Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Day was marked yesterday all over Israel. Silence filled the streets as people stayed home and focused on discussing the lessons of the Holocaust. Some watched Holocaust-themed films or listened to personal accounts of family members who had survived the horrors of the death camps.
Others, like the Israeli daily, Haaretz decided to focus on the political lessons of the Holocaust. The Haaretz editorial lashed out at Israelis for failing to have learned the lessons of the darkest moment in Jewish history. The editorial warned that
“…horrors can arise within a purportedly enlightened society, even one with a democratic government, and that it is perilous to overlook worrying signs - such as incipient indications of nationalism or damages caused by racism - that presage a descent down a slippery slope with all the attendant consequences.”
One would think that such a damning condemnation would merit some evidence. Unsurprisingly the article cites one example. Some months ago a group of rabbis drafted a letter and circulated it amongst the residents of the city of Safed. In the letter the rabbis asked the Jewish residents of the city to refrain renting or selling apartments to Arabs.
A group of renegade rabbis tells Jews not to rent to Arabs and Haaretz concludes has Israel has not learned the lessons of the Holocaust?
Ironically, if Israel was about to transform its thriving liberal democracy into a Nazi-like police state, why is Haaretz still in business?
The daily poppycock that Haarez spews is an increasingly frustrating ordeal, but like most Israelis, I am happy support its right to free expression, even if I desperately want to see it go out of business.
The Israeli government will not be suing Haaretz for anti-state activities or imprison its writers. Instead the government celebrates liberal democratic values by letting it exercise its right to free speech. Nor are Israelis suing the paper for obvious slander. Israelis continue to be infuriated by its op-eds, but accept the publication as a part of a vibrant and diverse national discourse.
I came across one incisive quote by Eric Hoffer, which I think captures the essence of Haaretz:
“In a Western democracy the adversary intellectual is not only against his country…but he sides with animals against man, with the wilderness against the sown. Predictably an adversary intellectual is a Jew who sides with Arabs against Israel… One who hates what most people love probably savors his own uniqueness. The adversary intellectual cannot actually wreck a society, and he cannot seize power, but by discrediting and besmirching a society he undermines the faith of its potential defenders.”
Even beyond the grave, and with a few carefully selected words, Eric Hoffer is able to strip Haaretz of its credibility and reveal its true firstname.lastname@example.org