One who becomes compassionate instead of cruel, will ultimately become cruel instead of compassionate…
Midrash Kohelet Rabba (a discussion of this is here)
The lead editorial in Ha’aretz today is headlined “The Nakba isn’t Going Away,” and it touts a longer article by investigative journalist Hagar Shezaf published last week, about how Defense Ministry personnel have collected and sealed documents that describe the alleged expulsion and other ill-treatment of Arabs at the time of Israel’s War of Independence and afterwards.
The editorial accuses Israel of “expulsion, looting, murder and rape” in 1948. There is no doubt that some of these things did occur, although it is also true that we were far kinder to the Arabs than they would have been to us if they had won. I don’t object to the publication of such facts, although Ha’aretz has a tendency to exaggerate the extent and cruelty of our deeds and to accept the narrative of our enemies uncritically. What I do violently object to is their attribution of moral guilt and demand for some kind of accounting for it toward the Palestinians.
The editorial concludes:
Israel at age 71 is strong enough to address the moral failings of its past. The Nakba won’t go away. It’s still there in the landscape, in the rows of pear cactus of the abandoned villages, in the many arched houses of Jaffa and Haifa, and in the memory of the Palestinian community in Israel, and in the territories and across the border.
Instead of censoring and concealing things, the history of Israel’s establishment and the Palestinian society that was uprooted should be studied and taught. Commemoration signs should be put up at the sites of destroyed villages, and the moral dilemmas that have accompanied Israel since 1948 should be faced. Such recognition won’t resolve the conflict, but it will place dialogue between Jews and Palestinians in Israel on a foundation of truth instead of lies, shame and concealment.
No, this is absolutely not what “should” happen. Israel was born in war, a war that was forced on it by Arabs who couldn’t abide Jewish sovereignty, and who planned – in the words of Abdul Rahman Azzam, Secretary-General of the Arab League – “a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades.” A pity, for the Ha’aretz editorial board, that we won the war and now have “moral failings” to address as a result. But we did, and there is no reason to be apologetic about it, or to get nostalgic over the losses of our enemies, who, incidentally, have not stopped murdering us whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Perhaps they wouldn’t be murdering us today if we had followed the same policy in 1967 that the Jordanians did when they conquered Judea/Samaria and part of Jerusalem in 1948. Every single Jew living in areas under their control was forced to leave at gunpoint. Some were murdered. Synagogues were destroyed, gravestones uprooted, and not a trace of the former Jewish inhabitants was allowed to remain. Did newspapers in Jordan call for a “dialogue” or agonize about their “moral failures?” To ask the question is to answer it.
War is ugly, especially when two peoples are fighting over a piece of ground. There were massacres and rapes on both sides (Benny Morris believes that he has evidence for at least a dozen rapes committed by Jewish forces, something that surprised both Morris and me). I think that he is correct when he says that “the entire [Jewish] leadership” understood that there would be no Jewish state as long as there wasn’t a large Jewish majority, and that it was absolutely necessary to encourage the Arabs to leave.
And that isn’t a moral problem. It was them or us, quite simply; and our claim on the land was stronger than theirs and we had fewer alternatives. Would Israel have survived its first 19 years if significantly fewer Arabs had fled in 1948? I doubt it. And if the Arabs had won the war, Azzam’s threat would surely have been carried out.
This is a fact of human life. It has always been so. Population transfers have occurred after almost every major war. Indeed, we were not cruel enough. I think that in the long run, there would have been fewer victims on both sides and more security in the region as a whole if Israel had expelled the Arabs of Judea, Samaria, and Eastern Jerusalem in 1967.
Just a note about “investigative journalist” Shazef. She works for Ha’aretz, but she is also paid by a European foundation, supported in part by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, the Flemish (Belgian) government, and other European sources, to write anti-Israel articles. But naturally she doesn’t let that cloud her journalistic judgment. Naturally.
What is the matter with Jews like the ones on the Ha’aretz editorial board? Why are they obsessed with bashing their country, the one that may have given their parents and grandparents a home when no other country would? Why do they find it so easy to understand the pain of the Palestinian Arabs, who themselves have brought so much pain into the world, but they can’t cut Israel a break? Why do they advocate national suicide for their own people out of concern for others? That isn’t morality, it’s stupidity.
We do not have to feel “shame” for 1948, and we have nothing to be ashamed of today, when the IDF shoots Arabs dead when they climb border fences. Gideon Levy, another Ha’aretz operative, eloquently mourns poor Abdallah Gheith, a teenager who “dreamed of praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” and was shot climbing the fence. According to Levy, his father took him and a cousin to the fence and dropped them off! I am sure that he just wanted to live his dream of praying at al-Aqsa, aren’t you? Levy calls the border policeman that shot him a “murderer.” I call him someone doing a dangerous job, protecting traitors like Levy and the rest of the Ha’aretz gang from young men like Gheith, who might stick a knife in their necks on the street.
Because “traitor” is not too strong a word. Israel’s War of Independence never ended; every few years it flares up, but between times smolders in a deadly way. And the Ha’aretz newspaper, 60% owned by publisher Amos Schocken, who controls its editorial policy, is a brigade in service of Israel’s enemies. Although its Hebrew edition is the by far the least popular of Israel’s major newspapers, its English edition and website in English are widely read by government officials and businesspeople around the world. By presenting an almost uniformly critical view of Israel and Israelis in its opinion pages, and by slanting news reports to present Israel in the worst possible light, Ha’aretz contributes to the campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel that is part of the international effort to destroy it.
This constitutes treason. I understand that a free press is an important part of a free country, and that makes it difficult to shut down or prosecute a newspaper. But why do we need Ha’aretz when we have Aljazeera and Palestinian Authority newspapers?
I would like to understand what Schocken, Levy, and the others see when they stand in front of the mirror. After all, they are Israelis too. Does this cause them to feel the “shame” that they want all of us to feel? Or do they see themselves as courageous fighters for the “truth,” which is that Israelis are murderers and Arabs saintly victims?
It’s the latter, of course. They are not “self-hating” Jews, because they clearly love and value themselves. It’s just the Jewish people that they hate.