A Passover Message from Yaniv Sagee,
our Executive Director
As we sit around the seder table and consider our liberty, the question arises: Are we truly free? The question is a common subject of contemplation. It would seem that we have our own independent country, and are masters of our own destiny. But in actuality, I feel we are bound by the fetters of racism and hate, which prevent us from being, in the words of our national anthem, a free people in our own land.
Racism and violence have grown so common that they have become normal. We have almost forgotten what a truly normal society looks like. Thus, a soldier who shoots a terrorist who has been neutralized - while the whole chain of command from the Company Commander up to the Chief of Staff state that he committed an unacceptable act - becomes a "hero."
But this insanity is not the exclusive domain of one side of the political map. Two hundred years ago, Samuel Johnson already said, "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Thus in Israel of 2016, patriotism, built on racism, is the last refuge of those who seek the approval of the masses, whose heart is poisoned by hate for Arabs. What began on the eve of elections with a hysterical prime minister who let loose his racism in order to win the elections, continued with the leader of the opposition, who in his own fight for political survival, connected with the crazed mob in the square.
Racism and violence have a price, and that price is everyone's liberty. Democracy is a delicate and fragile tissue, and when one part is damaged, the rest unravels. There cannot be a state, although many are under this delusion, that is free and democratic for Jews, but oppressive and aggressive toward all others. We will discover very quickly that the same violence is directed toward all citizens, but we will discover this the hard way, and only when it is too late.
A free country is a country that contains a multiplicity of opinions. It is a country of diverse nations and identities, all of which have their place, without demanding that any accept the narrative of the other. It is a country in which the military defines military norms, civilians define civilian norms, and leaders know how to unite and not just to divide. This is the only country for which it is worthwhile to wander forty years in the desert, a country for which it is worth fighting for.