Avnery: Israel is in Asia not in Europe

Uri Avnery is "An Israeli author and activist. He is the head of the Israeli peace movement, 'Gush Shalom'." He's carried the torch of the left for 60+ years. This essay, Sorry, Wrong Continent, argues that Israel has no choice but to rethink its relationship to its geographic context, namely Asia. This excerpt from the concluding sections of the essay gives you part of his take on the rhetoric of the right and how to respond to it.

... LATELY IT has become fashionable for politicians and commentators in Israel to speak about the danger of annihilation that hovers, or so they claim, over Israel. It is hardly believable: the State of Israel is a regional superpower, its economy is robust and developing, its technological level is one of the most advanced in the world, its army is stronger than all the Arab armies combined, it has a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons. Even if the Iranians were to obtain a bomb of their own, they would be mad to use it, for fear of Israeli retaliation.

So where does this fear of annihilation come from in the 59th year of the state? A part of it surely emanates from the memory of the Holocaust, which is deeply imprinted in the national mentality. But another part comes from the feeling of not belonging, of temporariness, of the lack of roots.

That has, of course, domestic implications, too. Consciousness also affects practical interests. The assertion that we are a European people automatically reinforces the position of our ruling class, which is still overwhelmingly Ashkenazi-European, over and against the majority of the citizens of Israel, who are of Asian-African Jewish and Palestinian-Arab descent. The profound disdain for their culture, which has accompanied the state from its first day, facilitates discrimination against them in many fields.

A CHANGE affecting the consciousness of a community is not a short-term proposition. It cannot be achieved by decree. This is a slow and gradual process. But at some stage we shall have to start it, and first of all in the education system....

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