Dreams, when they serve as wish-fulfillment vehicles, are hard to give up. They become sources of comfort and confidence – even if, all too often, false ones. They are the gossamer pedestals on which dreamers base their prestige and self-possession, even when these contradict empirical evidence and coolheaded realism.
Jewish history is replete with examples of making believe that desires are fact. From early on expressionist icon Max Liebermann (no relation to our foreign minister), the most renowned painter of Weimar Republic days, should have known better than to expect genuine German recognition regardless of his Jewishness.
Yet a seminal signal was already dispatched in 1879 when his Twelve-Year-Old Jesus in the Temple with Scholars was exhibited at the Munich International Art Fair. German critics excoriated the Berlin-born Jew’s gall to focus on a New Testament theme. Liebermann was pilloried in the press, and condemning him became so de rigueur that even the Bavarian parliament, egged on by the crown prince, couldn’t resist censuring him.
But dreams endure. Liebermann only pressed harder in his quest for German approval. In order not to offend hostile opinion, he thereafter avoided religious motifs and revamped the Semitic-looking Jesus of his controversial work. The child’s dark locks were colored blond, the profile became more Nordic, and hand gestures were modified. Jewish origins befitted neither the artist nor his subject. Authenticity was consciously subverted to facilitate the facade.
Are we here and now any better? Don’t we crave acceptance every bit as Liebermann did? Don’t we fool ourselves as much? For all of Zionism’s avowed aim to remold the delusionary Jewish psyche, self-deception is entrenched in the Jewish state. Instead of trusting our senses, we prefer sweet imaginings. We’re disturbed by what our eyes and ears report. We’re soothed by fantasy.
We’ve been pretending for over a decade that we won Palestinian recognition, though cognitively we know the PLO Charter calling for Israel’s destruction was never abrogated.
PA WEB SITES, official communiques and school curriculums all attest that the charter/covenant lives on with all clauses intact, just as they were before the sham spectacle staged in Gaza to impress the visiting Bill Clinton on December 14, 1998. On that occasion articles which “contradicted the exchange of letters with the Israeli government on September 1993” (Oslo) were supposedly nullified by a show of hands (with votes uncounted) at a Palestinian Central Council session attended by the visibly gratified US president.
That charade followed a string of previous evasions of undertakings to abolish explicit exhortations for Israel’s obliteration. In effect, the PA periodically promised amendments without ever making actual changes.
Genocidal intent was declared years before the 1967 pretext for the myth that enmity to Israel arose from post-Six Day War “occupation.” The destroy-Israel refrain was already central to the “Palestinian Constitution” drafted in 1963 by Ahmed Shukeiri, the PLO’s first chairman. It was officially adopted in 1964.
The charter’s second article incidentally states: “Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.” Translation: no fragment for Israel, while Jordan (comprising nearly 80 percent of the Mandate territory) is Palestine according to the Palestinians, who nevertheless posture as stateless before the international community.
Following are other choice charter selections:
• Article 9: Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase.
• Article 15: The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national duty and it attempts to repel Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine.
• Article 19: The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time.
• Article 22: Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism… It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods. Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement, and geographical base for world imperialism placed strategically in the midst of the Arab homeland to combat the hopes of the Arab nation for liberation, unity and progress. Israel is a constant source of threat vis-a-vis peace in the Middle East and the whole world. Since the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence and will contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East, the Palestinian people look for support of all the progressive and peaceful forces and urge them all, irrespective of their affiliations and beliefs, to offer the Palestinian people all aid and support in their just struggle for the liberation of their homeland.
• Article 33: This Charter shall not be amended save by a majority of two-thirds of the total membership of the National Congress of the Palestine Liberation Organization at a special session convened for that purpose.
Was a two-thirds majority achieved? It’s immaterial. Purportedly moderate Fatah argues that it’s unbound by the ceremonial vote and to hardly moderate Hamas it’s utter anathema.
THE 1998 FARCE, ironically, was produced for the benefit of then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who insisted the charter be altered. All this should caution Netanyahu in his second stint. He now rightly notes the lack of Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state. The danger is that during his upcoming White House visit Netanyahu will merely invite another elaborate con.
The Palestinian penchant for deception is unmatched. Palestinians have yet to abide by any agreement they signed. Netanyahu’s present challenge is not to be bamboozled even if Barack Obama leans on him and collaborates with Mahmoud Abbas in a bid to lull Israelis to dream on.
We love to dream but awakenings can be mercilessly rude. German patriot Liebermann died in 1935, never realizing that next door to his Wannsee villa the Nazis would in 1942 decide on the “Final Solution” and that in 1943 his widow Martha would commit suicide there to escape deportation to Theresienstadt. Yet Liebermann survived long enough to see how hollow his coveted recognition as a German was and how summarily it was withdrawn. He served as president of the Prussian Academy of Arts until forced out in 1933. “I sought to serve German art with all my strength,” he wrote in his resignation letter. “My conviction is that art is unrelated to politics or descent.”
That conviction was a dream. Liebermann acknowledged its shattering in a letter to poet Haim Nahman Bialik in Tel Aviv: “You perhaps recall the discussions we had on this subject while I was working on your etching, during which I tried to explain why I distance myself from Zionism. I now think otherwise. As difficult as it was for me, I awakened from the dream I dreamed my whole life.”
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