The recent murders in Itamar reminded me of the story of the SS soldier, the postwoman's "good boy" in Hans Fallada's novel "Alone in Berlin," who boasts of a photo in which he is seen banging the head of a 3-year-old Jewish child against the bumper of a car. I was reminded of it once again the next day, when I read in the newspaper that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had accepted German Chancellor Angela Merkel's invitation for a "reconciliation visit" to Berlin next month.
Two days ago marked the 46th anniversary of Menachem Begin's emotional Knesset speech about establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany - in which he said the victims of the Holocaust "are commanding us not to carry out an absolute, final normalization before the eyes of the entire world, in the generation of the extermination, between the nation of the exterminated and the nation of the exterminators."
Only seven years after the "finest sons" of a nation that gave birth to Goethe and Schiller, Beethoven and Bach, sent millions of Jews to the crematoria, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion signed the reparations agreement with what he called "a different Germany." At a stormy Jerusalem demonstration against the deal, Begin promised, "I will give an order: Yes! We know that you will show us no mercy, but this time, we too we will show no mercy to those that sell the blood of our brethren and parents - this will be a war of life and death!"
In November 1977, four years after thousands of Israelis were killed and wounded on the Egyptian front, Begin (then prime minister ) received Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in the Knesset plenary hall.
This week also marked the 14th anniversary of the murder of seven school girls from Beit Shemesh. Although the murderer was a soldier in the Jordanian army, the prime minister at the time, Netanyahu, did not hold the "Jordanians" responsible; and despite the fact that thousands of copies of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" are sold in Jordan, he didn't accuse King Hussein of "incitement" that encourages the murder of Jewish children.
When the trace of the murderers leads to the Palestinian territories, the exception immediately becomes the rule - a genetic trait that is characteristic of the Muslims. Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords and abolished the Palestinian Convention, in the presence of the president of the United States. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly declared that he recognizes Israel and its right to exist in security within the 1967 borders. Abbas has also sent masses of Hamas activists to prison and invites Israeli peace activists to dine at his table.
One cruel murder is not enough for Netanyahu to bring the public back to the days in which we lived in constant fear of terror attacks, the days that brought his camp to power. There is a different Germany. There is a different Egypt. And in suitable borders, even a different Syria. But a different Palestine? Never.
The right does not consider the opinion of the moderate collective an authentic Arab voice. For them, the acts of the murderous exceptions are the determining factor. Their ears are attuned to the voice of an extremist minority and deaf to conciliatory notes, such as the Arab peace initiative of March 2002 - which proposes replacing the hostile relations with good neighborly ones. (The Arab League ambassador to Washington, Hussein Hassouna, said this week at a conference in Costa Rica that the organization is still committed to the initiative. )
Netanyahu, who complains about "the delegitimization of Israel," did not miss the opportunity to use the Itamar attack to breathe life into the destructive campaign that says "there is no Palestinian partner." "Moderate" Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, who froze plans for peace education, added fuel to the fire when at the Jerusalem Conference this week he spoke of "our neighbors," who educate their children to hatred, violence and death.
If the murderers wanted to intensify the hatred, violence and death among us, if they sought to etch into our minds that we will always live by the sword and the knife, Netanyahu gave them what they wanted. Have a pleasant trip to Berlin.
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