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Why I Hate Secular Zionism, or Could I Have the Broccoli Quiche Instead?

            I’ll call this the broccoli blog. Blogging used to be about people writing about things they were passionate about. Some people were passionate about cars, some people were passionate about politics, and some people were passionate about broccoli. Some people are ambivalent about broccoli and some people even hate broccoli. I have seen a feedback conversation in which one person extols broccoli quiche while the other describes how much he hates broccoli quiche. I suspect that most people didn’t care.
            I like broccoli. I like chocolate more, but broccoli is okay. I hate artichokes. But way more than artichokes, I hate Shimon Peres. On a scale of one to ten, broccoli being 2, artichokes being 7, I still hate Shimon Peres. Irrational hatred is a fact of life and I only appreciate it when it brings good into the world. The reason I am permitting my irrational hatred to express itself now is because I just read an article, proudly proclaiming that Shimon Peres was just awarded the United States Congressional Medal of Honor. I feel this is horrendous and I need to express why. My one disclaimer is that I am not a historian, though in this age when objective opinions are accepted as facts more than facts themselves, my inexperience and lack of accreditation might be a form of validation.
            I have many reasons to dislike Shimon Peres, not the least of which is his disturbing likeness to the evil Jedi master, Emperor Palpatine, from Star Wars. Shimon Peres is a holdover, perhaps the last surviving one, from a previous era of secular Zionism. To understand what I don’t like about Shimon Peres, we need to understand what I don’t like about secular Zionism and Peres’ mentor, Ben Gurion.
 Early secular Zionism, in the shadow of the Holocaust, received carte blanche, no questions asked, adulation and (monetary) support from the American secular Jewish community. Their sins were overlooked because they were the beacon of hope. The image of the muscled Kibbutznik jumping from his tractor into a tank appealed strongly to the Jews in America suffering from survivors’ guilt. It was so different than the hunchbacked hooknose money lending shtetl Jew of Poland who meekly walked into the ovens without fighting back. The Americans united with the European secular Zionists, though the feeling was far from mutual. The European secular Zionists were forgiven their sins, of which there were more than a few, because they were on a mission of epic proportions.  And their agenda was never questioned.
The Ben Gurion agenda was to create a refuge for the Jews and to remove the rule of the Torah from the Jewish people since the non-Jews hated us because of it. This, despite all evidence to the contrary. The Nazis killed all Jews, secular and religious. I might argue that Ben Gurion disliked Torah Judaism because it accepted an authority that little David could never usurp. I believe this also explains his absolute hatred of Menachem Begin. Menachem Begin also believed in a secular Jewish state, but he believed that the essence of the Jewish people was the torah and the essence of anti-Semitism was not a reaction to Torah. This was a challenge David Ben Gurion could not tolerate.
Ben Gurion and the secular Zionists that came later, were so attached to this agenda that making alliances with Jew-haters and Jew-killers became a part of their foreign policy.  Ben Gurion joined the British to fight against the Ottomans despite the Ottoman Empire being friendly towards Jews. The British, in return, did not vote for the Jews in the League of Nations and they were decidedly pro-Arab during their mandate. He also developed a warm relationship with West Germany, something that should be, at best, questionable, in the light of this being less than ten years after the holocaust.  Moshe Dayan was popular with the Zionists because he was an Arabist, glorifying Arab culture and having a policy of negotiating with Arab leaders during war. That legacy of befriending Jew-killers and haters is still vibrant to this day and an essential part of left wing Israeli foreign policy. It is a trait that I cannot respect. The Arabs themselves say “The friend of your enemy is your enemy”.
Another example of this policy was Rudolf Kastner. He worked during World War II for the Jewish Aid and Rescue Committee, helping Jews of Budapest and Hungary. After the war, he became part of Ben Gurion’s political machine. He achieved his goals by negotiating with high Nazi officials, including Adolf Eichmann. He was later accused of making a deal with the Nazis in which secular Zionists were released in exchange for his persuading other Jews to board the trains to the death camps. He sued his accuser for libel but the story was found to be accurate. He also helped a high ranking Nazi officer to escape prosecution after the war. Kastner was posthumously exonerated. Unfortunately, the book that I found to be most informative on the subject, Perfidy, is blacklisted, illegal in Israel.
Sweet Papa Ben Gurion with his grandfather image, a silly old man performing handstands on the beach, could do no wrong. He was not evil. Let’s look at history. Ben Gurion made a deal with Menachem Begin to allow the Irgun to bring a ship load of weapons, The Altalena, into the soon-to-be State of Israel. Ben Gurion then sent Yitzchak Rabin to sink the ship, forfeiting dearly needed weapons at a critical time, and to murder Begin and any of his supporters while they struggled ashore. This came after a history of turning over Irgun Jews to the British who would execute them. Ben Gurion was, and still is, forgiven because he was on a greater mission and, after all, with so much at stake, who could possibly judge him. He was busy saving all of world Jewry from the Evil Nazis.  I am often shocked at how many young Israelis know nothing of the Altalena or of any of the other historical events I will describe.
If you were to ask the average secular Israeli ‘How many assassinations have there been in modern Israeli history?’ they would say that there have been two and that both were perpetrated by right-wing elements. They might even say that the first is proof that the right-wing was guilty of the second, or vice versa. The first assassination was Haim Arsolov who was a leader in the Mapai (left-wing). He was believed to be murdered by revisionists (right-wing) elements. This helped cement Ben Gurion’s position of power. It was much later discovered to be an act of subterfuge and , at best, the right-wing was not guilty. There is even reasonable room to suspect the left-wing. Again, the secular Zionists are above suspicion.
Most people will say Ben Gurion had to solidify his power base in order to bring about the Jewish State. He could not be a power monger since he created the democratic state we are so proud of. I think this argument gets a bit sticky when you realize that Ben Gurion served as the first prime minister of Israel despite not being elected. Nor was the first kenesset elected. They were chosen by Ben Gurion. This was only possible because Ben Gurion had, quite ruthlessly, eliminated anyone else who was working towards bringing about a Jewish state. It should come as no surprise that his efforts at eliminating any opposition were so effective that a left-wing, i.e. Ben Gurion, government ruled in Israel for the next forty years. I think it is fitting that Ben Gurion became prime minister without being elected and so did his protégé, Shimon Peres.
I should explain at this point that there are two types of left-wing in Israel and they do not correlate to left-wing as it is referred to in any other country in the world. Left-wing usually refers to social minded, spiritual and idealistic, anti-laissez faire people. That is true in Israel, but that branch of the left-wing, oddly enough, supports and serves the other left-wing, which is elitist, power based, and no-holds-barred capitalistic.  Ben Gurion was left-wing but socialism meant something very different for him. He was elitist and pro-capitalism. He hoped to build an Israel in the vision of Herzl’s second book, Alneulant (Old-New Land), a mulit-cultural, technocracy. I have noticed that this is becoming true in the United States today, which also has two corresponding types of right-wing and left-wing.
Next week, I talk about Peres and his Congressional Medal of Honor.

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