ISRAEL AT 52
By Dr. Steven Plaut
Today is Memorial Day in Israel and tomorrow is Independence Day. I have believed for years that the best way to commemorate these days is by turning them into a battle against the loss of perspective.
Memorial Day is the more troubling of the two days. The problem is that Israelis have lost their sense of Jewish perspective to such an extreme extent, and this becomes glaringly evident on Memorial Day. Israelis are incapable of viewing their problems and that of the state within the perspective of Jewish history, in large part because of the efforts of the radically secularist Israeli Left, which dominates civil discourse, the media, academia and politics, to detach all of Israel from Jewish history and to deny any connection between Israeli-ness and Judaism.
All of this is reflected in the whiny defeatism that dominates all thinking about the losses of life by Jews struggling for Israel's survival. It is blindingly apparent on Memorial Day.
First of all, the atmosphere of Memorial Day resembles that of Holocaust Remembrance Day in nearly all things in Israel: the same siren, the same closing of cafes and restaurants, the same conversion of the media to official mourners. The timing is also suggestive - Memorial Day is a week after Yom Hashoa. If anything, Memorial Day is the more dramatic of the two days, as there are TWO sirens sounded on Memorial Day but only one on Yom Hashoa. And this is not because the loss of soldiers is "more recent". The bulk of soldiers killed in Israel's wars, far more than half, died in the 1948 War of Independence, only 3 years after the end of the Holocaust.
The two juxtaposed days equate the Holocaust with a tragedy that is one six hundredth its size. Second, all sense of proportion has been lost. In ALL of Israel's wars, something like 19,000 soldiers died. This is a bit more than the number of Jews murdered each day at Auschwitz at the height of its "efficiency". In other words, had Auschwitz operated for only one day longer than it did, the losses of Jewish life would have been the same as all of Israel's military losses. And the soldiers killed in Israel died in valor, defending their people and country.
Here we are, 55 years after the Holocaust, and the country is gripped with the Grand Oslo Delusion, whose acronym seems to have replaced that other similar name. In 21st century Israel, the fact that one or two soldiers get killed per week in Lebanon is cause for unilateral surrender to Syria and panic-stricken retreat out of Lebanon to the "international border" from which the terrorists will conduct a bloodbath in all of northern Israel. Two deaths a week, deaths which could be prevented if the country's leadership had the courage to do so, are thought to be sufficient reason for abandoning all rationality and determination. Two deaths a week are enough reason to endanger the very existence of the country by giving the Golan Heights to the Syrian Fuhrer. Palestinians tossing rocks at soldiers were sufficient reason to import a fascist army of sworn enemies into the suburbs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and to reduce the width of Israel at its Netanya belt to the length of the San Francisco Bay Bridge.
Oslo is based on a total loss in the ability to reason rationally, a total loss of historic proportion, a relinquishment of reality for a make-pretend imaginary universe, and a complete loss in the Jewish willingness to survive. First and foremost, it is a complete loss in Jewish self-respect and dignity. Here we have the spectacle of Israeli leaders meeting, back-slapping and kissing the same Arab fascists who murdered Jewish children and only yesterday denied there had ever been a Holocaust but if there HAD been one the Jews deserved it. The Israeli media continues to be the occupied territory of Israel's extremist Left; the Independence Day issue of Haaretz features a banner Op-Ed by columnist Akiva Eldar, one of the most fanatic and dishonest in the Haaretz aviary, entitled "To the Glory of the States of Israel and Palestine," and explaining that Israel will never be truly independent until Palestine has pushed Israel behind its 1949 borders and liberated East Jerusalem.
In Orwellian Israel, defeatism is the greatest form of triumphalism, cowardice is the highest form of courage, and McCarthyism is the greatest expression of democracy. (Haaretz today has a long piece denouncing the imprisonment of a dissident in Tunisia who was jailed for criticizing the regime there; this is the same paper that celebrates the criminal investigation of Rabbi Ovadia for doing the same thing, declaring that this proves there is but one law for all in Israel. That law being that it is illegal to criticize the Left.)
The Israeli military is as blinded by the loss in perspective as the rest of the country. The military leadership is - if anything - ahead of the rest of the country in saying amen to Oslo and backing the suicidal instincts of the politicians. The military brass was louder than the media in demanding a unilateral unconditional surrender of Israel in Lebanon and relinquishing of the Golan. After explaining for three decades that Israel cannot survive militarily without Mount Hermon, the generals have suddenly discovered that the Hermon is "just another mountain".
A proof of this pudding as good as any is Ami Ayalon, about to retire as head of the Shin Bet General Security Services. Ayalon no longer is reticent about his Leftist views and spills them out in Haaretz today ( May 9, 2000). I have long argued that Oslo would not be possible without Israel's intelligence services having abandoned all intellectual seriousness in their efforts to suck up to the Labor Party establishment and support Oslo suicide. Carmi Gillon, the previous head of the Shin Bet, believed anti-Oslo demonstrators were a far greater security threat than Arab terrorists and suicide bombers and so turned the Shin Bet into a partisan wing of the Labor Party used to bash the Opposition in anti-democratic fashion.
Ayalon now declares proudly that the PLO is today fighting against the HAMAS far more effectively than Israel ever did, an astonishing admission that should in and of itself justify the court martial of Ayalon and Gillon. He rants on, like Gillon, about the cancerous threat to Israeli democracy from having people criticize Oslo (Like me and the Freeman Center) and government policies. He supports judicial activism. He declares himself a "bleeding heart" proudly (yafe nefesh) who cannot abide the idea of Israel ruling over "another nation", although the threat that this other nation seeks to perpetrate a second Holocaust does not seem to disturb his sleep. He declares he "is a great believer in the New Middle East vision of Shimon Peres," which means he is blind as a bat and dumb as an ox and that a new Pearl Harbor-like surprise of Israel is just waiting to happen. His fear of violence in the future is confined to violence by settlers being forced to submit to ethnic cleansing to appease the PLO, not from Arab terrorism and new Arab wars launched against Israel. He celebrates the fact that Israelis today are far more aware of the crimes and injustices Israel committed against the po' Palestinians, making them more sensitive (meaning, less likely to resist Oslo national suicide).
When Israel has been wiped off the face of the map, I suspect the Fascist Arab state of Palestine will issue a postage stamp with the portrait of Ami Ayalon. To celebrate its Independence Day.