The New York Times, Friday, April 7, 1989
The ‘Guilt’ of Jews Threatens Israel
No one, no people has so sadly honed guilt to a finer art than we Jews. There are, invariably, those liberal Jews who instinctively feel guilty about everything – whether they had anything to do with what’s wrong or not. It is a fascinating form of pathology, worthy of a dissertation in abnormal psychology and suggesting the need for some form of national couch.
And, of course, it is this corrosive guilt that lies at the heart of the ideological disintegration of Israel today, a process that threatens the very existence of the Jewish state. “We are occupiers and conquerors; we oppress innocent people; our national soul is being corroded; we are, above all, guilty!”
Lo, the poor Arab of the West Bank and other “occupied territories,” that simple innocent ground under the heels of the Jewish occupation army. Lo, the poor territories of 1967, which have become the “major obstacle to peace” because of Israeli intransigence. Lo, the racism and latent fascism that is at the very heart of a Zionism that favors Jews in a thing called the Jewish state.
What in the world can possess Jews in Israel to forget the massacres of Jews by Arabs in 1920.1921 and 1929? And why, in their intellectual minds, did they occur? Could the murder of 67 Jews on one day in Hebron 60 years ago have been caused by Arab anger over the occupied lands of 1967?
And when more than 500 Jews were massacred in Arab pogroms stretching from 1936 to 1938, was it Israeli refusal to return the lands of 1967 that was at the heart of the problem?
And when the Arabs turned down the United Nations Partition Plan of 1947 – which would have set up a tiny, grotesque Jewish state and an Arab one that might have been called Palestine – was the Six-Day War of 1967 the root of their decision to try to wipe out the then 600,000 Jews in the land.
What causes Jewish liberals to take the Arab position on every issue? What causes them to babble about “the occupied lands” of 1967? Do they not know that the Arabs see the entire area of 1947 and all the Jewish cities and towns within the pre- 1967 state as “occupied” also? Do they not realize that to the Arab, Tel Aviv and Haifa, the golf course at Caesaria and all the kibbutzim of the enlightened left are also occupied?
Of course the humanists and moralists of Israel know that and that is precisely the problem.
Deep in their hearts and minds, the Jews on the left and of liberal bent secretly fear that the Arab is right, that the Jew really had no right to come to a “Palestine” that had a majority of Arabs and make it into a Jewish state.
The terrible ghosts of Jewish guilt gnaw away at the tortured Jewish liberal soul with the thought that perhaps the Jews are indeed “occupiers” and colonialists. This Jewish secular liberal agonizes with himself daily because along with his guilt, he lacks the courage to give up his kibbutz to the oppressed Arab. He wallows in a corrosive guilt that rapidly becomes self-hate.
And so he must take the Arab position on every issue in the pathetic hope of winning from the Arab a crumb of forgiveness. He must fight for their right to get part of the “stolen” land so he can keep his part of the “theft.” What a pathetic creature, and how dangerous is: He seeks to commit national suicide but would take all of us with him.
Here is one Jew who feels not the slightest guilt for choosing to live, for winning, for telling a world that gave us such universal benefits as Crusades and Inquisitions and pogroms and Auschwitzes: Never again – and who cares what you think?
Guilt? Hardly. There is no “Palestine.” It is the Land of Israel. It belongs to a Jewish people that was given it by its Father in Heaven and in which they lived 3,000 years ago. It belongs to a Jewish people that, unlike the Arab one, does not have 22 states but just one: the Land of Israel. Guilt? Only the sick suffer from it.
For Jews, the moral imperative is to live and guarantee a home for a Jewish people that will not only remove itself from the exile but will remove the exile, with all its aberrations, from itself. Faith in G-d and a powerful Jewish arm – that is the Jewish way
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