The most righteous of men cannot live in peace if his evil neighbor will not let
The scenes of the Israeli army’s attack on Gaza at the turn of 2008 evoked...
images of Auschwitz. I came out... saying to myself: Of course, we found our
[sacrificial] lamb – the people of Gaza.
– from Wilhelm Tell Act IV, scene III, by Friedrich von Schiller, 1804.
– from The Hermeneutic Underpinning of
Ethnic Brutality: The Jewish Israeli Case
, Prof. Uri Hadar, Department of
Psychology, Tel Aviv University, 2011
To lose our country by a scrupulous
adherence to the written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life,
liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly
sacrificing the ends to the means.
– Thomas Jefferson, September 20, 1810
juxtaposing of profound wisdom on the one hand, and inflammatory imbecility on
the other, embodied in these excerpts throws into dramatically sharp relief the
essence of what is arguably the gravest strategic danger facing Israeli society,
and the greatest challenge to the sustainability of the Zionist ideal. But more
on that little later.A carefully choreographed diversion
last weekend’s less than impressive turnout for the nationwide social-justice
protests, it seems that much of wind has been sucked out of the sails that
billowed so impressively in the summer winds. Of course this is not entirely
unexpected. After all, only the hopelessly gullible could have believed that
what took place on the streets in August was a genuine reflection of
socioeconomic distress across a wide cross-section of Israeli
For it was never an authentic cry of the “have-not”
underclasses, but rather a carefully choreographed demand by the “want-more”
Indeed, with the number of Israelis vacationing abroad
reaching record highs, and unemployment figures at record lows; with new cars
sales soaring to new highs; with domestic hotels and recreations sites filled to
capacity over the recent holiday season; with Israel’s sovereign credit rating
being upgraded, while those of the US, Italy and Spain were downgraded, the
endeavor to portray the intolerable socioeconomic plight of the average Israeli
as the most pressing problem on the national agenda has a distinctly hollow
Indeed, in light of the findings of a survey conducted by a leading
polling institute a month ago, in which almost 90 percent (!) opined that Israel
was a good place to live, it borders on the absurd.
To make matters
worse, almost exactly at the time the renewed demonstrations were about to
begin, the volleys of Grads missiles from Gaza made claims that security should
be relegated in the nation’s order of priorities look – at best – wildly
That’s the thing about reality. It always seem to raise it
unwelcome head at the most inopportune moments, despite the best laid – and
funded – attempts to divert attention from its more unpleasant
But with growing sections of the public (according the
previously mentioned poll almost 70%) expressing growing disbelief in the
possibility of peace – ever – with the Palestinians, some alternative way to
denigrate a government detested by significant portions of the county’s
opinion-makers was sorely needed.
Accordingly, the mindless clamor for an
egalitarian “utopia” where everything is free makes for a handy – albeit
temporary – alternative.Media manipulation
The biased coverage of the
social justice demonstrations together with the Schalit saga, are but two
instances of massive media manipulation to which the public has been subjected
in recent months, without any regard for the effect on the national
There have been and continue to be other cases of scandalous
abuse of position, power and privilege to promote the political preferences of
influential media personalities.
These have inevitability involved the
promotion of Chamberlainian concessions to the Arabs/Palestinians and the
portrayal of appeasement of tyranny as the epitome of enlightenment.
is one thing to use one’s access to the public to argue for (or against) a
particular position on the basis of its merits. It is quite another to omit, to
downplay, or to distort facts and events because they might raise doubts as to
the validity of one’s personal political perspective.
But since the dawn
of the Oslowian debacle, this betrayal of journalistic integrity has become a
common and openly acknowledged feature of the mainstream Israeli media, both
electronic and written.
Thus, David Landau, then-editor of Haaretz,
found nothing inappropriate for a person in his position to call for his county
to be “raped” into submission by a foreign power, openly admitted that he
intentionally blocked the publication of reports of inappropriate conduct by
prime minister Ariel Sharon so as not to undermine the implementation of the
disengagement from Gaza in 2005.
Astonishingly, when asked how Haaretz
“the crusader against corruption in this country for decades,” had given Sharon
“almost carte blanche” on his legal and ethical problems, Landau was quoted as
saying: “I consciously have subjugated those values to the overriding advantage
I see for Israel’s democracy.”
So according to this “Landauwian” logic,
democracy is best advanced by keeping the demos in the dark? ‘Haaretz’ in the
broader sense of the word
This culture of capitulation, and its promotion by a
doctrine of duplicity, was and is not confined to pages of
According to Israel Media Watch, the former editor of Ma’ariv
Amnon Dankner, confessed, “I wasn’t right in what I did by misleading the public
on the Oslo process.”
Really, wrong to mislead? However, apparently
unrepentant – despite “severe [post-Oslowian] disappointment” – Danker conceded
that his paper tried to mobilize sentiment in favor of the disengagement: “We
were for it from day one. I think we helped in preparing public opinion for
’s Yair Lapid has consistently used his Friday column
to push positions later conceded to be mendacious manipulations. Thus, on the
eve of the disengagement (June 24, 2005), he published a caustic castigation of
the opponents of unilateral withdrawal.
He warned darkly of the dire
consequences and the unbridgeable rift that would result if they succeeded in
persuading the public that expulsion of the Jews from Gaza should be aborted.
Menacingly, he declared that Israelis were tired of sacrificing their lives for
the sake of the religious settlers and that for the majority in the country,
disengagement “appeared to be the last chance for us to live a normal
However, barely a year later (October 13, 2006), when the
catastrophic failure of the disengagement was apparent for all to see, Lapid
published a breathtakingly brazen follow-up, titled, “Things we couldn’t say
In it he admitted it had all been a giant ploy:
“It was never about the Palestinians, demography, and endeavor for peace, the
burden on the IDF.”
No, revealed Lapid, the real reason for imposing the
deportation of Jewish citizens and the destruction of Jewish towns and villages
was to put the settlers in their place, to teach them “the limits of their
power” and to show who them really calls the shots in this
Similar lapses in professional ethics have occurred in the
electronic media. One of the most blatant was that of Channel 2 political
commentator Amnon Abramovich, who publicly called for his colleagues to shield
Sharon from all adversarial coverage of his behavior – to treated him like a
well-padded Succot citron (etrog) – lest the implementation of the evacuation of
Gaza be jeopardized.
Yet none of these – and other – appalling cases of
journalistic abuse, of purposeful concealment of information, of gross
misrepresentation of the truth, has produced anything of the outrage that
created by the cost of cottage cheese.Uneven scales of justice
appears prevalent in other walks of public life in the country. One of the most
important and sensitive is in the judiciary.
In his book Towards
(Harvard University Press, 2004), Prof. Ran Hirschl cautions as to
the ongoing practice of judicial rulings that appear to contravene the public’s
understanding of justice and the prevailing values of Israeli society: The
damage of the judicialization of politics to the Supreme Court’s legitimacy is
already beginning to show.
“Over the past decade, the public image of the
SCI [Supreme Court of Israel] as an autonomous and political impartial arbiter
has been increasingly eroded, as... political arrangements and public policies
agreed upon in majoritarian decision-making arenas are likely to be reviewed by
an often hostile Supreme Court.”
He goes on to observe: “As a result, the
court and its judges are increasingly viewed by a considerable portion of the
Israeli public as pushing forward their own political agenda.”
the political bias of the judiciary seems to be reflected in more quantifiable
parameters as well. A statistical study conducted by the Regavim movement and
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel regarding petitions filed with the
Supreme Court between 2005 and 2009 against the law enforcement authorities in
Judea and Samaria suggests a disturbing imbalance.
The study focused on
measurable factors such as the length of time allowed for a response, the number
of court sessions held, the span of time between each session, the makeup of the
court and the issuing of interim injunctions and orders nisi.
blatant bias in favor of leftwing/ Arab petitioners relative to right-wing ones,
irrespective of the substantive content of the petitions.
In the words of
the report: “In an era in which the Supreme Court appropriates more and more
authority to interfere with the workings of the legislative and executive
branches, these blatant political overtones, expressed in the decisions and
rulings of the judges, are cause for great concern.
They effectively turn
the High Court into a weapon in the hands of one particular side of the
A cause of public outrage? Apparently not.And in
the ivory tower
The sentiments expressed in the citation from Tel Aviv
University’s Uri Hadar at the start of this column dovetail well with those of
his colleague Oren Yiftahel of Ben- Gurion University.
In The Jailer
(January 18, 2009), the good professor states: “Palestinian violence, and
particularly the shelling from Gaza, should also be perceived as a prison
uprising... suppressed with terror by the Israeli state.”
meticulously researched and documented ‘Tenured Radicals
’ in Israel,
Prof. Ofira Seliktar traces the ongoing activities of academics who
exploit their positions to promote the delegitimization of Israel. This is
becoming evermore prevalent not only in academic research agendas but also in
the content of courses taught and of conferences/ seminars held, as well as an
increasingly weighty factor in the selection of faculty.
describes how the “Zionist endeavor” is routinely portrayed as a “colonialist
enterprise” in which the Jews have no any more rights to Palestine than the
British had to India.
According to her study, Israeli academics support
petitioning the International Criminal Court against IDF officers, and Israeli
academic institutions are depicted – by those employed by them – as an
indivisible part of an oppressive state, which has perpetrated unforgivable
crimes against the Palestinian people.
Numerous Israeli scholars endorse
the boycott, sanctions and disinvestment measures against Israel and even
support sanctions against the very universities paying their salaries – salaries
that they are somehow loath to “boycott,” despite the fact that they come from
the coffers of the iniquitous racist state they decry.
Might this not be
cause for the average Israeli to ponder the use being made of taxes deducted
from his hard-earned income? A real reason for revolution
foundations underpinning the Zionist enterprise are being deconstructed; the
ideological edifice embodying the notion of Jewish political sovereignty is
being eroded. This deconstruction, this erosion, is being carried out by those
who should be entrusted with the maintenance of those foundations and the
enhancement of that edifice – those charged with dispensing justice, imparting
knowledge and conveying truth.
They have been found wanting. They have
devoted themselves to defanging the Israeli military and debilitating Israeli
diplomacy. They have turned away from their duty and at best seem in dire need
of a refresher course in “Jeffersonian insights.”
At best, they have
subjugated form to substance, “absurdly sacrificing the ends to the
The Israeli experience has been hijacked by those who would empty
it of its intrinsic value, distort its unique substance and demean its vibrant
nature. They must be confronted, countered and curtailed. The Zionist narrative
must be reclaimed and resuscitated.
That – not cheaper cheese – seems a
real reason for revolution.