Monday, September 21, 2009
Ahad Ha-Am (Asher Ginsberg) wrote the following in 1891:
"In all things it is our custom to learn nothing from the past for the future.
There is certainly one thing we could have learned from our past and present history: how careful we must be not to arouse the anger of other people against ourselves by reprehensible conduct.
How much more, then, should we be careful, in our conduct toward a foreign people among whom we live once again, to walk together in love and respect, and needless to say in justice and righteousness.
And what do our brethren in Eretz Israel do?
Quite the opposite!
They were slaves in their land of exile, and they suddenly find themselves with unlimited freedom, the kind of wild freedom to be found only in a country like Turkey.
This sudden change has engendered in them an impulse to despotism, as always happens when 'a slave becomes a king,' (Proverbs 30:22) and behold they walk with the Arabs in hostility and cruelty, unjustly encroaching on them, shamefully beating them for no good reason, and even bragging about what they do, and there is no one to stand in the breach and call a halt to this dangerous and despicable impulse.
To be sure our people are correct in saying that the Arab respects only those who demonstrate strength and courage, but this is relevant only when he feels that his rival is acting justly;
it is not the case if there is reason to think his rival's actions are oppressive and unjust.
Then, even if he restrains himself and remains silent forever, the rage will remain in his heart and he is unrivaled in 'taking vengeance and bearing a grudge.' (Leviticus 19:18)"
"Emet Me-Eretz Yisrael"
(Truth from the Land of Israel), 29 May 1891
Translated by Alan Dowty.