The Jerusalem Post - Aug. 26, 2004

ANOTHER TACK: SHULA IN HISTORYLAND

By Sarah Honig

On a Saturday, 75 years and three days ago, hordes of Arabs descended on the tranquil and ancient Jewish community of Hebron. At the end of the rampage, 67 Jews - men, women, children, babies - lay dead. They weren't neatly executed. Some were decapitated and disemboweled. Limbs were severed, eyes gouged, and all manner of ghastly, unthinkable mutilation practiced. A preteen girl was raped by 13 heroes of that Palestinian revolution (before there was a state of Israel or an occupation to rage against) and then hung upside down over an open flame to roast slowly to death.

All this is quite unpalatable for Israel's Left, renowned for its impeccably refined tastes and humanitarian sensibilities. The mention of Arab bestiality is off-putting and may, heaven forefend, even serve the dastardly purposes of the real enemy - Jewish political rivals. Remembrance can call attention to undesirable truths about the Arabs' genocidal anti-Jewish hysteria and offer a clear glimpse into what would have happened to this country's Jews had their self-defense failed.

This explosive stuff mustn't reach the tender ears of younger Israelis.

Retrospection is counterproductive for enlightened post-Zionists, "new historians," and a former education minister, Shulamit Aloni, who had done her darndest to expunge from the curriculum any mention of Arab wrongdoing.

Obviously Aloni can't abide the thought of memorial rallies for the slain. Somebody who didn't realize the gross faux pas sent her an invitation to the official commemoration last week in Hebron.

The ceremony got her goat enough to dispatch a livid op-ed to Yediot Aharonot, railing against the "wicked, cunning provocation" calculated to perpetuate "the role of the Jew as the ultimate eternal victim." To make her case, Israel's ex-No.1 pedagogue leads us through Historyland.

The 1929 pogrom, she fulminates, "began when a zealous right-wing bunch Brit Habiryonim burst onto the Western Wall on Yom Kippur eve and blew the shofar." Fear that "Jews will destroy al-Aksa," she authoritatively determines, "kindled the riots." She then wonders "why we don't hold memorials at Dir Yassin, where on April 9, 1948, rightist thugs committed terrible murder, obliterating an entire population - men, women, children, livestock - the whole village was erased."

THE FORMER top educator is either ignorant or a deliberate falsifier. Brit Habiryonim (named after a Second Temple group) was established in 1930 and could hardly have bestirred an Arab bloodbath retroactively.

The shofar-blowing at the Wall was an annual Yom Kippur tradition between 1921-1947. It began after the Muslim Wakf, aggressively engaged in disrupting prayers at Judaism's holiest site, complained about the horn's resonance. The British, eager to please and dispense international justice, outlawed the annoying blasts in 1921.

Revisionist youths, judging this wasn't exclusively a religious issue but one of national self-respect, made it a point to defiantly sound the shofar at the close (not the eve) of each Yom Kippur. They hardly burst on the scene. British undercover agents infiltrated the narrow alleyways to apprehend transgressors. The forbidden instruments had to be secreted in women's bras, and the blowers were always jailed for their crime.

Said crime's prescribed and expected punishment, Aloni seems to intimate, is indiscriminate slaughter. It's the inescapable spontaneous response to Jewish temerity.

The Hebron massacre, however, was perpetrated on August 24, 1929. The previous Yom Kippur was on September 24, 1928 - giving the infamous Haj Amin el-Husseini (later Hitler's avid collaborator) a full 11 months to carefully orchestrate incensed spontaneity. He even prepared postcards with photomontages of Herzl (then dead for 25 years) on the Temple Mount.

Yet while Arabs are capable of no premeditated evil, Jews are capable of nothing else. Enter the Dir Yassin calumny, well exploited early in the state's days by the Left to besmirch political opponents, never mind the damage to Israel's case. Dir Yassin, a veritable vipers' nest, controlled a portion of the Jerusalem road and participated in the strategy of starving Jerusalem's Jews, in preparation for a larger scale Hebron-like bloodbath.

The IZL tried to take it. To avoid civilian casualties, its men warned inhabitants by loudspeakers to surrender or leave. Having thereby lost the element of surprise, they entered a firetrap, were shot at from each house, and even attacked by men in women's garb. One-third of the Jewish force was hit. The count of Arab casualties varies from fabrication to fabrication. But this wasn't intentional murder, just as Hebron's Jews weren't collateral damage. Dir Yassin's residents were caught in a conflict of their own instigation.

Hebron's Jews were slaughtered for being Jews. By whitewashing this, we not only distort the past - we unwittingly become active accomplices in shaping a dismal, tragic future.

We perhaps even facilitate our own destruction, still the goal of the implacable hate enveloping us. That's what makes Shula's saunter through Historyland so dangerous.