Surprised by Olmert's green light for PLO/Hamas politicking in Jerusalem? Nobody should be. Whenever caving in is an option, our higher-ups won't resist the path of least resistance. If Israel is pressured to yield, its honchos will dutifully oblige. This is true no matter what's at stake - from Israel's most basic existential interests to "mere" matters of principle that are significant symbolically but aren't actual catalysts for international coercion - like the recent deal rescuing Magen David Adom from lowly observer status vis-a-vis the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Federation.
The MDA deal - precisely because it wasn't geopolitically momentous - constituted no less than a pivotal touchstone case, again lamentably accentuating that critical flaw which disturbingly warps the Jewish mind.
Even clinical psychology's sharpest diagnostic tools cannot explain why Jews - no matter how wronged - feel it's they who bear the onus to make amends and make concessions in order to win some measure of seeming acceptance from outright enemies, or from the friends of outright enemies. Only Jews must pay and forfeit that which to all others is natural and inalienable.
Jewish head cases need atone for overcoming dastardly attacks and thwarting their own mass-murder or ethnic cleansing. They're driven to hand over territory to implacable assailants in the hope of dampening their would-be annihilators' genocidal zeal. No other nation - especially one so aggressed against - has ever voluntarily ceded strategic assets to still-viable or undefeated foes.
Anything that is ours which could be perceived as meaningful or hallowed to Jews, is a candidate for disparagement - from homeland to creed, culture or history. Nothing is sacred - providing of course it's Jewish. Jews alone have no right to anything inviolable.
THAT'S WHY Israel heartily endorsed the Red Cross's novel ploy for ending its 56-year boycott of the Star of David: pretending it doesn't exist and replacing it with a "neutral" red diamond shape euphemistically named a "crystal." Within it, the red star may feature unofficially, yet from the federation's perspective that offensive Jewish symbol will be invisible.
Without the objectionable outward manifestation, at least overseas, of the Jewish emblem, MDA can luxuriate in long-coveted formal affiliation. How truly emblematic.
This was the face-saving solution to which Israel's government and MDA agreed. But it only saves the federation's face, allowing it to escape eminently deserved accusations of anti-Jewish bias while doing nothing to actually remove said bias. This very arrangement, though, spits at the Jewish face. To welcome a facade that facilitates the ongoing rejection of the venerable old Jewish symbol is obsequiousness we hoped had forever disappeared from the Jewish psyche.
We'd be better off without whatever benefits Red Cross membership accrues rather than gain membership under shameful conditions. We managed quite nicely outside the Red Cross. We could carry on as well without it.
When Israel first applied for membership in 1949 it was instructed to adopt either the cross or Muslim crescent to qualify for admission. An incomparably more vulnerable and impoverished newborn Israel mustered the pluck to insist that the Jewish state's first-aid services wouldn't operate under emblems historically or currently inimical to Jews. Yesteryear's beleaguered Jewish state, literally fighting for its life, likewise had willpower and resolve to make Jerusalem its capital.
Today's Israel, stronger and thriving, vacillates on Jerusalem and collaborates in the categorization of the Jewish star as a pariah symbol which must be camouflaged or imprisoned within an ignominious "crystal." It'd be no indignity were the cross and crescent similarly confined, but Christians and Muslims are entitled to their own symbols. Only Jews - monotheism's progenitors - aren't. Until 1980's advent of Iran's ayatollah regime, the Red Cross even found no fault with the shah's Red Lion and Sun.
Israel needs its head examined for colluding to demote its emblem to second-best (or tainted) status in its fawning quest to be counted among the nations nearly six decades after winning independence. There's no ignominy in not belonging to a federation that accords full membership to such benefactors of humanity as North Korea, Iran, Syria and Sudan.
The Red Cross is the last outfit by which Israel should be humiliated, or for which Jews should sacrifice the minutest token of self-respect. This after all is the organization that steadfastly remained aloof to Jewish bloodletting throughout the Holocaust. International Committee of the Red Cross Archives director George Willemin delivered WWII documents to Yad Vashem in 1997 and declared: "The ICRC admits that it kept silentâ€¦ this is the heart of its moral failure." Swiss historian Jean-Claude Favez argues in his book A Mission Impossible? that had the Red Cross decried the extermination of Jews, the Allies couldn't as easily have rejected repeated anguished entreaties to bomb rail tracks leading to the death camps.
Primarily, he maintains, the Red Cross served Swiss policy. Switzerland grew fat while Jews perished. Already prior to WWII, Switzerland proposed the Nazis stamp German Jews' passports with glaring red Js so they could be more expeditiously denied asylum.
The newfangled "crystal" - the latest made-in-Switzerland Jew-segregating symbol - embodies continuing ostracism. Adding insult to injury, it underscores the fact that Jewish identity remains non grata. It blatantly betrays animus. In 2000 ICRC then-president Cornelio Sommaruga exclaimed: "if we accept the Shield of David, why not the swastika?"
Israeli officialdom's meek acquiescence to the disgraceful substitution and its alacrity to broker deals at any cost - even jeopardizing Jerusalem - isn't pragmatism. Compromise without honor isn't necessarily prudent. It merely broadcasts to the world that we have no pride, that we're sick in the head.