Hanukkah is, among other things, the holiday of shaking off the syndrome of self-disparagement in the face of the gentiles. As part of this self-disparagement, some 800 Israelis – most notably A.B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz and David Grossman – sent a petition to the Belgian parliament begging it to recognize the Palestinian state. The petition was also sent to other European parliaments to urge them to recognize Palestinian statehood. But they don’t need urging. With their umbrella organization, the European Union, they are galloping toward it.
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The next stage, which quite a few Israelis yearn for, is an arrangement that would be forced on Israel.
During the Hanukkah days their act should be judged not only for the damage it is causing Israel’s diplomatic relations and image. The deep motive for spurring these states on is much more important. We’re dealing with a cultural opposition, which is turning to outside forces to force their own government to act according to their opinion in issues at the heart of the national controversy. Thus it was in the days of the Hasmoneans and they want it to be like that in these times, too.
Nowadays, when a political group in a democracy invites pressures from without, it is in fact declaring that the rules of the game don’t apply to it and that it is acting with no inhibitions. Anyone unfamiliar with what is going on here could deduct that Israel is a dark, undemocratic state and that the only course that remains for its liberal circles is to turn to the enlightened world and persuade it to foist a solution on their government. Akiva Eldar, until recently Haaretz’s diplomatic correspondent, was overjoyed when the French foreign minister hinted that the European states will force Israel to submit to their dictates. Vive la France, Eldar cheered on the Al-Monitor website.
When Israelis resort to means once used by courageous intellectuals against communist, Nazi or fascist regimes, they put their country – and its government – in line with those dark regimes. This practice is unprecedented in democratic states where the media is free, the freedoms of organization and election are ensured and the courts are totally independent and do not fear to convict a president, a prime minister and ministers. When, for example, has the Dutch opposition mobilized foreign states and international tribunals against their lawful government’s policy?
What they did is more than merely inviting foreign interference. The petition, like many before it, was intended to slander Israel. “A smell of old exile,” Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun called it in the newspaper Makor Rishon, noting that he had taken part in “many meetings and conversations” with Yehoshua, Oz and Grossman.
The Palestinians, encouraged by the folly of the Israelis helping them, will now have another reason for their obstinacy not to recognize Israel as the Jewish nation-state and stick to their demand for the right of return to every place in Israel whence they had fled or were driven out.
The European parliaments that recognized the Palestinian state did not condition the recognition on revoking the right of return. Neither did the Israeli petition’s signatories.
In his essay “In those days, in ancient times,” Moshe Glickson, Haaretz’s first editor, wrote: “We no longer smash the beautiful Greek idols in rage and fear for our fate. But nor do we kneel before them as some of the renewal enthusiasts do, intoxicated by the cheering Hellas wine, who are ready to turn the war against the winning Hasmoneans We have our own world, sublime and profound and rich with values, generated by our spirit and inner essence.”