by Adam Keller
In a public opinion poll conducted in Israel several years ago, about sixty percent of the respondents supported the idea of Israel joining the European Union. So far, this has not happened, but Israelis are very pleased that our soccer and basketball teams participate in European championships. Also the Eurovision Song Contest gets at least as much public attention in Israel as in countries located in the continent of Europe itself.
But how many Israelis would like to accept the authority of the European Court of Human Rights based in Strasbourg?
Herzl would have been very surprised to hear that a time will come when "Colonialism" would be a dirty word and various Zionists will write articles and books trying to prove there is no connection and no similarity whatsoever between Zionism and Colonialism.
"The Jewish Colonial Trust" was the name of the financial institution established by the Zionist movement at its beginning (now Bank Leumi LeIsrael, Israeli National Bank). Theodor Herzl devoted much time and effort to meetings with the British Colonial Secretary, and attempts to persuade him that Zionism could be a loyal ally for the worldwide British Empire.
At the time when Zionism started, the enlightened and civilized countries of the time considered it quite acceptable and self-evident that Europeans had the right to seize control of the rest of the world and establish settlements there – with or without the consent of the "natives".
When the State of Israel was created and its establishment caused hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to become refugees, it was very shortly after millions of people in Europe were uprooted and driven from their homes and from countries where they had lived for hundreds of years. Acts which today would be called "ethnic cleansing" and which then at that time were undertaken with official and express authority from the resolutions of the war victors, gathered at the Potsdam Conference of 1945. Mainly uprooted and expelled from their homes in Eastern Europe were ethnic Germans (in 1945, it was common to consider what happened to Germans they had brought upon themselves); but quite a few Poles and Ukrainians and members of several other peoples were also uprooted from their homes by force ...
And on the year in which the State of Israel was born, and still for some years after that, racial segregation the discrimination of Blacks were set out in the laws of the United States of America, and a significant part of the American political system thought that this was exactly the way things should go on. And in those years most people in France considered Algeria to be an integral part of France which would remain such forever, and a million and half French settlers lived in Algeria and were in political and economic control, and Arabs in French Algeria did not have civil rights, and only radicals and extremists in France thought there was anything wrong about this. And not coincidentally, when these Algerian Arabs rebelled embarked on a war of independence, France regarded the young State of Israel as its natural ally.
So, for many years it was not so hard to be members of the club of Western Democracies. The admission requirements were not so rigid, and the norms of behavior of other members in the club were not all that different. But in the sixties things began to change definitely and the ways started to part in opposite directions. Algeria won its independence after a harsh and cruel war, and the colonies of France and Britain and other empires gained independence, and the very idea of colonialism and settlement in the territory of somebody else became unacceptable and illegitimate. And in the Southern United States Martin Luther King and his Black (and White) fellows waged a hard struggle and ultimately won, and the laws of segregation between Whites and Blacks were abolished and discrimination became illegal and illegitimate, and the way was paved towards the entering of a Black President to the White House. The norm was set that all people living under the rule of a government must share in the elections from which this government issues.
And just at this time, in the Sixties when students went out on furious demonstrations in Europe and America and opposed the Vietnam War and the authoritarian government of France, the State of Israel went out on a war lasting six days and captured a territory which it keeps to this day. And the state worshiped its victorious army and victory albums were published and the Chief Rabbi of the victorious armed forces went into the newly occupied territories in search of holy sites where he blew the ram's horn. And in the immediate aftermath of war and conquest, the settlement movement started in the Land of Our Forefathers, with the generous support of Labor Party ministers who did not understand that they were digging a grave for their party (and not just for it). And the people who understood the magnitude of the danger, and who went out at night to write graffiti against the just-started occupation on the walls of Tel Aviv, were a minority and their voice was not heard.
And ever since, the disparity has widened and the State of Israel has become the black sheep in this club of Western democracies, to which she so much wants to belong. And increasingly, outsiders could see a huge armored Israeli Goliath confronting the little Palestinian David, stone in hand.
There had been an interlude when Yitzhak Rabin – a man who spent most of his life in war but retained enough flexibility to change his way of thinking when already beyond the age of seventy – tried to change and reverse course. Seeing Israel isolating itself and embarking on the path of eternal war with its neighbors in the region and loss of its friends in the world, Rabin went on to shake hands with Yasser Arafat and enter into an agreement that would have led to the establishment of the State of Palestine no later than May 1999.
But the assassin's three shots in the square intervened, and among all Prime Ministers who served after the murder Yitzhak Rabin did not have a successor.
Rabin's legacy is still alive among the youths who came to the square on Saturday a week ago, to honor the memory of a man who was murdered when they were babies or not yet born and to swear allegiance to the cause he took up in the last years of his life and for which he died. But Israel as a state has turned its back on Rabin and his legacy - moving high-speed towards the abyss.
2- Taming the Europeans
In a month or so, after the American diplomatic steamroller blocks recognition of the State of Palestine at the UN Security Council, the debate will move to the UN General Assembly, where the American have no veto power. Towards this vote, Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made an intensive effort to secure the support of Western democracies and gain their vote against the Palestinian request. Especially he sought the support of the European countries, making repeated visits and showering their leaders with compliments. Again and again Netanyahu declared that if the enlightened democracies stand by him, support for the Palestinians "would not have a moral force".
And just at this time Knesset Member Ofir Akunis, a close associate of Netanyahu, submitted a bill which gained the cabinet's support and which takes a quite different attitude to these same countries. A bill whose proclaimed aim is "to prohibit Israeli NGOs from accepting the donations of governments and international bodies such as the European Union", and thus "prevent the interference of foreign states in Israeli politics" and their support for (God forbid!) Human Rights organizations.
Speaking about "moral force"...
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