The Zionist Conspiracy
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Stupid Column of the Week
I've recently been rather critical of Ariel Sharon. Dismantling the Gaza settlements unilaterally is, in my view, a dangerous encouragement of Palestinian terror and not wise, at least in the near future. I also believe Sharon's broken promise to accept the Likud referendum results, his firing of cabinet ministers who disagree with him, and his threats toward coalition Knesset members are undemocratic and unacceptable.
However, there is a line that respectable observers - particularly in the U.S. - must not cross in response to Sharon's decisions.
In this week's Jewish Press, Isaac Kohn, writes a rant that epitomizes the type of discussion that some narrow-minded American Orthodox Jews might have while at a kiddush.
Kohn drafts, in Sharon's name, an imaginary letter to settlers. He writes, in part:
"When I say I outmaneuvered the enemy, I mean you and the other settlers who are illegally occupying Arab land that we Jews took through armed force. I outmaneuvered your stubborn tactics and your hollow claims.
"Sorry, but let this letter should serve as a reminder that your occupation of the land must end.
"The Arabs have long insisted that the settlements are the obstacles to peace in our region. The world has long concurred. And, recently, I have come to the conclusion that they are right. Our history, unfortunately, is replete with examples of Jewish obstinacy in demanding what is not ours. In fact, the establishment of the State of Israel was contrary to the will of our neighbors, who demanded that Jews find another area in the world to establish their home.
"Through my reading of several Palestinian textbooks I have come to realize that the Arabs settled and built up these once-desolate lands many centuries ago. We really had no business intruding on this pastoral serenity...
"I do not apologize for turning my back on long-held principles. Nor do I apologize for the mass expulsions I am prepared to carry out against you and your compatriots - expulsions that will obliterate forty years of building and planting. Nor do I apologize, dear settler, for misleading you for so many years, for not being true to you, for hiding behind a facade, for wearing a mask. Nor do I, or will I, apologize to the thousands who gave their lives for the lands you claim are G-d-given.
"In large part it is you, the settlers, who are to blame for the predicament in which you find yourselves. You believed in me and followed me blindly all these years, didn't you? You are also to blame for your zeal, for your belief in an ancient, archaic, outmoded and irrelevant book. I blame you for being unbending in your determination to resettle the lands that you insist are an inheritance from your forefathers.
"And I blame you for not paying more attention to the warnings spoken by people like Meir Kahane, who told you that a time would come when I would turn my back on all that you hold sacred. You laughed and ridiculed the notion. How silly of you!
"In closing, I suggest you begin to pack up and rethink your plans so that you may expeditiously evacuate and move elsewhere. And please - do not include Tel Aviv in your plans. It may be next."
There are two things that bother me about this column. First, that the Jewish Press published it. The people who run the paper today are thoughtful enough to know that Kohn's screed is idiotic. It's one thing to offer a rationale for why the political decisions of Sharon and others may be very wrong, even immoral. To insinuate that Sharon is a traitor who believes Israel has no right to a state is a disgrace and does not deserve a forum in a widely-read publication.
I assume that the paper would respond that Kohn is an interesting writer and that it is obvious that this is a satire and that not everything written is to be taken literally. I disagree and think the column speaks for itself in that regard. There already is one murdered Israeli Prime Minister; decency demands that invective toward Israel's leaders - especially someone who has contributed as much to the Jewish State as Ariel Sharon - be utterly rejected with complete revulsion.
What's even more troubling is that Kohn's thoughts reflect that of many Orthodox Jews in America, who, never having to serve in Gaza or worry about their children in the IDF, can afford to conveniently take extremist positions and castigate anyone to the left of Meir Kahane as a leftist lover of Arab terrorists. Some of these people won't go to Israel and certainly would never go anywhere near Gaza. Some forbid their kids in Israel from crossing the "Green Line," though to be charitable, they presumably are ignorant enough not to know that large portions of Jewish sections of Jerusalem are outside the Green Line.
Of course, many on the left are no better. Large numbers of non-observant American Jews automatically and thoughtlessly support extremist left-wing positions such as the Geneva Accord. Increasingly, younger secular Jews even support millions of Palestinian "refugees" destroying Israel's existence as a Jewish state.
The reality is that Israel has no peace partner, faces demographic problems, and is diplomatically isolated, with its closest ally refusing to move its embassy to Israel's capital (despite its President's repeated assurances during the 2000 election campaign that his first action as President would be to do so) and often hypocritically and condescendingly tying its hands in its battle against terror. There are no easy solutions. Those of us outside Israel who express an opinion have a duty to carefully think through both sides, explain our conclusions soberly and respectfully, and not denigrate people who have done a lot more for Israel than us.