4 Comments on the Situation

Yoel Marcus muses about Israel's Nazi card, Shoshana Damari's legacy, the nature of democracy and the High Court.

1. We are champions at scaring ourselves - and a few well-placed mentions of Hitler, the Holocaust and the Nazis really do the trick. Years ago, Abba Eban used the phrase "Auschwitz borders" in one of his speeches. Of all the rhetoric spouted by our politicians, warnings about the "existential threats" and the "dangers of annihilation" that lie at our door are possibly the most despicable. During the War of Independence, when we were "the few against the many" and fought at a terrible disadvantage against seven Arab armies, no one thought to use such language, even though it was only three years after the Holocaust. At the height of the peace process with Egypt, when Begin was on his way to Camp David, he had a panic attack. Convening his ministers and advisers in New York, he said that Sadat was an admirer of Hitler and the Nazis. It's hard to believe that after we've had a state for 58 years, Bibi can compare the victory of Hamas to the rise of Hitler. "They also said Hitler was democratically elected," quoth he. Well, O.K. That's Bibi. Everyone knows he's a panic-monger. But when Avi Dichter, the ex-chief of the Shin Bet, tough as nails, compares the Hamas covenant to Hitler's "Mein Kampf," it gets a little worrying. Especially when we're talking about a possible candidate for defense minister. It was embarrassing to hear Mubarak poke fun at us during a TV interview with Oded Granot. "In the 1950s, we said we'd throw you in the sea," said the Egyptian president. "So did we?"

2. Until the day she died, at the age of 83, she had a deep resonant voice, a captivating Hebrew accent and a repertoire of unforgettable songs. What very few people know is that Shoshana Damari's lyrical song "Kalaniyot" ("Anemones") was a political protest song against the British occupation of Palestine. "Kalaniyot" was the code name for the British paratroopers with their stiff upper lip and signature red berets that the Jews of pre-state Israel loved to hate. Israel's national diva won the Israel Prize and was laid to rest in Tel Aviv's Trumpeldor Cemetery alongside some of the country's historical greats. Her fans raised NIS 100,000 to buy her a plot there. What a pity there was no one around to help her when she was alive and living in abject poverty.

3. You can't demand democracy and then get upset at how the elections turn out. When President Bush forced the Palestinian Authority to hold a democratic ballot, he didn't pick the winner in advance. Hamas may not be Lovers of Zion, but neither is Fatah. In the balance of terror, they're not that far apart. Same goes for hatred of Israelis. Since 1948, Egypt - and all the Arabs, actually - have hated the Jews and sought to destroy Israel. The enlightened world thought it all began and ended with the occupation. Now they see that it's a war of cultures - fundamentalist Islam against the infidels, which is a fancy word for Christians. The Arabs are so dumb, pardon the expression, they don't know there's one God, and he belongs to all of us. Hamas won not because it killed more Jews than Fatah but because it took care of the poor in Gaza and decided it was sick and tired of the corruption in the Palestinian Authority. Our partner for an accord, or even unilateral measures - of which we'll be seeing more for sure - remains Abu Mazen. Hamas is his problem. We don't need Hamas to recognize us, and we're not the ones who have to learn how democracy works. A taste of power does wonders. If they want to, they'll manage. If they don't, they won't. As far as I'm concerned, they can stew in their own juice. In 1947, the UN offered both peoples exactly the same opportunity. Look where we are and look where they are.

4. It was that extraordinary scene of Justices Barak and Cheshin hugging, kissing and even shedding a tear that revealed the secret of where the Supreme Court under Barak gets its power. Behind the basalt pillars that hold up the scales of justice are human beings with feelings and emotions - real people, who have made this court the most influential in Israeli history.