Latest update: March 10th, 2013
An interesting trend has emerged in recent weeks. The Israeli Left, along with most of the world’s pseudo-intellectual classes, has suddenly discovered Abraham Lincoln, and is proclaiming him an honorary member of “Peace Now.” Obviously it is thanks to the new Hollywood movie. Columnists in the Israeli media are claiming that Israel needs to follow the ethical leadership of Lincoln. Just as Lincoln freed the slaves, or so their mantra goes, so Israel must “free” the Palestinians from “occupation.”
The Israeli Left has embraced Lincoln because it is convinced that, if Lincoln is regarded as a moral champion, identification with Lincoln must clearly lead one to support the political agenda of the Israeli Left. First and foremost this would mean supporting Palestinian demands and “resistance.”
So what should we make of this new “Lincoln as Leftist Pro-Palestinian” campaign?
Well, even someone with only the shallowest familiarity with American history would know that the two most important principles represented by Lincoln would make him for all intents and purposes the ethical analogue of the Jewish settler leaders in Judea and Samaria, and not a Peace Now whiner.
Lincoln fought the American Civil War first and foremost in to order to prevent the partition or division of his homeland, and he was fully prepared to use massive military force to achieve this goal. Lincoln was in favor of peace but not under all conditions or at any price. Those in Israel proposing such a “two-state solution” are the 21st century’s Copperheads.
Second, Lincoln had no reluctance about using the word “treason,” and throughout the Civil War he made it clear that he considered the Union war against the Confederacy and its supporters to be a campaign against treason. Those who supported secession or the Confederacy were engaging in treason, not academic debate. Lincoln did not mollycoddle traitors in the name of “understanding the Other.” He did not insist that those opposing national interests be allowed to control the universities and the courts and the media.
Those who are trying to deconstruct Lincoln as the ultimate opponent of “occupation” will have to explain why his party imposed a severely harsh occupation on the member states of the Confederacy, one that continued for years. The analogue to the PLO and Hamas in the occupied Confederacy was the Ku Klux Klan, and it was suppressed mercilessly in actions that included Union militias acting as anti-Klan death squads. There were thousands of arrests of KKK “militants” and “activists,” and martial law was imposed upon counties with Klan activities. No one proposed seeking peace by granting the Klan its own country.
Aside from the two most obvious characteristics of Lincoln, which make him the moral analogue of Jewish settler leaders, Lincoln had a few other features that will make the Left squirm. Lincoln abolished habeas corpus during wartime. He had traitors executed and deported, and had no hesitation about the use of capital punishment. Among those executed, William Bruce Mumford was convicted of treason and hanged in 1862 for tearing down a United States flag. Some 500 people were executed by hanging or by firing squad during the War, some for desertion. At least one of those hanged was a woman, Mary Surratt (executed for her role in the assassination of Lincoln).
Lincoln had no patience for terrorists, known in the Civil War as “bushwhackers,” and ordered them to be executed by firing squad. “Bridge burners” were given the same treatment. He believed there was ONLY a military solution to the problems of terrorism.Lincoln also imposed censorship on the press and suppressed treasonous journalism. Want to ponder how Lincoln would handle the pro-Hamas radical Left in Israel?Then in Sherman’s march to the sea, Lincoln conducted war against CIVILIANS, explicitly targeting and attacking the civilian population and its infrastructure to end rebellion and treason. With no Betselem and no Supreme Court interference.
Lincoln also sponsored the Homestead Act of 1862, perhaps the greatest settlements construction effort in history.
Perhaps most notably, Lincoln imposed an uncompromising blockade upon the entire Confederacy. The very same Israeli Leftists, who insist that lifting the “embargo” of Gaza is the highest form of humane morality so that the Hamas can more easily import weapons, will have a an interesting challenge explaining the blockade imposed by their new-found moral champion, Abraham Lincoln. It was a policy proudly described by Lincoln as “starving the South.” Food and civilian commodities were prevented from passing through the blockade. Guess how Lincoln would have dealt with “Gaza Flotilla” blockade runners?
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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