I was going to write this yesterday, but yesterday I became a grandfather for the first time, so on that happy day, I could not get myself to write the downer that is to follow.
While I certainly have never been a great supporter of our Prime Minister yesterday I felt embarrassed to be an Israeli. Opposition leader Herzog yesterday suggested Israel accept a number of the refugees from Syria, the idea seems a little problematic considering the bad job we have been doing with the African refugees that we already have. On the other hand its cleary the right thing to do, both morally if not just for the PR. However our Prime Minister who is totally tone death (except maybe to the rhetoric his supporters like hearing) rejected the idea of accepting any refugees and instead told the Europeans that if the had followed our example of building high fences they would not have this problem. He said we are a small country with no strategic depth and thus could not take any refugees. Our defense minister not to be out done said no one should try to teach us morality, we helped enough.
When it comes to reality I thinks it would be ridiculous for us to try to take any of the refugees before we find a solution to the 50,000 Africans who are here. Something I think we are morally obligated to do, and if our PM would say that at the moment we wish we could be we are working hard to absorb the African who came- Ok- but to once again to say we are a small country with no land depth who cannot- is really hard to hear. I am sure the Swiss thought the same thing when they turned away Jews, at their gates. Last week I wrote an article about the lessons of the holocaust and how the left and right seem to have learned very different lessons, the events of this week only strengthen those differences. How can we continue to blame the world for indifference for our plight when, when the tables have turned we are just as bad.
We cannot keep up this schizophrenic attitude towards the world, on one hand be proud of the fact that we have highest number of start ups, that Tel Aviv is considered by many as the best city in the world for ex pats, that we are a member of the OECD, and then on the other play the poor embattled country who cannot help, cannot even abide by its responsibility under international law, law that we helped draft , to help refugees.
A final thought as we near the period of the Jewish High Holidays. Where are the Rabbis? Once again, the Orthodox ones those who are in control of religious life in this country continue to show how morally bankrupt they are. They worry about whether people can rent bicycles on Shabbat, but are indifferent to the suffering of others in the world. They are concerned how many Yeshiva students are studying Talmud every day, but are unconcerned for others in the world. It is the Catholic pope who speaks out demanding that his flock care for the refugees. A Palestinian who I follow on Twitter Iuyad El-Baghadad retweeted the tweet of MJ Rosenberg – “Strange being a Jew right now. The Pope & the Germans are moral exemplars & Israel is the opposite. Times change.”
I hope that by the time my one day old grandson grows up we once again have leader in this country who he will be proud to call his leaders.