Arab-Israeli conflict BDS boycott Israel Israel Israeli Arabs Israeli occupation one state solution Palestinians

Boycotters? Or thought police? A new war against the “two narratives”

Realistic Dove has never addressed the controversial BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement. One reason is that I keep taking one step towards it and then three steps back. It is a broad movement, and some of what some of its supporters advocate has begun to make sense to me. But much too much of it is ill-advised (c’mon on, let Leonard Cohen sing in Tel Aviv, for God’s sake, and leave the universities alone!). So I’m still trying to figure out what to think and do about it…

Recently, however, the originators of the international BDS movement (the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, or PACBI) put forward a premise that is so disturbing that it is worth singling out even before a broader discussion takes place here.

On July 20th, PACBI published new guidelines that were meant to clarify which Israeli events or institutions should be subject to a boycott. One guideline asserted that the boycott should apply to an event or cultural project that “promotes false symmetry or `balance.'” The explanation:

Cultural events and projects involving Palestinians and/or Arabs and Israelis that promote “balance” between the “two sides” in presenting their respective narratives, as if on par, or are otherwise based on the false premise that the colonizers and the colonized, the oppressors and the oppressed, are equally responsible for the “conflict,” are intentionally deceptive, intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible. Such events and projects, often seeking to encourage dialogue or “reconciliation between the two sides” without addressing the requirements of justice, promote the normalization of oppression and injustice. All such events and projects that bring Palestinians and/or Arabs and Israelis together, unless framed within the explicit context of opposition to occupation and other forms of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, are strong candidates for boycott. Other factors that PACBI takes into consideration in evaluating such events and projects are the sources of funding, the design of the program, the objectives of the sponsoring organization(s), the participants, and similar relevant factors.

In other words, they don’t like it when Israelis tell their side of their story! They don’t want to hear the narrative of the Other and they don’t know want other Palestinians to listen to it. They are not only objecting to events or groups whose panels and conversations end up supporting and perpetuating the status quo. They don’t want ANY process that fosters reconciliation or understanding between the two sides unless it is part of an explicitly declared effort to end the occupation or protest Israeli policies.

The mind reels. This guideline takes its cue from Stalin, not Mandela. Unless I missed something, PACBI is agnostic when it comes to a one-state or a two-state solution. In either case, Israelis and Palestinians will have to learn, somehow, to live with each other. That requires at least some understanding of why people believe what they believe, but this formulation condemns understanding itself. This is, to say the least, self-defeating. The PACBI organizers presumably believe in the Palestinian Right of Return. but apparently they don’t want Palestinians and Israelis to meet in neutral settings so the Palestinians can explain why the Right of Return is so important to them.

What about all of the dialogue programs and other projects that foster co-existence and equality between Palestinian citizens of Israel and Israeli Jews? I showed the guidelines to Ami Nahshon, CEO of the Abraham Fund –which operates such programs–and asked him what he thought. Here is his response (it includes a reference to another PACBI guideline, which calls for boycotting anything connected to Israeli municipal governments, including–presumably–those in mixed Arab and Jewish cities like Haifa).

The Abraham Fund (and presumably Givat Haviva and many/most Jewish-Arab coexistence and rights organizations in Israel) would seem to qualify for a…boycott based on any number of “criteria” cited in the document, for example:

— projects carried out in affiliation with an official Israeli body or municipality (this would include most of The Abraham Fund’s work, including our national initiative to bring human rights and multicultural values to the Israel Police; to mandate the teaching of Arabic language and culture in Jewish schools; a pilot program to assist Arab Israeli women in entering the workforce; even our sponsorship of a national Iftar dinner, in co-sponsorship with the Arab municipality of Sakhnin and the mostly-Jewish municipal authority of Misgav).

–projects which bring Palestinian-Arab and Jewish Israelis together to challenge stereotypes, promote mutual respect and engender empathy with the “other’s” historical narrative and experience, as a building block for reconciliation and shared society values. (These programs, sponsored by The Abraham Fund and many others) would be obvious candidates for boycott because they are not “framed within the explicit context of opposition to occupation and other forms of Israeli oppression.”

But one needn’t go into such detail. The preamble to the boycott criteria says it all: “…Before discussing the various categories of cultural products and events and as a general overriding rule, virtually all Israeli cultural institutions, unless proven otherwise, are complicit in maintaining the Israeli occupation and denial of basic Palestinian rights, whether through their silence or actual involvement in justifying, whitewashing or otherwise deliberately diverting attention from Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. Accordingly, these institutions, all their products, and all the events they sponsor or support must be boycotted. Events and projects involving individuals explicitly representing these complicit institutions should be boycotted…”

The message is clear: any Israel-based activity that is not explicitly organized for the purpose of ending the occupation or focusing attention on “…Israel’s violations of international law and human rights” has no place on the international map. Activities aimed at reducing Palestinian infant mortality and poverty, at advocating for government reforms that advance civil and human rights, at creating partnerships for economic, social and political progress across the divide — these are all instruments of complicity with the status quo. That is, of course, a position which one could take. It is, in my view though, an absurd and self-defeating position for those who would purport to be motivated by values of peace, justice and rights for all.

35 thoughts on “Boycotters? Or thought police? A new war against the “two narratives”

  1. This is what former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami talked about in the article he wrote after the failure of the Camp David-Taba talks in 2000-1 in which Ehud Barak tried to get Arafat to accept a Palestinian State (I should point out that Ben-Ami is on the far Left of Israeli politics). Ben-Ami stated that the Palestinian delegation was not interested in peace or getting a state, they were interested in putting Israel in the dock as the accused in the international court of public opinion.

    This is why I keep insisting that the Arab-Israeli conflict is a zero-sum game and this is because the Arab side frames it as this. The hallucinatory scenario in which “progressives” talk about a “Palestinian state living in peace side by side with Israel in mutual prosperity” is anathema to the Arab side and the Arab leaders who agreed to such a thing would be viewed as traitors. It would be viewed as a massive failure and betrayal of Arab history. We should be thankful that the honeyed-words that were uttered by Arafat and the Palestinian leadership which were misinterpreted by too many Israelis as a “desire for peace” have been replaced by frank, straight talk by the Arabs side.

  2. Y B-D,

    I don’t mind that you feel compelled to keep playing the same broken record to demonstrate that you know more about Palestinian intentions and the “Arab mind” than, well, than anybody anywhere. But please at least make sure the music is an appropriate response what I posted.

    As it happens, the PLO, the PA and –I believe– even Hamas have not endorsed BDS. As Richard implies, there is disagreement about it among Paletinians. Saeb Erekat sent his daughter to Seeds of Peace and is a big advocate of people-to-people diplomacy. So unless you believe even he is lying, and that the leaders of the Palestinian Authority secretly agree with the thought policemen in question, please turn that record off for a little while.

  3. I’ve heard this line of thinking before (parroted by the far Left). And it’s precisely why I don’t get as angry or fed up with the Israeli hawks as others seem to.

    This is what they have ALWAYS had to deal with.

    People need to lose their ambivalence towards the Arab agenda.

    It is what it is.

    Sure–there are some rational moderates among them…but right now they’re a minority.

    This is how their academia is talking–so you can pretty much guess what the population at large thinks.

    I want Israel to play by the rules for principle’s sake…a lot of us do. But in the real world–how is it to their advantage to do so?

    There is no win-win in the status quo of Arab thinking, imo.

    On a wholly unrelated note: Good on the UAE for blueprinting the world’s first 100% green carbon footprint-free city.

    At least some Arabs are progressive. 🙂

  4. Sure Dan, what does Ben-David know about. He just lives in Israel and is in daily contact with Palestinians. He couldn’t possibly be has up on this as you. From your vantage point on the upper west side.

  5. I liked it, pal. The lefties and libertarians still read you, I think, but they stopped commenting. It would better to get bashed by both sides at the same time so it’s clear you’re making the right choices.

  6. Dan-
    That is precisely the reason I quoted Shlomo Ben-Ami, someone whom I am sure has a lot more credibility with you than I have. Ben-Ami dealt with the Erekat you seem to have so much faith in.
    The IRA in their struggle with the British in Northern Ireland, called their policy “the ballot box in one hand and the Armalite rifle in the other” (Thomas, is this the exact quote?). Similarly, the Palestinians maintain a multi-front war with us….some groups take the uncompromising line you state, others maintain contact with people (almost always Leftists) on our side in order to try to win Israelis and other Jews over to their side. I am certain there are Palestinians who welcome a thaw in relations. I have pointed out that in even places like Kiryat Arba/Hevron in Judea/Samaria, Jews and Arabs have renewed contact after years of disruption caused by the “peace process”. But these Palestinians have no say in their government so even “official” efforts at dialogue can never and are not ever really intended to foster truly good relations between the sides.

  7. Relative to continued settlement expansion and annexation of territories, Israel and particularly settlers, maintain a state of war against Palestine.

    It remains a reality that the Palestinian people do identify as a people, and desire to coherently self-govern.

    In light of that, the current incremental annexation of land, represents an oppression of another, rather than a wholehearted attempt on the part of the Israeli state and settler community to use all their intelligence and charm to reconcile.

    The characteristic of defending oneself is important, but a small part of the pallette of God-given human potential.

    That you and the community that you represent here (not officially), have renounced that portion of their obligation (only the part “to keep my commandments”), is a great tragedy.

    The settlement expansion is that critical to peace.

    If you think that the religious obligation of Jews is primarily to “settle the land” moreso than to “keep my commandments – Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbors”, please say so overtly.

    A peace process is important. And, you can influence the characteristics of it by participation in it, rather than renunciation and condemnation of it.

  8. One of my repetitions to the radical left in response to a strategy of “resistance”, is consistently, “what do you propose?”

    I pose that question to you, Yakov, to a million “you”‘s in Israel.

    There is an unusual irony that I experienced in seeing a short film on the ironic presence of Jewish customs among some Palestinian communities. Things like lighting candles every Friday night, and the wearing of materials like tefillin during prayer, and certain fast and feast days that correspond to Yom Kippur and Pesach.

    The irony is the old story of living as the possibility that every person you encounter might be Jewish, or even moshiach (whether you regard them as Jewish or not).

  9. They stated that they held it as an option, an option that they currently REJECT.

    You do know how to read Yakov?

    Is this how you read Torah?

  10. Talk about idiotic status quo thinking–Arabs’ term for peace includes the return of 4 million plus Arabs back into Israel.

    All I can say is lol squared.

    Anybody who thinks this is benign or worth negotiating needs a frying pan to the left side of their brain to wake it up.

  11. YBD,
    Yes the quote is correct. But I think that everyone should remember when you characterize Shlomo Ben-Ami as being on the “far left” that you also claimed that Sharon was on the left. So in reality I guess this just means that Ben-Ami is to the left of Sharon. I would go along with that.

  12. More on the failure of Obama to understand the nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict (“in private the Saudis are far more moderate than they are in public”). Note that this is by Aluf Benn, a voice of the mainline “peace camp” Left.

    It is important to keep in mind that imposing deadlines is a guarantee of an outbreak of violence. This is what Arafat did when he wanted to wriggle out of the pressure Clinton and Barak were putting on him at Camp David and Taba for an agreement. Those forces in the Arab world who oppose any agreement will be sure to make sure that one can not come about.

  13. Thomas-
    Over the years the definition of a “Leftist” has undergone a metamorphosis. In the early years of the state, it referred to social, economic and foreign policy-socialist (also Marxist), anti-capitalist, pro-Histradrut and possibly pro-Soviet. One could have these views and be also an activist in wanting to take a hard-line with the Arabs. After the Six-Day War there were “Leftists” who supported settling Judea-Samaria.
    By the late 1970’s, particularly after Sadat’s visit to Israel, the “Left” developed part of the image that it has today – pro-Palestinian state, give up the Golan, etc. However, this didn’t mean that those who held these views were necessarily “pro-Arab”….the Labor Party’s view in the 1970’s and 80’s was “draw a border, let’s withdraw, that way we won’t have to see the Arabs anymore”.
    After Oslo, the Left went further…they adopted post-Zionism, which says AS I SEE IT “let’s face it Zionism was a mistake, it would have been better if the Holocaust survivors and the Jews fleeing the Arab countries had gone to the US, France or the UK but let’s give the Palestinians a state, maybe they will let us live in peace in the part we took in 1948”.

    Much of the “Establishment” of Israel is on the Left, according to this definition, and Sharon was definitely moving strongly in that direction at the end. He publicly called the settlers (the only people who would have anything to do with him publicly after Sabra and Shatilla), “extremists”, “fanatics”, “lawbreakers” (that is really rich coming from him!), “troublemakers” etc. Dov Weisglass, his close advisor, said had he served another term, he intended unilaterally to withdraw from most of Judea/Samaria (as Olmert pledged to do in the 2006 election campaign).
    Sharon had a very close friendship with Shimon Peres already in the 1980’s, by the 1990’s he had broken contact with various right-wing intellectuals and financial supporters (as did other former right-wingers like Olmert and Tzippi Livni) and was receiving money instead from Peace Now types, particularly Arafat’s buddy and business partner Martin Shlaff.
    So yes, Sharon, in the end was on the Left. Look at all the ex-Likud people who are now in Kadima and demanding Jerusalem undergo vivisection. This should not surprise you.

  14. The three no’s originated in the Israeli no, which was “we will ignore all legal or politic limitations to settlement expansion.”

    Judaism for me is humanization of ourselves (in ethical behavior, in pride of integrity and accomplishment). In order for me to regard myself as human, I must be humane, meaning to treat others are human beings, well.

    Even, if my goals are delayed, it is more important that I be fully human, and that my community be fully human, than that I be wealthy, or dominant, or indulge in some nationalistic or neo-religious rapture of “Greater Israel”.

    I don’t know how to reach the humaneness in you, to those that you define as “others”.

    Its a great tragedy that the conventional thinking in the Israeli/Palestinian world is so regressive.

    We American Jews want to be proud of Israel. We want to be able to thank Israel for being the model that Jewish community could be. We want to be welcomed in Israel as our haven, not on the condition that we adopt borderline or overtly fascistic privileges and attitudes.

    The simple self-restraint of even temporarily renouncing the land-lust of settlement expansion, will enhance our hearts’ prospects enormously.

    Its a tipping issue.

  15. YBD,

    I know the history. You are saying that Sharon is redefined as belonging to the Left because he spoke of occupation, evacuated the Gaza Strip, and evacuated four settlements in northern Samaria. I would say that this hardly cancels out his desire to retain the rest of the West Bank under Israeli control. And I think that the definition that you use for the Left says more about you than it does about the Left.

    I would argue that most foreign journalists would classify Labor as either Center or Center-Left, Meretz as Left, and Hadash and the other Arab parties as Far Left. Kadima would also be classified as either Center or Center-Left, Likud would be Right, and Israel Beitenu, Beit Yehudi, etc. would be Far Right.

    You should also realize that by acknowledging that the “native question” determines one’s position on the left-right spectrum you are placing Israel in the company of white South Africa, Northern Ireland and 19th century antebellum America where the native question and the slavery question determined left-right status.

    This along with Israel’s discrimination between the Arab and Jewish citizens on legal rights, its large class of Arab-fighter politicians i.e. former generals in the Knesset, and its parties with paramilitary roots (Likud, Labor) puts it in a class with these three aformentioned countries as a settler society. Although I freely acknowledge that Israeli Jews are also “returned Jews” who returned with the support of the international community. So next time that you object to Israel being compare with South Africa, remember that you insist on the validity of one of the grounds for the comparison.

  16. I’m the last person to know what was going on inside Sharon’s head…but my understanding is his shift in policy had less to do with ideological transformation–and more to do with the demographics on the ground. In other words, pragmatism.

    Wasn’t he motivated by fear of Arab population growth?

    That’s the speculation I heard anyway…

  17. The “spectre” of Arab population growth has existed since the beginning of the Zionist enterprise. Don’t forget that in 1947, Arabs were a signficant majority of the population in Palestine. Today, almost half of the population of Israel are Edot HaMizrach, i.e. Sefardim…Jews from Middle East countries. What if the Arabs had not made life miserable for the Jews and they had stayed put? (Ironic, wouldn’t you say…their Judeophobia ended up strenthening Israel!) What if the USSR hadn’t collapsed and a resulting in a large number of olim? Recall that the Holocaust wiped a HUGE potential pool of olim.
    What happened to Sharon and the others from the Israeli ruling clique was most definitely ideological. They gave up their belief in Zionism. Almost all of them have children and grandchildren who have abandoned Israel (e.g. both of Olmert’s son’s, Rabin’s son, Barak’s daughter, Shulamit Aloni’s son. Tommy Lapid’s widow said in an interview a couple of years ago that the majority of her friend’s grandchildren have left Israel. The New York Times wrote a big article about Tzippi Livni when she became Foreign Minister in 2006. They pointed out that her parents were legendary “right-wing” ETZEL fighers and her father was a super-right-wing-hawk in the Likud. She, on the other hand, can’t wait to knock down settlements and drive Jews out of Jerusalem by dividing the city. The article pointed out that she changed her ideology because she saw where the money and power in Israel are…on the post-Zionist Left. Sharon, Olmert and the others saw this, too.
    All of this came from the realization among the ruling clique about the old Zionist ideology they used to declaim. WHO NEEDS IT? WHY BE A ZIONIST? WHY BE A JEW?
    Sharon’s son, Omri, was secretly recorded when he was getting the illegal campaign contributions that led to his prison sentence. He said “we’ll make a bundle and then get the hell out of here”.
    They essentially agree with Obama’s Islamist revision of history…the state of Israel is an historical abberation.
    None of this should surprise anyone with a historical and Jewish conciousness. It certainly doesn’t surprise me.

  18. Zionist is not equivalent to Jew, related yes, equivalent no.

    The way that Zionism can become permanent is by acceptance of enough.

    The quickest way to make Zionism irrelevant, unnaturally physically difficult, and unnaturally psychologically difficult is to expand.

    Rather than making excuses why you can’t put your God-given skills to making peace, why not just go ahead and do it?

    Its the right thing to do. Certainly, the improved relative safety of Jews (resulting from reconciliation), is FAR more important than the formal unity of jurisdiction of Jerusalem.

    Obama’s view is that Israel is permanent. Your view is that Israel is an historical aberration, in advocating for the spreading Israel’s assets and people too thin.

  19. Yaakov

    I find it hard to believe a man suddenly becomes an opportunist in his 70s. Either he always was one–or you’re misreading his motives.

    Was his whole career nothing more than a lust for personal power? Surely THAT would have been more evident before he hit old age.

    As for generational shifts in attitude–I’m not over there on the ground…so I can’t make my own observations.

    But that is not singular to Israel. Stable societies often become complacent about things like national identity. It ebbs and flows.

    A lot of people have right wing parents and become leftish themselves. Isn’t that pretty much a given? That too ebbs and flows.

    Pretty much a universal truthreality unless you live in an insular community where conformity is the rule of thumb.

    Anyway–you’re too cynical with this stuff…bad for your health!

  20. Suzanne:

    Yes, that was my post. The info got wiped off my memory when my PC was in the shop and I forgot to add it again.


    How do you explain Natan Yellin-Mor’s change of heart in the 1950s and 1960s when he became a dove?

  21. Sharon was always an opportunist. He set up a Leftist party called “Shlomzion” in the 1977 elections and he invited Yossi Sarid and Amos Keinan (who just died a couple of days ago). IIRC the party platform called for a Palestinian state at a time when the Labor party still opposed it. He assumed that the Labor Party would win the election and he would get a good Cabinet position with his Left. Unexpectedly , Begin and the Likud won. Sharon rapidly shifted gears and became a “right-winger”. While he was running for Prime Minister in 2001, he suddenly said he regretted giving up Yamit, the settlement which he destroyed in the Sinai which was a consequence of the peace treaty with Sadat.

    Yellin-Mor was certainly an ideologue. There was always a strong Leftist-pro-Communist element in the LEHI (Shamir also was part of this group!). Uri Avnery came out of this group also.
    My references to the post-Zionist conversion of the leadership primarily refers to the Labor Party and Likud leadership which largely consists of opportunists and corrupt politicians. It is these people who made the transition most easily to post-Zionism.

  22. Ya’akov,
    Sharon may have been ideologically confused or flexible during the period from 1974-77, but he wasn’t counting on a position with Labor. At this time his real goal was to find a way to get back into the IDF and become chief of staff. He became Rabin’s advisor on terrorism so that Rabin could reinstate him into the IDF. Rabin had no intention of doing this and kept Sharon around only as a means of attracting support from Sharon’s rightist followers. Sharon resigned from the Knesset in 1975, after only a year, because a law was passed prohibiting MKs from holding an active reserve commission at Sharon’s rank, intended to prohibit Sharon from making a comeback in the IDF. Sharon instead resigned from the Knesset. In 1976 he tried to run with the Likud, but Simha Erlich refused to take him back into the Liberals and insisted that Begin not take him into Herut. So Sharon headed his own general’s list, the first general to do so, as a means of making it back into the Knesset and demonstrating his popularity so that he could negotiate his way into Herut and the Likud. While Sharon may have been an opportunist, his politics genuinely were of the Right. Otherwise, he would have tried to run with Mapai/Labor in the 1970s. Sharon and Weizman were unique in that both were socially from a background of the Left, but were ideologically of the Right in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Weizman changed because of the death of his son and his perception of Begin’s indifference towards the peace treaty with Egypt. I know this because I’ve researched and written a double biography of Sharon and Andrew Jackson. For it I think I read every Sharon bio available in English, and there are many following his stroke.

    Shamir was part of the Left tendency in Lehi because he was loyal to Yellin-Mor. Avnery left the underground in 1940 when Lehi was formed–when many dropped out because they refused to choose between the Stern Group and Reziel’s followers. Avnery has since claimed that he grew disenchanted with Etzel, but I suspect that the split may have had something to do with the timing of his exit.

    The corruption of the Likud seems to have occurred since 1992 when both Arens and Shamir left, leaving the party with no more major underground figures or Revisionist figures. Then leadership battles became mainly over personality something that had occurred on the Left with the founding of the Labor Party in 1968-69 as the three component parties soon devolved into an Allon Camp and a Dayan Camp. Meir was offered the premiership to keep the party from splitting apart. But this is part of the maturing of political parties as they become electoral machines more than ideological camps.

    While the yerida of the children of the ruling elite is a worrying phenomenon, it is in many ways the Israel equivalent of the avoidance of the military by the elite in America. A much smaller percentage of the Congress served in Vietnam than had earlier served in WWII and Korea, and an even smaller percentage is now serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. And the trend is worse in the Republican Party than in the Democratic Party. Among the Republicans I think only John McCain is an example of someone who served in the military and who has children serving in the military. And this is because McCain comes from a very old family of professional career officers. Israel is too young yet to have established such families–it also lacks the professional service academies that helps to promote them.

  23. Regarding Ezer Weizman, a correction-his son was badly wounded in the War of Attrition, but not killed. He was tragically killed in a traffic accident along with his new wife in the 1990’s. I have always heard this story about Weizman becoming a dove (yet running with the hawkinsh Likud in 1977-what does that say about the man’s ethics?) as a result of his son’s being wounded, but does this story make sense? Here is a man that endangered his own life as a pilot, and who as a commander sent other men to die in battle, yet when it hits his son, he suddenly becomes a pacificist?

    I always have been amused by the fact that President Bush I was a war hero in the Second World War, yet he also arranged a cushy Air National Guard posting for his son, “W”. It is for this reason I always admired actor Jimmy Stewart…not only was he a bomber pilot in World War II, a not very safe job (as an actor he could have done like Ronald Reagan and other actors and joined the “Culver City Commandos” who did nothing more dangerous than make training films for the army) but his adopted son was a pilot who was killed in Vietnam.

  24. YBD:
    I stand corrected in regard to his son. But the process wasn’t an overnight conversion and had much to do with the Likud’s attitude during the negotiations with Egypt from 1977-79 and then the appointment of Yosef Burg to manage the autonomy negotiations. It may serve your ideological purposes to argue that all those on the Right who became pragmatic were somehow corrupt, but it just does not fit the facts. Most of those who negotiated the peace agreements of the 1970s were hawks whether you consider their parties to have been on the Left or not. The main negotiators were: Dayan, Allon, Peres, Rabin, and Weizman. Dayan was on the right of the Labor Party, having come from Rafi, a centrist party and being a supporter of settlement in the West Bank. Allon was a disciple of Yitzhak Tabenkin, who joined the Land of Israel Movement. Peres was the creator of Israel’s nuclear program and a hawk as a defense minister. Rabin was aligned with the Ahdut ha’Avoda party and a protege of Allon. And Weizman was secretly a member of the Etzel while in the Hagana, and probably the most hawkish general in the IDF in the early and mid-1960s. He was at one point the no. 2 man in Herut until he decided to cross Begin. But he was still responsible for Begin being elected in 1977. And Sharon was a–if not the–leading advocate of settlement in the government and the Likud from 1974 to 2004. So you can argue that they were all corrupt or you can notice the pattern and see that faced with the reality of the situation they all became pragmatists.

  25. I should clarify. I do not consider that the 1970’s hawks-turned-doves did it out of “corrupt” motives, i.e. they did it because they paid off. That came later, with the Oslo agreements.
    I still think it is dishonest of Weizman to run on the list of a “right-wing” party and then as soon as he is elected he comes out of the closet as a pacifist. The Dayan-Weizman crowd did it more out of a sense of defeatism and ideological crisis (although you do recall that Weizman was forced out as President when it was revealed he took $600,000 in bribes-so obviously he was interested in money). After 1967 they had an exaggerated sense of power and then 1973 came as a terrible shock. They felt that Israel was doomed (the Arabs now had the oil money and power, Israel was economically bankrupt and aliyah had stopped) and that we should try to get the Arabs to stop fighting and hope to save something.

    By the 1990’s it became simply a matter greasing the right palms. Arab money started circulating in the seemingly most unlikely places. Even the most “right-wing” politicians went for it. A religious poltician told of a meeting with Peres in which Peres openly offered him millions of dollars and the promise he would be feted by the media as a “man of peace” (he turned it down). In other words you get to earn the title of a modern Gandhi and line your pockets at the same time. Not bad. This is how Oslo worked, and later Sharon and his gang used it quite effectively to destroy Gush Katif. A typical example is that of a very famous Israeli singer/entertainer who was famous for his songs about Jerusalem and how much he loved the city and how patriotic he was. Suddenly, when Barak announced at Camp David in 1999 that he was going to hand it over to Arafat, this singer shocked everybody by saying what a good idea it was to get rid of the city. Turns out that he was warned that if he didn’t, his career would be ruined. That is how the peace process worked, until the body count got too high and the media and political establishment could no longer cover up their stupidity and recklessness.

  26. I forgot to add the famous quip of Ben-Gurion about Sharon: “Arik’s problem is that he lies too much”. ‘Nuff said.

  27. Mr. Ben-David,
    Do you ever read what you write after you write it to see how outlandish it sounds? Weizman did not become a pacifist–that would have been quite incompatible with being defense minister. But he did not believe that Israel should remain forever at war with Egypt–or other Arab states merely to keep the settlers in Yesha happy. You should remember that during Oslo Weizman publicly criticized Rabin and called for a freeze of the peace process. For this Leah Rabin never forgave him. Hardly the act of a pacifist. In regards to the assistance he received from a French Jewish industrialist, it was a breach of ethics and it was right that he was forced to resign. But it was never demonstrated that it was actually a bribe. The care of his wounded son was very expensive. Weizman, like Dayan, unfortunately believed that the normal rules didn’t apply to him. Sharon had many problems, problems that you probably overlooked for years until he decided to withdraw from Gaza.

  28. My understanding is the Leah Rabin despised Weizman for his saying in the 1970’s that Rabin was unfit to be Prime Minister due to his nervous breakdown before the Six-Day War. As I heard it, Weizman would go around entertaining friends by demonstrating how Rabin got an injection on the backside of a tranquilizer. The bad blood of the 1990’s were simply a continuation of that feud.
    When I used the word “pacifist” , I was exaggerating. You were correct in stating that before the Six-Day War, Weizman was the most outspokenly hawkish general, and he was advocating conquering Judea/Samaria even then. In 1948, he was ordered to bomb the ETZEL’s Altalena but he refused.

    Regarding the bribe he received, the whole incident came to light in order to remove him from the Presidency, which Shimon Peres wanted (the old “get something on him” trick). The bribery aspects were not investigated because that would have entailed opening a criminal investigation, and due to Weizman’s support for the “peace process”, that was deemed undesirable by the powers that be. The person who gave him the money, Seroussi (IIRC) had a murkey background and it is understood that he didn’t give him the money simply out of the goodness of his heart.

  29. Weizman first publicly spoke of Rabin’s “breakdown” during the 1974 Labor leadership contest, when he told the story in order to support Peres, who narrowly lost. Weizman held a grudge against Rabin for not naming him to be his successor as chief of staff. He then repeated the story during the 1977 campaign when he was the Likud campaign manager. I think that no criminal investigation of Weizman was mounted because the statue of limitations had passed or it was thought unlikely that a successful prosecution could be mounted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.