Friday, August 20, 2004

This morning I thumbed through a book that my wife is reading, "HaMatarah: Tel Aviv" ( The Goal: TA ), by the Israeli bestselling author and publisher Ram Oren. In this book Oren describes the failed attempts by the Egyptians to invade Israel right after its establishment in May 1948. On page 260 there is a picture of a young Uri Avnery, who looks like an Australian soldier. While I knew that Avnery, now a so-called peace-activist who heads Gush Shalom, had fought in Menachem Begin's Irgun Tzva'i Le'umi ( National Military Organization ) and been a member of the legendary Samson's Foxes unit, I did not know about his publications in the second half of the 1940s. Ram Oren quotes from the anthem "The Foxes", which became a hit on the radio:
"[...] Listen, Egyptians, to the song of Samson,
He portended the end/destruction for the Philistines,
Listen very carefully to the machine-gun, to the grenade,
The song of death for the army of the invaders."
While many songs of that period are very masculine and aggressive, they mostly stress 'our' courage, dedication and strength rather than directly threatening the enemy in such unmistakable, threatening and violent terms.
According to Oren the words of this song were written by Uri Avnery himself.
If this is true, it might prove once again that people who 'switch sides' often easily turn from one kind of radicalism ( some might call it fanaticism ) to another. Quite a few ex-communists were to be found among the most zealous supporters of Vichy, Effi Eitam - who used to be secular - today is one of the most passionate leaders of the National Religious Party, and emeritus professor Yehoshua Porat of the Hebrew University, formerly active in Peace Now, is today one of the most prominent among the minority of academics who openly identify with the nationalist right in Israel. Of course there is no reason why one should not be allowed to change one's views ( never changing one's views could even be a sign of simplicity and stubbornness ), and this does not prove anything regarding these people's sincerity or the righteousness of their diverse causes. I just think it is an interesting, even fascinating phenomenon, that's all.

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