Sunday, February 26, 2006

Shulamit Lapid, the Zionist

"Lapid is a Zionist of the old-school, unfashionable variety: She barely finds flaws in the Zionist dream that she loves. To an extent, she sets forth, in this book, to defend old elites.

"When I wrote 'Gai Oni,' the Second Aliyah was well-established in the awareness of a public that granted it status and esteem. There was no reason to have any concern for the movement at all," she says. "Meanwhile, things have changed and the respect that we had for members of the Second Aliyah, the kibbutzim, the moshavim, the kvutzot [early kibbutzim], for everything that they established - it has been marred. I decided that I have to write about them."

What has actually changed?

"People started talking about the rich kibbutzim, hedonist and condescending, and I found it important to show what they gave the nation - they actually created the boundaries of the nation, everywhere they settled was paid for in full and not taken from anyone. They lived, at first, in abject poverty, with starvation, disease and horrible isolation. They died, they were killed and they committed suicide. They suffered terrible deprivation and didn't dare discuss it with their friends in order not to break their spirit. But on the other hand, they are well-documented - they wrote about themselves. That created a feeling that we didn't have to worry about them. But I felt a new sense of objection in the attitude toward them that isn't fair."

There is no other place in the world for Jews, Lapid firmly declares. The nation is still only a blink-of-the-eye in Jewish history - we must still defend it and care for it as we would care for a newborn infant. "Many of the children of families that surround me have left the country, and I still think, as Rabin did in his day, that this represents elimination of the weak. It is not nice to say that, but we still have a role to play. This place is not yet secure."

How do you confront post-Zionist critiques that consider Zionism a form of colonialism?

"Post-Zionism may only be born of a position of security, when we can afford to criticize what we have done. Colonialism? If the effendi sold his land, where the Bedouins lived, and they, justifiably from their perspective, felt that their land was being taken from them and began to steal so that they would have bread to eat, then the conflict was between individuals who need the same plot of land.

"This nation is a miracle that happened to the Jewish people. People leave Eastern Europe - 5 million emigrate to the United States, 3 million of them are Jews, and 3,000 of them come to Israel. The crazy ones came to Israel, while the establishment institutions were telling them, 'Don't come because you will have nothing to eat and you will cast aspersion on Israel.' To relate to these people as feudalists who exploited others is simply incorrect.""


Post a Comment

<< Home