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The great Doyen of the intellectual leftist elite in Israel, Amos Elon, is dead. He died in Europe where he was living in exile. But he is not the only member of Israel's elite living physically or spiritually in exile. Much of the left, which views itself as European and was in fact born in Europe, is in intellectual exile from a country they no longer understand.
Amos Elon, doyen of the Ashkenazi elite in Israel, died on May 25th in Italy. Born in Vienna, he had arrived in Palestine at the age of 8 in 1933. In the 1990s he began to spend more and more time at an estate he had acquired in Tuscany and eventually described himself as being in "exile" there. It is there that he died in his homeland, Europe.
Elon represents an entire dialectic, a generation, a people. His people are the elite, those who came to Israel in the 1930s or are descended from them and who came to hate the country that welcomed them as exiles and provided them with jobs and which allowed to be stationed at the highest levels of society. Few of them ever had jobs. Consider the life and career of Uri Avnery (Born Helmut Ostermann). He came in 1933 as well at the age of ten. After a brief time working for the right wing Irgun and fighting in the War of Independence in 1948 he became editor of a tabloid and pornographic (it encouraged women to model for free nude and then published photos of them on its back cover) newspaper called Ha Olam HaZeh which passed itself off as countercultural. He became disillusioned with Israel, met Yasser Arafat in Beirut in 1980 and has for many years written for the anti-semitic website 'Counterpunch'.
When one considers all of the people in Israel who are the most outspoken in their hatred of Israel they will find that every single one, without almost any exceptions, is wealthy, leftist, Ashkenazi and many of them were born in Europe and believe the current European cultural trends should be replicated in Israel and elsewhere. Consider just a few. Baruch Kimmerling: born in Rumania in 1939, came to Israel in 1952, worked his entire life in academics. Avraham Burg, born in Jerusalem's elite Rehavia neighborhood to German Jews in 1955, worked his entire life in politics while residing in a former Arab village converted to Jewish kibbutz called Nataf and has declared that his cultural home is Europe where he spends much of his time. Zeev Sternhell, born in Poland in 1935 to a family of Ruthenian-German Jews he was baptized as a Catholic and received papers stating he was an "Aryan" during the second world war. Surviving the Holocaust he came to Israel in 1951 and after serving in the army spent his entire life in academics. In 2001 he encouraged Palestinian terrorists to murder impoverished Jews and Jewish settlers living outside the Green line. He lives in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Professor Moshe Zimmerman, born in Jerusalem to German-Jews in 1943 he worked his entire life in academics studying Germany and compared Israel to Nazi Germany in 1995. Meron Benvenisti born in 1934 in Palestine elite Jerusalem neighborhood of Rehavia to a Greek Jewish father and German-Jewish mother he became a deputy mayor of Jerusalem for Arab affairs in 1971, did almost nothing for the East Jerusalem Arabs, but then became a supporter of a bi-national state for Israel. Gideon Levy was born in an elite neighborhood in Tel Aviv to European Jewish parents in 1955. Tom Segev, an anti-Israel writer and journalist, was born in 1945 to a European-Jewish family. Ilan Pappe, an anti-Israel historian who is in exile in Europe, was born in 1954 to a German-Jewish family in Haifa. Amira Hass, an extreme anti-Israel activist and writer, was born in an elite neighborhood in Jerusalem to German-Jewish Holocaust survivors.
There are some who hate Israel from within who have come from other communities. Abie Nathan was born in 1927 in Persia, lived in Bombay where he was educated by Jesuit priests, served in the RAF in 1944 and volunteered to fly in the IAF in 1948 settling in Israel after. He soon became an outspoken 'peace activist' using stunts such as airplanes and a boat to promote his views. He met with terrorists, especially Yasser Arafat. He died in 2008. Tali Fahima, daughter of Algerian Jews, was born in Israel in 1976 in Kiryat Gat, an impoverished development town. She became a supporter of terrorism, had an affair with Arab terrorist gang leader Zakaria Zubeidi and when he became more peaceful she called him a traitor to the Palestinian cause, having become more extreme than the Palestinians themselves.
What links those who hate Israel and yet suckle at its breasts, receiving government money for their activities, is their view that Jews belong elsewhere and that the natural state of the Jew is to be ensconced in Europe. Consider Mordechai Vanunu's, the Israeli nuclear spy, born in Morocco in 1954, who immigrated in 1963 and became a spy against Israel in the 1980s. He declared that "We don't need a Jewish state. There needs to be a Palestinian state. Jews can, and have lived anywhere, so a Jewish State is not necessary." Avraham Burg said "to define the State of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end. A Jewish state is explosive. It's dynamite."
What unites the hatred in these individuals is usually four things: Urban birth, Wealth, European identity and background and participation in the very "crimes" they decry. Thus many of them served in the Israeli army and even fought in its wars and live in the abandoned houses of Arabs. Yet while they preach for bi-nationalism and meet with terrorists few seem to have turned their palatial Arab homes in Katamon over to the former Arabs who once resided in them. Benvenisti actually had the chance to help the Arabs of east Jerusalem and did absolutely nothing for them. Avraham Burg, who has decided that Jews belong in Europe has not given his home in Nataf back to the former Arab residents (who incidentally were elite bourgeoisie like him, effendis in the time of the Turks).
There were actually four generations of elites who attempted to destroy Israel. There was the elite that was born in the 19th century, some of whom immigrated before the rise of Nazism. These were best known by membership in the bi-nationalist Brit Shalom movement. Judah Magnes (born 1877 in the U.S), Martin Buber (1978 born in Austria, moved to Palestine in 1938), Hugo Bergmann (German-Jewish born in Czech in 1883, moved to Palestine in 1920). The second group were those born in the 1920s and 1930s, served in Israel's war of independence or in the army soon after it and became extreme anti-Israel activists in the wake of the Mizrahi immigration and the 1967 war. The third generation were born later after the war of independence and mostly worked at Haaretz or at the university becoming progressively more hateful as time went on and as the country they loved became flooded by those they couldn't identify with such as Russians, Orthodox Jews and Ethiopians. The fourth generation is the one that exists today. One representative of this generation is Talia Raphael, an American-Jewish immigrant to Israel who describes herself as "little miss left wing", lives in Tel Aviv, participates in the "Tel Avivi-Friday afternoon humus" who claims Israel "doesn't need a Jewish majority to survive." American Jews are disproportionately involved in this fourth generation of hate. They include people like 'Rabbi' Arik Asherman of Rabbis for Human Rights, born in Erie Pennsylvania in the 1970s who came to Israel to learn Arabic and live in the Arab village of Tamra before becoming a full time 'human rights' activist. He wrote recently that "We Israelis tend to believe that the laws that apply to the rest of the world don`t apply to us." He is joined by another American-Jew, Jeff Halper, founder of the Israel Committee Against Home Demolitions. Eitan Bronstein, born in Argentina in 1960, immigrated to Israel and founded the organization Zochrot which is funded by the Mennonite church and which memorialized Palestinian villages. He believes Israel must take responsibility for the 1948 war, even though most of those living in the country have ancestors who, like Bornstein's were not here at the time. In fact like so many of these type of fourth generation self-haters from the New World they move to a country and then demand that country's people, many of whom are immigrants like them, take responsibility for something when in fact it was in their former new world inhabitations that genocides of natives took places that they could have taken responsibility for or founded organizations memorializing their former villages. Yehudit Keshet, founder of Machsom Watch, was born in Wales and came to Israel in 1978. Jessica Montell, director of B'Tselem a peace organization which she became director of after immigrating in 1995.
Israel's four generations of self-haters mark for generations of colonialism, an attempt by outsiders and minorities to colonize Israel and wield it for their own desires. They also represent four generations of disillusionment, unattachment, unrootedness and the need to destroy what did not turn out the way they envisioned it. Why are they colonizers? They are colonizers because they came as immigrants or were born into elite parts of society and spend their lives supporting the terrorism that murders the poor among them. They seek to colonize Israel with European and foreign ideas. In many cases their hatred and subsequent exile represent an extreme-disillusionment with the way in which their adopted country turned out. Thus many of them came from non-Jewish majority countries and wanted from the first moment in Israel to transform it into a non-Jewish majority through bi-nationalism or other schemes. This is all they knew back home, being a minority voice, a supposedly moral voice, with no responsibility for their country's actions because they were a minority who never voted for the party in power. Judah Magnes worked to limit Jewish immigration to Israel for instance. Uri Avnery wanted Israel to be part of a North African and Middle Eastern 'Semitic confederation'. Within this confederation Jews would be precisely the same percentage that they had been in Germany before the war.
One thing that unites these people is an inability to understand the majority of the people in Israel. As Europeans they could never come to grips with the actual Jews who surrounded them. So they ensconced themselves in the former Arab elite neighborhoods or behind gates at Kibbutzim or gated communities, hiding from the majority, the Sephardim and Mizrahim and then the Russians and Ethiopians and others. Amos Elon admitted as much when he noted that the Israel of his youth was not the Israel of the 1980s. Suddenly it was flooded by dirty coloured people, what he might have called "niggers" in America. When the coloureds and the Russian Hordes came it was time for him to leave, to go back to Europe to a society that he felt at home in, to Tuscany where not a black or Slavic face can be found.
The irony of the hatred and disdain for the Arab Jews that these four generations of self-haters have is that they find actual Arabs romantic. In this they mimic the British colonial policies which heaped scorn on the Christian Arabs and Copts but found romance and exoticism among the Bedouin and elite Muslim families. These immigrants too found much in common with the Sunni Arab elite of the Holy Land. Some family members even married into these Muslim Arab families. Many of these elites purchased former Arab homes and decorated them with Arab styles. At the university and in their cultural activities they became lovers of Arab music, of the Oud and of Islamic architecture and art, a museum for which they established in Katamon. There was of course no museum for Jewish art and architecture. Graduations at the Hebrew University include Arab music, like graduations at Arab universities throughout the middle east. There is, of course, no Jewish music at one of the only Jewish universities in the world. But that was always the irony of these four generations.
In Katamonim, a poor area of Jerusalem, the Mizrahim who came from Morocco and elsewhere were settled originally in tents. The girls among them covered their hair modestly, much as Arab Muslim women do. But for the inhabitants of nearby Katamon whose palaces are perched on the hill above this area there was no romance for these people. These people were hired to clean up the trash and the toilets and sent home at night. Much as today's Kibbutzim hire phillipinoes and Ethiopians and others to do their work and do their laundry, these immigrants were only valued for their backs, upon which, like donkeys, loads could be put. But the Arabs across the valley in Beit Safafa or in Abu Ghosh, or after 1967 in East Jerusalem, these were the exotic people. The Mizrahi music was considered savage. Over the years the tents of these immigrants became tenement houses. Housed in cramped apartments modeled on Soviet structures they were abandoned. Drafted to the army they were sent to the front and later when the terrorism came to Jerusalem they were on the front line once again on the buses being blown up. Their women's headscarfs were stripped off, considered dirty and primitive they were ordered to become "new Jews" by the very people who were putting up Bedouin carpets and purchasing Arab dresses from the Shuk and considering such things 'exotic'. Then scorn was heaped upon these Katamonim people and they were called colonizers and racists by yet another generation of Ashkenazi immigrants whose cultural center was Europe.
But the greatest insult came in 2009 when professor David Newman of Ben-Gurion University declared that many Israelis are "Much to their parents' and grandparents' dissatisfaction, young Israelis are returning to Europe in droves and are demonstrating their preferences for European lifestyles and culture just two short generations after the Holocaust. Many of them are taking up their rights to European passports, even through the problematic adoption of Polish and German citizenship." Returning? Can those people in Katamonim "return" to Europe? That is certainly where Amira Hass and Sternhell and Kimmerling and Avnery and Elon can return to. That is where Burg is. Their ancestors were European and it is the only culture they understand. But can the Sasoons return to Europe? Can the Valeros? Can the Nahums? The Peretzs? The Naharis? The Barazanis?
The role of the four generations of hate in Israel is insidious. They came, they didn't work, they hated, they left. But all the while they worked to make those who were not like them vanish. They worked hard to vanish the Mizrahim and Sephardim, sending them to development towns that they would never have to visit. Sending them to the borders to die in rocket fire and be murdered by terrorists. When the Russians and Ethiopians came they were pushed as far away from the center as possible. Send them to the desert or to the Galilee! Settle them next to the Arabs as a buffer. And they went. They went to Gilo and Nazareth Elite. They were crushed into tenements in Ramla and Lod and Acre. And all of it so that other people would not be exposed to them and so that when their were riots they could be called "Nazis" by German-Jews who should have had the responsibility to know what a nazi really was. People who had no experience of the Holocaust were condemned by peace activists such as Burg as "manipulating the Holocaust." But who manipulated it, those Sephardim or the Ashkenazim who imagine that all of Israel is populated by Holocaust survivors and who speak of all the Jews "returning" to Europe.
Why does hate inflict primarily the Ashkenazi Jews and not other Jews? Why was it European Jews who were saddled with such hate? Even among the Orthodox Jews the only ones who attend Holocaust denial conferences are members of Ashkenazi Hasidic groups. What went wrong in Europe that afflicted Jews there with extremism and self hate? A recent anti-Jewish riot at York University was led by none other than someone named Jesse Zimmerman, a Jew. Why? Why the hate? Why the self hate? Why the continuing need to tear down? Why the anger at the state? Why the strange unbalanced need to immigrate to a country only to hate it and protest against it and change its demographics so it resembles the former place of one's birth. Why not just stay home? Why the hatred of dark skinned Arab speaking Jews and the exotic love and romance for dark skinned Arab speaking Muslims?
We may never know what went wrong in Europe. What disease was unleashed at some point in history that destroyed the souls of the Europeans and afflicts them with self hate, a disease that spreads even to any people who have contact with Europe, such as Jews and Hindus. A debilitating extremist disease of hatred and contradictions and hypocrisy. Unless the reason for the disease can be found the only savior of humanity will be in for the complete vanishing of Europeans and within those non-European states where certain classes and groups have been infected, the vanishing of that group. The group vanishes without help because it does not have children, the only logical conclusion it has is its realization that its hatred of the self means there is no need to perpetuate the self.
Seth J. Frantzman is a graduate student in Islamic and Middle Eastern
Studies, living in Jerusalem. Contact him at email@example.com
and visit his website:
This article was submitted May 26th, 2009 and is archived on Terra Incognita.
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