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At Israel’s birthday party, ambassador says rising criticism comes from ‘killing fields of Europe’

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Israel celebrated its 68th birthday yesterday, its “independence day,” with several expressions of propaganda. Three have a military character; you will see that Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dermer declared that the Israeli army is now the answer to the Holocaust, and then linked new criticism of Israel in what “was once proudly called the free world” to the Holocaust, describing that continent as “the killing fields of Europe.” There’s also an American columnist explaining why an Israeli general who likened Israeli society to Nazi Germany should be fired for lacking the “basic decency” to keep his thoughts to himself.

First testimonial from Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel should revive the tradition of military parades on its independence day. Haaretz says the tradition ended in 1968, but Netanyahu recalled how inspiring those parades were in his childhood in Jerusalem:

“I remember seeing a cannon, I saw a tank for the first time. I saw soldiers. It moved me enormously.”

“You know what, I have a proposal,” Netanyahu said, turning to [Defense Minister Moshe] Ya’alon and [chief of staff General Gadi] Eisenkot. “My friends, let’s renew the parades in Jerusalem. A military parade on Independence Day in Jerusalem – that’s the basis of our independence, those soldiers.”

The Israeli Embassy in Washington held a big party for the birthday yesterday, attended by the White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, and Ambassador Dermer acknowledged “differences” between Israel  and the Obama administration over the Iran deal and “the best way to advance a secure peace with the Palestinians.”

But the U.S. is not Europe! Dermer linked the growing criticism of Israel in Europe to the Holocaust:

So above all, today is a time to appreciate the great transformation that has occurred in the life of the Jewish people with the establishment of the Jewish state. After two thousand years of being a stateless, voiceless and powerless people, we have once again become a sovereign nation that can speak up for itself and that can defend itself.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Much has been said and written in recent years about the resurgence of antisemitism, particularly in what was once proudly called the free world. Many have bemoaned the metamorphosis of an ancient hatred against the Jewish people into a new hatred against the Jewish state..

But the attempt to demonize, dehumanize and delegitimize Jews is a very old story. What’s new is that today the Jewish people have a voice among the nations. What’s new is that today there is an IDF. That’s why Israel’s Independence Day is also a good time to remind our enemies that the Jewish people are powerless no more. To remind them that we have returned to our ancestral homeland from the killing fields of Europe, from Yemen, Iraq, and Morocco, from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union, and from over 100 countries around the world. To remind them that while Israel will never give up its hope for peace with all its neighbors, Israel will also never hesitate to defend itself.

Israel’s future depends on us.

Liberal Zionists celebrated the birthday. Daniel Sokatch of the New Israel Fund sent out this note on Israel’s wonderful temperament, happiness index, and democracy, with not a discouraging word. “No country is perfect,” Sokatch reminds us. Talk about looking for silver linings, this letter is a reminder that older American Jews continue to have a fairy-castle view of Israel:

On Israel’s 68th birthday, it is worth taking a minute to reflect and celebrate.

We at New Israel Fund are in the social change business, meaning that we talk a lot about what needs to be changed in Israel. Today, it’s worth thinking about some Israeli qualities that needn’t be changed, because they are what made Israel the vibrant and interesting society it is:

Temperament: Yesterday, the Washington Post ran a chart showing 20 nations graded on expressiveness and ability to tolerate confrontation. No prizes for guessing which one scored highest on both scales.

Happiness: Israelis might live in a difficult corner of the world and face a lot of challenges, but every year, independent polling shows that most Israelis are happy with their lives and proud of their country.

Democracy: Yes, there are Israelis trying to change the rules of the democratic game and damage democratic institutions. But there are just as many Israelis who believe democracy, freedom of speech, and minority rights are important and must be preserved – and those are the Israelis supported by you and the New Israel Fund.

No country is perfect. Every country has to work to establish or preserve liberal democracy, avoid demagoguery and in-group privilege, and unify its citizens into a shared society.

So let’s celebrate all that is good about Israel today. And then we’ll continue our work to make it better.

And here’s another American voice, in even greater solidarity with Israel’s rightwing leadership. Liel Leibovitz in Tablet says that Israel should kick its deputy chief of staff Yair Golan out of the army for likening Israelis to Nazis in a speech last week. Leibovitz says Golan lacked “basic decency.”

He… could’ve resigned and preached about the dangers of creeping Fascism. Instead, he fought by any means necessary, and then, enjoying the privilege of living in a robust democracy, made a shockingly irresponsible and vile statement, a khaki-clad version of virtue signaling, endearing himself to liberals everywhere at no real cost to himself…

[T]he general’s statement is reason enough to kick him out of the army, or, at the very least, insist that he and other uniformed officers kindly refrain from making incendiary political statements, a minimal courtesy tightly enforced by virtually every other free nation on earth. If there’s any real threat to democracy, in Israel or elsewhere, it is likely to occur when career soldiers begin to see it as their duty to pontificate on matters of state…

But if Israel is truly to defend itself against a slide into unreason, it must enforce a simple rule: if you’re a senior officer and you fear your nation is descending into benighted times, use your power to make change; if you feel you can’t, quit; and if you don’t, have the basic decency to shut the hell up

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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16 Responses

  1. traintosiberia on May 13, 2016, 12:33 pm

    As the military threat to Israel disappears at least disappears from the fabricated mindset because obviously Iraq and Syria or Libya could not be used anymore as a threat . Because of the too much of the obviousness.

    So Israel to stay in limelight of American concerns and polluted conscience ,has to invent new threats .

    That’s what they are doing. There is always something . The wolves are always howling at the pious innocent child lost in the neighborhood also known as -Jungle- by the resident -author of the Israeli villa

  2. just on May 13, 2016, 12:50 pm

    Gideon Levy:

    “At Independence Day Airshow, Israelis Prefer to Avoid Reality

    … Most of the people who came to Tel Aviv’s scenic beach on Thursday had already suffered an overdose. After almost a week of media propaganda, the likes of which have not been seen for many years, with overdoses of nauseating militarism and equally sickening nationalism and self-victimization, with kitschy broadcasts, heroism and death of an ilk even North Korea might balk at, they came to celebrate Independence Day with the heroes in the sky. …

    … Precisely at the appointed hour – flybys and funerals always start on time in Israel – the planes approached from the north. The cellphone cameras went into action and the cheers were not far behind. Sky slaloms, darting upward, then down, coming closer, then moving off, cheers accompanying the movement. There goes the IAF acrobatic foursome! The Shanghai Circus is in town, too. Parents were trying to get their children excited – usually with only partial success. Like with so many other things, the kids are the parents’ excuse to come to this foolish fair.

    Uri Kimhi, a sweet boy of 7 who studies in the city’s Nature School, is held in his father’s arms so he can see better. Uri tells his father he’d rather see birds flying in formation – another smart child shouting that the emperor has no clothes. When he grows up, he says, he wants to be in the circus.

    The park’s venerable tamarisk and mastic trees shade the barbecuers. The trees have seen it all – with their faces to the sea and their backs to Ben Yehuda Street, where we would crowd together in our childhood to see the IDF parades. In the last parade – the bombastic parade of 1973 – no fewer than 400 planes took part. Quite a few of them crashed a few months later. In those days, they used to show captured weapons in parades. A year later, captured weapons were shown in parades in Cairo and Damascus.

    Next year in Jerusalem, if Netanyahu gets his wish, the parade will be able to display pairs of scissors and kitchen knives – enemy weapons, borne on the silver platter of the nation.
    On the terrace of the Hilton Hotel, a group of American Jews in white baseball caps and matching white T-shirts, with the words “The Israel Bonds” in blue, watched the flyby. Another Israeli schnorrer bringing their guests to behold the wonder. Look what your money and the money of the American taxpayer is doing. The guests, it seems, were impressed. …”

    read more:

  3. pabelmont on May 13, 2016, 1:17 pm

    The boy wants to see birds fly instead of airplanes-in-formation? His education has been a failure, but fortunately there is still time. ” Netanyahu said that Israel should revive the tradition of military parades on its independence day.” Yes!!

    If Israel is not about military imperialism, what is it about?

    So, military parades. And at the focus of the parade-review there should be a raised (very raised) dais, with all the officials standing and saluting militarily (as militarily as possible, actually, of course) between huge (actually vast) columns draped with Israeli flags (ideally black, but blue and white will probably have to do). Oh, so patriotic. And maybe also some public executions. Perhaps force prisoners held in administrative detention to chose 10 % of their own number to be sacrificed! That’ll show them and the crowds will go wild.

    And the Europeans will tsk-tsk in the best patrician tradition and do nothing else because, after all, they occupy the killing fields of old and have no right to protest anything about Israel, anything at all, ever agian.

    Actually, that’s what “Never Again” means: Europeans will never again criticize Israel.

    • Marnie on May 14, 2016, 5:39 am

      With Netanyahu’s nostalgic desire to a return to the military parades, all I could think of, besides fascism, was “Gladiator” and the disappointing, insecure Commodus, son of beloved emperor Marcus Aurelius, who after murdering his father because he wished to hand the reins of power to General Maximus, thought the people would just love a return to the arena, to keep their minds of starvation and plague and his ineptitude. Some of the best lines:

      Gracchus: He will bring them death, and they will love him for it.

      Gracchus: Fear and wonder, a powerful combination.
      Falco: You really think people are going to be seduced by that?
      Gracchus: I think he knows what Rome is. Rome is the mob. Conjure magic for them and they’ll be distracted. Take away their freedom and still they’ll roar. The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the senate, it’s the sand of the coliseum. He’ll bring them death – and they will love him for it.

  4. WH on May 13, 2016, 5:18 pm

    ‘Yesterday, the Washington Post ran a chart showing 20 nations graded on expressiveness and ability to tolerate confrontation. No prizes for guessing which one scored highest on both scales. ‘ Ability to tolerate? More like addication to confrontation!

    ‘every year, independent polling shows that most Israelis are happy with their lives and proud of their country’

    Do those polls include Palestinian Israelis, I wonder?

    • jon s on May 14, 2016, 5:51 pm

      The World Happiness Report places Israel in 11th place , ahead of the USA. There’s no reason to think that Palestinian Israelis are not included:

      • eljay on May 14, 2016, 9:25 pm

        || jon s: The World Happiness Report places Israel in 11th place , ahead of the USA. … ||

        And way ahead of Saudi Arabia, Mali and African “hell-holes”! :-)

        || … There’s no reason to think that Palestinian Israelis are not included … ||

        The site’s FAQs state that the sample size used is 2-3000 people. There’s no reason to think that Palestinian Israelis – or Palestinians under Israeli occupation – are included.

      • Marnie on May 15, 2016, 12:22 am

        “There’s no reason to think…….” Right, why start now? BTW, of course they’re ahead of the usa in the world ‘happiness’ report, most of their happiness is taken right out of american taxpayer’s pockets. It’s easy to be ‘happy’ when every time you turn around the usa is going down once again on fearless leader to make settler scum even more happy. Maybe one fine erev Pesach, when you least expect it (because that’s what makes surprises so great) Elijah really will visit and those “Happy Days” will be through. Surprise!

      • jon s on May 15, 2016, 6:30 am

        The sites FAQ states: “nationally representative samples”, which means that Palestinian Israelis are included.
        I assume that Palestinians in the WB and Gaza are not included.

      • eljay on May 15, 2016, 8:23 am

        || jon s: Eljay,
        The sites FAQ states: “nationally representative samples”, which means that Palestinian Israelis are included. … ||

        Not necessarily.

        If Israel was evaluated on the basis of its being a “Jewish State”, the home of the “Jewish people” and the “Jewish nation”, a “nationally representative sample” would consist entirely of Jewish people.

        But even if Israel was correctly evaluated as the home of all Israelis, there’s still no guarantee that non-Jewish Israelis were included in the “nationally representative sample”.

  5. Talkback on May 13, 2016, 5:30 pm

    Rising criticism is because of Zionist killing fields in Palestine.

  6. DaBakr on May 13, 2016, 8:17 pm


    the general:
    it wasn’t just because the general ‘spoke his mind’ and touched on the nazi issue. in your country if a general ever made a public speech that was in direct conflict with the policy and tenor of the commander in chief they would be canned immediately. golan was clearly setting up his political career by playing to his faction. imagine a US general campaigning against his c-i-c-

    the parade:
    whats good enough for the US’s new bff Khameini is good enough for a second rate ally where air is the most valued commodity between its two leaders-both incidentally elected.

    he should really take up his own question and travel to north korea where he thinks the propaganda in israel “might” make kim il blush. he should also raise the question of north korean propaganda while he is there. he could hit 2birds with one stone.

    • Mooser on May 13, 2016, 10:58 pm

      “Dabakr” You are becoming quite the tsitsa makher.

    • Marnie on May 14, 2016, 5:44 am

      You should really start sounding a helluva lot more cheerful for a die-hard zionist. What could you possibly have to be bitter about? Cheer up Mr. Grumpy Gills.

      The zionist state isn’t a second rate ally. The u.s. doesn’t have allies, it has countries who keep a distance from the crazy but occasionally join the crazy if the u.s. has a particularly persuasive mouthpiece in charge. The zionist state is no ally to anyone, just a partner in crime.

      • Theo on May 14, 2016, 1:44 pm

        Ally is the wrong word nowdays, it was replaced with partner.
        European politicians keep talking about our american partners, not realizing that they are nothing but vassals, the orders come from Washington and they just obey.

      • Qualtrough on May 14, 2016, 10:54 pm

        OK DaBakr, I will accept your premise. Israel is better than Iran or North Korea. Such company though.

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