Monday, July 04, 2011

Shlomo Avineri on Hatikva-gate

1, Shlomo Avineri is often considered to be the Dean of Israeli
political science. He spent his career teaching at Hebrew University
and is now retired. The first part of his career he was a Marxist and
a believer in the Soviet Union. He was one of the last senior
political scientists to grasp that communism was collapsing. His
later career saw him undergo a transformation somewhat reminiscent of
that of Benny Morris, assuming you believe that Morris' is for real.

Avineri is a leftist but a strong Zionist. In fact he is one of the
few people around I would regard as a bona fide Zionist leftist. The
rest are anti-Zionist leftists. He is still well left of center. I
heard him speak in Europe last year and he was pretty awful. He also
participated in the leftist campaign against rightist freedom of
speech after the Rabin assassination.

All of which makes some of his Zionist writings all the more
remarkable. In particular, Avineri's Op-Ed in Haaretz today (of all
places) about Hatikva-gate at the University of Haifa is worth reading
in full.

University of Haifa Law School denounced by Prof. Shlomo Avineri for
Banning Hatikva;
Compares them to Neturei Karta Fanatics
Neturei Karta on campus
When it comes to the issue of the national anthem, perhaps it would be
wise to learn a thing or two from the way it is treated by the U.K.
and France.
By Shlomo Avineri
Britain has millions of Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, atheist and
Republican citizens, but none of them suggests changing the British
anthem, which begins with the words, "God Save the Queen," and
encompasses not only the sovereign of the entire world, but also the
queen who heads of the Anglican Church of England.
In France, there are millions of Catholic and Royalist citizens who
believe that the French Revolution and the terror it brought - the
execution of King Louis XVI and thousands of others - were
unforgiveable crimes. But none of them demands changing the anthem,
"La Marseillaise," a violent and bloodthirsty Republican song that
served as the battle cry of the post-Revolution French army when it
invaded neighboring countries. "Do you hear the roar of those
ferocious soldiers coming to slit the throats of your sons and
companions ... Let's march so that [your] tainted blood will water our
fields," the French sing.
When it comes to the issue of the national anthem, perhaps it would be
wise to learn a thing or two from the way it is treated by those two
shining examples of Western democracy.
The powers-that-be at the law faculty of the University of Haifa, who
decided not to play "Hatikva" at the graduation ceremony last week, on
the grounds that it is a "Zionist anthem," are ignoring a simple fact:
The origins of "Hatikva" are of course Zionist, but today, it is the
national anthem of the State of Israel. "Hatikva" is not a "Zionist
anthem": It is Israel's anthem - just like the British anthem, which
was born out of the historical hegemony of the Anglican state-church,
is today the anthem of Britain; and just like "La Marseillaise," which
was conceived in the victory of the Republicans in 1789, is France's
anthem today.
One would expect law professors to understand the significance of this
One can certainly understand that it is difficult for an Arab Israeli
citizen to identify with "the yearning Jewish spirit," just as one can
understand the problem a British atheist may have with respect to the
Royalist-religious anthem of his country, or one can identify with the
distress of a Catholic-Royalist French citizen in light of his
country's blatantly Republican anthem. But this is the nature of state
symbols, which come to express the beliefs of the majority in a
democratic state.
I don't know what a Muslim or Orthodox Jew does today in Britain upon
hearing the anthem and recalling its religious significance. In all
likelihood, they stand at attention out of respect for the symbol of
the state of which they are citizens and in whose army they may even
have served - just as in the past.
I am not aware of Jews or Muslims who have asked any British public
body whatsoever not to play the anthem as it "hurts their feelings." I
am willing to understand those who will suggest changing the anthem's
words, and perhaps even the flag and state crest, and maybe even the
name of their country, somewhere down the line - so as to bring them
in line with the will of this or that minority. This, of course, would
be their right. Although I do not believe that this minority position
would be accepted.
It is a shame that there are individuals at the University of Haifa
who are leading themselves down a path that is reminiscent of that of
Neturei Karta. Democracy demands a fine balance between the majority
and the rights of the minority, and Israel has failed to find this
proper balance in many aspects of life. But one must remember that
rights are not only for the minority, but for the majority, too - and
certainly when it comes to the level of symbolism.

This story is by:
Shlomo Avineri

2. The Israeli Prosecutor is harassing and arresting rabbis this
week for recommending that people read a book that the Prosecutor
dislikes. The rabbis are simply expressing their opinions based on
their own understanding of Judaism. You are free to disagree with
their opinions and interpretations, but why arrest them?

If rabbis should be arrested for recommending the "Teachings of the
King" book, because it is supposedly "racist" and incitement, then why
should there not also be arrests for the following things?

* Arrest Jews who recite the Aleinu prayer.
* Arrest any Jew who says that Jews should only marry other Jews.
* Arrest any Jew who claims that God gave the Land of Israel only to
the Jewish people.
* Arrest any Jew who claims that Jews have been assigned a special
role in this world by God and that only Jews were granted God's full
set of commandments.

3. July 4:

4. Ahmed Tibi's jihad against freedom of speech, democracy, and

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