If you ever wondered how it happened that Israel’s lost its political standing in Israeli society , then look no further than this piece from Israeli journalist Uri Misgav in Friday’s Ha’aretz.
Written with a style that would barely obtain a passing grade in a 10th grade English class ( a hanging intro which has almost no connection with the thrust of his argument, followed by a reference to events in 1929 which he does not bother to explain and then a vituperative name calling of his prime minister without bothering to enumerate the man’s sins), the opinion piece resembles a fish flapping helplessly on a boat deck, furious that it has been baited while futilely gasping for oxygen.
Misgsav seems to believe that the Netanyahu government has taken Israel back to the year 1929, the year which signaled the most destructive outbreak of violence between Arabs and Jews up until that time.
To briefly recount that history:
Following a minor dispute at the Western Wall in the late summer of August, 1929 Haj Amin al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem distributed leaflets to Arabs in Palestine and throughout the Arab world which claimed that the Jews were planning to take over the al-Aqsa Mosque. The leaflet was an act of incitement to the local Palestinian Arab population to rise up in rebellion against both the Jews and the British. What followed were brazen unprovoked attacks upon Jewish communities in Jerusalem, Hebron and Safed in which 133 Jews and 116 Arabs were killed.
The 1930 Shaw Commission established by the British government found, incontrovertibly, that Arab incitement had been the catalyst for the massacres.
But back to Misgav. Here he is describing his failing faith in Israel’s future and the relevance of the year 1929:
“But the events of the last few months resonate of 1929 from every corner: the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, Hebron, Gaza, Jerusalem. Jaffa’s turn will surely come soon. Murderous violence, blood feuds, divisiveness and incitement. The familiar border lines are swiftly being erased. The 1967 Green Line never really existed as a proper border; the occupation and the settlement enterprise prevented it from becoming one. Now, the 1948 borders are being blurred — not only geographically, but with regard to fundamental principles.”
OK. But he seems to have forgotten today’s true parallel with 1929 is the incessant incitement by Palestinian leaders over the false and fabricated Jewish plot to attack the al Asqa mosque. How is it that Mr. Misgav cannot see that the slaughter of the four rabbis in the Har Nof synagogue last week has its mirror in the unbridled fury that Hebron’s Arab population unleashed on its Jewish neighbors in a five hour unprovoked blood letting that left 67 Jewish men, women and children murdered and mutilated? This was no tit for tat nor blood feud between rival clans. It was an out and out massacre, condoned and incited by the Arab leadership of the time.
Of course the problem for Misgav is not an unrelenting Arab rejectionism but the country’s current leadership and the author spares no vitriol for the Israeli prime minister:
“Presiding over this whole terrible tumult, with irresponsibility and atrocious leadership, is former U.S. citizen Benjamin Nitay (as the prime minister called himself when he lived in the United States). He and his failed, reckless government, which was established and is being maintained with the help of 25 Knesset seats borrowed from the ostensibly sane silent majority. The government of the Habayit Hayehudi party, which has forged a tightening alliance of shared interests with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Movement, with the goal of returning us to 1929.”
“Irresponsible” “failed” “reckless”?? … hmmm. Better descriptions I would think of the Rabin Government – who signed an agreement with a terrorist organization whose leader only days later was bragging how the Oslo Accords were in fact only part of the phased plan for the destruction of the State of Israel; or perhaps of the Barak Government , who in a brief 18 months in office incompetently led the country into final negotiations with the same terrorist, giving him impetus to launch the Second Intifada; or then perhaps the Sharon Government, who officiated over the hand over of Gaza to an even worse terrorist entity, an act which has precipitated an unending series of conflicts and endangered hundreds of thousands of lives in Israel’s south. Or perhaps the Olmert Government, who failed to appreciate the threat posed by Hezbollah in the country’s north and was taken by surprise in 2006 when 4,000 rockets were unleashed against the country and who allowed the following military engagement to end inconclusively.
Netanyahu, on the other hand, has faced down an increasingly hostile U.S. Administration with diplomatic aplomb; he has represented the State of Israel with defiance and clear logic at the United Nations; he has insisted , as would any other national leader in a similar situation, that a condition for any peace treaty with Israel’s adversaries be the acceptance of Israel’s right to exist within secure borders- as well as an acknowledgement of its fundamental character as a Jewish state; and he has been unstinting in his commitment to confronting the Iranian mullahs on their drive towards nuclear power.
Netanyahu’s predecessors proved that concessions don’t bring peace, but usually war and he is not about to make the same mistake without different kinds of assurances. He also understands, better than any of his adversaries on the left, that escalating global antisemitism is not the result of Israel’s actions or inactions but the recrudescence of a ideological contagion which has made the State of Israel’s existence even more fundamentally necessary.
It is natural that Misgav conflates the aims of the Netanyahu government with those of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Movement. After all, for the members of the left they are both cut from the same fundamentalist cloth. But the failure of this hackneyed leftist apologist to mention anything about Arab incitement or irrredentism, and his apparent willingness to place all blame for the current climate of hostility between Israelis and Palestinians on the shoulders of the Israeli government, makes it clear that had he been writing in 1929, he would have undoubtedly ascribed the guilt for the massacres of Palestine’s Jewish communities to the defenseless Jews themselves.