Another Tack: The lesson of April 26

Tel Aviv passersby dodging Hassan Bek sniper fireIt didn’t seem that way, but this day – April 26 – exactly 65 years ago was pivotal in yet-to-be-born Israel’s history. Its little-celebrated and hardly remembered events remain central for debunking the lies about the circumstances of the Jewish state’s inception. Its trials and tribulations tell a unique story of individual courage and defiant daring quite literally against all odds.

Yet shamefully too few – even among us – are at all aware of it. As time goes by, the numbers only dwindle.

April 26, 1948 was shaping up to be quite a dismal day. The single exception was the fact that on that day the IZL (Irgun Zvai Leumi) and the large Labor-led Hagana signed a cooperation agreement whereby the Irgun undertook to carry out only missions beforehand authorized by the Hagana, as well as to assume whatever operational roles the Hagana would assign it.

The evening of April 26 was particularly wretched for Menachem Begin. In his role as IZL commander he had decided to halt the Irgun’s attack on Jaffa’s Manshiyeh quarter, then already in its second ill-fated day. Continue reading

Outrage in Jordan

The very fact that 110 members of Jordan’s parliament (out of a total of 150) signed a petition for the release of the murderer from Naharayim speaks volumes about what parades as morality and coexistence next door to us.

Jordan, it needs to be stressed, is formally at peace with Israel.

Hence the implicit message from Amman is disconcerting in the extreme. Purported representatives of public opinion showed us where their hearts are, regardless of whether the massacre-perpetrator stays behind bars or not. Continue reading

Another Tack: Amira, daughter of Rosa

Communist icon Rosa Luxemburg was rifle-butted to death by German nationalists nearly a century ago. Nonetheless, though her legacy has been largely forgotten elsewhere, her spirit is alive and well in 21st century Israel. It thrives among her assorted homegrown doctrinal descendants. Ideologically, Ha’aretz’s Amira Hass is Rosa’s daughter and drinks from her wellspring.

In a recent op-ed, Hass justified – indeed glorified – the targeting of Jews by Arabs who hurl rocks at passing Israeli vehicles. There’s no doubt where her loyalties and sympathies reside. “Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance,” she wrote. Nowhere did Hass mention the historical progression and context that produced what she habitually disparages as Israeli “occupation.”

This is no surprise. Hass, reared in an orthodox communist home, had long ago crossed the lines not only in abstract terms. She resides in Ramallah, having previously made her home in Gaza (but that became uncomfortable and unsafe, given the illiberal nature of Gaza’s Hamas warlords). Continue reading

Another Tack: Amusing ourselves to death

An obscure 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, should be particularly compelling to Israelis. Its author, the late Neil Postman, made a sound case for his contention that Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World accurately predicted our current lifestyle.

Our judgment is crippled by an overpowering addiction to entertainment and news presentation constitutes merely another showbiz feature. Complexities are conveniently diluted and events of the day are offered as a packaged commodity, almost like the drugs with which the denizens of Huxley’s future medicated themselves into bliss. Shallow stimulation and immediate gratification have replaced thought and remembrance.

Cyber-wizardry only exacerbated these already preexisting inclinations. But unlike Postman, who lamented the decline of logic and knowledge, there are those who actually celebrate the loss. Foremost among them is our own president Shimon Peres, always ever-eager to lead the vanguard of what he promotes as progress. Continue reading

Facebook freedom

Journalist Mamdouh Hamamreh served only one day of the year-long sentence imposed on him for “insulting” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Facebook.

Fearing a backlash and denying personal involvement in the case, Abbas decided to magnanimously “pardon” Hamamreh. But Abbas needn’t have feared. He is the darling of free world opinion – regardless of the incitement he promotes and the freedoms he stifles. His excesses never resonate in overseas media.

His term of office expired years ago, but he is still widely regarded as a democratically elected leader. Nonetheless, in Abbas’s pseudo-democracy all that it took to convict Hamamreh for “spreading seeds of hate” and “publishing false information” was an image shared on Facebook that likened Abbas to a Syrian TV villain. Continue reading

Another Tack: Barack and Bernard-Henri

BERNARD-HENRI LÉVY with Libyan insurgents. Sparing no hyperbole, he declared Benghazi "the capital not only of Libya but of free men and women all over the world." (Reuters)One day before US President Barack Obama touched down here and began to beguile us, flamboyant French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy was reportedly barred from Libya’s Tripoli because of his Jewishness. On the face of it, these two episodes are wholly unconnected. But, on closer inspection, they’re not.

Lévy had been an avid Obama fan since 2004, gushed about him unreservedly and even crowned Obama the “Black Kennedy.” However, there’s way more that ties the two men. Obama and Lévy are both hyper-hyped photogenic trendsetters and charismatic superstars. Foremost, though, both have compelling reason to reevaluate their strongly held maxims.

Both believed in the Arab Spring, in heralding a new free-thinking and broadminded Arab orientation. Each in his own way contributed to what he trusted was a defining historic makeover. Continue reading