The Mask Slips on Israel’s Left

Posted By P. David Hornik

“I don’t want to live in the country of Captain Eliraz Peretz or his mother. My consolations to the family…a family of Jihadist Fascists, and don’t dare let anyone say he was killed for my sake.” 

The above quote is from Uri Tuval [1], editor of the magazine section of Israel’s left-wing daily Haaretz [2]. He said it in a Facebook chat with other left-wing journalists, and even some members of his milieu were said to be dismayed at his words. This mini-scandal comes at a time when Haaretz is under attack for its central role [3] in the much larger scandal of the Anat Kam espionage affair.

Dishonoring the dead: Haaretz editor Uri Tuval.

Eliraz Peretz [4] was a 32-year-old Israeli soldier who was killed last month in a gunfight with terrorists in Gaza. His older brother Uriel died in combat in Lebanon in 1998. Miriam Peretz, the mother, was interviewed on Israeli TV after Eliraz’s death (it being customary in Israel to interview close relatives after the loss of soldiers). The Peretz family are observant Jews; Eliraz lived in the West Bank settlement of Eli.

To his credit, Tuval wrote a gracious apology [5] to the Peretz family. He noted that he too is a soldier and that his father was killed in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He said he had “stated my personal opinion on the reality we face in a provocative manner, on a forum that I viewed as private,” and that “We seem to disagree over the best way in which to build our national home.”

But if Tuval’s words were indeed meant to be private, those of two other Israeli leftists, playwright Shmuel Hasfari and attorney Eldad Yaniv, were meant for as much public consumption as possible [6]. Hasfari and Yaniv have self-published a manifesto called The National Left as a blue-and-white booklet timed for Israel’s Independence Day (Monday evening and Tuesday). They got Tsomet Sfarim, Israel’s largest bookstore chain, to offer it at the checkout counter [7] for a mere shekel ($0.27) along with a small blue-and-white flag.

Within days, however, Tsomet Sfarim announced that they had pulled the book because of complaints. As the company put it: “Tsomet Sfarim is a chain for all of the people of Israel and has no political affiliation. It is never responsible for the content of the books that are distributed in its stores. Because we received many complaints that the book hurts the feelings of some of our customers, we decided to stop selling it.”

The complaints centered on statements in the book that, again, focused on the bête noire of the Left—“settlers,” or Israelis, particularly religious, ideological ones, who live in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

For Hasfari and Yaniv these people—known for their high rates of volunteering for the army’s officer corps and elite combat units—are “extremist crazies and wackos [who] don’t even pay [Palestinians who work in the settlements] minimum wage, because they’re just ‘Aye-rabs.’” But even this kind of verbiage is too mild for Hasfari and Yaniv, who go on to say:

“The settlers operate on a different type of fuel, which is called messianism. Their god appeared at once and defeated their enemies. After his mishap during the Holocaust—he is back and mightier than ever….”

No one realized that the “new pioneers” were possessed by demons of messianic madness. Think about the brainwashed minds, hypnotized zombies, gangs of horny teenagers forcing themselves on the country….”

Viewing themselves as the pinnacle of enlightenment, it doesn’t occur to Hasfari and Yaniv that their own words display bigotry of the crudest kind for which even mockery of God and the Holocaust is not going too far. From the fact that such words quickly ignited public protest they learn—nothing, having already bragged that they’ll go on offering their manifesto for free at university campuses and other locales.

Meanwhile the settler community, which includes large numbers of secular and ultra-Orthodox Israelis along with the religious Zionists for whom Tuval, Hasfari, Yaniv and their ilk have such special loathing, has reached 300,000 and keeps growing. As Independence Day approaches, ideally the anti-settler Left would liberate itself from its failed dream of keeping the post-1967 lands Jew-free and learn to relate to this demographic with tolerance—which might even include asking why, in a theoretical Palestinian state, its presence as a minority should be so unthinkable.

No chance. The Israeli Left has fallen on hard times, having captured 16 out of 120 Knesset seats in the 2009 elections. Socialism has faded and most Israelis have awoken from “peace” dreams. Hatred, then, is too precious to give up up.

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