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Waiting for 3G: Palestinians call for connection
Jerusalem: Israeli forces increase security amid Jewish holiday
A Conversation on Jerusalem and the Future of the Peace Process
Israeli forces kill Palestinian siblings in alleged attack
Attacked by a Tel Aviv "Death to Arabs!" mob
"Us" and "Them"
NO. IT'S not "us" and "them".
Not "us" – the good ones, the moral ones, the righteous ones. Or, to put it bluntly, the magnificent ones. The Jews.
And not "them" – the bad ones, the evil ones. To put it bluntly again: the despicable ones. Yes, the Arabs.
We, who were chosen by God, because we are so special.
They, pagans all, who pray to all kinds of idols, like Allah or Jesus.
We, the heroic few, who are faced in every generation by those who want to destroy us, but we save ourselves from their hands.
They, the many cowards, who want to kill us and our state, and our courage defeats them.
They, all the goyim, but especially the Muslims, the Arabs, the Palestinians.
No, its not like this. Not at all.
SOME DAYS ago, Yitzhak Herzog said something especially obnoxious.
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A Document with a Mission
WHEN DAVID BEN-GURION read out Israel's declaration of independence (officially: "Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel") on May 14, 1948, I was in Kibbutz Hulda.
My company of the (still unnamed) Israeli army was ordered to make a night attack on the Arab village of al-Kubab, near the town of Ramleh. It was expected to be a hard fight, and I was busy checking my equipment and cleaning my (Czech) rifle, when somebody said that Ben-Gurion was making a speech which was being broadcast on the Kibbutz dining-room radio.
I was not really interested. We were all convinced that what some politicians in Tel Aviv might be babbling was quite immaterial to our future. Whether our state would survive or not would be decided on the battlefield. The regular armies of the neighboring Arab states were about to enter the war, there would be bloody battles, and the outcome would decide our lives. Literally.
I Was There
"PLEASE DON'T write about Ya'ir Golan!" a friend begged me, “Anything a leftist like you writes will only harm him!"
So I abstained for some weeks. But I can't keep quiet any longer.
General Ya'ir Golan, the deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, made a speech on Holocaust Memorial Day. Wearing his uniform, he read a prepared, well-considered text that triggered an uproar which has not yet died down.
Dozens of articles have been published in its wake, some condemning him, some lauding him. Seems that nobody could stay indifferent.
The main sentence was: "If there is something that frightens me about the memories of the Holocaust, it is the knowledge of the awful processes which happened in Europe in general, and in Germany in particular, 70, 80, 90 years ago, and finding traces of them here in our midst, today, in 2016."
All hell broke loose. What!!! Traces of Nazism in Israel? A resemblance between what the Nazis did to us with what we are doing to the Palestinians?
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The Center Doesn't Hold
"THE BEST lack all convictions, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity!"
Is there a better description of what is happening in Israel now?
Yet these words were written, almost a hundred years ago, by the Irish poet W. B. Yeats.
YEATS WAS writing shortly after the terrible slaughter and destruction of World War I. He believed that the world was coming to an end, and expected the second coming of the Messiah.
As part of the chaos, he foresaw in the same poem that "the center cannot hold". I believe he took this metaphor from the battlefields of former ages, when the opposing armies were arrayed in two lines facing each other, with the main force in the center, and the two flanks protecting it.
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The Day of the Rhinos
I recently mentioned the German word Gleichschaltung – one of the most typical words in the Nazi vocabulary.
"Gleich" means "the same", and "Schaltung" means "wiring". The long German word means that everything in the state is wired up the same way – the Nazi way.
This was an essential part of the Nazi transformation of Germany. But it did not happen in any dramatic way. The replacement of people was slow, almost imperceptible. In the end, all important positions in the country were manned by Nazi functionaries.
We are now witnessing something like this in Israel. We are already well into the middle of the process.
Position after position is taken over by the far-far right, which is ruling Israel now. Slowly. Very, very slowly.
Just a Trick
ONCE I heard the following story from the then Swedish ambassador in Paris:
"In 1947, when the UN was discussing the plan to partition Palestine, I was a member of the sub-committee dealing with Jerusalem. One day, the Jews sent a new representative. His name was Abba Eban. He spoke beautiful English, much better than the British or US members of the committee. He talked for about half an hour, and at the end there was not one person in the room who did not hate his guts."
I was reminded of this episode when I saw on TV the press conference held by Dore Gold, the Director General of our Foreign Office. Its subject was the recent Paris peace conference, which was vehemently denounced by our government.
MANY YEARS ago I received a phone call from the Prime Minister's office. I was told that Yitzhak Rabin wanted to see me in private.
Rabin opened the door himself. He was alone in the residence. He led me to a comfortable seat, poured two generous glasses of whisky for me and himself and started without further ado – he abhorred small talk – "Uri, have you decided to destroy all the doves in the Labor Party?"
My news magazine, Haolam Hazeh, was conducting a campaign against corruption and had accused two prominent Labor leaders, the new president of the Central Bank and the Minister for Housing. Both were indeed members of the moderate wing of the party.
I explained to Rabin that in the fight against corruption I could make no exceptions for politicians who were close to my political outlook. Corruption was a cause in itself.
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The Second Coming?
SUDDENLY, A familiar face, almost forgotten, appeared on the TV screen. Well, not entirely familiar, because it now sports a prominent black beard. (If I were he, I would quickly shave it off.)
Yes, there he was. Former Chief of Staff, former Prime Minister, Ehud Barak.
Barak in a new format. Aggressive. Outspoken. Damning Binyamin Netanyahu in no uncertain terms. Repeating almost word for word my warning that Netanyahu has lost his senses. Saying that Netanyahu "has gone off the rails", and that there are now "signs of fascism" in Israel.
The entire country woke up and listened. Barak back again? At long last, a man who could possibly defeat Netanyahu?
Barak denied that he was a potential candidate for Prime Minister. Nobody believed him. Every commentator worth his or her salt began speculating about plans for a new party. Why not Barak together with Moshe Ya'alon, the former Chief of Staff and Minister of Defense just kicked out by Netanyahu? Why not with Gabi Ashkenazi, another former Chief of Staff, who has the additional advantage of being an oriental Jew? The air was full of names bandied around.
Israel blockades Hebron after settler killings
What the Hell
What the hell has happened to them? Have they gone crazy? The British, of all people?
I have always been an Anglophile. Even as a youngster, when I was a member of a terrorist organization devoted to driving the British out of our country. At the time I was working in a lawyer's office which had English clients. I liked most of them. (For us colonials, they were all "English".)
The British always struck me as a highly rational people. Self-controlled, moderate, averse to shows of emotion.
And here they are, making a quite irrational decision on a matter of historic importance, letting their aversion for "foreigners" guide and misguide their vote.
THE VERY occasion was as un-British as can be.
The British pride themselves on having invented modern democracy. Their “elite” never had any illusions about the common man (and much later, common woman). British voters did not make fateful decisions. They elected people much more competent than themselves to make the fateful decisions, people educated for the job. Actually, people born for the job.
Inside Story - Who's stopping the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip?
A PALESTINIAN youngster breaks into a settlement, enters the nearest house, stabs a 13-year old girl in her sleep and is killed.
Three Israeli men kidnap a 12-year old Palestinian boy at random, take him to an open field and burn him alive.
Two Palestinians from a small town near Hebron enter Israel illegally, have coffee in a Tel Aviv amusement quarter and then shoot up everybody around before they are captured. They become national heroes.
Evolution: from racist to anti-racist
FOR ME, France is the land of liberty.
When I was just 10 years old, I fled with my family from Nazi Germany to France, on our way to Palestine. We were afraid of being detained at the border. When our train crossed the Rhine, leaving Germany behind us and entering France, I breathed deeply. From tyranny to liberty, from hell to paradise.
I never forgot this feeling. Whenever I visited France, it came back to me.
I remembered it again this week, when I saw a much-toted TV "investigative report" on "Anti-Semitism in France". It was a pile of propaganda nonsense.
The Great Rift
THE State of Israel was still young, when two famous comedians produced a short act:
Two Arabs stand on the seashore and curse a boat carrying new Jewish immigrants.
Next, two of the new immigrants stand on the seashore and curse a boat carrying new immigrants from Poland.
Next, two immigrants from Poland stand on the seashore and curse a boat carrying new immigrants from Germany.
Next, two immigrants from Germany stand on the seashore and curse a boat carrying new immigrants from North Africa.
And so on…
Perhaps this is the story of all immigration countries, like the US, Australia, Canada et al. But in Israel, with a nationalist ideology which includes all Jews (and excludes all others) this is a bit odd
THE NEW Jewish community (called the Yishuv) in what was then Turkish Palestine was founded mainly by immigrants from Russia.
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