Friday, July 25, 2003
Regarding "Charm offensive", "Young man in a hurry" and "Now is not the time", Ha'Aretz Week's End, July 25, 2003: In three very good and interesting interview-portraits in this week's Week's End we meet a British diplomat who has proven himself to be a true, concerned and critical friend of Israel, a South-American president who seems to make serious efforts to come to terms with some of the darker chapters of his country's recent history ( partly through a sincere dialogue with his country's Jewish community ), and an opportunistic president of a country the history of which has opportunism as one of its guiding principles. By expressing real solidarity during some of the most difficult moments here in the past two years, while not being afraid to voice his ( government's ) criticism of Israel's policies as well when he or his government thought such criticism appropriate or necessary, Sherard Cowper-Coles has shown that a genuine friend can combine compassion and care with being a professional who guards his country's national interests. President Nestor Kirchner of Argentina only entered office a couple of months ago, but his refreshing openness and his eagerness to bring out into the open some of the secrets of his country's past that until now have been left in shady drawers and under a well-swept carpet, are good news. Hopefully he will succeed in bringing back his country to its feet economically and democratic-politically, after a long line of predecessors has utterly failed to do so. Then there is president Ion Iliescu of Romania. This slippery politician - who like many politicians in countries such as his made the step from dictatorial to democratic politics just a little too easily and comfortably for the West to take him seriously as a democrat - shows us his true anti-Semitic face when he expresses his concern for our wellbeing by saying that linking the recent statements by his government on the Holocaust to the subject of property restitutions " is liable to generate sentiments not of a positive nature toward the Jewish population ". Similar sentiments were voiced for example by 'well-meaning' Frenchmen and -women in post-Liberation France, when they gave the Jews who came back from the camps or out of hiding in 1944 the advice to keep a low profile and to keep their voices down. Although I am not in favor of historical comparisons, it is almost impossible not to notice the insistence by Ionesu that not only the Jews suffered, something that right after the war was stressed by non-Jews in France ( and elsewhere ) as well. There probably also is some sort of link between the kind of opportunism that causes Ion Iliescu's country to try and be on very good terms with the United States while at the same time making efforts to become part of the European Union ( two things that in today's multipolar world propagated by Jacques Chirac are difficult to combine ), and the opportunism that - after the German defeat at Stalingrad - caused Ion Antonescu to stop ( or lower the intensity of his regime's ) starving, deporting and murdering the Jews who lived in the areas that he controlled. Three portraits of non-Jews, three impressions of different individual approaches to relations between Jews and non-Jews. Once more an example of the - mostly - high journalistic standards of Ha'Aretz, which Sherard Cowper-Coles rightfully calls " a newspaper of ... world-class quality ".
Posted by Bert at 11:42 AM