In the beginning, when I was 16, I was cynical. A Jewish homeland? Ha! We'll all be in one place and it'll be easier for them to get rid of us forever. But it didn't stop me dancing into existence the new state of Israel. We linked arms and danced a Hora outside the Kingsway Hall in Holborn, London, 1948.
Then, from my thirties upwards, I was angry with and embarrassed by Israeli foreign policy towards the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular.
Now I'm sad. Sad that the Palestinians didn't accept partition; sad that they went to war on the first day of the creation of the state of Israel; sad that they went to war with Israel again in 1967 and 1973, so that what had been allotted to them was now occupied because they lost those wars.
I'm saddened to see the education of five generations of Palestinian children sacrificed, in an appalling sulk, by keeping them in refugee camps in order to win the sympathy of the world rather than using oil money to build cities, schools, universities and factories to vie with those built by Israel. I'm deeply distressed and saddened to read how young people can be inflamed by their elders to kill themselves and other innocent people in the streets and cafes of Israeli towns. And I'm saddened to witness an honourable Palestinian people be so misled by their leaders. "Become victims," said Arafat to them.
Well, I can't prove that is what he said to them, but I'm the poet on his shoulder, listening and imagining, surmising.
"There is only one way to defeat the Jews," he told them, "and that is to make ourselves bigger victims than they were. Of course, we can't really be as big victims as they were because no one's going to exterminate six million Palestinians in gas chambers, but we can appear to be victims. We will stay in ugly refugee camps with as few facilities as possible, and the world will see our plight - or rather, your plight, not mine. I'm your leader, and leaders need the best food, the best cars, the best offices to work from, and the best houses to live in. We will keep the refugee camps going like a festering sore. We will not spend all the money we received from our brethren in the Arab states and from the European Union on educating our children. Instead, we will buy weapons and teach them how to hate and to shoot guns. The good-natured Europeans will slowly come to support us, rather than the Jews, because we will make ourselves the new Jews of the Middle East. It will be easy because the Europeans don't really like the Jews. They had to pretend they liked them because of the Holocaust. We will provide them with what can appear as a legitimate reason for exercising their closet anti-Semitism."
And his people listened to him. And it saddens me. And so I think: let the Jews leave Israel and return to the Diaspora where they belong. Let us return to being a minority in everybody else's country, and we'll be loved by them again, especially by the left. The left likes easily identifiable victims, support for whom reveals how noble they are. The Jews used to enjoy such noble support. Let the Jews leave Israel and become victims again. It will be hard, but not as hard as it is now. What will it matter if we lose a few more million in one sort of slaughter or another? At least we'll be loved as in the good old days of pogroms.