To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.
Dear Professor R,
You claim that it is unfair of people to accuse you of being anti-Israel, and all the more so of being an anti-Semite. You say you are merely endorsing the positions of some Israeli leftists, and you name Uri Avnery and Shulamit Aloni. You say you endorse a complete withdrawal of Israel to its 1967 borders, removal of all settlements, and creation of a Palestinian state with half of Jerusalem as its capital because you love Israel and want it to live in peace.
I do not believe you.
I do not believe that you love Israel. I do not believe that you desire Israel to survive and live in peace. I do not believe that you believe that your prescription will bring peace.
Suppose someone – a non-American – would announce that he is not anti-American, but he merely endorses the political positions of people like Noam Chomsky and Louis Farrakhan. Suppose he insists he is in fact pro-American, just pro-positions of “dissident” America. Of course, such a claim would be ludicrous. Such a person would be supporting people driven
by hatred of America. Such people’s “ideology” is nothing more than anti-Americanism, and foreigners supporting such people would in effect be admitting that they themselves are anti-American and wish America harm.
Your support of Uri Avnery and Shulamit Aloni is exactly the same thing. Israel’s leftist extremists are motivated by anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism in exactly the same way that the extremist campus Left in America is motivated by hatred of America.
Moreover, your own positions unmask your pretended love for Israel. When you support sanctions against Israel and against Israeli academics because you disapprove of Israeli government policy, you are revealing your hostility to the existence of the country, not to this or that policy. You are not trying to influence Israel’s decision-making, you are delegitimizing all of Israel and exhibiting a desire to see Israel destroyed.
When you encourage those who are organizing mutiny and insubordination in Israel’s army, you are showing that you wish Israel to be destroyed. You are also showing your fundamentally anti-democratic proclivities.
If Israel’s leftists wish to try to persuade the rest of the country of the correctness of their ideas, they are free to do so. But such mutiny is anti-democratic and designed to divide and paralyze Israel’s military and prevent Israel from making decisions about its own self-defense in a democratic manner.
But your position is even more untenable. At least Israel’s extremists will bear part of the costs of the foolish policies they advocate if such policies are adopted by their country. They have already borne parts of the costs of the Oslo debacle and they are at risk every time they go outside their homes, thanks to their own policies having been pursued.
You bear none of those costs or risks. You are seated on your comfortable suburban sofa over there and spouting advice. And if your advice turns out to be harmful, you can just sit back, say ooops, and switch the channel.
But there are other reasons why I do not believe your protestations of affection for Israel. Israel has already applied your philosophy and your approach. It already turned most of the West Bank and Gaza over to the PLO, agreed to the establishment of a PLO state, offered the PLO parts of Jerusalem, and at Camp David Ehud Barak offered the PLO its entire wish
list: partial “return” of Palestinian “refugees,” the Old City of Jerusalem with the Western Wall, virtually all of the West Bank and parts of pre-1967 Israel. You know the result perfectly well.
For the past ten years, every single step Israel has taken to implement your philosophy and your vision of peace has produced escalated violence and bloodshed. You have had more than ample empirical proof that your approach is simply incorrect. Israel’s goodwill gestures and flexibility have produced Arab atrocities, not reductions in Arab hatred and violence. Israeli moderation always produces Arab aggression. Israeli niceness is interpreted by the Arabs as weakness and destructibility. This is not a matter of “ideological disagreement” but of empirical proof.
The fact that you still advocate endless Israeli submission to Arab demands can be interpreted in one of two ways. Either you are too stupid to acknowledge the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of empirical proofs demonstrating that your approach to settling the Arab-Israeli conflict is incorrect, or you in fact understand perfectly well that your approach is really
designed to produce the destruction of Israel. I happen to believe the second explanation for your behavior is the correct one.
You continue to oppose all forms of Israeli self-defense short of capitulation, since you are willing to allow Israel nothing short of its complete submission to the Arab world’s dictates. You would have Israel place its neck in a noose and trust the Arabs not to pull the rope.
And that is why I do not believe that you are simply disagreeing and supporting Uri Avnery and his ilk; that you do so because you have a dissident understanding of what Israel’s real needs are; or that you are acting out of true affection for Israel. I do not agree that you are a
real Jewish patriot. I think you are a Jewish Taliban John, a Jewish Uncle Tom.
I think you really want Israel weakened and even destroyed because it would permit you to posture and feel righteous; it would allow you to save face and avoid embarrassment when you’re hanging out with your leftist friends.
Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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