Another Tack: Double standards to uphold

We call them men of letters, peace activists, democracy’s champions and human rights campaigners.

We never, ever call them extremists. The word “fanatic” couldn’t be remotely considered in reference to the sensitive, caring and agonized denizens of Israel’s political Left.

Only reputed right-wingers are maligned as extremists, fanatics, fascists, rabble-rousing inciters, enemies of democracy, lawbreakers, wreckers of peace prospects, and/or demolishers of our way of life. In fact, Israel’s Left-dominated media even decides for us which baddies to brand right-wingers.

Sure to be included in the broad category of rightist bogeymen are dark, unkempt, menacing football-hooligan types that no dainty lady would ever want to encounter down a dark alley. Rightists are forever the great unwashed, unschooled, loud, pugnacious, non-Ashkenazi and hotheaded.

There’s a sub-category of immigrants from the former USSR, disparaged as lamentably Lieberman loyalists because – alas – they’re stuck on speaking Russian, are alien to nativist Israeli niceties, use too much makeup, are partial to bling and might even expose gold teeth when grinning. They’re disdained by our trendsetters as lost causes with fascist proclivities, who maybe shouldn’t even be given the vote (unless they can be reeducated to make more desirable political choices). Their Israeli-reared offspring, though, may still be converted to Tel Aviv’s Sheinkin-scene bon ton.

But absolute anathema to star-scribblers and talking heads are religious Jews – of all varieties. Here all residual verbal restraints disappear. It’s quite eerily on par with the “organized loathing” in George Orwell’s 1984. Big Brother’s arch-antagonist was reviled regularly on the official “telescreen” daily “Two Minutes of Hate” feature, till his very image evoked hisses and reactions of “mingled fear and disgust.”

Doubtless there’s a clear penchant among our news-processors to carefully home in on the most deranged looking, wild-eyed, shrill-voiced teenager with zits and long unruly side-curls (reminiscent of yesteryear’s in-your-face hippie vogue). They appoint him spokesman not only for the settler collective, but for the majority of Israelis who – Heaven preserve us – dare disobey the diktats of media movers-and-shakers and vote commonsensically. By the idiosyncratic definitions prevailing in Israel, any vote disapproved of by the eminent guardians of our collective conscience is denigrated as right-wing.

Yet these average Israelis – who come in assorted shapes and forms, varying degrees of erudition and sophistication, Ashkenazi and of Mideastern extraction (or a blend thereof), observant or secular (or somewhere in the middle) – are all represented by whichever random kook a tendentious TV crew rescues from well-deserved anonymity.

The most bizarre-looking settler/self-certified sage/self-proclaimed messiah embodies the National Camp collectively. The more outlandish his/her remarks and the more oddball the delivery, the easier to tar an entire segment of society and caricature it as lunatic.

That’s not deemed a smear-job. Crusading journalists insist they fulfill their professional-cum- ethical duty to inform members of the public of nefarious miscreants in their midst.

The plebeians need to be taught whom to dread.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, grandson of the famed Revisionist leader, recently published an op-ed in Yisrael Hayom protesting the “rightwing actions” label slapped by media headliners on Rabbi Dov Lior’s and Rabbi Ya’acov Yosef’s refusal to humor the police and report for interrogation (for having endorsed an obscure booklet with alleged hate-mongering content).

“Media personalities use the microphones entrusted to their hands to tarnish an entire body of political opinion which they oppose. Not only do these newsmen betray their profession,” Jabotinsky writes, “but it behooves [Deputy State Prosecutor] Shai Nitzan to probe whether said reporters aren’t inciting to hate.”

Jabotinsky knows, of course, that there’s no chance of that happening because of the conspicuous disinclination to call any advocate of the enlightened Left to account. The inference might be that the Left is by definition gentle, noble and scrupulously decent.

Yet some of what leftist luminaries in this country spout verges on the not fit to print.

We’ll avoid the worst of the violent, vulgar and vehemently Judeophobic upchuck reflex triggers. Indeed, we won’t cite spite spouted by non-household names – who, it may be claimed, are way out on the far-out fringe and therefore possibly not authentically representative.

Extending fairness not often accorded by left-wingers, we’ll focus solely on the Left’s respectable and esteemed gurus – all Israel Prize laureates. Although their invective is comparatively moderate, just get a load of what passed through their refined lips:

• Sculptor Yigal Tumarkin (Tel Aviv Magazine, November 4, 1988): “When I see Orthodox Jews, I understand the Nazis.”

Tumarkin (his own op-ed in Hadashot, November 14, 1988): “The Jew’s outward strangeness and the pretentious notion that God chose us… caused violent surrounding cultures to clash… with this arrogant minority… The image of the cunning, ambitious scoundrel, lending money at exorbitant interest, turned the bent, hook-nosed, bearded Jew into the enemy of civilization… which didn’t help belatedly-enlightened Jews.”

Tumarkin (February 13, 2004): “If a settler child or two get killed, the settler parents say: ‘No problem. We’ll make four instead and all will be OK.’”

Tumarkin (April 22, 2004): “When I fashioned a pig wearing phylacteries I merely meant to display a fetish to deride those settlers, because settlements are idolatry. Because of them we’re in trouble with the whole world and our neighbors.”

• Political scientist Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell (Davar, April 4, 1988): “Only those ready to storm Ofra with tanks will stem the fascist tide, which threatens to engulf Israel’s democracy.”

Sternhell (Ha’aretz, May 11, 2001): “For many Israelis, perhaps the majority of voters, there is no doubt about the legitimacy of armed resistance in the territories proper. Were the Palestinians wiser, they would concentrate their struggle against the settlements… instead of placing bombs west of the Green Line.”

• Author Amos Oz (June 8, 1989, at a Peace Now rally): “Gush Emunim is a messianic sect, closed-minded and cruel, a band of armed gangsters, perpetrators of crimes against humanity, sadists, pogromists and murderers who crept out of a dark corner of Judaism, from the cellars of bestiality and defilement, in order to impose their bloodthirsty mad ritual.”

• Author A.B. Yehoshua (Ma’ariv, June 20, 2002): “The Palestinians aren’t the first we drove insane. Look what happened to the Germans… What brought the Germans and brings the Palestinians to such hatred of us?… We have a tough history. We came here out of a Jewish experience and the settlements are messing it up.”

• Filmmaker Judd Ne’eman (Ma’ariv, July 7, 2011): “The desirable thing here is that there be a civil war between Left and Right – a war between the settlers and leftists. The settlers might well win, because a majority of public opinion and the government support them, and then this will become a fascist state… Civil war is the way to solve the problem we face. We’ve tried all other means and none worked… long live death.”

Deafening decibels of indignation would rock our existence were Lior and Yosef to utter Ne’eman’s battle-cry verbatim. Dutiful cops wouldn’t dither.

Yet nobody ever contemplated investigating the inflammatory rhetoric of Israel’s “beautiful people,” those whom our opinion-molders cultivate, promote and overall hype as role models. After all, Israel’s constabulary has double standards to uphold.

14 thoughts on “Another Tack: Double standards to uphold

  1. Sarah I am a bit shocked !
    Israels most dangerous enemies may be it’s enemies from within, why are these leftists trying to destroy the Jewish state..??
    The examples you just mentioned in this article are comparable to what the worst kind of Jew haters ever spilled out and make Gadhafi and Ahmadinedaschad look like Zionists…
    These people are LUNATIC, plain and simple.
    Joseph Goebbels would have loved them, that is for sure…

  2. It does feel odd to take such an interest in occurrences in a foreign country, but outsiders are invited to form opinions by virtue of seeing coverage of events on the news, generally selective, generally skewed. I am very happy to have found Sarah Honig so that I can get a better sense of the whole context.

    Sarah’s quotes from the fêted detractors put me in mind of a very enlightening passage from Rich Cohen’s book Israel is Real, in which he describes the debate around Herzl’s initial attempts to establish a homeland: “There was a real split…and it runs through Israel to this day. To some, the land of Palestine is the point: because it is the only place a Jew can live an authentically Jewish life. To others, the land of Palestine might be the best place for a state – because of its historical resonance – but the point is not to live an authentically Jewish life, but to be free to live a normal life in which it does not matter that you are a Jew. In other words, some wanted a state so they could be Jews, some wanted a state so they could stop being Jews.”

    Those quoted in Sarah’s Tack obviously fall into a particularly vicious sector of the latter group. The mind boggles at the vehemence of their stances vis-à-vis their fellow countrymen.

  3. These quotes leave me feeling a fear and loathing that is impossible to describe. It is incredible that people who purport to be ‘thinkers’ are so blind to the reaities of the Jewish people. Absolutely disgusting. You are quite right, it is time they were investigated.

  4. A country in an existentially precarious situation like Israel stands or falls by its media.The scrupulously objective Fox News in the States successfully holds the fort against all attempts – including the most recent by the Obama administration – to destroy it for speaking the truth. Alas, no similar broad media venue has been allowed to flourish in Israel by all those “men of letters, peace activists, democracy’s champions and human rights campaigners.”

  5. It is remarkable how these tedious individuals, promoted as home made (- “blue and white!”) Israeli “Kulturträger’s,” identified themselves with decadent “European” culture and even with German stupidity and “Ordnung!”

    • The whole world is poisoned by the Categorical Stupidity of Immanuel Kant (most of the Germans are, of course, – but even also quite a few of the Jews!).
      Arguably, Kant was the grandfather of both Nietzsche and Marx, and so a great grandfather of both Nazism and Communism.

      • Most of the Germans have no idea who Kant was and Marx was mostly influenced by Hegel and not by Kant.
        Nietzsche was a rabid Jew hater and the spiritual mentor of Hitler and he despised Kant.

      • I think, I know what Isaac had in mind:

        Modern political and legal discourse can be viewed as framed in “categorical,” and as such illusorily meaningful, terms of choices between more liberal (more lenient) and more conservative (more strict) norms and policies.

        This essentially pagan (“abstract”) attitude is sharply contrasted with the Judeo-Christian legal principle of proportional punishment, so aptly stated in the Holy Scripture: “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

        Certainly, one needs a degree of faith and fear of God to have a correct hierarchy of values and sense of priorities (and a sense of proportion, of measure, of distance [and no blind “perfectionism”], implicit in this principle).

        The civilization will hopefully grow to this higher degree of kindness and understanding.

  6. Just to tell you that I have sent a letter to the Post re your last column – I hope they print it!
    Yoyu are a worthy successor to “David Courtney” of Palestine Post days.

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