Friday, September 25, 2009

Here and there in Israel ( and New York )

Today for the first time in the already fascinating history of Israel and of Israeli corruption, a former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, appears in a courtroom to face charges "for serious offenses allegedly committed during his public mission". This morning, I sat down to eat breakfast and turned on the television to watch the news and hear about Bibi's speech at the UN. Instead there was a special broadcast from the Jerusalem District Court, starring Mr Olmert and his lawyers. Yesterday evening I heard several commentators call the Israeli PM's speech in New York moving, excellent etc. I do not know, it might be that those commentators and I watched, heard and read about different performances of Mr Nethanyahu. He is a very good speaker, that is for sure, but the contents and drama of his show failed to impress me, and more than once simply annoyed me. While I am not a real fan of Gideon Levy ( who can often be as demagogic as Bibi was yesterday ), many of the questions and comments that he wrote down here also popped up in my mind while I followed the speech. I have written more than once, here and elsewhere: you do not need the Shoah to prove how evil, cruel and dangerous the regimes in Gaza and Teheran are. By making false and utterly unhistorical comparisons and by using the memory of the six million for your own political purposes you blemish that memory, cheapen the suffering of all the victims of the Nazis and of all the victims of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and make fighting both anti-Semitism and Holocaust-denial much harder. While the famous act of defiance by the late president Chaim Herzog z"l, who 34 years ago tore up the infamous Zionism = racism resolution on the same podium that Mr Nethanyahu spoke from yesterday, was a historical act and a brilliant and impressive rhetorical device, the Israeli PM's use of the Wannsee protocols was a pathetic and second-rate trick. Or did he - heaven forbid - really think that the Holocaust needs any proof? Just as with Israel's demand that the Palestinians must recognize us as a Jewish state, this is yet another sign of the fact that many Israelis ( particularly on the right side of the political spectrum ) still search for recognition of the Jews' suffering during the Holocaust, and appear to be pretty unsure about our very right and our ability to exist as a truly independent nationstate. Why would some of us desperately search for some virtual seal of approval from our neighbors and enemies, if a constant demand for such a seal is not just another way of making sure that serious negotiations will continue to be postponed until Gaza freezes over? PS: One more thing that bothered me when I heard and later read the speech. Just like speeches by our worst enemies, this one was also full of the blame-game, which has become an honored tradition, in the Middle East more than anywhere else. The other side is bad as hell, I am sure, but is that an excuse for us not to do anything ourselves to improve our fate? As has been the case for most of the last sixty years, our so-called leaders wait for our enemies to do this or stop doing that, thus allowing those enemies to decide what our future will look like. Nahum Barnea gives a good interpretation of Bibi's speech.

No comments: