Shulamit Aloni, age 86, died last week in Israel, the former leader of the Meretz Party and Minister of education was a woman unknown even in the Jewish diaspora but she deserved to be lauded. ”Shula” as she was known, was a lifelong “activist” refusing to be silent on civil rights, human rights, the occupation, gay rights, the role of women.
Aloni and thousands of others are the reason I still think Israel has a chance to reverse its disastrous course of Occupation.
Aloni would have been booed out of most synagogues in Canada. She would hardly be invited to bring her prophetic message that to be a Jew is foremost to be a moral human being. Although a non-believer she believed in the ethical humanism the prophets preached and was deeply pained when the country she loved so obviously transgressed those demanding norms. The following is typical Aloni
I cannot live with the fact that our sharpshooters are killing people. I cannot live with the way we continually wail that we are the victim, and do not examine our own morality. It’s important to realize that appalling as suicide bombings are, aerial bombardment kills more. While we feel the pain of our 900 dead, we tend to forget that we have murdered 3000 Palestinian civilians. We are the violent ones; we are the cheats. Our very foundations have been undermined by our adulation of force, and all this is called a democracy. There cannot be democracy when we rule over three million people who have no voice. We simply have to get out of there. We do not even try to understand that what the Palestinians want is sovereignty and human rights.”
This brave woman pulled no punches. Contrast her candour (below) with the hissy fit in 2006 that the media darling from the Munk Centre of Global Affairs, Janice Stein threw on Steve Paikin’s Agenda slamming Jimmy Carter’s honest appraisal of Israel:
Jewish self-righteousness is taken for granted among ourselves to such an extent that we fail to see what’s right in front of our eyes. It’s simply inconceivable that the ultimate victims, the Jews, can carry out evil deeds. Nevertheless, the state of Israel practices its own, quite violent, form of Apartheid with the native Palestinian population.
The US Jewish Establishment’s onslaught on former President Jimmy Carter is based on him daring to tell the truth which is known to all: through its army, the government of Israel practices a brutal form of Apartheid in the territory it occupies.
Jerry Haber, an Orthodox professor who teaches both in Israel and the USA is one of my favourite chroniclers of Israeli life. This is what he had to say about Aloni:
Aloni lived long enough to see the creation of the amoral Jew as an ideal, the proud Jewish nationalist who saw morality as a luxury that a besieged people like the Jews could little afford. She cried out repeatedly against this trend. Like many of her generation, she saw the rise of religious fundamentalism and ultra-nationalism as a threat to what had been the redeeming features of a society that she felt had much to repent for. She did not go into politics to make money and taste the high life, as so many of the Israel’s recent leaders have done. Not a suggestion of corruption was ever associated with her.
Where is the Judaism of my youth? Not an hour, not a day, not a minute goes by without the cold-hearted trampling of human rights in Israel. Land is stolen, refugees are round up and thrown into prison, and all in the name of what? Jewish survival?
Hello, are there any Jews left?
Well, yes there is the surviving remnant, and the list is not short. They are the human rights activists harassed on the West Bank, the citizenship teachers hauled up before committees after right wing students complain that they are being political, the defenders of Africa refugees rights, the educators of Jewish values. Real Jewish values. The children of Aloni.
We are left orphaned by the passing of a hero of Israel. May the memory of this tzadeket/righteous person be for a blessing.