OpinionOpen a Gate for Us, 2023
Open a Gate for Us, 2023
Golda killed many of my graduating class — young men who enlisted in late 1970 and will never be discharged. Others survived the war, but the scars it left inside them drove them all away from Israel
Golda killed many of my graduating class — young men who enlisted in late 1970 and will never be discharged. I remember Yoel Porat. There were two Yoels in our class, but only one was left by the time the war ended. Roni Weiner and Moshe Yosef from the other class were also killed in that black October of 1973. Keats, too - that was Yosef Shapira's nickname. And the history teacher, Yehoshafat Netzer.
Golda buried them all.
Others survived the war, but the scars it left inside them drove them all away from here. Tzippi, who lost her cousin, sells romantic cruises along the California coast. Meni runs a clinic for the elderly in New York. Danny sends e-mails on holidays from the Midwest to friends in the Mideast. Yair got lost in New Mexico. Gur and Uri found themselves in Palo Alto. And Avremele, they say, is still playing his accordion somewhere out there.
To me, they are the walking wounded of the Yom Kippur War. They too are casualties of Golda.
The annual autumn debate, held every year between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as to whether Eli Ze'ira changed his notorious assessment of "low probability" on the morning of Friday, October 5, 1973, no longer interests me after 50 years. He was the arrogant chief of Military Intelligence, and his blame is officially registered in the books of Israel's commissions of inquiry. Why waste time on a person who was just a pawn in the game?
The queen, the queen of the failure, the queen of the bathtub, and of smugness, was Golda Meir. She was the prime minister who showed contempt for the entire Arab world, scornfully rejected Anwar Sadat's signals, and dismissed the entire Palestinian problem by saying, "There is no Palestinian people."
The mistaken "conception" was not the wrong assessment of the power and intent of the armies of Egypt and Syria but rather the total imperviousness to the voices of our neighbors. Golda, as we know, engraved on our hearts the slogan of that generation: It doesn't matter what the goyim say; what's important is what the Jews do.
The conception of 2023, which many still hold on to - in the government, our bizarre Knesset, and sadly enough, among the public, too - is that it is possible to continue to hold on to the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and hope for peace and security. Years of murderous conflict have not been able to destroy this conception. It continues to live on with a tenaciousness worthy of Golda and adheres to our lives like a case of shingles.
That conception must be killed. It has corrupted our democracy in the last generation and will continue to kill us unless we kill it first. Ask not how long it will take for Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons. Ask how Israel can remove the thorn from the Muslim world's hatred for Israel. Does anyone doubt what that thorn is? The correct answer is a Palestinian state. Alongside Israel. Based on the 1967 borders. With agreed-upon adjustments. Without the right of return.
Yes, the hatred for Israel will not disappear. Nor will the old-new anti-Semitism, certainly not in one day or year. But perhaps a gate will be opened to acceptance and conciliation in the next generation. We have already lost the previous one. P'sach Lanu Sha'ar - Open a gate for us when a gate is closing. For the next generations.
Yoel Esteron is publisher at Calcalist and chairperson at Shomrim. This Column is an updated version of a column published in Haaretz, 2004