Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, March 19, 2007.
Fearful of anti-Semitism, some misguided people have said Israel is bad for the Jews. But it’s not Israel but Israel’s government that is bad for the Jews. We see this even when the government is led by the Likud, ostensibly a Zionist or nationalist party. But Likud Zionism is first and foremost political or secular, and this Zionism has turned out to be bad for the Jews.
This was foreseen by Dr. Isaac Breuer, a religious Zionist who was one of the greatest exponents of Jewish thought in the first half of the twentieth century. Although he admired Theodor Herzl, he maintained that only observant Jews can be true Zionists, that political Zionism is not only a distorted form of Jewish nationalism, but by having “turned the Torah into a mere religion, a matter of private conscience,” it has become “the most terrible enemy that has ever risen against the Jewish nation.”
One may reach this conclusion by reflecting on how anti-Semitism increased after the outbreak of the Arafat’s Terror War in September 2000. Labor leader Ehud Barak, who was then Israel’s prime minister, did little to quell the violence. It was during the subsequent premiership of Likud leader Ariel Sharon that anti-Semitism became a veritable tsunami. Let’s see why.
Sharon was a Likud, i.e., secular Zionist, and it’s the adjective that’s the key to Israel’s degradation. Likud Zionism had nothing to do with “Zion,” one of the most sacred words in the dictionary of authentic Judaism. Zion is the dwelling place of God’s glory. It is the Sanctuary of the Torah, the Holy City which surrounds it, the Holy Land of which Jerusalem is the eternal capital. From Zion, from Jerusalem, the word of God—the Truth—shall come forth.
Sharon’s Likud Zionism, like Herzl’s, was based on the territorial nationalism of nineteenth-century Europe. Sharon abandoned even this diluted Zionism when he advocated a Palestinian state. By so doing he justified the Arab cause.
Now Arabs would be all the more convinced that the Land of Israel—all of it—belongs to them. Now the world could all the more readily support the Palestinian terrorists. Now these terrorists could righteously cultivate their hatred of Jews as trespassers on Arab land—as aggressors who must be eradicated.
In the real world, as opposed to the world of wishful thinking, commitment to a Palestinian state is an incitement to politicide and genocide, something that punctuates Arab-Islamic history. That’s the unintended but objective consequence of the government’s political or secular Zionism, a Zionism that has metamorphosed into anti-Zionism.
This metamorphosis become Israeli law when Sharon and 22 other Likud MKs, who had campaigned against withdrawal from Gaza in the January 2003 election, violated their pledge to the nation by voting for the bill that gave Gaza’s 21 flourishing Jewish communities to Israel’s sworn enemies. It was this Sharon-led government that expelled 8,000 Jews from their homes in Gush Katif, destroyed their schools and synagogues, their farms and factories. Who indeed is Israel’s most formidable enemy?
But I’m getting ahead of the story. Because Sharon was committed to a Palestinian state, he needed a “negotiating partner.” This is why he and his Likud party opposed abrogation of the Oslo agreement despite brazen PLO violations. This is why he and his Likud government refrained from destroying the PLO-Palestinian Authority and its terrorist network. This is why he and his Likud government pursued a policy of self-restraint vis-à-vis Arab terrorists, a policy that resulted in thousands of Jewish dead and wounded. Clearly, Israel’s government, even when led by the Likud, is bad for the Jews.
Sometimes Sharon didn’t even react to terrorist attacks. This not only encouraged such attacks but also made Jews look contemptible. This could not but trigger and magnify anti-Semitism. It’s no accident that attacks on Jews multiplied in Europe during Sharon’s premiership.
On the other hand, when Sharon did order the IDF to respond to Arab atrocities, the actions were limited and intermittent, and they inevitably resulted in “civilian” casualties. The Arabs capitalized on such casualties and even fabricated them. They distributed video clips throughout the world showing how Israel was murdering innocent Arab women and children.
This media denigration of Israel, hence of Jews, went on week after week for more than four years, while Sharon pursued his inept policy of self-restraint. Jew-hatred followed and spread throughout the West. Academics steeped in moral equivalence or moral inversion began to justify Arab suicide bombers who deliberately reduced Jewish women, men, and children to body parts.
But suppose Sharon, who won a landslide victory in the February 2001 elections, had destroyed—and he had a virtual mandate to destroy—the PA and its terrorist network. This could have been accomplished in one or two weeks, and with the blessings of the Bush administration, which in June (if not earlier) gave him the green light to do eliminate the Palestinian leadership.
By making the Arafat War a protracted war, the Sharon government inevitably multiplied casualties among Arab civilians. This enabled the PA to flood the world with television coverage of the bloodshed, which obviously incited hatred of Jews and Israel. Now voices were heard calling for the dismemberment of the Jewish state. Secular Zionism had become, as Breuer predicted—although for other reasons—“the most terrible enemy that has ever risen against the Jewish nation.”
To be fair, however, the policy of self-restraint—or of Jewish self-negation—preceded Sharon and even the establishment of the state. Six years before Sharon became prime minister, his predecessor, Yitzhak Rabin—without any protest from his Chief of General Staff Ehud Barak—deleted the terms “Judaism,” “Zionism,” and even “Eretz Yisrael” from the IDF Code of Ethics. This IDF Code, writes, Dr. Amnon Goldberg,
preaches havlaga—“restraint”—and tahar haneshek, “purity of arms,” terms coined by the Jewish Agency in the 1930s and advocating a passive policy in response to murderous Arab terror, stipulating that weapons be used solely as a means of self-defense and that “unnecessary” bloodshed be avoided at all costs, even at the expense of Israeli casualties, and that soldiers should always “feel the pain of our enemies.”
[What were] the results of the code? Over 1,600 Jews murdered and 8,000 maimed since Oslo was signed; 200 paratroopers killed in 1967 in retaking Jerusalem by respecting the “holy churches and mosques”; 350 dead in Lebanon in 1982 for not shelling PLO strongholds hiding in civilian areas; 125 dead in the first intifada from the policy of shooting only if first fired on; … and 22 dead in Jenin in 2002 for not calling in aircraft for fear of damaging the casbah … [Jerusalem Post Magazine, March 16, 2007]
“No army on earth,” says Goldberg, “ever held to such insanity.” This insanity, as others saw, was most conspicuous in the behavior of the Sharon government.
One last word: It was during Sharon’s reign that France’s ambassador to England called Israel a “sh–ty country.” Apparently, he was too diplomatic to say this of Israel’s government. Clearly, Israel’s government is bad for the Jews. And notice, I’ve not said a word of Ehud Olmert.