How the mighty have fallen (how many and since when?)

Mishkenot, first neighborhood outside the walls of Jerusalem, where Aaron Hirschler was killed

I was a bit taken aback when I saw the first headline in yesterday morning’s Haaretz. Every year, on Israeli Remembrance Day, the Ministry of Defence issues a press release – quoted in all of the news media – regarding the total number of “fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism”. Remembrance Day was established to commemorate soldiers and members of the pre-state militias but, in 1998, the first Netanyahu government decided to extend commemoration on this day to victims of terrorism as well. The decision aroused a good deal of polemic at the time, not least from the families of fallen soldiers, but the “victims of hostile actions” (as they are officially called) are now just another part of the day’s events and media attention.

What struck me in yesterday’s headline was the date from which the Defence Ministry now calculates the number of Israeli dead: 1860! It seems that in 2005, the MoD decided to count anyone and everyone whose death could somehow be related to the “rebirth of Israel”. Apart from being the year of Herzl’s birth, 1860 is the year in which the first Jewish neighbourhood outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City was established – often designated in Zionist historiography (and indeed that is what I was taught in High School) as the beginning of the Zionist settlement project, although Zionism had not yet been invented of course, and far more prosaic reasons led Jews to abandon the Old City.

The MoD’s memorial website has a list of all of the “fallen”, with short biographies, searchable by date. The very first entry is that of Aaron Hirschler, killed not in 1860, but in 1873. The circumstances surrounding Hirschler’s death are described as follows:

The year 5633 [1872-1873] was one of abundant rainfall that filled all of the cisterns in the courtyards, and the city’s Jewish residents were not forced to buy water at full price from the Arab residents of the village of Silwan. The Arabs, who saw their living slip from their hands, began to raid the homes of the Jews, stealing their property. On the second day of Rosh Hodesh of the month of Tevet 5633 (January 1873), a number of Arabs broke into the family home. Aaron stopped his studies, chased them away, pursued them and tried to catch them. The Arabs, who were afraid that he might identify them, shot him. Aaron was hit by 12 bullets and was taken to hospital. On 6 Tevet 5633 (January 1873), he died of his wounds and was laid to rest in the cemetery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

The following entries, describe victims of burglaries, street brawls with drunken “Christian Arabs” (“cursing the Jews and insulting Jewish women”), revenge for the “accidental” killing of an Arab, and at least one case in which “the source of the gunshot is a mystery, and it is not known whether [the victim] was shot by an Arab or by accident, by his partner on guard duty”.

It is ironic that a country that felt deep shame at the helplessness of the victims of the Holocaust – so much so that Holocaust Remembrance Day was set on the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and named “Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day” in order to downplay the memory of those who “went like sheep to the slaughter” – has, in recent years, sought to turn its own heroes into ordinary victims, no different from the victims of terrorist attacks, break-ins or brawls.

About Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel

Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel is a Canadian-Israeli translator living in Italy.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government | Tagged

{ 16 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. dimadok says:

    What is exactly the point of the post here? Why is the remembrance is bad? How is that if the victims killed because of them being Jewish are less of the value than the soldiers? What is your idea of remembrance-should it be separated? Who deserves more -a soldier or a civilian?

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      I see the point of the article to expose to ridicule the fact that the likes of you are so eager for cynical political manipulations. Your mileage may vary.

    • eljay says:

      >> What is your idea of remembrance-should it be separated? Who deserves more -a soldier or a civilian?

      Who deserves more – a Jew or a Palestinian?

  2. David Samel says:

    Shmuel, at first I found this earliest-death entry to be quite comical (though tempered by the possible fact that someone was actually shot to death.) The effort to portray “the Arabs” as greedy businessmen who refused to be thwarted by God’s generous rainfall, and simply resorted to thievery and murder to compensate for the weather, is unbelievably simple-minded, not to mention racist. But it’s not really so funny. This ugly attitude must still resonate with a significant slice of the population, and the desperate effort to associate Jewishness with perpetual victimhood is truly pathological. Israel requires that we subscribe to the theory that the only thing that protects us present-day Jews from the horrors of the past is our military strength – our nukes and Apaches and Merkavas, not to mention our strict control over these cutthroat monsters whose resemblance to humanity is questionable. This is really sick shit.

    • W.Jones says:

      How is this conceivably a terror incident?

      The announcement never specified that the peasants “who saw their living slip from their hands” targeted the home because they hated Jewish people. In fact, it just says that the peasants were very poor. Obviously the person targeted had money. Even if it was another Palestinian trying to chase after them it seems likely they would try to stop their pursuer with force, in this case too deadly. My point is that it doesn’t seem like an attack for the sake of racism, nor for political or religious goals.

      And what is the point the author is trying to make in the last paragraph?

      • W.Jones,

        It’s not a “terror incident”. It’s a burglary that went wrong when the burgled tried to be a hero. In the Zionist narrative promoted by the Israeli MoD, however, if an Arab killed a Jew, it’s martyrdom and an entry in the ledger of bad blood (two entries actually – credit us, debit them). I agree with David’s analysis: the perspective reflected in the account of Hirschler’s death is very disturbing.

        And what is the point the author is trying to make in the last paragraph?

        It’s an observation on changing mores and contradictory values in Israeli society. Personally, I reject both hero- and victim-worship.

      • optimax says:

        I have heard that the number of Jewish hate crimes reported is inflated because even if there is no hard evidence the crime is ethnically/religiously motivated is many times reported as such. Every broken window is due to goyish aggression. I don’t know if the rumor is true or not, but stories like this tend to confirm the rumor’s veracity.

  3. American says:

    “the desperate effort to associate Jewishness with perpetual victimhood is truly pathological. ”

    Yea it is….I see no cure for it…it’s gone on for centuries and will probably always be because it perpetually self mutates it’s own victimhood internally regardless of reality. I think this is part of what the hated Gilad Atzom recongizes about the tribe and why so many hate him for what he says….which is basically…’you are doing it to yourselves.’

    • Taxi says:

      I see no cure either. The shit’s seeped down deep. Surgery may help, but the odds are stacked against it. Even if israel was dismantled (for the right reasons and in the best possible way), the many, many jews who are stuck in their victimhood will just interpret it as another example of how ‘all goy are born antisemites’ – and so it keeps perpetuating. Very self-defeating and debilitating – for a people who’ve been deeply dreaming of discarding their bondage for the past several millenniums. Politics aside, I guess it’s sad to watch a group of humans, because of a common attachment to an old misunderstanding, commit slow suicide simultaneously.

    • yourstruly says:

      jewish zionists know that for them there’s no victimhood here in america, they keep pretending there is so as to keep the myth alive about the zionist entity israel as their sanctuary should things turn bad for them in america. but once palestine is liberated/israel delegitimized, since there’s nowhere’s else where we jews have it as good for ourselves as here in the u.s. of a., jewish zionists will have to face up to the reality that not only is there no longer a mideast sanctuary for them, but that america’s always been and remains their true homeland. will jewish-american zionists adjust? well, based on the the rapid growth of jewish antizionist organizations such as jvp it looks like they’re beginning to, and once the zionist entity israel* is no more they’ll have no choice other than to adjust, and then we’ll find out whether gilad atzmon’s thesis about jews being incurably addicted to victimhood is valid or not.

      *the entity, not its people

  4. RE: “It is ironic that a country that felt deep shame at the helplessness of the victims of the Holocaust – so much so that Holocaust Remembrance Day was set on the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising . . .” ~ Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel

    MY COMMENT: Ironic in one sense, but perhaps not so in another.

    SEE: “The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict”, Published by Jews for Justice in the Middle East:

    (excerpts). . . “In 1938 a thirty-one nation conference was held in Evian, France, on resettlement of the victims of Nazism. The World Zionist Organization refused to participate, fearing that resettlement of Jews in other states would reduce the number available for Palestine.” ~ John Quigley, ‘Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice’
    “It was summed up in the meeting [of the Jewish Agency’s Executive on June 26, 1938] that the Zionist thing to do ‘is belittle the [Evian] Conference as far as possible and to cause it to decide nothing… ~ Israeli author Boas Evron, ‘Jewish State or Israeli Nation?’
    “[Ben-Gurion stated] ‘If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, but only half of them by transporting them to Palestine, I would choose the second — because we face not only the reckoning of those children, but the historical reckoning of the Jewish people.’ In the wake of the Kristallnacht pogroms, Ben-Gurion commented that ‘the human conscience’ might bring various countries to open their doors to Jewish refugees from Germany. He saw this as a threat and warned: ‘Zionism is in danger.’” ~ Israeli historian, Tom Segev, ‘The Seventh Million’ . . .

    • CONTINUED AT – link to

    ALSO SEE: ‘The Hidden History of Zionism’, by Ralph Schoenman [excerpt]:

    • Sacrificing Europe’s Jews
    The correlative to the acts of collaboration with the Nazis throughout the 1930’s was that when attempts to change the immigration laws of the United States and Western Europe were contemplated in order to provide token refuge for persecuted Jews of Europe, it was the Zionists who actively organized to stop these efforts.
    Ben Gurion informed a meeting of Labor Zionists in Great Britain in 1938: “If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Israel, then I opt for the second alternative.” [84] This obsession with colonizing Palestine and overwhelming the Arabs led the Zionist movement to oppose any rescue of the Jews facing extermination, because the ability to deflect select manpower to Palestine would be impeded. From 1933 to 1935, the WZO [World Zionist Organization] turned down two-thirds of all the German Jews who applied for immigration certificates.
    Berel Katznelson, editor of the Labor Zionist Davar, described the “cruel criteria of Zionism”:

    German Jews were too old to bear children in Palestine, lacked trades for building a Zionist colony, didn’t speak Hebrew and weren’t Zionists. In place of these Jews facing extermination the WZO brought to Palestine 6,000 trained young Zionists from the United States, Britain and other safe countries. Worse than this, the WZO not merely failed to seek any alternative for the Jews facing the Holocaust, the Zionist leadership opposed belligerently all efforts to find refuge for fleeing Jews. . .

    • CONTINUED AT – link to

    • P.S. The notion that European Jews (or Roma/Gypsies, gays, etc., for that matter) “went like sheep to the slaughter” and therefore would only safe in a Jewish nation-state is what I consider to be one of the most thoroughly disgusting propaganda creations of the Zionists! That is one travesty I will never forgive them for!

      FROM WIKIPEDIA [Learned helplessness]:

      (excerpt) Learned helplessness, as a technical term in animal psychology and related human psychology, means a condition of a human person or an animal in which it has learned to behave helplessly, even when the opportunity is restored for it to help itself by avoiding an unpleasant or harmful circumstance to which it has been subjected. Learned helplessness theory is the view that clinical depression and related mental illnesses may result from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation.[1] Organisms which have been ineffective and less sensitive in determining the consequences of their behavior are defined as having acquired learned helplessness.[2]
      The American psychologist Martin Seligman’s foundational experiments and theory of learned helplessness began at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967, as an extension of his interest in depression. Quite by accident, Seligman and colleagues discovered that the conditioning of dogs led to outcomes that opposed the predictions of B.F. Skinner’s behaviorism, then a leading psychological theory.[3][4]
      • Experiment – Summary
      In the learned helplessness experiment an animal is repeatedly hurt by an adverse stimulus which it cannot escape.
      Eventually the animal will stop trying to avoid the pain and behave as if it is utterly helpless to change the situation.
      Finally, when opportunities to escape are presented, this learned helplessness prevents any action. The only coping mechanism the animal uses is to be stoical and put up with the discomfort, not expending energy getting worked up about the adverse stimulus. . .

      SOURCE – link to

      • P.P.S. FROM ALISTAIR CROOKE, London Review of Books, 03/03/11:

        (excerpts). . . It was [Ariel] Sharon who pioneered the philosophy of ‘maintained uncertainty’ that repeatedly extended and then limited the space in which Palestinians could operate by means of an unpredictable combination of changing and selectively enforced regulations, and the dissection of space by settlements, roads Palestinians were not allowed to use and continually shifting borders. All of this was intended to induce in the Palestinians a sense of permanent temporariness [essentially "learned helplessness" - J.L.D.]. . .
        . . . It suits Israel to have a ‘state’ without borders so that it can keep negotiating about borders, and count on the resulting uncertainty to maintain acquiescence. . .

        SOURCE – link to

        • yourstruly says:

          most certainly conditions for those sent to nazi concentration camps met the specs for producing “learned helplessness”, yet in order to justify its existence israel looks upon them as having been sheeps led to the slaughter. it’s not as if there aren’t other examples of mass murder in which the victims put up no or hardly any resistance. during the past century alone, the armenian and the tutsi genocides, for example, not to mention the japanese rape of nanking and the u.s. assisted indonesian annihilation of chinese communists. do these boastful self-aggrandized jewish nationalists in israel really believe that if they’d been the ones seized by well armed stormtroopers and sent to nazi concentration camps 67+ years ago, they’d have resisted? no more than in bank robberies, many of which take place every day in america, when told to hit the floor and keep quiet, how often do panicked customers or bank employees put up a fight? face it, zionists, the romantic concept that you would never go down without performing some heroic act is hogwash and you know it!

  5. optimax says:

    There is an inverse relationship between talking big and actual bravery.

    Ali is the exception to the rule, but he isn’t an average man.