We had recently been informed in rather dramatic headlines that during his first stint as prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin had denigrated settlement movement ideologues “a cancer.” No less.
This supposedly startling revelation came from a hitherto never-broadcast 1976 interview granted by Rabin to an unnamed Channel 2 reporter. The segment features in a documentary Rabin: in his own words, which was aired at the Haifa Film Festival. There – how unsurprisingly – it was crowned best in its category.
Presumably Rabin’s antiquated aspersion should have sent us all dutifully reeling with shock.
But it isn’t as if Rabin’s vocabulary choices were ever restrained. After all, post-Oslo he denounced those who disagreed with him as “Hamas collaborators.” For all he cares, he hectored abrasively back in the day, his critics can spin like propellers. That, Rabin proclaimed in his far-from-minced words, was the only outcome which undesirable sorts could conceivably expect of democratic dissent.
Incongruously, though, Rabin’s mid-Seventies government actively aided and expanded settlements. It even initiated the establishment of some, most notably those in Gush Katif at Gaza’s gates. What was odious in Rabin’s eyes weren’t settlements per se but organizations like Gush Emunim, in which he detected stirrings of political opposition to himself. He, in fact, directly singles Gush Emunim out for excoriation in the unaccountably sensationalized interview.
Its reveal-date was hardly inadvertent. The aim was that it would coincide with the 20th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination and spark renewed controversy, recriminations and those abusive accusations that pass in our milieu for coherent civilized debate.
Rabin’s yahrzeit is a stipulated fixture of this time of year but it increasingly necessitates intensive hype to resuscitate waning public interest.
Inevitably our prescheduled fall polemics are kicked off with Yom Kippur War flagellations and end with Rabin’s Memorial Day faultfinding. No season is as crowded in terms of politically-loaded dates as is the Israeli autumn. And for good measure it’s all staged in duplicates – both according to the Hebrew and Gregorian timetables.
It’s not hard to predict which anniversaries will get played up to the hilt by our professedly objective media. It’s likewise obvious which milestones in our collective annals will be shoved ever deeper into dark oblivion by the same sect of snooty spinmeisters who presume to parade as impartial news-purveyors.
The one common denominator is a devil-may-care attitude to the truth. The self-issued license to skew is resorted to both regarding what’s tendentiously amplified or what’s tendentiously repressed. Annually the same supercilious clique decrees how we ought to remember what or what we need to put entirely out of our minds.
The bestial lynching of two Israeli reservists in Ramallah 15 years ago and the terrorist execution of government minister Rehav’am Ze’evi 14 years ago don’t feature among the omniscients’ commemoration priorities.
Dates they ballyhoo will be given reverberating promotion and just as surely the dismal birthday of the Oslo folly will get no mention. Indeed, dwelling on the latter is deemed heresy by our infallible high priests of political correctness.
Not unintentionally, our perennial autumn rituals take on distinct pseudo-religious, at times idolatrous, overtones and these are passionately observed and rigorously enforced. Everything revolves around idols – those we elevate and those we vindictively trash.
Paradoxically, although we gave the world monotheism, we are a nation obsessed with idols. We sculpt some, raise them on pedestals, confer sanctity upon them and declare their worship mandatory. In other idols we seek imperfections, poke at them, dig at the surface and deepen the blemishes so we may be justified in smiting the ghastliness.
We make our obsessions personal, even long after the idols’ mortal models are deceased, long after they are really relevant.
Even Bar-Kokhva isn’t invulnerable, presumably because his fight for liberty and rebellion against ancient Rome was revered by Zionism’s founding fathers. That renders him permissible prey for zealous post-Zionists. Hence posthumously Bar-Kokhva – another era’s son – is recurrently judged with arrogant hindsight according to postmodern precepts.
Moshe Dayan is hardly as antiquated but he too is zealously seized upon by ardent left-wingers, who project the conclusions they purport to draw from his 1973 tactical bungles onto Israel’s current predicaments.
Thrashing Dayan presumably buys aspiring scribblers the approval of leftist media and academia overlords. That’s the stuff of acrimonious Yom Kippur War commemorative rites, periodically underscored by the release of some more of yesteryear’s arcane protocols – which contain little previously unknown. Yet the fervor of the well-orchestrated “beat-Dayan” festivities would surely lead a just-landed Martian to assume that said Dayan is still a formidable force to be reckoned with.
*Moreover, if we listen attentively we can almost hear a blame-Bibi refrain hummed suggestively in the background. Plainly, it’s not quite possible to blame Binyamin Netanyahu for the inauspicious start of the Yom Kippur War but it’s not impossible to hint that Netanyahu’s ilk is somehow responsible for whatever did or may go awry.
And as assiduously as we smite some idols, so we aggrandize others. To reinforce compulsory veneration, our thought-police scrutinizes calendars to apprehend the firm, publication or school, which – Heaven help them – omitted highlighting Rabin’s assassination date as a national day of mourning. Each year the personality cult is resurrected via public ceremonies, politicized vigils and manipulative melodramatic mantras. We’re all a captive audience of kitschy commissars.
Like it or not, each year, we ceremonially kick Dayan and pay obligatory homage to Rabin. Both rituals are grotesque, absurd and unwarranted.
When they lived, the two protagonists weren’t all that different, except that Dayan was the original thinker whereas Rabin somehow always stumbled onto opportunities or into pitfalls. The Left, far from jubilant about the 1967 victory, abhorred Dayan who – justly or not – embodied the triumph.
With ill-concealed bias, the Left overlooked Dayan’s truly appalling errors, like opening our labor market to Judea, Samaria and Gaza Arabs (not yet called Palestinians) owing to his misguided assumption that they’ll learn to love us. Dayan turned the Temple Mount over to the Muslim clergy owing to his misguided assumption that a grateful Islam will appreciate Jewish magnanimity.
Much of what we suffer nowadays can be traced to Dayan’s innovative blunders. Dayan was this country’s foremost liberal but the Left refused to acknowledge this truth, nor the atrocious results of Dayan’s misplaced liberality.
Dayan’s gravest Yom Kippur War-eve miscalculation was his reluctance to mobilize Israel’s reserves and launch a preemptive attack. The Left disingenuously ascribes this to hubris and right-wing cockiness (though neither Dayan nor PM Golda Meir was remotely rightist).
The Left gloats at the “conception’s collapse,” implying that today’s Israel is still ensnared by identical right-wing swagger which is just as likely to blow up in our faces. Here enters the insinuated swipe at Netanyahu.
This has become our conventional wisdom. Yet were Dayan and Golda smugly overconfident, they’d have rushed to deliver the first blow to show who’s boss. Instead of exuding confidence, however, Dayan and Golda lacked confidence in the extreme. Their primary fear was of international community censure and White House umbrage.
They were meek and fretful rather than boastful and brash. Their trepidation of “what the world would say” convinced them to avoid inflicting the first blow.
If there’s one overriding lesson from this initial pre-Yom Kippur War fiasco, it’s that never again should Israel’s concern for world opinion overshadow its vital self-preservation interests.
These interests dictate that we must stay strong and self-reliant at all times and that we never forfeit the option of ensuring our survival by whichever means we deem fit, regardless of what grimaces any given White House resident might make or what EU officials may bemoan in Brussels.
Israel’s failure to preempt the attack upon it in 1973 didn’t win it good press. Quite the contrary. It has been directly and consistently downhill ever since. The world will not look out for us. As the wise Old Hillel put it: “if I am not for myself, who will be?”
The second lesson is that if the Yom Kippur War showed us anything, it’s that we mustn’t cede a single additional inch of territory. Again this is contrary to the leftist claim that had Golda only been more pliable and divested Israel of strategic assets, war would have been averted. The question we need ask is what would have happened if the same armored Egyptian battalions had not crossed into the buffer that was Sinai but directly into the Negev, a hop and a skip in military terms from Tel Aviv.
The mind boggles at the horror.
What would have happened if the Syrians hadn’t confronted the IDF atop the Golan Heights but had pounced directly on the Galilee? This should send shivers down Israeli spines, as should a scenario of Arab armies storming in from Judea and Samaria in the event we facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian state adjoining our Dan and Sharon regions.
The disadvantageous start of 1973’s war wouldn’t have been reversible were it not for the territorial shock-absorbers.
In Rabin’s case too, the Left spins sham narratives. Undoubtedly Rabin’s most grievous transgression was to outrageously compound the existential dangers Israel faces. What Rabin wrought via his Peres-brokered deal with Yasser Arafat is cumulatively worse than the Yom Kippur War because Oslo evolved into a still-ongoing debacle.
Nevertheless, Rabin was hardly the dove that leftist historiographers posthumously portray for propaganda purposes. When Ehud Barak proposed to split Jerusalem in 2000, the late Leah Rabin – who best knew her husband’s views – protested vigorously and asserted that “Yitzhak would have never allowed this.”
More recently, Rabin’s daughter Dalia continued in the same vein. Interviewed by Yediot Aharonot five years ago, she offered the following insight: “on the eve of the murder, my father considered stopping the Oslo process because terror ran rampant in the streets while Arafat didn’t deliver the goods. Dad, wasn’t blind nor running thoughtlessly headlong. I don’t rule out the possibility that he considered doing an about-face on Oslo. After all, for him Israel’s security was sacrosanct… Historical processes develop, change and flow. It’s impossible to judge a person murdered in ’95 according to what happened in 2000.”
Exactly so. Barak’s subsequent failings cannot be retroactively pinned on Rabin. The irony of ironies is that rather than snuff Oslo out, the Rabin assassination actually perpetuated it.
But the post-Zionists who determine our agenda didn’t want Dalia’s unorthodox musings resonated, lest they undermine the required indoctrination. Hence her quasi-subversive remarks were hardly the talk of the town when she uttered them. The Rabin finger-pointing fest must go on. Nothing must get in its way.