— Natan Sachs (@natansachs) August 6, 2014
A reader writes:
With regard to your post “The Last And First Temptation Of Israel,” let’s dispense with all pleasantries and call these racist warmongers what they are. There is no excuse for this sort of language and belief and even under the worst of circumstances, you cannot justify it away.
With that said, a few things. One, Feiglin is one of eight deputy speakers. So, let’s be clear that his power in Israel slightly less than you claimed. Second, while nothing can justify these comments, the fact remains that the government that controls Gaza outwardly supports the genocide of Jews and ethnic cleansing of Israel. They were elected by the Palestinian people which, regardless of Israelis’ actions, means Palestinians voted for a party committed to genocide against the Jews.
Against this backdrop, I find it highly offensive that you are so narrowly focussed on the sins of Israel to the complete and utter exclusion of culpability of Hamas. Can you honestly say, given the sophisticated tunnels that were found, that there is no justification in Israel’s actions? I know you’ll shoot back “but the settlements” and I will counter with “they should be dismantled, but, let’s protect lives while we wait for politicians to wise up.”
The idea that this blog has focused on Israeli sins “to the complete and utter exclusion of culpability of Hamas” seems to me a deluded function of how polarized this debate has become. I’ve repeatedly and vehemently used clear language to denounce Hamas’ tactics as war crimes and their ideology as poisonous. Yes, I’ve become deeply concerned about Israel’s lurch toward eliminationist rhetoric – but my focus on that is partly because the story is ignored by much of the US media, and also because Americans are financing Israel – and not Hamas – and Israel portrays itself as a Western society. Another reader notes:
I think you make too much of “deputy speaker” – here’s another person who currently holds that title:
Ahmad Tibi is an Arab-Israeli politician and leader of the Arab Movement for Change (Ta’al), an Arab party in Israel. He serves as a member of the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) since 1999, and currently serves as Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. Tibi was acknowledged as a figure in the Israeli-Palestinian arena after serving as a political advisor to the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat (1993-1999).
Another pulls no punches:
Andrew, your blog post was a total hack job and you should be embarrassed. I had a funny feeling during your postings about the latest Gaza conflict that you may have some cringe-worthy lapses in basic facts about both the Palestinian street and the Israel street. To exploit nutty extremists and malign Israelis in a rush job for your blog proves my theory that you really don’t know anything about Israel – and sadly, you probably don’t care because you’ve made up your mind.
The Times of Israel pulled the blog post from this asshole immediately, and nobody gives a shit about the deputy speaker or pays no attention to him. It’s like writing about David Duke and the late Fred Phelps to expose the real truth about Americans. If you actually knew about life in Israel you wouldn’t exploit these jerks or worse, take them seriously and somehow connect the dots to Israel character.
If you knew ANYTHING about life in Israel you would certainly understand that a majority of the population is secular, liberal and progressive (not at all like you portray in this blog post); including a very high profile and large LGBT community. You would also know that these very large moral issues, like what to do about about Hamas and civilian causalities, the occupation, etc, is front and center in the media, in coffee shop conversations and in the workplace. Most of the conversations include a firm rebuke of the nuts you’ve decided to highlight in your blog post.
You’re an idiot if you think this is Israel. You’re a bigger idiot if you’re exploiting this just to be provocative. You know you should go there and spend some time. See what it’s like to be living in a free and progressive society surrounded by utter lunacy and religious and sexual intolerance. It’s not fun.
On the other hand, another notes:
Speaking of voices in Israel advocating various forms of genocide: one you may have missed came earlier in the year in the Jerusalem Post calling the Armenian Genocide “permissible“:
Every nation has the right to employ whatever means it has to fight for its survival, and should not have to do so at the expense of its moral standing in the eyes of other nations. This is a belief both Israel and Turkey share.
Note that Haaretz recently published an article showing that the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide presented the Jews in Palestine a brutally clear picture of how far “whatever means it has” extends:
A telegraph recently uncovered in the Turkish prime ministerial archive reinforces these accounts. Sent by the Turkish interior minister, Nazar Talaat, to the governor of Beirut, who also oversaw Zichron Yaakov, the telegraph read: “In the village of Zamrin (Zichron Yaakov,) in the Haifa district, the Kamikam (governor) told the people that if they do not hand over the spy Lishansky, their fate will be like the Armenians, as I am involved in the deaths of the Armenians.”
I have a few Israeli friends and have always been against the casual slaughter of Palestinians. My own support for the end of the war and criticism of the death of Gazan children has been vocal in situations both virtual and in physical conversation. I have discovered that there seems to be a violent pushback from many Israeli and Jewish people against my opinion (what a surprise!), usually revolving around the idea that A) I don’t understand B) You have no right to criticize us C) those in government don’t represent their opinion. Those are never fair reasons, because A) I do read enough to know B) I am human, the dead and injured are human and thus I have every right to have an opinion C) Then what are you doing about it.
I don’t mean to rant – but it would be helpful to readers to have a thread about this experience …. to share responses outside the media coverage. The mainstream coverage has been distorted and nothing has been said about how, one-to-one, others have been grappling with this. America has a unique position on this, as I live in New York (say what you will) and there is a huge number of Jews that have opinions about the conflict, nuanced or not, right or wrong. Compared to any other conflict, there seems to be a closer, perhaps more personal relationship with how we carry a discourse and there might be something valuable that a reader out there can share with the rest, beyond my own.
(Photo: Israeli residents, mostly from the southern Israeli city of Sderot, sit on a hill overlooking the Gaza Strip, on July 12, 2014, to watch the fighting between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants. By Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)