Hate as a ‘Solution’ to the Problem

In 1977, the Likud Party, led by Menachem Begin, won Israel's parliamentary elections after 29 years of Labor Party rule in the country; Begin became prime minister. His political opponents called him a “fascist,” a “hooligan,” and a “warmonger.” He aroused violent hatred. But “fascist” and “warmonger” led to a full-fledged peace treaty with Egypt, signed on the front lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 26, 1979. Begin received the Nobel Prize for this peace, which has lasted 44 years.

After Begin came to power, the Labor Party, still recently ruling the country, accused the new prime minister of failing to lead the country and leading it to collapse. In 1977, in handing over the post of prime minister to Menachem Begin, his predecessor in office, Labor’s Yitzhak Rabin, named Iraq’s nuclear preparations as one of the main strategic dangers threatening Israel. Encouraged by the reactor startup, in August 1980 Saddam Hussein made an unprecedentedly harsh speech threatening to wipe Tel Aviv off the map. In June 1981, on Begin’s orders, Israeli aircraft destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor, denying Saddam Hussein the ability to build a nuclear bomb. The reactor was severely damaged and deemed unrecoverable. Begin said at the time: “We will in no way allow the enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction against the people of Israel.” Many foreign governments, including the United States, denounced the military operation, and the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution of condemnation. The Israeli leftist opposition also criticized the act. The U.N., the U.S., and the Israeli opposition criticized Begin essentially for his defense of the citizens of the Jewish state against attempts to destroy it by an Iraqi dictator and aggressor.

Now, if the Israeli government, in self-defense against Iran’s continued promises to wipe Israel off the map, launches a pre-emptive attack on the country’s nuclear arsenal, the same players will condemn its actions. Despite the adage, “The best defense is offense,” all of little Israel’s preventive military actions have been consistently condemned.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Judgment Day War, in which the attacker was not Israel but Arab countries, it’s important to remember how dangerous it is for the small territory of Israel to be attacked by enemies, and how important to the existence of that country are its preventive strikes against enemies who threaten to destroy it.

Jonathan Gruber, a well-known documentary filmmaker in the United States, who often made films on Jewish and Israeli themes as well as on the Holocaust, created the film Upheaval with the aim of exploring Begin’s image as fully as possible. As he got to know Begin more and more, Gruber came to realize that this politician:

[W]as shaped by the Holocaust, by European anti-Semitism, and by his experiences in World War II. And everything he did while in opposition or leading the country seemed to be based on his family's experience and the memory of six million murdered Jews.

Holocaust denial is a contagious pastime, turned against Jews as “liars.” However, due to the all too obvious failure of this version, few people use it. More “credible” is the comparison of Israelis to Nazis because of their policies toward Palestinian Arabs. When a people are comparable to the Nazis, all means are good against them. The main significance of this comparison is to gain legitimization to punish the “guilty.” Since the Israelis, a largely Jewish population, are now akin to Nazis, they are no longer victims, as they largely were during the Holocaust, but aggressors who caused the misfortunes of others, and therefore should be condemned and punished. This equating of Israelis with Nazis is the concoction of a blood libel. Previously, the Nazi monsters murdered Jews without guilt or right. Now, elevating Jews to the notoriety of the Third Reich may authorize extreme measures against Israelis on legal grounds.

But what is forbidden to others is permitted to Jews themselves. In connection with attempts at judicial reform in Israel, opposition protests have been accompanied by illegitimate insults calling conservative opponents “Nazis.” Like his predecessor Begin, Netanyahu has been “honored” with the title “fascist.” At one demonstration, a portrait of the current prime minister appeared with Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical inscription, “Mein Kampf”.

Israelis do not have the privilege of devaluing the memory of Jews murdered in the Holocaust by calling each other Nazis. To employ cheap and accusatory attacks is to downplay the tragedy of European Jews in World War II, and Israelis have no right to insult the memory of their ancestors. Leftist Israelis label their countrymen “Nazis” to the amazement and satisfaction of anti-Semites; and they rejoice when they hear confirmation of their assertions. Such exclamations and insults of disputing Israelis embolden the anti-Semites, for through these Jewish wars they self-assert themselves as fighters for “truth.”

Why do some Israelis, easily forgetting the Holocaust, call each other Nazis? Perhaps these cases are manifestations of so-called auto-antisemitism or Jewish antisemitism, described by Theodor Lessing in 1930 in his book Jewish Self-Hatred. Lessing saw before him a well-known Austrian anti-Semite, Otto Weininger, a talented young Jewish philosopher who had published an anti-Semitic book, Sex and Character, in Vienna in 1903. Weininger’s book contributed to a typically Viennese saying: “anti-Semitism is not taken seriously until it is adopted by the Jews themselves.” However, “Jewish self-hatred” before the establishment of the state of Israel was an attempt by Jews to escape the humiliation and hostility that caused them to deny their own identity. But Israelis are in their own country in which they are the ruling majority. Why do they display such intense self-loathing? Could it be that they too are drawn to their Jewish origins and belonging to Israel? Perhaps these Israelis want to look good in the eyes of the purveyors of “progressive thinking” propagated by mainstream media journalists and analysts, especially American ones, who often portray Israel in a negative light. They want to be comme il faut.

Recently, the Iranian authorities decided to capitalize on the desire of Israelis to insult each other by calling one another Nazis. The Israeli Security Agency (Shabak) published the results of an investigation following the appearance on social media of an edited photograph of Major General Yehuda Fuchs, commander of the Central Military District, in which he is depicted in a Nazi uniform against the background of the flag of the National Socialist Party of Germany, with a “Hitler mustache.” The report said that “the account from which the picture was published is highly likely to be fictitious and operated from Iran.” The Iranians have learned to find weaknesses in angry Israelis, exploit them, mislead their enemies, and cynically manipulate their habits to create chaos in Israel. The struggle for democracy is proceeding with an intensity that threatens Israel’s security. Will Israelis be smart enough not to follow the example of all their Arab neighbors and avoid the civil bloodshed that took place during the Arab Spring?

Image: Free image, Pixabay license, no attribution required.

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