Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Zionism up against the Wall: the NYer interviews Avraham Burg

The Israeli government has to confront its own crazies and create a national consensus on democratic ideals, enact a secular constitution, and really confront the settlers. So far, the government is only willing to say that it is making ‘painful’ moves. We are told that we have to grieve with the settlers, think about making deals, but quietly let on that we actually think these are the real Israeli pioneers. Bullshit
Thus concludes "The Apostate", David Remnick's rumination on the state of Zionism in the current New Yorker magazine. After the aggressive and moralistic interviewer, Ari Shavit, took on Avraham Burg, a former Speaker of the Knesset and author of "Defeating Hitler" in the liberal Haaretz newspaper, Israelis were appalled by the vitriol. 450 comments were posted on the paper's website. When Burg described Israel as a perpetually “frightened society,” things grew tense:
SHAVIT: You are patronizing and supercilious, Avrum. You have no empathy for Israelis. You treat the Israeli Jew as a paranoid. But, as the cliché goes, some paranoids really are persecuted. On the day we are speaking, Ahmadinejad is saying that our days are numbered. He promises to eradicate us. No, he is not Hitler. But he is also not a mirage. He is a true threat. He is the real world—a world you ignore.

BURG: I say that as of this moment Israel is a state of trauma in nearly every one of its dimensions. And it’s not just a theoretical question. Would our ability to cope with Iran not be much better if we renewed in Israel the ability to trust the world? Would it not be more right if we didn’t deal with the problem on our own but, rather, as part of a world alignment beginning with the Christian churches, going on to the governments and finally the armies? Instead, we say we do not trust the world, they will abandon us, and here’s Chamberlain returning from Munich with the black umbrella and we will bomb them alone.

Now that Israel will receive a $30m weapons package from America, Burg seems rather out of touch with reality when he says Israel would be better off to spurn financial aid from the United States: “I don’t like it. A state like mine should live on its own means,” he told Remnick. What Israel does need from its superpower ally is the impetus to move forward on peace negotiations.

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