Among the many images that illustrate the nature of our times is the one that shows a 16-year-old Palestinian girl—with curly red hair like a Polish Jew—lashing out with her bare hands against two Israeli soldiers, in a video that has gone viral. Ahed Tamimi was arrested and judged to be a danger to Israel.
Israel is a country where, only a few decades ago, many Europeans and Americans near this girl’s age, Jews and non-Jews, wanted to live, to work in the kibbutzim, where they believed socialism had been truly realized. Today, Israel has become almost a perfect symbol for the blunders of 20th-century Europe, its faults and its defeats. The main fault was that they forced the Jews to make their own nation-state, which has made them similar to other peoples.
The main defeat, in turn, was that of the Soviet experiment, which eliminated the existence of the alternative. The alternative had different forms, but their common substance was the rejection of the global status quo. This rejection was often just the first step to the next, that of the struggle for a change in power relations. But nowadays, refusal and struggle belong to the past, when the lure of an alternative existed, while in our times we accept things as they are.