In virtually every era of Jewish history, renegade Jews have emerged as effective disseminators of hatred against their kinsmen. During the Middle Ages, a number of Jewish converts to Christianity became the most effective promoters of anti-Semitism, adept at distorting Jewish texts in order to demonize Jews, whom they portrayed as Satan’s emissaries. But their impact rarely extended beyond the region in which they lived, or the limited circulation of manuscripts or tracts which they produced.
In the current global environment of instant communication via the media and Internet, contemporary Jewish demonizers of the Jewish people or its surrogate, Israel, can achieve instantaneous global exposure.
That is why we ignore the defamatory outbursts of the contemporary Jewish enemies of Zion at our peril. We should be under no illusions: Over the past decades, Jewish renegades have been major contributing factors in the growing delegitimization of Israel. Anti-Semites, obliged to operate from the closet since the Holocaust, have become emboldened, reverting to their traditional aggressive efforts to transform Jews into pariahs.
In this context, the intemperate outbursts expressed by Avrum Burg in interviews relating to his book Defeating Hitler, repeatedly bracketing Israelis with Nazis, would by any benchmark qualify as acts of infamy.
Burg is anything but a profound thinker. His crude attacks are merely a rehash of the standard, cliche-ridden tracts churned out by those seeking to delegitimize the Jewish state. But by virtue of his former positions, Burg’s defamation of Israel will undoubtedly become a crucial weapon for anti-Semites and all who seek the demise of the Jewish state.
Burg’s current outburst is an extension of a previous article defaming Israel written in September 2000 which was widely distributed throughout the world. Already then, Burg had described the Zionist state as an entity based “on a scaffolding of corruption and on a foundation of oppression and injustice.”
He also rationalized suicide bombers – “they consign themselves to Allah in our places of recreation because their own lives are torture.”
In his extensive interview with Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit, Burg shamelessly continued defaming Israel and Zionism. He described Israel as an insane, spiritually dead entity, a failed racist state. He visualized a Knesset in the future passing legislation prohibiting sexual relations between Jews and Arabs. He repeatedly conjured up distorted analogies of crimes committed by Israelis and Nazis.
The concept of Jewish democracy is “nitroglycerine.” Burg denounced the Law of Return (“a mirror image of Hitler”), and seemingly endorsed a binational state. In a more recent observation over which anti-Semites throughout the world will undoubtedly exult, he expressed his determination to combat “the manipulations of the Israeli lobby that encourages dual loyalties.”
Burg’s proposed solution is for Israelis to follow his example of becoming citizens of the world by obtaining a second passport. He has adopted French nationality and proudly proclaims that he traveled to Paris especially in order to cast his vote in the French presidential elections against Nicholas Sarkozy, who “represents a major threat to world peace.” Relishing his universalism, Burg also informs us that in contrast to Israel, Europe represents the true Jewish environment.
To most Israelis, Burg’s ravings are merely primitive mirror images of the run-of-the-mill libels directed against us by our enemies. But tempting though it may be to ignore him and consign his outbursts to the rubbish bin where they belong, we cannot afford to do so because Burg’s background guarantees that our enemies will exploit him as a prize vehicle by which to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state.
His words will also strengthen and provide respectability to all renegade Jews promoting anti-Israel campaigns, including those involved with the recent UK academic and union boycotts against Israel.
But Burg is not just another post-Zionist hack. He is the scion of one of the country’s most distinguished religious Zionist families, whose entire lives were dedicated to the welfare of Israel and the Jewish people. Burg’s revered late father, Joseph, was a refugee from Nazi Germany who became a member of the founding Knesset and rose to be head of the National Religious Party. His mother, Rivka, lost most of her family during the Arab massacre of Jews in Hebron in 1929.
Avrum joined Peace Now and rapidly became the “religious” Uncle Tom and pet of the left-wing secular establishment. This enabled him to serve as a Labor MK between 1988 until 1995, when he resigned from the Knesset to become chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization. In 1999 he returned to the Knesset and became Speaker. In 2001 Burg failed to be elected chairman of the Labor Party when it was disclosed that more Druse voted for him than were enrolled in the party. Burg, in shame, then retired from politics.
Prior to having graduated as a fully-fledged radical post-Zionist, Burg repeatedly boasted to me that he would become prime minister. His tenure at the Jewish Agency was, to put it mildly, effervescent. During that period his long-standing relationship with the now-disgraced former World Jewish Congress secretary-general, Israel Singer, became more intimate and a scheme for Burg to succeed Singer for the position of WJC secretary-general was jettisoned only when it was prematurely exposed.
One of Burg’s last initiatives before adopting French citizenship was his involvement in a failed business venture, heading a consortium to purchase a company engaged in the manufacture of armaments. The state comptroller and police intervened and the sale was cancelled amid widespread media reports alleging that Burg had narrowly avoided being indicted for unscrupulous business practices.
Burg’s most recent public act was his widely publicized, unsuccessful court action against the Jewish Agency, which refused to pay him NIS 200,000 per annum and provide him with a prestige car and chauffeur for the rest of his life – in addition to similar benefits he received as a former speaker of the Knesset.
One can only speculate over what motivated Burg to promote such dastardly libels against his people. Attributing his behavior to a Freudian Oedipal complex – the ultimate act of revolt and rejection of his Orthodox Zionist parents – may be a partial explanation. However it is more likely that having failed both as politician and businessman, he was simply seeking to create a new role for himself.
In this he will probably succeed. Avrum Burg, the former chairman of the Jewish Agency and Speaker of the Knesset, who has shamelessly adopted French citizenship and is willing to publicly defame and delegitimize his own country, will now no longer merely be the darling of Israeli post-Zionists. He will assume the role of an icon for the global anti-Israeli establishment and all anti-Semites. He will be overwhelmed with speaking engagements and, with or without his psychedelic kippa, will be wined and dined and achieve star billing at cocktail receptions sponsored by those seeking an end to the Jewish state.
Few Israelis will shed a tear if Avrum Burg does settle permanently in France.
The writer chairs the Diaspora-Israel relations committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and is a veteran international Jewish leader.
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