Yossi Sarid is dead and politicians are lining up to praise him. As often happens, not one of those politicians has the courage to do the right thing and reject in death the message they rejected during his life. It makes me proud not to be a politician. I can respond as an Israeli but more, I can respond as someone who Yossi Sarid despised.
I am pretty much everything he hated, all wrapped in one. Without ever meeting me, he was quick to dismiss all that I am, all that I hold dear. I am the dreaded settler, made worse by the fact that I'm religiously observant. And, if those two elements were not enough, add the third cornerstone of Sarid's disdain, I'm right-wing - three things Yossi Sarid hated above nearly anything else. His hatred was vile and vicious and cruel. And rarely was it pointed at the enemies of Israel - no, it was saved for people like me.
I never met him but I heard his words and often wondered how he managed to not walk into walls, given how blind he was. I won't ask that a God he didn't honor or believe in waste time in blessing or welcoming Sarid into the heavens. I won't bless his memory.
I believe that who you are is built in a lifetime of deeds and words and these do not suddenly disappear upon your death. In short, an angel, a good person in life becomes an angel in death, remembered and honored. And a wicked person should be remembered as well - for the evil that was done. Without doubt, Yossi Sarid is in death what he was in life - certainly not the finest Israel has to offer. The concept of Ahavat Yisrael - love of Israel, among the people of Israel was not in his vocabulary. He did not stand for unity among Jews.
"The settlers are not my brothers. My brothers are people with whom I have a common language, and mainly and most importantly is that we have shared values. I do not believe in fraternity through Jewish blood.” --Yossi Sarid
Sarid led the land in his policies of division, appeasement and promoting hatred among Jews. Israel was to be what it was, a land where Jews lived, but never a Jewish State.
“There is no such thing as a Jewish state" --Yossi Sarid
It is absurd to invoke prayers to God in his memory. Yossi Sarid was quite clear that he felt God was a waste of time. One can only assume God probably felt the same about Yossi Sarid.
"I believe in something that maybe can be defined as the God in one's heart, in the heart of every human being, but not in a God who sits on high looking down on us and taking care of us and whom we bother with things trivial and weighty so that he will be good to us and arrange things for us here. I have more than enough disappointment over such a God." - Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid did not hold back his criticism of hundreds of thousands of Jews, those with whom, he would tell anyone who would listen, he had nothing in common. He called them, at varying points in his career:
- "wicked cancers…that should be eliminated"
- “members of a different planet”
Cancer...eliminated...members of a different planet? He is speaking about me, about my children and my grandchildren. He is speaking of my neighbors who are kind and rush to help; he is speaking of my son, the third to proudly wear the uniform of Israel and defend this country.
Sarid often spoke words that made no sense from an historical point of view, easily disputed simply by opening up a history book. For example when he said:
"Every dispute around the world in history was solved through negotiations."
Really? I don't remember the allies negotiating with the Germans or the Japanese. Did negotiations bring about the end of the Civil War in the US? The defeat of Napoleon? I believe two atomic bombs and massive bombardments of cities in Germany brought about an end to World War II and I believe Napoleon was quite definitely defeated in war. I can think of several disputes that were solved through negotiations, but just as many that were not.
Yossi Sarid felt it acceptable to apply collective accusations, so long as the target was a Jew. He widely painted the right-wing, particularly religious leaders as being guilty of incitement while steadfastly ignoring incitement coming from the Palestinians. After the murder of Rabin, Sarid outright slandered thousands, referring to “Those who made him [Rabin] into a target, those rabbis and politicians are still walking free today. For them, it was the perfect crime.”
The perfect crime? One man was indicted, convicted and sentenced. That is how our society works. He has no right to slander thousands of others. While being ever so quick to vilify Jews, Sarid was equally fast in absolving Palestinians of wrong-doing. He even went so far as to justify Palestinian terrorism.
"If I were a young Palestinian, I'd fight the Jews fiercely, even by means of terror. Anyone who says anything different is telling you lies." -- Yossi Sarid
This we need from someone graced with a voice of power? This is what we should now consider a saint and a Jewish leader? No, sorry. In life and now in death, Yossi Sarid was anything BUT a Jewish or Israeli leader.
Yossi Sarid spent more time defending Palestinian interests than those of the country he supposedly served. He was quick to complain when Palestinians died, but not nearly so when Israeli civilians were murdered in cold-blood.
The (Israeli) argument that Palestinians knowingly kill our civilians while Israel does it without premeditation is starting to wear out." -- Yossi SaridYossi Sarid went on to demand that Israel "stop its cruel war machine."
Cruel war machine? No condemnation of the Palestinian terror attacks but rampant anti-Israel rhetoric if in responding to an attack, our soldiers missed their target.
Never mind that the Israeli attack that resulted in the accidental deaths of Palestinians was a direct result of the targeting of Israeli civilians. Never mind all the efforts the Israeli army makes regularly to avoid civilian casualties. Never mind the fact that the Palestinians have been proven to cause casualties among their own civilians by launching rockets from within cities, hiding explosives in schools, hospitals and mosques - this is all too much detail for a man bent on finding fault with the society that by its very democratic nature, gave him a platform and a voice while the Palestinian society he defended remained closed and ruled with the iron fists of its leaders.
Yossi Sarid was also known for his tremendous support for appeasement. After the murder of six Israeli soldiers, Yossi Sarid stepped forward to demand compassion for those deported by Israel immediately after the attack:
"I wouldn't be surprised if Israel was asked to shorten the time of the deportation. And if that is expected ... Israel should consider cutting the time of the deportation on its own."
I'm sure that would have sent a clear message to the Palestinians...but obviously not one that we should be sending. Sure, let's appease even before someone asks us.
I could continue to quote Yossi Sarid ad nauseum, a phrase which truly describes my feelings here. He was the champion of the weak because he was weak; he was the father-figure of the left because he represented blind and wild dreams of a peace that cannot come because we face an enemy that feeds of the weak rather than suckles it.
Yossi Sarid, like so many of the nearly defunct Meretz party, represented much of what is wrong with the left. Unlike some, he was an honest man and I give him credit for that. But his honesty was, like his political agenda, one that was used to damage Israel, weaken us in the eyes of the world. Rather than stand against violence and hatred, he caved each and every time. Let them write of their hatred of Israel in Arab text books - we are the strong ones and can survive it.
Let them target us in terror attacks, after all, what other way could the poor Palestinians make known their desperation? How dare we fight back in the way our enemies fight against us? The ghetto Jew lived in Yossi Sarid and though I will not mourn his passing, I will mourn that this need to appease will not die and be buried with him.
What should be remembered in these hours when people rush to praise him and perhaps forget what he actually said and did, was that Yossi Sarid wasted no effort spreading ill words against settlers, right-wing Israelis, religious leaders, and pretty much anyone with whom he disagreed.
Yossi Sarid used words to hurt others, including the image of Israel around the world. It is only just that words be used now to clarify that though he might have been an honest man, an honorable one he was not. He failed, as he himself admitted later in his life, to convince Israel that his path was the just one. His party all but dried up because Israelis got tired of listening to leaders who sympathize more with our enemies than with a nation that continues to struggle to balance the needs of others with the needs of our own.
We have the right to protect ourselves and if an evil person rises up to kill us, we have the right to kill them first - this is as ancient as our religion and is a part of every society in the world. That we all wish to live in a world of peace is clear; that we don't, was something Yossi Sarid and other refuse to see. And that refusal cost Israeli lives in the past and will, God forbid, cost more in the future.
May the land of Israel continue to prosper and be strong and may the voices of intolerance characterized by Sarid fade as Israelis realize the wise words of Hillel long ago. We must be for others... In that Sarid excelled... But we must also be for ourselves.. In that, Yossi Sarid was the epitome of failure.