Imagine Josef Goebbels invited to speak his mind on the BBC, smack dab during the Battle of Britain and the blitz. Sound absurd? Sure, but only in the context of normal nations. No sane Briton would have tolerated the notion of the BBC broadcasting German propaganda to Londoners as they ran for shelter from German bombs.
Abetting Nazi belligerence would have been a nonstarter even under the guise of a detached reporter’s interview, part of an evenhanded approach, a sporting consideration for the aggressor’s point of view.
But not so in Israel. Here we operate in an alternative universe. Nothing that would be unthinkable anywhere else is out of bounds for our broadcasters.
As Protective Edge raged, they kept us tuned to nonstop nattering, most of it superfluous, speculative and narcissist. But in many prattle panels, there was an Arab-Israeli MK or a hotshot from some Arab “anti-racism” group (since in this country only Jews are accused of racism and never Arabs, the term is used as a loaded euphemism for anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist and/or anti-Israel).
The rules of our deranged game oblige media hosts to treat Goebbels’s latter-day torchbearers with courteous deference, or – put less diplomatically – with obsequiousness.
These hostile guests all do their absolute darndest to get our goat and compete fiercely with one another for the title of most abusive and abrasive. That distinction is worth political gold in Israel’s ominously radicalized Arab sector where it becomes a prime vote-getting asset.
In this round, though, MK Ahmed Tibi (Ta’al) must be judged as a formidable contender for top prize, much as his ambitious competitors tried to outdo him. He railed and he rebuked. He vituperated and he vilified. He shouted down everyone else and shrieked till his eyes bulged and stared daggers. If looks could kill, Tibi’s viewers would all be promptly dispatched to the netherworld.
The Tibi horror show included hardly veiled allusions to the Holocaust, in which he made full use of our Jewish idiom. He’s well aware that on each Holocaust Remembrance Day we recite long roll calls of exterminated Jews, under the heading of “Each one had a name.”
Mockingly mimicking our commemoration, Tibi thundered: “You know the names of the children and men and women you slaughtered in Gaza. They each had a name!” He thereafter proceeded to holler them out in a confrontational and stentorian provocation.
Tibi’s chutzpah is so colossal that it’s hard to know where to begin taking him on. We could remind him of the avid enthusiasm of his parents’ generation both locally and throughout the Arab world for Hitler’s industrialized execution of Jews.
The spiritual forefather of both Fatah and Hamas was Haj Amin al-Husseini who spent the war years in Berlin as Hitler’s guest, recruited Muslims to some of the most heinous of SS units, called for the shedding of Jewish blood “to please Allah,” foiled every plan to rescue Jewish children and sealed the fate of Hungarian Jewry even as WWII ebbed. Despite having been declared a wanted war criminal, Husseini remains exceedingly popular among Tibi’s cheerleaders.
Then we arrive at Tibi’s implied analogy. Did European Jews lob rockets at German civilians going about their daily lives? Did they abduct and murder German schoolchildren? Did they dig tunnels from which to perpetrate mega-massacres in German villages? And did the Jews doomed to unspeakable deaths – for no other rationale than their lineage – use noncombatants as human shields to protect fanatical rocketers and their installations? Did the ill-fated Jews hoard vast military arsenals? Did they endanger 70 percent of all Germans? Tibi can be accused of a whole lot but he cannot be called stupid. He knows full well he’s lying big (as per Goebbels’s instruction) and he scornfully resorts to the most spiteful of lies.
What can we do about it? Not much. Our ultra-liberal Supreme Court will defend Tibi’s right to defame us to the last drop of our Jewish blood. Tibi will continue messing with our minds from the podium of the Jewish state’s parliament and he’ll rouse his electorate’s fervor with ever-more inflammatory rhetoric.
Ours is decidedly a suicidal democracy and its aberrations are unlikely to be eradicated. That said, why invite Tibi to our radio and TV studios? Why give his sedition resonance? Why aggrandize his unconcealed antagonism? Why play into his hands? The simplest thing would be not to request his subversive participation in endless on-air talk-fests. No court can oblige any anchor or producer to relay Tibi’s rants.
Tibi and his ilk would have us believe that the entire conflict with Gaza began with callous Israeli bombardments aimed intentionally at frightened tots. No mention is made of the thousands of rockets rained down on Israelis before Israel lifted a finger in its defense.
No mention is made of how long Israel waited to react and how we repeatedly accepted cease-fires that Hamastan disdainfully rebuffed. Tibi doesn’t concede that the rockets from Gaza aren’t launched for benevolent ends but are meant to sow death and destruction.
He cynically dismisses our acute distress as resentment against “barbaric Palestinians for preventing saddened Jewish kids from going to dance class.” However, only the technology ingenious Israelis developed – after years of Gazan shelling – keeps us from bleeding out.
Ironically, the very Iron Dome which deflects harm from us, inter alia allows assorted Tibi to misrepresent this as a one-sided war, one in which only hapless Arabs are walloped. The travesty, though, doesn’t end here. The same TV presenters who stomach Tibi’s distortions, shower effusive praise on Amir Peretz, one of the more incompetent defense ministers we’ve had, because during his erstwhile stint he agreed not to nix the anti-rocket system.
Nobody stops to ask why our lives must now so crucially depend on this super-defensive cutting-edge contraption, awe-inspiring as it most truly is.
It’s politically expedient for Israel’s Left (and most of our news-purveyors lean leftward) to obscure the fact that were it not for the 2005 disengagement, the Iron Dome wouldn’t have been indispensable. As long as we maintained military control of the Gaza Strip, no rockets reached Ashkelon, Ashdod, Rishon, Tel Aviv, the Sharon region and all the way up north to Haifa and even beyond. This nightmare is indisputably disengagement’s byproduct.
Each territory we relinquish becomes a terror base. So it still is in south Lebanon and so it was in Judea and Samaria until we reasserted control in Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. Our ongoing presence there is the only reason that Ben-Gurion Airport isn’t permanently closed, that rockets from Kalkilya don’t flatten Kfar Saba and that Tulkarm doesn’t demolish Netanya.
OUR SURVIVAL depends on not surrendering territory. Making nice to still-viable foes won’t safeguard us from their predations.
Are there any rueful reevaluations on the Left – any breast-beating? Of course not. Disengagement’s promoters prefer we not recall their arrogant sales pitches.
On October 25, 2004, as he urged the Knesset to approve the reckless retreat from Gaza, then-PM Ariel Sharon assured the nation that “this disengagement will strengthen Israel’s hold on the territory essential to our existence and will win the blessing and gratitude of those near and far, will lessen enmity, will break besiegement and boycotts and will further us on the path of peace with the Palestinians and with all our other neighbors.”
In the same vein, Sharon’s deputy Ehud Olmert energetically peddled the dodgy merchandise: “Disengagement will bring better defense, greater security, significantly more prosperity and much joy to all who live in the Mideast... Together we will move forward in the direction of forging new relationships, improved mutual understanding and enhanced trust. We will sit with our neighbors, talk to them, help them, cooperate with them, become their partners, so that the Middle East will indeed transform into what it was supposed to be to begin with – the Garden of Eden upon this earth.”
As the shattered shards of these sham inducements tumbled menacingly all around the Garden of Eden, not only weren’t Olmert and his sidekick Tzipi Livni the least bit contrite, but both vigorously concocted a disengagement sequel, which they dubbed “Realignment.” It was to bring the dubious bounties of Gaza’s disengagement to the elongated eastern flank of our densest population concentrations.
This is what we must be forever wary of. Flare-ups and ensuing military operations come and go but our collective memories soon fade away, overtaken by the inexorable march of fresh news superimposed on yesterday’s banner headlines. Once the current fighting in Gaza recedes into the past, new schemes will be spawned for more giveaways of strategic holdings.
To this day our political arena bristles with know-it-alls who adamantly refuse to connect cause and effect, who deny the direct link between the evacuation of Gush Katif (along with the three north Gaza buffer settlements) and the emergence of Hamastan – armed to the teeth with all manner of flying projectiles, capable not only of imperiling the Negev but of harassing most of Israel.
It wasn’t coincidence that propelled an emboldened Hamas to power hot on the heels of our withdrawal and that freed it to fire at will on us from the very Jewish settlements we razed. It was Israel that granted Hamas the capacity to decide how and when it might disrupt the lives of Israeli civilians. Gaza’s monstrous gunrunning was plainly facilitated by the IDF’s absence.
By ignoring all this and sustaining the two-state chimera on artificial life support, we erode our own commonsense and undermine our self-preservation prospects. It’s the same folly that impels us to suck up to Tibi and allow Goebbels’s redoubtable disciple into our living rooms. Masochistically we suffer his depictions of IAF pilots as “repugnant murderers.”
It’s as if the Third Reich’s chief propagandist had told BBC listeners that the RAF’s heroic pilots, who dealt Hitler his first major defeat, were homicidal beasts. Bombed and battered Britain never countenanced the notion that it shouldn’t differentiate between its own casualties and those of the enemy who started the war in the first place.
An attacked nation doesn’t worry about the welfare of those who strive to annihilate it. Perceiving ourselves through enemy eyes means losing the psychological war. This is just what Tibi wants.
www.sarahhonig.com Debunking the Bull, Sarah Honig’s book, was recently published by Gefen.