‘Zionism and McCarthy,’ Round 2

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When David Newman implies on these pages that Limor Livnat is promoting McCarthyism (“Zionist McCarthyism,” March 14), I am reminded that nearly two decades ago Jewish communists accused me of the same crime. They, too, claimed to be the champions of peace, despite the fact that in reality they were representing the interests of the Evil Empire.

As though following a set script, after modestly defining himself as a supporter of “true democracy,” Newman also labels me as an opponent of peace who supports discrimination and the exploitation of minorities. He provides no evidence for substantiating such allegations.

The Peace Now radicals supported by Newman promote arguments not dissimilar to the discredited appeasement policies employed by Chamberlain toward the Nazis in the 1930s. Yet, in their political science lexicon, even today those who consider the Oslo Accords a failure are defined as enemies of peace and extensions of the “narrow-minded extremes of right-wing Zionism.”

The claims by this camp that they are the only genuine supporters of peace also have an uncanny similarity to the approach by Mapam, the defunct forerunner of Meretz. They were so besotted with the Soviet Union that they could never come to terms with the reality of Soviet antisemitism. Even after Mordechai Oren, one of their leaders, was imprisoned on trumped- up charges of espionage, they retained their quasi-mystical faith in the Soviet Union. In the same vein, Newman’s associates still religiously maintain their faith in Arafat, the noble Arab.

It is important to realize that post-Zionist attitudes are not necessarily related to the Right or Left. They are by and large simply recycled versions of the outdated views promoted by the discredited Jewish Marxists who considered all Jewish values an anachronism. This is exemplified by Newman’s persistent utilization of the outdated terminology of the Cold War, such as his description of Labor Zionists, who contributed so much to the establishment of this country, as “Mapai Bolshevism” and to Education Minister Limor Livnat as “commissar”!

Newman also has the gall to say that, like Livnat, I remain rooted in a “Diaspora mentality,” whatever that means. It is true that my first-hand recollections of the pain and suffering of Jews in distress, especially in the former Soviet Union, reinforces my belief that we must never allow ourselves to take our blessings for granted.

My Jewish background also strongly encourages me to support what Newman mischievously describes as “brainwashing” in our schools. Contrary to what Newman alleges, I am adamantly opposed to the transmission of any falsehoods or distortions in our school curricula. But I do believe that there is a desperate need to make every effort to promote the Jewish heritage, the achievements of Zionism as a national liberation movement, as well as a love of the Land of Israel and of fellow Jews. And, yes, also encouragement of enlightened patriotism, including a willingness if necessary to defend this tiny country, which is the only home we Jews can claim as our own.

We must stop creating an environment in which we exaggerate our failings out of proportion and gloss over the fact that the creation of the Jewish state was one of the most glorious events in our tragic history.

It is the positive aspects of Jewish identity that most Israelis hope Livnat will be able to reinforce in the school networks. Because if future generations grow up with the distorted belief that their land was born in sin, there is little doubt that the post-Zionists will achieve their goals.

In the absence of Jewish values and a positive attitude to their country, future generations of Israelis will indeed evolve into Hebrew-speaking Canaanites and Israel will be transformed from a Jewish state to a “state of all its citizens.” The Law of Return will be abrogated, “Hatikva” amended, a new flag chosen, and Newman will truly be able to proclaim that we have overcome our “Diaspora mentality.”

It is high time for us to stand up and repudiate the views and slurs promoted by Newman and his ilk. Goebbels rightly said that, if one continues repeating the same lie often enough, ultimately people begin believing them. Too often the lies and distortions of the post-Zionists and their allies are dismissed as not meriting a response.

The truth is that the battle for ideas and the “soul of Israel” is ultimately no less important in the long term than our ability to defend ourselves from external enemies.

The writer is chairman of the governing board of the World Jewish Congress.

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