Zeev Sternhell was born 73 years ago in Poland. When he was 5 years old, shortly after the outbreak of World War II, he lost his father. When he was 7 years old, he lost his mother and sister. Sternhell was a hunted child in the ghetto, and after being rescued from the ghetto, he survived the Holocaust with courage and resourcefulness, forced to conceal and even change his identity.
Immediately after the war, he arrived alone in France, and there he was exposed to enlightenment that captivated him. Nevertheless, the 15-year-old boy decided to leave France and immigrate alone to Israel. He did so because he considered the establishment of the State of Israel a miracle. Zeev Sternhell wanted to be a part of the miracle.
If Israel ever has to submit a writ of defense to the court of history, the life story of Zeev Sternhell will say all there is to say. Sternhell never exploited his past and did not ask for concessions because of it. But the past emphasized the fact that his biography is that of Israeliness at its finest. It is the biography of a highly motivated combat officer who became a world-renowned historian who studied the roots of fascism. The biography of an Israeli patriot, who has fought unremittingly against the Israeli occupation. The biography of a Zionist who has tried to heal the afflictions of the very sick society that Zionism established in this country.
In the early hours of yesterday morning, the afflictions of Israeli society placed an explosive device at the entrance to Sternhell's house. An evil hand emerged from the sewers of darkness. New Sicarii, the Jewish extremists of the Second Temple period, tried to raise a hand against one of Israel?s most impressive and ethical citizens. Jewish terrorists tried to use explosives to silence a strong and leading voice of Israeli democracy.
The device was small, the horror is great. Twenty-five years after it threw a hand grenade at Emil Grunzweig during a Peace Now demonstration, the lunatic right has returned. Thirteen years after it fired bullets from a pistol into the back of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli fascism has struck again.
The lunatics, who are well aware that they have lost the battle for the Land of Israel, have once again committed a desperate act of hooliganism. The zealots, who know that they have also lost the battle for the Jewish people, committed a blatant act of terror against the enlightenment that Sternhell has always embodied.
The irony is not at all fine; it is shocking. A man whose home was destroyed by European fascism was attacked at the entrance to his Israeli home by Israeli fascism. A historian who devoted his life to studying the foundations of modern chauvinism was attacked in the middle of the night by a dark force of modern chauvinism. An Israeli whose love for Israel has no limits was attacked by Israelis with no limits. Genuine traitors to the Israeli enterprise tried to murder one of its genuine adherents.The attack was amateurish and foolish, but it was no coincidence.
Sternhell was marked because he told the violent post-Zionists on the hilltops the truth. He told them that they are not Zionism, but a mutation of Zionism. He told them that they are not Israeliness, but the brutalization of Israeliness.
We must not generalize: It is not the entire right that bears responsibility. The right has many nuances, most of them legitimate. But the illegitimate stream on the right is a national problem of the highest order. Even a small camp of rebels against the kingdom can destroy the kingdom.
The conclusion is clear. The government has an obligation to act immediately and resolutely in order to dry up the swamps in which Jewish terror breeds. The deportation to Jerusalem of patterns of behavior typical of the extremist settlement of Yitzhar prove that we can wait no longer.
Israel must marginalize the marginal elements. It must outlaw the lawbreakers. It must return to the anti-chauvinistic nationalism of the great fighter against fascism. It must prove that it is the Israel of Sternhell, not the Israel of Yitzhar.
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