restricted access Postscript 2002

From: Theo

University of Wisconsin Press colophon
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

The events I described in the final pages of this book took place more than eight years ago. In the interim so much has changed the world and our perception of it that I feel the need to take stock once more. The events that brought together Yassir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin at the White House and gave rise to so much hope, expectation, and promise, were also fraught with dangers and pitfalls that I recognized even then. Alas, we were not able to bask in the aura of this promise for very long. We have moved further and further away from the peace we all worked and prayed for and have become mired in a cycle of violence that has prompted even our most pacific instincts to be suppressed. So much hope was placed in the Oslo agreement and in the peace process that was to follow. The handshake on the South Lawn was a symbolic mutual affirmation of two peoples, bitter enemies in the past, of a firm intention to take the first steps on the road to peace. But in order to make this a reality there had to be a genuine resolve on both sides, a promise to talk instead of shoot. No love fest was heralded, no suddenly discovered mutual affection; such naïve notions cannot be in the vocabulary of pragmatic national leaders. Leaders, moreover, who operate in the mercurial climate of the Middle East. There was a half-hearted smile that accompanied the handshake, a polite acknowledgment of solemn intentions ;symbolism again. But symbolism can only go so far;reality must take over. As Amos Oz, the great Israeli writer and peace activist wrote: “The moment of poetry is over and now it is time for the prose.” Yet the prose of politics in the Middle East is a bitter one. Arafat is still on the scene, a leader of damaged reputation, a terrorist who failed to turn into a statesman, Arafat redux—neither peacemaker nor peacekeeper . And Rabin is gone, his loss not Israel’s alone. Murdered, and by whose hand? The myth that a Jew would not kill another Jew is no more Postscript 2002 than just that—a myth. Jews have killed Jews in the past. Within our own Zionist history, there have been such killings:the Altalena shot up by the Haganah in 1948, Chaim Arlosoroff murdered by right wing opponents in 1933. And there is the ancient history of the Jewish kingdom before the Diaspora, when Jews were fighting and killing each other even while under siege from outside. We are not quite as noble as we like to believe. For there is the constant contradiction in our claims of being Am S’gulah (a people of distinction) on the one hand, and goy k’chol hagoyim (a people like all others) on the other; claims often made in the same breath. It is time to wake up to a stark truth:we Jews also sometimes thrive on intolerance one toward the other. Murder is only the starkest, the most obscene outcropping of the rhetoric of hatred. It does not just stop with the yelling. I must confess that, as an American Jew, I most strongly feel the burden of culpability that perforce rests on the shoulders of the American Jewish community. Baruch Goldstein, who massacred twenty-nine Arabs at prayer at a mosque in Hebron in 1994, was born and raised in America . His deed, a blot of shame on the pages of Jewish history, was perversely hailed by some in America and in Israel as the act of a redeemer— just a little short of blasphemy. The extremist hawks among American Jews are guilty not only of exporting their rabid ideologies, nurturing them in their Israeli confederates, but of financing them heavily to boot. Far too many of the intransigent elements in Israel and in the territories who carried slogans of “Death to Rabin” were bred in America or else were supported by big money raised in the U.S. Everyone professed to be shocked by the murder of Yitzhak Rabin; but even before the end of shiva, voices were heard justifying the murder and a media appeal was created to raise money for the assassin. Plus ça change . . . After the assassination, the peace camp faced a heavy task. Predictions that the world and the Jewish community would be so shocked by the events as to be propelled to greater support for the peace...


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