Although we argue and disagree passionately on many issues, whenever we were previously confronted by an external threat, with the exception of a few marginal elements, we always set aside our differences and united. Alas, not so today.
Using venomous language about Jews of which even Goebbels would have approved, Opposition leader Yossi Sarid has reached new depths of debased incitement.
How else to describe someone who demonizes the entire settlement movement – hundreds of thousands of Jews – as “a cancerous growth”… “the Sodom of the Jewish state”… “members of a different planet” … “not my brothers” … “who make me [Table] ashamed of being an Israeli and a Jew.” These obscene remarks drenched in hatred against fellow Jews were published in Ha’aretz without even an editorial caution.
Yet, paradoxically, when Chief of General Staff Moshe Ya’alon recently referred to the confrontation with the Palestinians as an “existential cancerous threat to Israel,” he was viciously assailed and bad-mouthed by Sarid’s political associates not only on political grounds but especially in relation to the language he used.
He was accused of using Nazi terminology and told “he should know when to shut up.” In other words, language relating to those who seek to destroy us – considered unacceptable when used by the chief of General Staff – is permissible for the leader of the opposition to employ in relation to hundreds of thousands of loyal Israeli citizens.
Who are these people Sarid describes as “cancers”? The so- called settler movement is comprised of two categories: Those who sought low-cost housing and those who shared a dream of rebuilding Eretz Yisrael. Their enterprise was officially sanctioned by former governments, Labor and Likud alike, with even Meretz on occasion participating.
Some individual settlers committed despicable acts. The mass [Table] murder by Baruch Goldstein was demented and unforgivable. There have been other ugly acts of vandalism, violence, and even murder.
But these foul deeds were singular exceptions to the norm, and condemned by the overwhelming majority of law-abiding settlers.
Crimes committed over the Green Line, as with crimes committed in Tel Aviv, Haifa and elsewhere in Israel, must be dealt with by law- enforcement authorities.
Sarid is truly stooping to the gutter level of politics – incitement to hatred. To vilify entire communities for the transgressions of a few misfits or criminals is a classical ploy of racists and hate peddlers. Had Sarid read Mein Kampf, he would know that this is precisely how Hitler promoted anti-Semitism amongst the German people.
There are, undoubtedly, legitimate disagreements and difficult questions to be considered about future policies in the disputed territories. But never let it be forgotten that contemporary religious Zionist pioneers were motivated by similar ideals to the original halutzim (pioneers) who created villages in early Palestine.
To Sarid these people are all fanatical zealots and his hate- drenched outbursts against them are intended to portray them as subhuman. Yet to most unbiased observers, as a group they represent the most committed and idealistic Jews in the land.
Their passion for Eretz Yisrael has not been polluted by post- Zionist ideologies whose distorted logic leads to the conclusion that Israel was born in sin. Their personal way of life also contrasts with the rampant materialism and consumerism that much of Israeli society has now embraced.
It would be interesting to take a comparative poll between Sarid’s school of thought and that of the settlers. I have no doubt that on the basic issues facing Israel today, such as Zionism, emigration, and the apologetic and defeatist approach to the country at large, the attitudes of the Sarid camp would contrast starkly to those espoused by the “cancerous” settlers.
Indeed I would be bold enough to say that a substantial proportion of those living over the Green Line would qualify for inclusion amongst the most dedicated elites of the Jewish people.
The settlers deserve our support, understanding and comfort.
None have suffered more from the horrendous consequences of the Oslo debacle than our fellow Israelis over the Green Line who represent only 3% of Israel’s population but have incurred 20% of the nation’s fatalities from Palestinian terror. More than anybody, they take the brunt of the war which is being directed against all of us.
Sarid’s outburst is a qualitative leap beyond the permissible.
He already has much to answer for, not least being his articles in foreign newspapers as leader of the opposition at a time of war, urging foreign governments to act against the policies of the democratically elected government of Israel. By demonizing a vast number of his fellow Israelis in a manner reminiscent of the worst hatemongers, Sarid has crossed all red lines.
The timing for such an outburst is also awful. Just as we begin seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, with Palestinians beginning to question where the policies of their terror are leading them, Sarid re-energizes the killers with his obscene remarks. It is a terrible but undeniable fact that by using such demonic language, the leader of Israel’s parliamentary opposition is implicitly giving an endorsement to the Palestinians to intensify the killings. When Arafat calls on his assassins to concentrate on killing Jews over the Green Line, he has only to quote Sarid’s definition of the settlers – as “wicked cancers…that should be eliminated.”
Enough is enough. Sarid must apologize. He must apologize to the Jews he has maligned. We should call on the government to formulate legislation to prevent such outrageous outbursts in the future. This is a nation at war. We are entitled to expect our leaders to promote unity amongst our people rather than sow sinat hinam (needless hatred) and dissension. If we fail to protest and remain silent in the face of such wicked onslaughts on fellow Jews, we all become party to the outrage.