to use the Hebrew expression the commander’s spirit directs you to “shoot at anything that moves,” without batting an eyelid. Israel also permits the blood of its Arab citizens, as in the case of the Arab students who were cleared out of their Netanya College accommodation, or that of Dalal Abu Amneh, a singer with a Ph D in neuroscience, who for the past two months have been attracting demonstrators, including the mayor of Afula, to the front of her home and to the front of the hospital where her husband serves as deputy director, because of a post she wrote on Facebook.

In parallel to the terrible tragedy currently unfolding in the Gaza Strip, disaster is also unfolding on the West Bank: countless Palestinian communities are fleeing for their lives following a wave of dispossession and harassment by settlers, under whose auspices the term “transfer” takes on a horrible face.

Together with political persecution and gagging the likes of which we have never known before — I felt it firsthand — this is shaping up to be one of the darkest, most frightening, most dangerous and saddest times we have ever known.

We must work together to stop what Israel is doing now, and topple the Israeli regime that does not seek life but is preoccupied mainly with a campaign of revenge and political survival. I call on all my Jewish brothers and sisters — stop “sobering up” and start resisting.

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