Sunday, November 01, 2009

Rabin Week


1.      This is “Rabin Week” in Israel.  As during every year at this time, two things in particular are taking place.   The first is the emergence from their caves of the Rabin conspiracist nuts.  These are Israel’s equivalent of the so-called “911 Truth” conspiracists in the US, a movement of conspiracy nuts who claim that the Jews and/or the Republicans actually knocked down the WTC towers and not poor bin Laden.   The Rabin conspiracy nuts promote the “theory” fabricated by the deranged UFO fruitcake Barry Chamish, now busy doing speaking gigs for Jews-for-Jesus centers in the US.   While the Rabin conspiracism seems to be slowly dying out, it nevertheless makes an appearance in early November, along with the Russian storks heading south.  Even a handful of professors from the Right continue to push it for reasons I cannot fathom or explain.  The Israel National News (Arutz 7) web site also continues to undercut its own credibility with the conspiracy nonsense.

At the same time, Israel’s anti-democratic Left, led by the Labor Party and Meretz along with their satellites, attempts to revive each fall the McCarthyist campaign it operated against freedom of speech in the 1990s.  It claimed and claims that the exercise of freedom of speech by non-Leftists acts as a clear and present danger of violence, with Rabin’s death being “proof,” and so freedom of speech for non-Leftists must be suppressed.   The Israeli Leftist Media, which are almost all of them, echoe the hostility to freedom of speech with McCarthyist obsession and insist that everyone on the Right, especially Netanyahu, share collective guilt in Rabin’s death.  At the same time Rabin himself is converted by the media into a demigod in a sort of cult of personality.  The real Rabin was a bungling and deluded  incompetent whose policies produced 2000 Oslo deaths and put Israel’s very survival into jeopardy.   Try to say that anywhere in the Israeli mainstream media!  You could get arrested for shouting it on a street corner or printing it on your tee shirt!


While there is lots of commentary in the Israeli media, I wanted to bring two piece in particular to your attention.  The first is an Op-Ed by Yitzhak Klein that appears in today’s Jerusalem Post and is reprinted below in full.   The second was an interesting article by Hagai Segel that appeared in Hebrew (only) in the Makor Rishon weekend magazine.  It is a bit too long to translate in full but let me give you a brief synopsis of it:


   Segel begins by saying that in a sense the Left has a point when it says that all the political violence in Israel comes from the Right, aimed at the Left.  He lists the icons of “Rightist violence” the Left loves to wave: Rabin himself, the Peace Now protester killed by a grenade tossed by a Rightist many years back, a knife attack in 1967 on communist leader Meir Vilner , and possibly a Rightist was behind the bomb left at Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell’s home last spring.  (There are plenty of examples of political violence from israel’s Left, including the weekly attacks on soldiers in the West Bank town of Bil’in.  These are NOT listed by Segel because he wants to set up a sort of straw man --- SP)

    Segel then goes on to argue that the whole comparison is misleading.  The fringes of the Right produce violence because the Right is barred from power, barred from access to the mainstream media, and continuously demonized and delegitimized by the media.  The Left is all in favor of law and order and calm peaceful political stability because it exercises control over Israeli policy and hegemony over the media.   Those in power always favor law and order and stability, argues Segel in a sort of Marxism-turned-on-its-head.  Leftist policies are of course always implemented in Israel, even when the Likud is in power.  So the Left can sit back and behave peacefully because it is sure of getting its way.

   The real challenge, argues Segel, is for people to behave themselves, to obey the law and exercise restraint, to rsist political violence, when they are barred from power, smeared daily in the media, demonized and taunted, and even attacked by the police and army such as in the eviction of the entire Jewish population from the Gaza Strip.   He cites a sociologist from the Hebrew University who predicted serious political violence BEFORE Rabin was assassinated.  The sociologist attributed it to the isolation and powerless of the Right.  The same sociologist remarked that if the Left were ever really to be barred from power and stripped of its control over the media and over national policy, it would take no time at all for the Left to turn violent. 

    Israel’s Left has never undergone its own delegitimization, its own “Oslo,” its own expulsion a la Gush Katif.  The Left has never been barred from the media, in fact it continues to exercise hegemony over them.   Leftists can sit back in their easy chair and sip whiskey and watch their ideology being implemented. 


   I think Segel is on to something.  I am also on record for saying that the frivolous and arbitrary criminalization of the “Kahanists” in Israel was not only anti-democratic but likely to trigger violence.   (Kahanists enjoy freedom of speech in the US and in Europe.)  People who are barred from exercising freedom of speech and of protest turn to violence.



Our day of mourning... and hatred


Oct. 31, 2009


Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room... The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretense was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.
- George Orwell, 1984


In George Orwell's dystopia, formal public ceremonies are devoted to the inculcation of hatred. The object of this hatred is the classic "enemy" that is a feature of every totalitarian society, legions of faceless and anonymous traitors who threaten society on all sides and whom it is an obligation to hate.


In totalitarian societies, the cultivation of hatred serves important political objectives. Totalitarian society requires subjects who subordinate their lives to the demands of the regime, who submerge their personalities within its logic. This is achieved by deliberately inflaming their basest passions.


The tragedy of totalitarian culture however is not that it finds the cultivation of hatred useful, but that hatred genuinely reflects the spiritual life of rulers and ruled alike. The true purpose for which hatred is cultivated is to create a society in which the human virtues of pity, compassion and decency are suppressed. This can happen only in a society in which such virtues have already been undermined. Totalitarian societies may pay lip service to the highest ideals, but in practice they dehumanize themselves by dehumanizing their enemies, who possess no rights and to whom no justice is due. Such a society can fall into a barbarism darker than that of any society of primitives.


Both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were characterized by public ceremonies devoted, formally or informally, to the cultivation of hatred. By contrast, the State of Israel at its foundation set aside a day for remembering the victims of the Holocaust, and many individuals continue to cherish antipathy for Germany, but nobody ever contemplated a day devoted, formally or informally, to the hatred of Germans. That rightly would have been considered sick, a mark of Cain on the forehead of our society. No day devoted to the deliberate inculcation of hatred was established in Israel until 1996.


SINCE ITS establishment, those who arrogated to themselves the right to determine the nature of Yitzhak Rabin's memorial day have devoted it to inculcating hatred against a particular community within Israeli society. Last year, repeating a frequent theme, President Shimon Peres admonished the national-religious community for not joining in the commemoration of Rabin. How ironic. On this day, members of that community are expected to have no voice, other than the voice that those who despise them would put into their mouths. Like Jews in medieval Europe herded into churches on Christmas, their role is to confess in public the crime of unbelief in Rabin's agenda, and to affirm that unbelief is equivalent to culpability.


This of course serves a particular political agenda. But the real tragedy of Rabin's memorial day is that it has become the occasion for legitimizing a culture of hatred. This culture invokes a community of public enemies, treats them as collectively guilty and makes it easier to rationalize the denial of their fundamental rights. The way Rabin's memorial day is celebrated admits a breath of totalitarian culture into our public life.


Politically motivated hatred has practical political consequences. The hatred which finds its expression on Rabin's memorial day had such consequences four years ago, during disengagement, which violated the fundamental rights of hapless Israeli citizens and traduced Israel's civil compact.


It matters little what "security" arguments were deployed by those who legitimated this policy, or that the arguments turned out - indeed were known at the time - to be baseless. At root, the policy was motivated by causeless hatred, as some of its advocates have since acknowledged. The victims of disengagement are the objects of sympathy today, but not yet, as they should be, of repentance.


It has become habitual for those who have appropriated Rabin's memorial day to blame the spiritual ills of Israeli society on "the occupation." That is too easy and facile an explanation. Surely these people are inured against that particular source of spiritual contamination. Those who tolerate or encourage an element of totalitarian culture in the celebration of Rabin's memorial day ought to make the day an occasion for what they are ever eager to urge upon others - heshbon nefesh, taking a critical, reflective retrospective of one's soul.


The writer heads the Israel Policy Center.


 3.       So anyone want to serve as bookie on this and take in bets?   Will the J Street asslibs (assimilationist liberals) speak about against this bigotry?  Will the Tikkun editors denounce this racist intolerance?  Will Meretz and Peace Now demand serious action and a crackdown?  How about the Religious Action Center of the Reform synagogue movement, for whom defending the dignity of non-white minorities is the highest form of Judaism?  . 

Remember the bloody pro-Hamas Sheikh Raad Salah, the Israeli Arab Islamofascist terrorist who was hosted at the University of Haifa last spring while the university ordered guards to prevent any Jewish students from entering the lecture hall.  There the Sheikh called on Arab students to become suicide bombers.   Well, a few days ago the Sheikh did something new.  He denounced Ethiopian Jews using an epithet “Kushi” that is considered derogatory.  (Yeah, it appears in the Bible as a term for black folks but, like “colored,” it depends on how it is used and in what tone.)   Anyhow, he screamed something like who are those damned “Kushi” Ethiopians (meaning soldiers and police) to tell US Moslems who can go up on to the Temple Mount.  The source in Hebrew can be read here:



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