The most talented Israeli intellectuals and writers frequently display gross
political naiveté. Amos Oz is an Israeli icon, recognized throughout the world
as the doyen of the Israel literary arena. His books, primarily relating to the
wide spectrum of life in Israel, are enormously popular and have been translated
into many languages.
Oz, always regarded as a supporter of the Left, was
also admired as a consummate and devoted Zionist. Until recent years, he
expressed his political views with gentle restraint and moderation and was
perceived as a national rather than partisan intellectual.
I have fond
recollections of his visits to Australia in the ’80s, when he insisted while
abroad on assuming non-partisan positions and refused to publicly air his
political differences with the Likud government then in office.
contrast, today Oz unhesitatingly exploits every opportunity, even when abroad,
to bitterly demonize his government. Moreover, his criticism has become
so vehement that he effectively blames Israel for the impasse with the
Most recently, Oz even proudly publicized his prison visits
to Marwan Barghouti, the Palestinian terrorist condemned for five life sentences
for the murder of five Israelis plus other orchestrated attacks on Israeli
civilians and who only recently called for a third intifada and global boycott
of Israel. Sadly, Oz morally identified himself with Barghouti, insisting that
they both share the same national objectives, and expressed the fervent hope
that the ruthless killer would soon be released.
David Grossman, another
highly acclaimed and talented Israeli writer, whose son was killed during the
Second Lebanon War, behaves in a similar manner. He recently penned an op-ed in
the viciously anti-Israeli UK Guardian proclaiming that the greatest threat
confronting the Jewish state is not Iran but the paranoia of its
These two writers exemplify the irresponsibility and extremism
that has consumed a number of prominent leftist Israeli intellectuals and
Needless to say, they are hailed as heroes by Israel’s
“elitist” but dramatically declining newspaper Haaretz, which over the past
decade has radicalized itself to such an extent that it is recognized as one of
the most potent sources for global anti-Israeli propaganda.
The extent of
this newspaper’s venom – directed from the “top” – was recently demonstrated in
an op-ed written by the publisher, Amos Schocken, who accused his country of
becoming an “apartheid” state and last week in an editorial which criticized
President Shimon Peres for “publicly” calling on US President Barack Obama to
It is hard to comprehend how seemingly rational educated
Jews can behave in such a manner. Of course, Jews turning against themselves are
not a new phenomenon. In the Middle Ages Jewish apostates emerged as the most
vicious anti-Semites. But one can rationalize that their disgusting behavior may
have been motivated by an obsession to ingratiate themselves within their host
Likewise the alienation from Judaism of Karl Marx and many of
the early Jewish socialists could be attributed to desperation for emancipation
from what they considered to be a stifling religious and ethnic identity in
order to qualify as cosmopolitan citizens of the world.
The same can also
be said for the Jewish communists who vigorously applauded as Stalin executed
their kinsman and justified the persecution of Soviet Jews. Many of them
convinced themselves that by destroying Jewish particularism, they were paving
the way for a messianic secular era in which the brotherhood and equality of all
men would resolve the Jewish problem.
But after the Holocaust and with
the creation of a Jewish state, one surely expected less alienation and a more
Prime minister David Ben-Gurion, a genuine
social-democrat, was highly conscious that left-wing extremists represented a
major threat to the Zionist enterprise. He was especially scathing towards the
Marxist Mapam which continued to idolize the murderous Stalin and the Soviet
Union – even after Mordecai Oren, one of their senior political leaders, had
been arrested in Czechoslovakia in 1951 during the Prague Trials on trumped-up
charges of having acted as a CIA agent.
But after Khrushchev’s exposure
of Stalin’s cult of personality, the loony Left in Israel was marginalized to
splinter groups like Matzpen.
The dominant Labor Party was uncompromising
in its commitment to the State of Israel and proudly stood at the forefront of
Zionism. It had no truck with the post-Zionist intellectuals and ensured that
they were isolated and condemned.
It was only following the huge public
divide over the Oslo Accords that the Zionist Left began to fragment. Although
Rabin himself remained a steadfast Zionist throughout his life, de facto he
became allied with a new breed of Labor activists, many of whom flirted with
Dr. Yossi Beilin, a key architect of the Oslo Accords, even
expressed public regret that his grandfather, one of the original Chovevei Zion
delegates to the early Zionist Congresses, had voted against Herzl’s plan to
adopt Uganda as a Zionist homeland.
Some Labor leaders, in order to
alleviate public hostility about the “peace process,” felt obliged to defend the
Arab case and began understating or trivializing statements by Arafat and other
Palestinians leaders who were telling their people that Oslo was merely a
preliminary step toward achieving the ultimate objective of destroying the
Zionist entity. They also suppressed the mounting evidence that the duplicitous
Arafat was directing terrorism.
This impacted on our response to terror
with repeated mindless statements, even from Rabin, that we would fight terror
but continue pursuing peace – with the very same Palestinians initiating the
As a result, the Zionist core of the Labor movement rapidly
eroded, with extremist radicals emerging and expressing sentiments that would
have been considered treasonable during the period of the Mapai hegemony.
Ultimately the radicals all but hijacked the Labor Party.
criticism of Israel is a guaranteed passport for elevation to heroic stature in
certain Western liberal quarters, and thus represents an additional incentive
for failed Israeli politicians like Avram Burg and his ilk to join the anti-
Israeli pack and act as principal propagandists of the adversaries of
The situation became exacerbated in recent years with a major
change in public perceptions and the emergence of a consensus moving the country
somewhat to a right-of-center approach to the Israel-Palestinian impasse, thus
further marginalizing the far Left. To the dismay of the radicals, their bête
noire, Netanyahu, far from being reviled, emerged as the most popular
Oz and Grossman are neither post-Zionists nor self-hating Jews.
They unquestionably love Israel. But the public support of the government
appears to have unhinged them and a number of other “doves.” In their frenzied
desperation to dissociate themselves from the national consensus which broadly
endorses Netanyahu, they succumbed to employing vitriolic language that comes
perilously close to being indistinguishable from the anti-Zionist
One can only hope that under the new leadership of Shelly
Yacimovich, the Labor Party will reaffirm the Zionist credo and encourage Labor
Zionists who lost the plot, to return to the fold.