'Personification of evil'
This weekend marked the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, yet the memory of that night is as vivid as the events of yesterday.
A huge black boot burst through the glass panel of a door behind which my family sought cover – tumultuous shattering and banging had woken us up only minutes before – the boot followed by two SS officers who went on to smash up whatever happened to stand in their way. A terrifying night, never to be forgotten; when it was over, my father had disappeared together with the SS men.
Today we learn of small children being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night, of families driven out of their homes as punishment for the deeds of one member of the family. Did the siblings in these situations in the territories – the fathers, mothers, elderly grandparents of the individual accused of an act of violence – face due process before being condemned to homelessness? And how will the children in these real-life contemporary scenes ever be able to see anything but the personification of evil in every Israeli they come across?
If a play juxtaposing these two scenes – comparing the viewpoint of the children involved – were to be performed by a local theater today, the minister of culture, under her proposed new "cultural loyalty" law, would presumably seek to withdraw subsidies from that theater: Disparaging the honor of the army is the unforgivable sin, not its actions. But the parallel remains, and no laws of censorship can erase it.
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In response to "Palestinian Said Killed by Israeli Military Fire Near Gaza Border Fence," November 8
According to (always the whole truth) Palestinian reports, Israeli forces opened fire at four youths near the border fence, but we are not told what these four were doing near the border fence. Were they perhaps attempting to plant explosives?
They were engaged in some sort of activity posing a threat so serious as to result in a carefully considered IDF assessment that this threat needed to be terminated. All these essential facts are missing from Jack Khoury’s extremely incomplete article, making the article something less than reportage.
Going too far about Rabin
In response to "The Israeli Historian Who Blames Rabin for His Own Murder and Praises Hitler Is Making a Comeback," November 9
This long article by Ofer Aderet about the historian Uri Milstein is the most unpleasant one I've read in a long time. It’s true that all historians writing on a subject will emphasize different aspects, according to their beliefs and how they understand the material. This is acceptable, but Milstein has gone much too far in his attacks on senior generals of the IDF, especially Yitzhak Rabin. According to Milstein, Rabin was responsible for the collapse of Israel’s security services "from the day he enlisted in the Palmach in 1941 until and including the time he took the positions of prime minister and defense minister” – and he goes so far as to blame Rabin for his own assassination.
Except for Arik Sharon, whom he commends for his leadership in the Six-Day War, he has nothing positive to say about any other commander in the IDF. Milstein ignores the unbelievable victory of our air force in 1967, and says that with such bad military leaders "it is surprising that Israel still exists.”
Countries do not continually remind their citizens about failed military campaigns. Like all the others Israel too has had failures. Karameh [where the IDF battled PLO and Jordanian forces in 1968] is just one. The United States was defeated in Vietnam, and the USSR was defeated in Afghanistan. These are the two mightiest armies in the world today, and despite that, they could not overcome the Vietcong and the Taliban. Fidel Castro and his militia managed to defeat the army’s of the Cuban dictator.
Milstein ridicules our army for not being able to destroy Hamas and Hezbollah. Militias fighting in built-up civilian areas are very difficult to destroy, as we have seen from the experience of the Russians and the Americans. Somalia was another American failure. So if countries like United States and Russia, which do not care about killing civilians do not succeed, there is no way that IDF can do otherwise.
Hanegbi should apologize
In response to “A Shameful Saturday Night in the Square,” November 5
With all due respect to the author – a relative of a man who was apparently assassinated by right-wing extremists so many years ago – I find it hard to accept Meirav Arlosoroff’s description of the crowd’s attitude toward Minister Tzachi Hanegbi’s appearance at the Rabin memorial rally as “a shameful night." The demand that he apologize for the right-wing incitement against Rabin, which led to the assassination, was totally justified – and he refused.
It is hard to forget that Hanegbi was standing on the balcony in Jerusalem’s Zion Square barely a month before the assassination, together with [Benjamin] Netanyahu, [Ariel] Sharon, [Rehavam] Ze’evi and [Rafael] Eitan, while the crowd below called for the prime minister’s blood. And it’s hard to forget that at his trial, the assassin Yigal Amir said that he wouldn’t have done what he did if he didn’t feel that he had public backing for his murderous act.
Co-editor, Palestine-Israel Journal
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