Israelis Share Netanyahu’s View of History (JEWISH PRESS) By: Vic Rosenthal 05/03/12)
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The writer Jeffrey Goldberg is a very smart guy. And unlike many who
write about Israel, he knows something about it, having lived there
and served in the IDF. He has interviewed many of the major players,
and he is not a polemicist of the Left or the Right. His insights are
often fresh and, er, insightful.
So I am always surprised when Goldberg misses the mark. And the way
he missed it in an article published this Monday is illustrative of a
misconception he shares with many American Jews.
Discussing the influence of Benzion Netanyahu on his son the Prime
Minister, explains that the PM’s historian father was convinced of
the “eternal nature of anti-Semitism.” Goldberg explains,
Benzion Netanyahu was a foremost scholar of the Spanish Inquisition,
and he revolutionized his field by arguing convincingly that the
Spanish weren’t motivated by religious feeling, but by racial hatred.
In other words, conversion wasn’t enough to save the Jews: The
Spanish hated the idea of Jewish blood mixing with their own. The
Inquisition, then, presaged the Holocaust. He believed that physical
acts of anti-Semitism are always preceded by years of hate-filled
rhetoric meant to desensitize the world to the coming slaughter.
He was not the only scholar of extreme expressions of anti-Semitism
like the Inquisition or the Holocaust to come to the same conclusions
about the importance of radical anti-Semitic ideologies in shaping
events. For example, Lucy Dawidowicz, in her well-known book The War
Against the Jews, makes the case that Hitler’s obsession with ‘the
Jewish Question’ interfered with his prosecution of the war (often to
the great irritation of his generals).
Goldberg tells us that Benzion Netanyahu’s response to the threats
faced by Israel today reflected this point of view:
Thus Netanyahu, like his son, saw it as a foregone conclusion that
Iran seeks to build a nuclear weapon with genocide in mind. But
unlike his son, Netanyahu thought that Iran should have been attacked
long ago. “From the Iranian side, we hear pledges that soon — in a
matter of days, even — the Zionist movement will be put to an end and
there will be no more Zionists in the world,” he said at a party
marking his 100th birthday. “The Jewish people are making their
position clear and putting faith in their military power…”
The elder Netanyahu was similarly militant on questions of compromise
with the Palestinians. Just as he saw the Iranians bent on committing
genocide, he saw the Palestinians and their Arab allies singularly
focused on the destruction of Israel…
Indeed, there are many parallels between the behavior of the Iranian
regime and the PLO and Hamas — including massive incitement to hatred
(see, for example, here), and the irrational subordination of other
goals to opposition to Jews and ‘Zionists’ — and earlier
manifestations of genocidal anti-Semitism.
So far, so good. But then Goldberg continues:
But there is an opportunity: Benjamin Netanyahu, precisely because he
is the son of a man like Benzion, is the only Israeli politician
today who could deliver the majority of Israel’s Jewish population to
a painful compromise with the Palestinians. He is also one of the few
whose endorsement of a deal between Tehran and Washington over the
Iranian nuclear program — a deal that would allow the Iranians to
have a supervised civilian program, for instance — would allay the
concerns of even more hawkish Israelis. The average Israeli trusts
that Netanyahu would not sell out their interests for a Nobel Peace
An opportunity? To repudiate the message of history by placing the
state of Israel into the hands of the true heirs of the Nazis, the
PLO? To commit national suicide by empowering the Iranian regime,
which makes absolutely no secret of its intentions?
Israelis are not just paranoid. Their fears are not irrational.
Someone really is after them.
There is a reason that “the average Israeli” elected the son of
Benzion Netanyahu, a man who shares his father’s values — because
they too share his view of history. This is precisely why they
believe that he would not sell out their interests.
The idea is not to “deliver” the Jewish population or to “allay the
fears” of the ‘hawks’, as Goldberg suggests. It is not to force
Israelis to buy the wishful (or cynical) thinking pushed by the Obama
administration, despite their well-grounded misgivings. Rather, it is
to actually ensure the survival of the state and the Jewish people.
Most American Jews, apparently including Goldberg, living in a place
and time — unprecedented in history, by the way — that anti-Semitism
is not a fact of daily life, have more or less forgotten the evil
certain individuals and groups intend them. This isn’t the case in
Israel, where they are reminded daily by Arab terrorism and Iranian
threats. And where they voted for Bibi Netanyahu. (© 2012
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