Communist icon Rosa Luxemburg was rifle-butted to death by German nationalists
nearly a century ago. Nonetheless, though her legacy has been largely forgotten
elsewhere, her spirit is alive and well in 21st century Israel. It thrives among
her assorted homegrown doctrinal descendants. Ideologically, Ha’aretz’s Amira
Hass is Rosa’s daughter and drinks from her wellspring.
In a recent
op-ed, Hass justified – indeed glorified – the targeting of Jews by Arabs who
hurl rocks at passing Israeli vehicles. There’s no doubt where her loyalties and
sympathies reside. “Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject
to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of
resistance,” she wrote. Nowhere did Hass mention the historical progression and
context that produced what she habitually disparages as Israeli
This is no surprise. Hass, reared in an orthodox communist
home, had long ago crossed the lines not only in abstract terms. She resides in
Ramallah, having previously made her home in Gaza (but that became uncomfortable
and unsafe, given the illiberal nature of Gaza’s Hamas warlords).
the most part, the usual hodgepodge of Israel-bashers overseas avidly amplifies
Hass’s every word. Her diatribes, however, barely resonate inside Israel except
among small groups of local ultra-radicals. But her stirring defense of
rock-hurlers did succeed in setting off an uncommon hullabaloo.
thing, her piece appeared the day after Waal al-Arjeh, the stone-thrower who hit
Asher Palmer’s car in 2011, was convicted of murdering the young father and his
one-year-old son, Yonathan. The judges determined that, contrary to forgiving
attitudes by predisposed news-slanters, rocks can be lethal weapons. Palmer lost
control of his car and was killed in the resultant crash as was the baby – a
mere 17 days past his first birthday.
Another toddler, Adelle Biton, is
now comatose and in critical condition after a rock struck the car in which she,
her two sisters and mother were riding last month. Adelle’s mother, Adva,
invited Hass to “come to the Intensive Care Unit, see my Adelle, a
three-year-old child, connected to tubes. Come experience with me what I am
dealing with. Amira, a rock does not distinguish between different people’s
blood, and not between an adult and a three-year-old. A rock kills. A rock is a
murder weapon for all intents and purposes.”
But Hass is a seasoned
political warrior and in all likelihood impervious to any pain that doesn’t
serve the causes she propagandizes. In her universe, the fault for the tragedies
of tiny Yonathan and Adelle – and too many others – rests with their parents and
official Israel. The tots just shouldn’t have been where they were, Hass would
Nor is she likely to be swayed by the fact that the Yesha
(Judea and Samaria) Council had demanded that Hass be indicted for incitement.
Quite the contrary. She is likely to posture as the Jeanne d’Arc of free speech,
despite the fact that Israel’s Left clamors for the prosecution of any oddball
who dares opine in the other extreme. Its persistent drive to try Rabbi Yitzhak
Shapira for his obscure 2009 Torat Hamelech, a scholarly treatise on the
religious rules of warfare, is a prime case in point.
didn’t merely extol stone-throwing but took the Palestinian Authority to task
for not making practical anti-Israel attrition tactics part of the formal school
“It would make sense for Palestinian schools to introduce
basic classes in resistance,” Hass advised the PA. In an accusative tone she
argued that such instruction isn’t offered “due to inertia, laziness, flawed
reasoning, misunderstanding and the personal gains of some parts of
She recommends that “various forms of steadfastness and
resisting the foreign regime, as well as its rules and limitations, should be
taught and developed.” Thereby, Hass figures, Palestinian youths could be
discouraged from aiming at Jewish children – not that anyone has yet come up
with a reliable method to rapidly ascertain the age groups among a given moving
But no such fine points bother Hass or her backers
in the increasingly anti-Zionist Ha’aretz. That’s where Hass particularly
resembles the Luxemburg prototype.
To inveterate ideologues like Rosa,
Zionism was anathema. Although reviled by Germans as a contemptible generic Jew
(with her revolutionary doctrines falsely ascribed to all Jews), Rosa’s
antipathy to Jewish causes was a near-boastful expression of alienation from her
own Jewish roots.
In 1917 she wrote her friend Mathilde Wurm a harsh
response to the latter’s concern about pogroms. “I have no room in my heart for
Jewish suffering,” Rosa declared outright. “Why do you pester me with Jewish
troubles? I feel closer to the wretched victims of the rubber plantations of
Putumayo or the Negroes in Africa… I have no separate corner in my heart for the
Rosa’s indifference to her own people arose from the intuition
that cutting the cords of disagreeable Jewish affiliations eases acceptance
beyond the ghetto. This was Rosa’s ticket to citizen-of-the-world credentials –
even if only within the setting of her Marxist milieu, packed paradoxically with
her own breed of estranged Jews.
No less paradoxically, her professed
lack of solidarity with fellow Jews flourishes remarkably in the Jewish homeland
– the creation of the very Zionist movement to which Rosa was the antithesis.
Logically, this country ought to be the last place in which to expect Jewish
self-loathing. After all, Zionism regarded itself as the remedy to Rosa-syndrome
But the Zionist cure is perhaps of limited effectiveness
against the collective mental aberrations which 2000 years of exile,
helplessness and dependence on the whims of diverse potentates and tyrants
inculcated in downtrodden Jews. Rosa’s keenness to bask in the warmth of
socialist comradeship still abounds among all-too-many Israelis. For them too,
distancing themselves from the inherent interests of the Jewish people purchases
a voucher for universalist endorsement.
This mindset long predated
actual Jewish self-determination. As in the Hass episode, in its more extreme
manifestations this inclination didn’t merely involve apathy toward the
tribulations of fellow Jews but also meant active collaboration with the enemies
of the Jews.
This was already so before the pretext of “resisting
occupation” at all came to be. Even Jewish independence hadn’t yet been
declared, couldn’t be seized upon as a casus belli and misrepresented as the
Palestinian nakba (catastrophe – the loaded Arabic moniker for Israel’s
Then as now, whenever the Left goes on the warpath it’s
ostensibly for peace, justice and virtue. Its self-acclaimed high-mindedness
inevitably rationalizes any means, as it did immediately following the start in
April 1936 of the blood-soaked three-year cycle of Arab-perpetrated pogroms. The
more militant Marxists, under the aegis of the Communist Peh-Kah-Peh (PKP, the
Yiddish acronym for the Palestinisheh Kommunistisheh Partai) plastered local
streets with posters demanding “the repeal of the Balfour Declaration and an end
to Jewish immigration.”
The PKP opposed the construction of Tel Aviv
Harbor (where immigrant boats docked) and repudiated each batch of new
immigration certificates issued. These were entry visas allotted very
tight-fistedly by the British mandatory authorities to Jews already then
desperately escaping Europe. The PKP, purportedly anti-British and anti-fascist,
opposed rescuing these Jews. In that it sided with the infamous Mufti Haj Amin
al-Husseini who instigated the Nazi-financed carnage that was the 1936-39 “Great
Husseini subsequently, in the role of pan-Arab prime
minister, spent the war years in Berlin, where he consorted with Hitler,
Himmler, Eichmann, et al. He broadcast virulent Nazi propaganda, recruited
Muslims to the SS and actively foiled the rescue of any Jews, even children,
during the Holocaust.
Indeed as Arab terror escalated, proof mounted of
active PKP collusion with it (in incidents such as the 1936 bombing of Haifa’s
Beit Hapoalim and Tel Aviv’s Fair Grounds). When Arab leaders themselves
announced a brief truce in the autumn of 1936, the PKP rejected any ceasefire on
the grounds that “Zionism drags Jews to hell… Zionists and imperialists alone
are to blame for these days of atrocity” – much like settlers are nowadays held
The anti-Zionism of the PKP evolved gradually. The party arose
from the fringes of the broad-based Poalei Zion. In 1919 – coincidentally the
year in which Rosa was fatally bludgeoned – the embryo faction banded as the
Hebrew Socialist Workers Party. But by 1922 its rejection of Zionism became so
all-encompassing that it ditched Hebrew – whose revival was core to the Zionist
ethos - and reverted to Yiddish (the language which Moscow’s commissars
preferred they use).
In 1923 the PKP castigated Zionism as “a bourgeois
movement serving the interests of British imperialism” (just as the Zionist
state today is castigated for purportedly serving the interests of alleged
American imperialism). The party cheered the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact that
facilitated WWII. The PKP vehemently opposed fighting the Third Reich until
Hitler betrayed Stalin and attacked the USSR in 1941.
History is an
irreverent matchmaker with a quirky sense of irony. Back in pre-state days, when
the PKP assumed it was abetting Marxist goals, it also inter alia furthered the
fascist game plan. It’s not much different today.
The anti-Israel and
pro-Arab line that Hass promotes appeals equally to anti-Israel forces on the
international arena’s left and to rightist neo-Nazi outfits abroad. The rhetoric
to which both supposed opposites resort when demonizing Israel is eerily
similar. Hass delights them both.
She may pose as the embodiment of
humane admonition and hector as the self-appointed voice of Israeli conscience.
She may adopt the affectation of doing the moral thing in our name but the end
result is immoral and indisputably at our expense.
Hass and her like-minded
cronies in our midst aren’t held accountable and most probably never will. They
are sure to continue deriding the Israeli mainstream’s disapproval of them. They
will keep on deriving clout and celebrity in distant salons, campuses and
They’ll keep on molding foreign opinion against their own people.
Like Rosa, her heirs too have no room in their hearts for Jewish suffering.
Rosa’s ghost walks among them and they bow to its