Israel must cloak itself in sorrow over what happened since that terrible summer of 1967, when it won a war and lost nearly everything
Israeli Border Police watch Palestinians returning to Jenin after the 1967 Six-Day War.
Credit Aryeh Kanper, GPO
This is a jubilee year: 50 years after the greatest Jewish disaster since the Holocaust, 50 years after the greatest Palestinian disaster since the Nakba. It is the jubilee of their second Nakba and our first. A moment before the start of the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the “liberation” of the territories, we should remember that it was a disaster. A great disaster for the Palestinians, of course, but also a fateful disaster for the Jews here. 2017 ought to be a year of soul-searching in Israel, a year of unparalleled sadness. It is already clear that it will not be. Instead, the government plans to make it a year of celebration, celebrating the occupation. Ten million shekels ($2.74 million) have already been allocated to celebrate 50 years of suppression of another people, 50 years of rot and internal destruction.
A great disaster struck us. Like a kibbutz or moshav where farmland has been sold to private residential developers, ruining the community’s character, like gentrification that runs roughshod over the poor, like a once-healthy body now riddled with cancer, so Israel has grown since the summer of 1967, its DNA damaged. It is enough to look at Jerusalem which went from being a charming university city with government institutions to a monster ruled by the Border Police.
It began with the ultranationalist-religious orgy that swept over everyone but for a handful of prophets, and continues today, through the familiar mechanisms of brainwashing. Size matters, in Israel’s case: It has turned it into an evil, violent, ultranationalist, religious, racist state. It wasn’t perfect before, but in 1967 the seeds of calamity were sowed. We must not blame all the state’s ills on the occupation — not every nightclub stabbing is perpetrated by a veteran of the army’s Kfir Brigade. And we do not have to believe that everything is blacker than black in order to comprehend the enormity of the disaster. From a state that began as a brand plucked from a fire, modest, insecure, hesitant, chalking up amazing accomplishments that the whole world marveled at, to an arrogant, despised state, marveled at only by those that resemble
All this began in 1967. Not that 1948 was so pure, far from it, but 1967 accelerated, institutionalized and legitimized the decline. It gave birth to the ongoing contempt for the world, the bragging and bullying. In 1967 the occupation began. It metastasized wildly inward, from the roadblocks in the West Bank to the nightclubs in Tel Aviv, from the refugee camps to the roads and the supermarket lines. Israel’s language became the language of force, everywhere. The success of the Six-Day War was too much for it — some successes are like that — and after came the boast, “to us, all is permitted.”