Binyamin Yogev (Buja)
Permission is yet given
Eve of Memorial Day at the Cemetery in Beit HaEmek May 2011
I wish to say a few words on this sad occasion, following conversations I held with my dear friend Max.
In these conversations, Max argued that to a large extent, the fate and future of the State of Israel is not in our hands. Many powerful forces in the world are the determining ones, mainly the United States and Europe, which may become a Muslim continent. In addition, he is convinced that between the Jordan and the sea there is room for only one political entity, either Israeli or Arab.
Beyond the political and ideological debate between us, we can say that Max adopts only the first part of Rabbi Akiva's words in Pirkei Avot: "Everything is predictable and permission is given." He believes, everything is expected, and I, on the other hand, have a feeling that permission is yet given. In my eyes of the primary force of our lives is the capacity of man's choice.
Many members of Beit HaEmek who rejected the Diaspora and had chosen to live in the Land of Israel had immigrated to Israel. We chose a unique way of life - a kibbutz. It seems to me that we ought to continue in this way in the future as well. Indeed, not everything is in our hands, not everything depends on us but still much, quite a lot may be related to our decisions and actions. Especially in two main circles:
The first is to do all within our power, be it a little or a lot, to find some sort of compromise, even an initial one between ourselves and the Palestinian people. We must try other and new approaches. Perhaps, to understand that the essence of the State of Israel is not the quantity of the earth's clods but what is happening within it. To do everything possible so that the grave line would not be lengthened by the grave of a single young man.
The second item that is entirely within the realm of permission given to us lies in how we create a worthier society here. I am not talking about an exemplary society as predicted by our prophets and the pioneers of the kibbutz movement, but I have no doubt that we can create here a more impartial society, with fewer gaps between wealth and poverty, with great consideration for the weak, for the needy, for the deprived. A society with less violence and less corruption starting from the high echelons. All this has nothing to do with any world power but rather with enforcement, with fair and proper judgment, and with the willingness to create change.
A society that understands that the time has come, after five years, to bring Gilad Shalit home and to know and understand that we have the strength to deal with liberated terrorists, even though this is a subject of debate. A society that chooses "at the fall of your enemy do not rejoice and at his failure do not gladden your heart" and not the method of price tags.
A Jewish society that rejects all forms of racism and discrimination both within it and towards foreign workers, new immigrants and minorities living together with us in this country.
A society that chooses sane Zionism, a genuine one that understands that even though everything is still expected, permission is yet given.
And indeed, across these graves in Beit HaEmek and in all the cemeteries in the State of Israel, we must do everything, in order to be worthy as individuals and as a public, as a person, a kibbutz, a society and a state, of the endless sacrifice of our loved ones buried here. We do have the capacity for this!
This is how we ought to remember them on this Memorial Day!!