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Days—and Heroes—to Remember

embassies.gov.il

This evening Israel will begin the observance of Yom Hazikaron—Memorial Day—and the next evening it will begin the celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut—Independent Day. Thus, the country will mark its sixty-ninth years of existence, and will usher in its seventieth year. By first observing the memory of all the fallen soldiers, it will continue a tradition—not without some controversy—that had been enacted into law in 1963. In later years, following the Six-Day War and its aftermath, the memory and honor of remembrance has been extended to include civilian victims of political violence, and terrorism in general.

While the memory of each and every fallen soldier is dear and singular—I will remember a number of them myself, whom I knew personally and had had the honor to count, if for such a short period of time, among my dear friends and brothers-in-arms—none will be remembered and missed more, both as a fallen soldier and as a victim of political violence, than the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin; assassinated on the altar of peace by a zealot, fervent, messianic, religiously-fanatic Israeli Jew in November 1995. Together with him, the peace between Israelis and Palestinians had died too. And since then—yet to be resurrected.

It is to the understanding and observation of yours truly—who was born in Israel, fought in a number of its wars and major operations, but now lives (mostly) among the Jews of America—that when we look on these sixty-nine years of independence with clear eyes and open mind, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the ‘political assassination’ of Yitzhak Rabin, who quite possibly was the greatest war-hero and independence-warrior Israel had ever known, was one of the three, maybe four most crucial events in the short history of the modern county since it had gained independence. Like the Six-day war of 1967, the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and the peace agreement with Egypt to follow it in 1979, this singular event—i.e. Rabin’s assassination—and its aftermath, had changed dramatically the course of the nation.

The last page on that tragic and momentous event in our history is yet to be written. And though many words had been said and had been written about it, the cloud of mystery surrounding that terrible death and murder is still looming large, dark and heavy. One brave attempt to shade some light on that mystery is the film ‘Rabin, The Last Day,’ by the well-known and well-respected Israeli film director Amos Gitai. His 2015 Israeli-French docudrama, released here theatrically last year, is a political thriller of the first order, depicting the events surrounding the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin—with footage never before seen of the actual moments of assassination—in the days leading to it, and its aftermath, including the governmental committee inquiry to follow.

We will screen this film at the KOH Library, in the Culture Center of Mosaic Law at 2pm on Sunday May 21. I will make an introduction to the film, and after the screening I’ll lead a discussion—believe me, there is a lot to be discussed—about it. The film is not easy to watch, or digest for that matter, but nothing easy ever had much of a value to it; especially when it comes to such a tragic, complex event. Rightfully, the reviews for the film were mixed. “Rabin, the Last Day is not interesting in spite of its flaws as a film. It’s interesting because of them,” wrote A. O. Scott in the NY Times. “Frequently horrifying and never less than absorbing, Rabin, the Last Day is a meticulously observant portrait of a broken society.” Wrote Matt Fagerholm, on his Roger Ebert’s dedicated blog.

The film, correctly so, raises more questions than answers. But this is exactly why it’s so important that we will watch it; that we will pay attention to the old stories and new revelations; that we will discuss them, and try to answer them to ourselves, and to others. It is of the utmost importance, then, not only because this was one of the most ‘successful’ political assassination in the bloody history of mankind, but because the implications to the state of Israel and its people, and to the future of the Jewish people as a whole, are still vibrating, and loudly, with a lot still at stake.

On the occasion of the screening we will also celebrate the ‘Nine-year Anniversary’ to this blog, with this being the 121 continuously monthly post. I hope you’re enjoying the ride, just as I do, and that you will continue to visit this site, read my posts, reflect and comment. And please, join us at the screening of the film on May 21.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

One-State Solution: Options Three, Four & Five

972mag.com

As I promised you in my last post, I’m returning to the acute topic of the “One-State Solution,” and to the next three proposals making the rounds in Israel, especially among the settlers. To refresh your memory, these proposals were specified in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, on the day Prime Minister Netanyahu had met with President Trump at the White House – a day we might consider from now on as the ‘official’ day the two-state Solution has finally died. It was titled, “A Settler’s View of Israel’s Future,” and was written by one Yishai Fleisher, “the international spokesman of the Jewish community of Hebron.”

No matter what we think of this unknown (until now) ‘official’ spokesman, and of such a position for that community, we have to take it seriously since, as I firmly believe, they carry more probability of materializing than the two-state solution, as well as other solutions being mentioned. In this respect, just as the settlers’ movement has kept to its mission undeterred for almost fifty years, and has won the day, so are these proposals more likely to become a reality as “facts on the ground” sooner or later. As I mentioned also in my last post, none of these proposals take into account the just, legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for an entity, capital and state of their own. Still, it’s incumbent on us to take them seriously. Which I intend on doing.

Here then is the third proposal, as written in that Times’ op-ed piece: “… (it) is promoted by Prof. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University, near Tel Aviv. His premise is that the most stable Arab entity in the Middle East is the Gulf Emirates, which are based on a consolidated traditional group or tribe. The Palestinian Arabs are not a cohesive nation, he argues, but are comprised of separate city-based clans. So he proposes Palestinian autonomy for seven non-contiguous emirates in major Arab cities, as well as Gaza, which he considers already an emirate. Israel would annex the rest of the West Bank and offer Israeli citizenship to Arab villagers outside those cities.”

This proposal, which we might term the seven, or eight-state solution, is so laughable that to treat it seriously is border on the absurd. And yet, Israel is already being accused – lately by a UN body of some sort – as an Apartheid state de facto. A proposal like this, taken straight out of the South African regime playbook for its “Bantustans,” is nothing short of racist in its most cruel manifestation. However, it is proposed by an Israeli professor, who had been brought to Sacramento by the “Stand With Us” organization, and was received with great fanfare and applause in our very own congregation of Mosaic Law. Just think of this. It runs deep, I tell you, fascism in disguise of academic bullshit. But I tell you one more thing: Just like in South Africa, and despite the hidden wishes of many, it has no chance of ever becoming a sustainable reality.

“The fourth proposal is the most straightforward. Caroline Glick, a Jerusalem Post journalist, wrote in her 2014 book, ‘The Israeli Solution: A One State Plan for Peace in the Middle East’ that, contrary to prevailing opinion, Jews are not in danger of losing a demographic majority in an Israel that includes Judea and Samaria. New demographic research shows that thanks to falling Palestinian birth rates and emigration, combined with opposite trends among Jews, a stable Jewish majority of above 60 percent exists between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean (excluding Gaza); and this is projected to grow to about 70 percent by 2059.”

This proposal, supported by a growing chorus of voices – among them none other than the Israeli President Mr. Rivlin – is fair in its basic premise of equal citizens’ rights to all the state’s residents, Jews and Arabs alike. But it’s very much debatable in its demographic conclusion, and to my understanding, and knowledge, her numbers have been strongly reputed by real experts in this field. However, even if we take her numbers as somewhat correct, we are left with a very problematic, unsatisfying solution. What kind of democratic Israel, a Jewish state would it be with a 40% Arab minority, at its rosiest possibility? What kind of a future will this bi-national state hold for a peaceful, humane, democratic Jewish nation? Not to mention the function of the Knesset, with almost evenly split Jewish and Arab representatives (with an Arab United Party maybe the largest party…) It might be a one-state solution, but a Jewish one-state solution most certainly not.

“Finally, there is a fifth alternative, which comes from the head of the new Zehut party, Moshe Feiglin, and Martin Sherman of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. They do not see a resolution of conflicting national aspirations in one land and instead propose an exchange of populations with Arab countries, which effectively expelled about 800,000 Jews around the time of Israeli independence. In contrast, however, Palestinians in Judea and Samaria would be offered generous compensation to emigrate voluntarily.”

Good luck with that. Jews offer money to Arabs to relocate. Moving the Palestinians to the Sinai Desert, I heard it being mentioned. Or to Saudi Arabia, as if they would be welcomed there. This last proposal is just a way of avoiding the truth, and the inevitable: the disastrous conundrum Israel is finding itself in because of 50 years of occupation, of building illegal settlements, and of doing all it can to avoid bringing to fruition the one acceptable, sustainable solution: The two-state solution. But that one, as I’d mentioned before, is all but dead. So it’s either an Apartheid state now, or a Bi-national state later, which won’t be a Jewish state as we know or want it to be, or as Herzl envisioned it in the first place. Take your pick. And the rest, as they say, is history.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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