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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Symbolism and a new start

Kfar Etzion was the site of the execution style murder of over 100 people, including an Arab family, by the Arab Legion on May 13, 1948.  The Arab Legion was British funded and commanded by British Officers so this massacre carried out the day before Israel declared its independence was a warning to “the Jews” of what awaited them and it embarrassed the British Government. Nevertheless, this momentary diplomatic discomfit failed to prevent the Arab League (on the 28th of May 1948) from ethnically cleansing the Old City of Jerusalem of its Jewish population and subsequently razing to the ground all physical evidence of Jewish life in the Old City.

History is problematic because it is inconvenient. There is very little beauty in the story of human history.  Death and dishonour has accompanied much of what has been accomplished by man. Even our myths are too often immersed in indescribable pain.  Unless that is, we deny everything, absolutely.  Power affords the opportunity to whitewash our past in order to sanitise that which we find inconvenient to remember.

In Israel, the Right will try to legislate as a reaction to this revisionist and revanchist policy. But the Left is no less guilty.   Diffidence is a short term escape from ignorance. It is instructive that the Left is so easily duped into following Arab propaganda even when it is so patently false. I say duped because the alternative is to admit that they readily embrace a lie and that they are all too comfortable with their own prejudices.

So when Arab MK Jamal Zehalke (a member of the Israeli parliament) screams at the Jewish radio host (as occurred in an interview in January 2010) that the first modern Jewish city built from scratch (on sand-dunes) is Arab property (Tel Aviv); or when as frequently occurs, Arab leaders tell us that Jerusalem has no Jewish history, we should all be able to appreciate that the Jewish reaction will be one of suspicion or outright mistrust towards those people or organisations that embrace the pornographic anti-Zionist or anti-Jewish propaganda with which we are intermittently showered.

If you deny me my past or rewrite it in your image why should I hand over trusteeship of any part of my homeland to you?

But before we become the thing we oppose most we should appreciate that we exhibit many of the traits we fear.

The Neturei Karta is a Jewish religious sect that denies the validity of Jewish statehood.  They believe that Jewish self-determination is a sin against God and that only the Messiah can bring about Jewish national self-governance. A community that actively advises the nation’s enemies in order to undermine what they see as an illegitimate national enterprise offers only contempt and hatred for those that are to them, a constant reminder of the failure of their religious aspirations. Their collaboration with Israel’s enemies (at events in the UK, the USA, in Europe and in Iran) and their contempt for those people less ‘righteous’ than they are makes them as much of a danger to Israel as the nuclear terrorist and their bomb.  Legislate to confiscate their land and property. Excommunicate the community from the Jewish nation.  If they then select to relocate to Western or Eastern Palestine that is their choice.  A nation can only have a relationship based either on fear or on mutual respect. With the Neturei Karta the latter is unrealisable which is why they will dress their children in concentration camp uniforms and call all those people with whom they disagree, Nazis.  They are no different to the Islamist who believes that their god has given them the right to dominate all other nations and will brook no argument to the contrary.  Fundamentalists of all stripes immerse themselves in intolerance and only as an expedient to protect their lifestyle do they conceal their true nature.

Nazi language precludes discussion. It is intended to provoke and to gain publicity.  It is not intended as a means of engaging in dialogue with anyone. Democracy is consensual, mutual and is predicated on an assumption of self-restraint. Those that oppose freedom manipulate this forbearance by the threat of violence.

In a number of western countries Holocaust denial is a criminal offence as is wearing clothing or displaying paraphernalia associated with the Nazis.  It is punishable by the loss of liberty.

Language and behaviour are symbols of attitude and it is how we react to it that creates the dialogue between segments of society.

So Israel can make holocaust denial a criminal offence as well as the wearing of the paraphernalia associated with the era. There should be no immunity from prosecution for Members of parliament calling their colleague a fascist because violence begins with language. The same should apply to clergymen (of any faith) who think their beliefs give them the right to assault others either verbally or physically and justify it by reference to past prophets or holy books. Clergymen given diplomatic status that abuse it by minimising the shoah or taking the side of the enemy should have their diplomatic status revoked.  Democracy is restraint even when you disagree with me. No wonder the followers of the Arab world have such contempt for democracy.  We fear their violence. To them, the ends have not only justified the means but proven their value.

Respect can only be achieved if we agree that in spite of the hostility inherent within disparate theological positions there is never an excuse in the twenty first century for bigots to use ancient texts to justify modern discrimination. We choose the battles we wish to fight.  The parlous state of western philosophy is based on too many accommodations with those to whom we can never agree.

Israel needs a constitution and a preamble that defines the Jewish foundation and Israeli character of the State. At the same time it should formally separate religion and state.

The Gettysburg Address was given by Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War in 1863. I would like to borrow liberally from it, as follows below:

“The right to self determination for the Jewish people of this land has been denied to us for many centuries.  Our persecution has been a consequence of this bigotry and we have had no safe house anywhere because of it.  There are too many, to this very day, incapable theologically or politically, of accepting our equal rights here, or anywhere else.

Three score and four years ago our fathers and mothers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal.

Even before this beginning we were engaged in a great struggle against tyranny, and it continues to test whether this nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

We are compelled here to be dedicated to the great tasks remaining before us – to honour our dead and take from their sacrifice increased devotion to that cause for which they gave their lives. We here resolve that our dead shall not have died in vain- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth.

Respect is not an option, it is a human right. We recognise that this state, forged in a time of great darkness and ignorance shall strive for justice for all and for peace for all people.”


  1. You should put up a LIKE option so that those who read your article and don't feel like commenting, at least can "react" positively...


  2. Thanks and I did but it was unrealiable - and now I cannot find it to add it back in!