|One Man's View by Harry Sweeden|
|A Women's Perspective by Debbie Aharonov|
One Man's View
Thank G-d! That was my first reaction at the results of our national elections. With "Bibi" in power, we could now expect the concerns of all citizens of Israel to be considered.
Thank G-d! The majority of the Israelis had voted with their heads instead of letting their prejudices dictate their choice. Unfortunately, however, these prejudices return to haunt us.
Like most Israelis, I hoped we finally had the chance for real unity in our country. Those of us who live "over the Green Line" (and many who don't) believed the elections showed that the rest of the country had finally come to understand that we are all Jews, all entitled to the same standard of security, standards created to safeguard Israel and protect all her citizens.
I was wrong. As soon as Netanyahu assumed the leadership of the government, cries of treachery rang out from the "left".
Just after the elections, we got together with some friends. As with all Israelis, the subject of politics arose almost immediately. "How can you allow the religious to rule your life?" one of my Tel Aviv friends shouted. That was only the beginning of a lengthy anti-religious tirade. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. When had our newly-elected Prime Minister handed over control of the country to some far right religious parties? According to my friend, my "secular" life-style was in immediate danger for the "religious" would take over the Knesset. Moreover, because I had voted for Netanyahu, I was personally responsible for any laws concerning any future religious restrictions.
In the seven years I have been living in Israel, I have seen so much time, energy and money wasted on intolerance. If only half these resources were channelled into productivity and understanding, Israel would not need to rely on the support of foreign governments. Netanyahu's call for unity in his victory speech was an indication to me that, finally, we had a Prime Minister who understood the gravity of the conflict within our borders, among our people.
Unfortunately, many Israelis still aggravate that conflict. While we in Ariel are delighted with our new "Prime Minister of all the people", with the enhanced security on the roads and the feeling that we are finally equal citizens, unity still remains a dream.
The self-serving arguments my "left-wing" friends put forward only underline the importance of our Prime Minister's commitment to unite the country. It is a difficult undertaking but this challenge must be met if Israel is to continue to survive and prosper.
These same friends did not complain when the previous government eradicated the benefits which many families here relied upon in order to maintain a decent quality of life. They never protested when the former government continued the so-called peace process while their partners in "peace" were blowing our young men, women and children to pieces. They never fear that Israel, the Jewish Homeland, is still in danger of defeat by enemies that sense our divisiveness - our greatest weakness.
Utopian dreams of world peace, of a time when every nation will be free of oppression, when world powers will swiftly run to defend countries under attack is still a long way off. The world is still a barbaric battlefield where the threat of oil embargoes still define government policies, where wars rage on and civilian casualties are television material.
Israel still cannot entrust the safety of its citizens to foreign powers (and certainly not to the known terrorists that swell the ranks of the Palestinian police). We could not survive the two years it took the U.N. to respond in Bosnia. We can only depend on ourselves and our democratically elected government. And so, Israel must be strong and our strength will depend on whether or not we can, at long last, achieve unity.
How excited we were when Benjamin Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister! At last, the deligitimizing of Judea and Samaria residents would end and we could once again live our lives with pride and without guilt. Why guilt? Because the policy of the last government was to demonize the "settler."
Until four years ago, we were so proud to be the new pioneers of Israel, "conquering" the barren mountains and turning them into flourishing Jewish communities. Once the Labor government came to power, however, they set about changing our image. The media became their tool. Every day, there were radio or television broadcasts informing the public that because budgets had gone to Judea and Samaria, there were no funds left for building roads. As a result, we were responsible for all the deaths on Israel's highways. Because of previous spending in the territories, the education budget had been cut back. So we were to blame for decreased school hours. And it went on and on.
Not the government has changed. We have new leaders and there is no longer as much negative propaganda. But the damage has been done. Public opinion is still against us and it will not be easy to reverse. Perhaps worst of all, our sense of pride has not returned.
In the old days, I would stand up proudly and say I am from Ariel. Today, I am defensive whenever someone asks where I live. Old habits die hard. I am a Jew living in the Jewish Homeland, contributing to its growth and development and yet, these last four years have ingrained in me a defensive posture.
The time has come to turn back the clock. Our leaders must set the example and let the rest of the country know that we have made a positive contribution to our country, that we are truly the new Zionist pioneers. The time has come to relegitimize us, once and for all.
|Autumn 1996 Table of Contents|
|Message from the Mayor||A Word from our Chairman|
|Ariel "Adopted" by Bible Believers||Discrimination Continues|
|Faithful Friends||Ariel Ambassadors in America|
|Ariel's 18th Birthday||About Town|
|Ariel Residents Speak Out||Editor's Note|
|Front Cover||Back Cover|