You know them. These people who blatantly, instinctively, inveterately trash Israel. These people who miss no opportunity to brand IDF soldiers as Nazis. Who accuse the Shin Bet of human rights violations and defense officials of collective punishment. People who will tell everyone, anyone who will listen - Western journalists in particular - that the government of Israel is committing war crimes.
There's no escaping them. The world over, there are activists, Jewish activists, many of them rabbis, who go out of their way to toast them, host them, butter them up, bed them down, fund them, fete them, flack for them, hang on, bask in and benefit from their every curse against the elected government of the Jewish state.
Chances are, you've had it with them. They will stop at nothing to proclaim, demonstrate and prove - to themselves, at least - that they and they alone hold the moral torch of the otherwise bourgeois, corrupted, indifferent, or ideologically banrupt Jewish people.
They are, in that sense and others, classic self-hating Jews. They are ashamed by Israeli policies and actions. Not in our name, they cry.
They support the Israeli youth who decides to refuse army service. They support the IDF soldier who refuses orders.
Many of them have left Zionism far behind, dismissing it as an obsolete philosophy that is, at present, at odds with Jewish moral values, teaching and tradition. They are post-Zionist, calling the state of Israel the enemy of the Jewish people. They expunge mention of the state of Israel from the Jewish liturgy.
They understand the resort to force, whether against soldiers or civilians, as the imperative of self-defense.
They reserve special contempt for the moderate on their side of the Israeli political spectrum. They hate the American government for standing behind and financing Israeli policy moves, which they denounce as bloodthirsty and genocidal. Many of them hate their own parents, for believing as they believe, but failing to join them on the barricades.
Beginning in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, their court journalists have insisted that the Jewish state has lost its soul, and that only this gutsy, imaginative, indefatigable vanguard has kept the flame, and saved Israel from total and literal ruin.
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the new self-hating Jew, the New Right, for whom the Torah will come forth from Judea, and the word of God, from Hebron.
In their view, we, the Jewish People, have irrevocably violated our contract with them. And now it is their turn to rip up their contract with us.
In their view, the sins we have sinned against them are beyond counting, beyond pardon. Withdrawal from Sinai, withdrawing from Jericho and Gaza, allowing the return of Arafat, arming the Palestinian Authority, withdrawing from Hebron, withdrawing from Jenin and Nablus and south Lebanon, withdrawing from Amona and Federman's Farm, disengagement, the Clinton Plan, the Bush Vision, the Obama specter.
How curious it is, therefore, that the reaction of pro-settlement militants has been so extreme, as to have had an entirely unintended unifying effect on the Israeli public. In short, nothing since the disengagement has hurt the settlement movement nearly as much as the violence in Hebron. The paskudnyak platoons have given pause even to some of the most consistent apologists for the behavior of Hilltop Youth and other extreme groupings.
Where the boys in the oversize kippot and the overlong tzitit and the quasi-metal mindset and the Shanti/Second Aliya communard lifestyle once played on the sentimentality of the center-left ["they are our children"], the adoption of the dress-code and the ethical values and the methods of Hamas have managed, at long last, to spark a backlash.
Where the girls with the regulation ulpana sleeves and the regulation ulpana skirts and psychedelic shtetl headscarves and the fire-cum-schmaltz of the Revisionist Redux rhetoric once touched the heart of the center-right, the sight of them throwing rocks at soldiers and cursing them as though sailors on shore leave, all the while uttering racist curses at Arabs, has caused once-willing supporters to renege.
This is how it ends, not with the demonstrations of the Israeli left or the boycotts of the Western far-left. What began in Hebron in 1968 is beginning to end in Hebron in 2008. It will be the kids, in the end, who will take the enterprise down - that and the global financial crisis, which will affect crucial supporters like Irwin Moskowitz and others who have long believed that if Israel is unwilling to finance expulsion of Arabs, it is the duty of good Jews in Boca Raton and Brooklyn to do so.
The Likud campaign of Moshe Feiglin, with its more careful rhetoric, but its background strains of transfer and Islam-is-inferior, and retake-the-Temple Mount, suggests the desperation in the bravado of the extreme right. It suggests that the far-right phiolosophy is so isolated that, like a virus, it can only truly grow and reproduce by infecting and thus commandeering a vastly larger host.
The kids somehow sense it too. There is desperation in their actions, the isolation and the sense that a tide may be turning against them.
In Hebron, after all, no one needs a weatherman to see which way the wind blows.
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