An Israeli Journalist’s Apology to the State of Israel

October 7, 2019 | Ruthie Blum
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The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are traditionally a time of repentance and introspection, during which many Jews ask forgiveness from their fellows for any wrongs committed over the previous year. Ruthie Blum, well-known champion of her adopted country, confesses some sins of her own:

I am sorry for attacking the political system. Though this year its flaws became particularly noticeable—with the power of small parties to topple and paralyze the government, and the onset of the current coalition stalemate—it has served the country well. Contrary to assertions from both sides of the spectrum, each for its own reasons, Israel is and remains a flourishing democracy, warts and all. In fact, part of the problem with the system is that it gives a voice and a place in parliament to all sectors. The battle over budgets and the insistence on a say in statecraft is always passionate and often ugly, but this is an indication of success, not failure.

I am sorry, as well, for not standing up forcefully enough to my friends, whether native-born or immigrants, who bemoan their plight and berate Israeli society for being crass, unfeeling, incompetent, and violent. . . . Though it is true that much of the public could stand a lesson or two in the value of good manners, and civil servants might benefit from a course in dealing with customers bogged down in daunting bureaucracy, Israelis tend to be generous of spirit.

[T]he same clerk who grumbles at having to do his or her job would stop to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to someone who fainted in front of him or her. I take on the obligation, then, to underscore all that is good about the country whenever someone stresses its evils in my presence.

I hope to keep the above promises in the year to come, and to live up to an admonition by Isaiah—verse 5:20—which is not recited on Yom Kippur but should be remembered and applied by all of us every single day of each calendar year: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that change darkness into light, and light into darkness.”

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