It is very hard indeed to give up a perspective that a person has taken as the foundation of their active life. It is only experience, over time, of the contradictions in a position that can enable a break with those original premises. For Lerman there was an increasingly serious gap between what he saw as the core values of his Jewish heritage, and the actual practices of the Israeli state, and it was this contradiction that caused him to dissent from the dominant pro-Israeli line. Important in the growth of his awareness of the problem appears to be his disquiet at appearances of anti-Arab racism in Israel, which he notes as they occur in the course of his experiences of Israeli life.I think that this statement pertains not only to Zionists, but to everyone who has been subjected to capitalist indoctrination and discover that there are deep conflicts between their experience and what they have been taught to believe. Because of the many rewards awaiting people who serve power, most people repress the voices of their conscience and conform, others end up directly serving their oppressors. Lerman was clearly made of different stuff.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up