The winner of the Monitor’s fourth annual Henry Schwarzschild Award for most offensive comments by a Jew in the public spotlight is David Landau, editor of Haaretz, Israel’s leading left-wing daily. The prize is awarded to the person who, by his or her statements, displays contempt for the Jewish people, disregard for historical truth, a desire to sup at the table of Israel’s enemies, or who otherwise plays into the hands of the enemies of Jews and Israel.
Before we get to Landau, a little something about Henry Schwarzschild, who died in 1996 and was a longtime activist in groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Jewish Peace Fellowship. In the wake of the Israeli siege of Beirut in the summer of 1982, he wrote a public letter of resignation from the editorial advisory board of the journal Sh’ma – a letter that will stand in perpetuity as a monument to the unimaginable neuroses and insecurities afflicting secular leftist Jews. Schwarzschild’s main points:
For a generation now, I have been deeply troubled by the chauvinistic assumptions and repressive effects of Israeli nationalism. I have experienced the War on Lebanon of the past few weeks as a turning point in Jewish history and consciousness exceeded in importance only by the End of the Second Commonwealth and the Holocaust. I have resisted the inference for over thirty years, but the War on Lebanon has now made clear to me that the resumption of political power by the Jewish people after two thousand years of diaspora has been a tragedy of historical dimensions….
I will not avoid an unambiguous response to the Israeli army’s turning West Beirut into another Warsaw Ghetto. I now conclude and avow that the price of a Jewish state is, to me, Jewishly unacceptable and that the existence of this (or any similar) Jewish ethnic religious nation state is a Jewish, i.e. a human and moral, disaster and violates every remaining value for which Judaism and Jews might exist in history.
The lethal military triumphalism and corrosive racism that inheres in the State and in its supporters (both there and here) are profoundly abhorrent to me. So is the message that now goes forth to the nations of the world that the Jewish people claim the right to impose a holocaust on others in order to preserve the State….I now renounce the State of Israel, disavow any political connection or emotional obligation to it, and declare myself its enemy….
Schwarzschild’s screed was immediately published by the far-left Nation magazine (then as now the most anti-Israel mainstream political publication in America) and for better than two decades has remained a favorite of left-wing Jews. Tony Kushner (Steven Spielberg’s screenwriter for “Munich”) and Alisa Solomon thought so much of it that they included it in Wrestling with Zion, a compilation of essays by leftists struggling with their feelings of ambivalence toward Israel.
By his stunning choice of words – delivered to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a gathering at the Tel Aviv home of the American ambassador to Israel – this year’s Schwarzschild awardee confirmed what many have long maintained about the sheer depth of hostility toward Israel found among the country’s media and academic elite.
Landau, a veteran Israeli journalist (and an observant Jew) whose politics are a perfect reflection of the Blame Israel First mentality for which Haaretz has long been famous, told Rice that Israel needed to be “raped” by the United States, adding, in sexual terminology too vulgar to repeat in a family newspaper, that conveying this sentiment to her had always been his fantasy.
Though Landau claimed his remarks were “much more sophisticated” than what was reported, he admitted he “did say that in general, Israel wants to be raped – I did use that word – by the U.S., and I myself have long felt Israel needed more vigorous U.S. intervention in the affairs of the Middle East.”
He also acknowledged, apparently without apology or regret (or explanation as to why he feels his statements were in any way “sophisticated”), his use of a schoolboy vulgarism in relating his psychotic fantasy to the secretary of state.
Landau and those who think like him always swear up and down that they love Israel and have only its best interests at heart. But even the most boorish and unsophisticated of clods would never wish or urge rape on an object of their affection – though of course the terribly sophisticated David Landau would disagree with that observation.