This week Israelis observed Memorial Day and celebrated Independence Day. I have believed for years that the best way to commemorate these days is by turning them into a battle against the loss of perspective.
Memorial Day is the more troubling of the two days. The problem is that Israelis have lost their sense of Jewish perspective to such an extreme extent, and this becomes glaringly evident on Memorial Day. Israelis are incapable of viewing their problems and that of the state within the perspective of Jewish history, in large part because of the efforts of the secularist Israeli Left, which dominates civil discourse, the media, and academia and seeks to detach the state from Jewish history and deny any connection between “Israeli-ness” and Judaism.
This is reflected in a defeatism that is blindingly apparent on Memorial Day, whose atmosphere resembles that of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom Hashoah, in nearly all things: the same siren, the same closing of cafes and restaurants, the same conversion of the media into
official mourners. The timing is also suggestive – Memorial Day is a week after Yom Hashoah.
If anything, Memorial Day is the more dramatic of the two days, as there are two sirens sounded on Memorial Day but only one on Yom Hashoah. And this is not because the loss of soldiers is more recent. The bulk of the soldiers killed in Israel’s wars, more than half, died in the 1948-9 War of Independence, only three years after the Holocaust.
All sense of proportion has been lost. If you add up the numbers from all of Israel’s wars,
roughly 21,000 soldiers and civilians have been killed. That’s similar to the number of Jews
murdered every two days at Auschwitz at the height of its “efficiency.” In other words, had
Auschwitz operated just two days longer than it actually did, the loss of Jewish life during that
two-day period would have equaled all of Israel’s military and civilians losses over more than
half a century. (The soldiers killed in Israel, of course, died in valor, defending their people and
Here we are, 56 years after the Holocaust, and Israel is still operating under the Grand
Oslo Delusion, still trying to “negotiate” with the Palestinians instead of achieving total military
victory over them. In modern Israel, the fact that one or two soldiers were killed per week in
Lebanon was cause for a panic-stricken retreat out of Lebanon to Israel’s “international border.
Two deaths a week of soldiers in Lebanon – deaths that could have been prevented but for the lack of courage among the country’s leadership – were thought to be sufficient reason for
abandoning all rationality and determination, and for putting all of northern Israel under threat of massive bombardment. On the other front, Palestinians tossing rocks at soldiers in the 1980’s was sufficient reason for Israel to fall for the Oslo swindle of the 1990’s and invite an Islamofascist terrorist army to sit in the suburbs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Oslo Israel is post-survivalist Israel, defeatist Israel, exhausted Israel. Oslo was based on a total loss of the ability to reason rationally, a loss of historic proportions, a relinquishment of reality for a make-pretend imaginary universe, and a complete loss in the Jewish determination to survive as a nation.
First and foremost, it was a complete loss in Jewish self-respect and dignity in Israel. Here we had the spectacle of Israeli leaders meeting, back-slapping and kissing the same Arab
fascists who murdered Jewish children and only yesterday denied there had ever been a
Holocaust, but at the same time insisting that if there had been one, the Jews deserved it.
The Israeli media continue to be the occupied territory of Israel’s extremist Left; the
Independence Day issue of Haaretz a couple of years back featured a banner op-ed by columnist Akiva Eldar entitled “To the Glory of the States of Israel and Palestine.” Eldar explained that Israel will never be truly independent until Palestine has pushed Israel behind its 1949 borders and liberated East Jerusalem.
In Oslo Israel, defeatism became the greatest form of triumphalism, cowardice became the highest form of courage, and McCarthyism was the greatest expression of democracy, at least
in the first few years after the Rabin assassination.
The Israeli military was as blinded by the loss of perspective as the rest of the country. The military leadership has been McClellenist since 1992, and was if anything ahead of the rest
of the country in saying amen to the vision of Oslo and backing the suicidal ambitions of Israel’s surrender-at-all-costs Left. The military brass was even louder than the media in demanding the unilateral, unconditional surrender of Israel in Lebanon and the abandonment of the Golan to Syria.
Meanwhile, now it’s Ariel Sharon who’s trying to capitulate his way into tranquility. Just
what does he think the PLO-Hamas terrorists will do in Gaza once Israel has ethnically cleansed it of Jews and abandoned it?
Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at
Amazon.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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