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The Holocaust and Israel’s ‘re-establishment’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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There has been something bizarre about the turn in Israeli/Zionist rhetoric in recent months, particularly following Obama’s speech in Cairo.  The Zionists have become positively hysterical on the point that Obama– just like big bad Ahmadinejad–apparently suggested that Israel exists as compensation for the Final Solution. How dare they not acknowledge the enduring tie of "the Jewish people" to their "ancient homeland"!!

But honestly, where do they think Israel would be without its Holocaust cloak?

The most recent illustration of this return to first principles comes from David Harris, the head of the American Jewish Committee who not infrequently can lurch even farther into the fever swamps than his organization’s bastard child Commentary In an impromptu speech to a group of Senators, Harris plunged right into John Hagee-Michael Oren territory:

"Israel was born out of an ancient vision unique in the annals of history.  In the words of its Declaration of Independence, Israel ‘was the birthplace of the Jewish people.  Here their spiritual, religious, and political identity was shaped.  This was understood by President Harry Truman, who defied the advice of his State Department to recognize the re-establishment of Israel in 1948.  His favorite Psalm, according to presidential historian Michael Beschloss, was number 137 – ‘By the rivers of Babylon, we wept when we remembered Zion.’"

First of all, there is nothing at all unique about a blood-and-soil myth of an ancient and glorious past as a basis for nation building.  If memory serves, it prompted a world war just a few years before the "re-establishment of Israel".  Never mind also that by far the bulk of the development of Rabbinic Judaism took place not in Zion but by the rivers of Babylon.

This has been steadily building for some time – it began with the narrative about "America and the Middle East since 1776" spun by Michael Oren, which was accompanied by the always caustic Marty Peretz thundering in protest of Walt and Mearsheimer that "American support for the Jewish restoration goes all the way back to the Puritans." [And David Frum made the same argument re the Bible, last week in the Economist.]

But Obama clearly hit a nerve in Cairo, whatever he intended to say precisely.  Netanyahu’s response, bordering on violent, was to invoke the unchallengeable rights of "the Jewish people".   Could it be, perhaps, that what drives the Israelis mad is the implications of the "Holocaust" narrative: that they were once as pathetic as the Palestinians who have been for so long under their boot?

If, then, we can bring it back to 1948, there is something else about the Harris remarks that cries out for attention.  You don’t hear it so often nowadays, but time was the easy fallback argument of the Zionists was "we accepted partition, the Arabs did not."  And perhaps you don’t hear it very often for the reason that the answer to this argument is so obvious: Are you really going to tell me with a straight face that Israel would be willing to withdraw to the lines of the original UN partition?

But Harris has the balls to to state both sides of the coin at once.  No sooner does Harris demand that "Israel will never return to the armistice lines of 1967" than does he manage to repeat that "the UN embraced the idea of two states as early as 1947". 

Oh my darling party line, oh I never will desert you for I love this life of mine!

So let there be no question about the Israeli hysteria about Obama in the White House.  Already, we’ve seen their desperation to put war with Iran back on the table; for Israel will be nothing without that handy scapegoat for all their problems.  And now, we have the resort to bible-thumping of the leader of an organization which in the 1940s was courageous enough to take the stand that an exclusively-Jewish state was inherently undemocratic.

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