An Appetite for Self-Destruction
By: Melanie Phillips
The Jewish Chronicle | Friday, January 18, 2008
Beyond the grandstanding over President Bush’s visit to Israel this
week, there is an even more important concern than over what America
may be pushing it to do. This is Israel’s own attitude towards its
identity and history and, by extension, its right to exist at all.
Among the Israeli intellectual elite, the instinct for national self-destruction reaches near-hallucinatory levels.
recent research paper by doctoral candidate Tal Nitzan, which wondered
why, unlike other armies, Israeli soldiers did not rape women under
their occupation, claimed that this was because IDF troops viewed Arab
women as sub-human. This absurd piece of malice was awarded a teachers’
committee prize by the Hebrew University.
Clearly, Nitzan should
have interviewed Ha’aretz editor-in-chief David Landau, who was
reported as telling US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a dinner
last September that the Israeli government wanted “to be raped” as it
was a “failed state” that needed a US-imposed settlement.
Such grand guignol flights from reason can only deepen respect for the strategic genius of Yasir Arafat.
understood that while Jews would unite against conventional attack,
they wouldn’t cope with the psychological pressure of being turned into
international pariahs through a falsified colonial narrative of
But even he could hardly have foreseen the extent to
which Israeli intellectuals would so completely invert their own
history, and swallow the fiction that the Middle East impasse is over
the division of the land and that Jewish possession of that land is
This series of untruths has now coalesced into an
axiomatic assumption that Jerusalem must be divided, as stated by
Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in an interview in the Jerusalem
Post last weekend.
But as Dore Gold authoritatively documents in
his important book The Fight for Jerusalem, the Jews have a unique and
overwhelming claim to Jerusalem which is central to the unique nature
of the Jewish state.
It is no accident, therefore, that this
pressure to divide Jerusalem comes at a time when the Jewishness of
Israel is being openly called into question. Olmert says that a
“two-state solution” is essential to preserve Israel as a Jewish state.
But the Arabs themselves have now ruled out a Jewish state altogether.
insists nevertheless that Mahmoud Abbas accepts Israel as a Jewish
state “in his soul”. Olmert clearly possesses truly wondrous psychic
powers, displayed even as members of Fatah associated with Abbas’s own
security apparatus were murdering two Israelis on a hike near Hebron.
West believes that dividing Jerusalem is the fairest solution. But when
were aggressors ever thus rewarded at the expense of their victims,
even while they continued their century-old war as the Arabs are doing?
doesn’t Israel put the record straight? Why doesn’t it remind the world
of that same world’s conclusion back in 1920 that the Jews had a unique
claim to the entire land of Israel, including Jerusalem? Why doesn’t it
recall how, when Jordan illegally occupied east Jerusalem until 1967,
it desecrated Jewish holy sites, ripping up Jewish gravestones on the
Mount of Olives to use them for latrines?
Why doesn’t it tell
the world that the Islamic claim to Jerusalem is not so much religious
as political — and that, as Gold states in his book, since the capture
of Jerusalem is seen as the precursor to the fall of the entire West,
the division of the city would recruit untold additional numbers to the
It doesn’t do so for two reasons. First, it still
fails to grasp that the real battleground is composed not of rockets
and human bombs but of ideas. And second, much of its intellectual
class has come to believe the mendacious propaganda of Israel’s enemies.
Israeli schools and on campus, there is widespread ignorance of Jewish
history and of the indissoluble bond between the religion, the people
and the land which constitutes Jewish identity.
Education Minister issues a textbook for Israeli Arab children that
teaches them the Arab propaganda line that the 1948 War of Independence
was a naqba, or catastrophe, something has gone badly wrong with the
foundations of Israeli self-belief.
The real reason Israel
doesn’t fight the battle of ideas to defend Jewish history and identity
is that increasingly it is repudiating them. The Arabs thus don’t need
to do much to bring about the end of the Jewish state. The Jews will do
it for them.
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