Greeting the 2011 Spring
Excited and elated, we watch the great upheaval shaking the peoples around us. From the Maghreb through the Nile estuary to the Persian Gulf, a huge young choir has risen from the ashes of Mohamed Bouazizi, demanding the abolition of totalitarian regimes and the institution of democracy. Are we indeed witnesses to the dawn of a new era, the Arab Nations' Spring? The concerns are as deep as the hopes, yet our hearts tell us that this is indeed so.
“Liberty, equality, fraternity” is a legacy acquired by other nations before us with blood and tears. We have seen this legacy attained and destroyed and restored, solemnly professed and brutally trampled, passionately whispered among great minds and maliciously abused by tyrants, overcoming numerous voices of hatred, cynicism and disbelief, then eventually rooting among all civilized nations, adopting any new technology, tearing down borders and defying any suppression of speech and thought. “Liberty, equality, fraternity” is an unbreakable triad. For neither ideal can endure without the other two; for democracy is essential for the well-being of every human and for the prospering of culture, art and science. To these ideals we owe, ever since maturing, our material and intellectual wealth, our happiness and even our very life.
Now, like every human, liberty, equality and fraternity is what you too are asking for. Insha’Allah! And may our lot be with you today.
We have not failed to hear other voices, nonsense like “what has been will be again,” “lack of democratic tradition” and their like; ears turned deaf to the nobel call “Salmiye! Salmiye!” which has emerged from the Tahrir square, when you partitioned with your bodies between quarreling humans, to remind each other that peace has been guiding you, and that with peace you seek freedom. We are not Orientalists, nor intelligence experts nor politicians. It is to the hearts of the nations that we listen, not to the speeches of self-appointed rulers. And when your hearts wish good, a great echo shall greet it from all the world’s hearts, and Israel within it.
We shall not ask today how this upheaval may affect the relations between our countries. Should you wish today only this much – dignity to every human, man and woman, child and elderly; to everything alive, plant and animal; and to everything within which spirit dwells, a book, a masterpiece, a monument, a belief or a thought dear to its thinkers – should that be your wish, let us swear to do everything we can to let you have it! It is not obscure idealism but the most realistic politics. For they who wish well for all their countrymen, regardless of religion, race and sex, wish well for mankind everywhere; for when the Shiite embraces the Sunni, when the Muslim calls “brother” to the Christian, the Druze, the Darfuri, the Coptic and the Kurd; as they all march hand-in-hand, surely the arms will naturally open towards your longtime brother, the Jew?
May freedom prevail in Egypt and Libya, Iran and Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Syria and all the Arab countries. It shall bring a blessing to you and to the entire world.
Yitzhak Frankenthal, The Arik Institute
Shlomo Giora Shoham