posted on Jan, 13 2009 @ 04:14 PM
All is compared to the Shoah, dwarfed by the Shoah and therefore all is allowed – be it fences , sieges ... curfews, food and water deprivation
or unexplained killings. All is permitted because we have been through the Shoah and you will not tell us how to behave."
Avraham Burg was a pillar of the Israeli establishment but his new book is causing a sensation. It argues that his country is an "abused child"
which has become a "violent parent". And his solutions are radical, as he explains to Donald Macintyre
It isn't long since Burg was a blue-chip member of that same Zionist establishment. The son of a long-serving government minister, from the time of
David Ben-Gurion's government, he has a classic top-drawer Israeli profile. True, he was on the left: after army service as a paratroop officer and
graduating from Hebrew University he was a star of the movement against the first Lebanon war – his charisma if anything enhanced by the fact than
unlike many of his comrades he was religious. He was injured in the grenade attack by a right-wing fanatic on a Peace Now protest in 1983 which killed
another demonstrator, Emil Grunzweig. But he was quickly swept into mainstream public life, becoming first an adviser to the then Prime minister
Shimon Peres, then a Knesset member, then Speaker of the Knesset, head of the Jewish agency and the World Zionist Organisation and the
almost-victorious candidate for the Labour Party leadership in 2001.
It was not until his last year as a Knesset member that he began to build a reputation as something of an enfant terrible in Israeli intellectual and
political life. In 2003 he wrote a widely publicised and much argued-over piece in Israel's mass circulation Yedhiot Ahronot in which he said that
Israel had to choose between "racist oppression and democracy" and that "having ceased to care about the children of the Palestinians, should
not be surprised when they come washed in hatred and blow themselves up in the centres of Israeli escapism".
But his book The Holocaust is Over: We Must Rise from its Ashes – published this week in Britain – caused a much bigger sensation when it came out
last year in Israel, at once becoming a best-seller and provoking a furious reaction not only from the right but from many of Burg's former
colleagues on the political centre-left. In the book – a compelling mix of polemic, personal memoir, homage to his parents and meditation on Judaism
– Burg argues that Israel has been too long imprisoned by its obsessive and cheapening use – or abuse – of the Holocaust as "a theological
pillar of Jewish identity". He argues that the living role played by the Holocaust – Burg uses the regular Hebrew word Shoah or "catastrophe" for
the extermination of six million Jews in the Second World War – in everyday Israeli discourse, has left Israel with a persistent self-image of a
"nation of victims", in stark variance with its actual present-day power. Instead, the book argues, Israel needs finally to abandon the "Judaism of
the ghetto" for a humanistic, "universal Judaism".
The implication of Burg's analysis, one that perhaps only an Israeli would have dared promote, is that the fostered memory of the Holocaust hovers
destructively over every aspect of Israeli political life – including its relations with the Palestinians since the 1967 Six Day War and the
subsequent occupation. "We have pulled the Shoah out of its historical context," he writes, "and turned it into a plea and generator for
every deed. All is compared to the Shoah, dwarfed by the Shoah and therefore all is allowed – be it fences , sieges ... curfews, food and
water deprivation or unexplained killings. All is permitted because we have been through the Shoah and you will not tell us how to behave."
Burg's answer is that recognition and sympathy for the victims and survivors of the Holocaust are indeed essential components of "any kind of
progress from the departure point of trauma to the final destination of trust". On the other hand "what I criticise in the Eichmann trial and the
entire Shoah industry is the contempt, the cheapening attititude of the public system; everything is Shoah. It legitimises everything, it
explains everything, it is used by everybody." Here he cites two everyday examples – the first an interview about the Iranian president
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad given last month by Benjamin [Bibi] Netanyahu, the right-wing former – and possibly soon to be again – Prime Minister:
"Ahmadinejad is no doubt a problem," says Burg. "He is an issue in the Western world and for Israel's sense of confidence in particular. So what
is Bibi's soundbite? 'It is 38 all over again.' Do me a favour. Did we have such a powerful state in '38? Did we have this onmipotent army in
'38? Did we have the most important superpowers siding with us in '38? It's not '38 however you look at it. And even Ahmadinejad, when you
compare him with Hitler, you diminish Hitler." But because the "Holocaustic language is so common, so well understood," says Burg, the reflex
attitude is: "Why not use it?"
I don't think I have ever agreed more with someone than with this very influential man who lead the World Zionist Organization. How often do you see
people here on ATS throw in the Holocaust card. If someone criticizes Israel in a thread here on ATS, you can be sure someone will start about the
Holocaust, whether it's the Palestinian camp or the Israeli camp.
He's very right. Israel is allowed to be above the law because of the Holocaust. No other country on this globe would be allowed to do the same.
If this much respected person, who has also been speaker of the Knesset, opposes what's been happening over the years how could one possibly support
[edit on 13-1-2009 by Mdv2]