The Israeli left, along with most of the world’s pseudo-intellectual classes, has suddenly discovered Abraham Lincoln, thanks to Steven Spielberg’s much-praised movie.
Israeli leftists have embraced Lincoln because they are convinced that if Lincoln is regarded as a moral champion, identification with Lincoln must lead one to support their own political agenda. First and foremost this would mean supporting Palestinian demands and aggression against Jews.
Take a recent column by Bradley Burston, the English-language columnist for Haaretz. The title pretty much tells you what you need to know: “As Lincoln abolished slavery, Israel must abolish occupation.” Burston opines: ‘I realize now that I am an abolitionist and that occupation is slavery. I also realize that I need to pay more attention to Abraham Lincoln, in his ability to remind us all of the wisdom hidden in the obvious.’
Then there was a column in Haaretz by one Ithamar Handelman Smith, who responded to Culture Minister Limor Livnat’s praise of Spielberg’s Lincoln movie by (a) questioning whether Livnat really knew what Lincoln stood for and (b) labeling Israel “one of the least democratic regimes in the Western world.”
Now, anyone who possesses even a passing 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 the West Bank.
Lincoln fought the American Civil War first and foremost to prevent the division of his homeland, and he was fully prepared to use massive military force to achieve that goal.
And Lincoln had no reluctance about using the word “treason.” Throughout the Civil War he made it clear he considered the Union war against the Confederacy and its supporters to be a campaign against treason. Lincoln consistently described those who supported secession or the Confederacy as “traitors.”
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. Lincoln’s war against treason did not make him a nineteenth-century Haaretz columnist but rather the moral ally of all those who despise Haaretz and oppose the anti-Israel left.
Aside from those two most obvious characteristics, there were other things about Lincoln that would make today’s leftists squirm. Lincoln abolished habeas corpus during wartime. He had traitors deported and had no hesitation about the use of capital punishment. Lincoln also imposed censorship on the press and suppressed treasonous journalism. And during Gen. Sherman’s march to the sea, Lincoln had no problem with attacks on a civilian population and its infrastructure in order to end rebellion and treason.
Perhaps most notably, Lincoln also imposed an uncompromising blockade on the Confederacy. The very same Israeli leftists who insist that lifting the “embargo” of Gaza is the highest form of morality would have an impossible task in explaining the blockade imposed by Honest Abe.Steven Plaut
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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