Ehud Barak, San Diego, and Sde Shalom.Byline: Marc J. Sirois
Summary: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has made it fashionable to filter the current situation in the Gaza Strip Gaza Strip (gäz`ə), (2003 est. pop. 1,330,000) rectangular coastal area, c.140 sq mi (370 sq km), SW Asia, on the Mediterranean Sea adjoining Egypt and Israel, in what was formerly SW Palestine. through a hypothetical scenario in which the city of San Diego, California “San Diego” redirects here. For other uses, see San Diego (disambiguation).
San Diego is a coastal Southern California city located in the southwestern corner of the continental United States. As of 2006, the city has a population of 1,256,951. , is struck daily by rockets from Tijuana, Mexico. America, he told CNN CNN
or Cable News Network
Subsidiary company of Turner Broadcasting Systems. It was created by Ted Turner in 1980 to present 24-hour live news broadcasts, using satellites to transmit reports from news bureaus around the world. , would not long tolerate such a state of affairs.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has made it fashionable to filter the current situation in the Gaza Strip through a hypothetical scenario in which the city of San Diego, California, is struck daily by rockets from Tijuana, Mexico. America, he told CNN, would not long tolerate such a state of affairs.
My own initial reaction was to dismiss the analogy as backward, to reason that a more accurate one would inquire as to how residents of Tijuana might behave if they had been occupied for decades by a foreign power which had then spent the past few years restricting their children's access to food and medicine.
The truth is more complicated than either narrative suggests, of course, but it is fortunate that Barak chose San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay. to sell his argument to an American audience. The same city figures in a fictional conversation that takes place in "Inside, Outside," the 1985 Herman Wouk (best known for "Winds of War") novel whose jacket describes it as a "stunning exploration of the American Jewish experience." As the book makes clear, the state of Israel and one's attitude toward it have played central roles in that experience - even if Americans as a whole have remained blissfully unaware of just how conflicted their Jewish compatriots, and even some Israelis, have been about the entire Zionist project and its implications.
The debate in question, set just weeks before the 1973 war, takes place at Sde Shalom (Fields of Peace), a kibbutz kibbutz: see collective farm.
Israeli communal settlement in which all wealth is held in common and profits are reinvested in the settlement. The first kibbutz was founded in Palestine in 1909; most have since been agricultural. founded by left-wing Israelis near both Gaza and Egypt. The primary participants are Mark (Moyshe) Herz, a heavily secularized American Jew; his estranged es·trange
tr.v. es·tranged, es·trang·ing, es·trang·es
1. To make hostile, unsympathetic, or indifferent; alienate.
2. To remove from an accustomed place or set of associations. son Abe, who has made Aliya and is now a reservist re·serv·ist
A member of a military reserve.
a member of a nation's military reserve
Noun 1. in the Israeli military when not protecting Israeli companies The top 10 Israeli companies by sales are:
pref See levo-. , a retired Israeli general-cum-devoted-peacenik; and Nahum Landau, a hawkish scientist rumored to have developed Israel's first nuclear weapon. The narrator NARRATOR. A pleader who draws narrs serviens narrator, a sergeant at law. Fleta, 1. 2, c. 37. Obsolete. is David Goodkind, a practicing American Jew and a long-time servant of the Zionist cause.
They are discussing the advisability of various facets of Israeli political and economic policy when Mark Herz declares: "This is all such futile talk in a void."
"How, futile?" his indignant son replies.
I quote what follows at length because it's worth it:
"Mark stared at his son for heavy seconds, and poured himself a hooker of cognac. 'Okay, you asked me. Now listen, all of you, to some sense.'
He spoke almost sepulchrally as he sipped. 'Let us say that the Japanese in World War II managed to gain a beachhead beach·head
1. A position on an enemy shoreline captured by troops in advance of an invading force.
2. A first achievement that opens the way for further developments; a foothold: in California, okay? Never mind how. Let's say they took - oh, San Diego, with a sizable patch of territory around it, and started to settle and develop it. And let's say the war ended just the way it really did, Hiroshima and all, except that the Japs in the beachhead managed to fight off the Americans. Caused enough casualties, let's say, to get themselves a cease-fire and a truce. All right. How long do you suppose the Americans would tolerate that excrescence excrescence /ex·cres·cence/ (eks-kres´ins) an abnormal outgrowth; a projection of morbid origin.excres´cent
n. on the west coast? How long could that beachhead last? Five years? Ten? Fifty [italics in original]? What future would those Japanese have, but sooner or later to be thrown into the sea?'
'It's a ridiculous analogy,' said Abe.
'Not at all,' shot back his father. 'Israel is exactly that, an isolated beachhead in an enemy region, an armed perimeter with its back to the sea. Zionism has failed. No reinforcements are coming. The Jews never did come here, except to escape some unendurable place. Even then they've come in handfuls, never en masse en masse
In one group or body; all together: The protesters marched en masse to the capitol.
[French : en, in + masse, mass. [italics in original]. And how many stay who can go on to America or Canada or Australia? The Israelis themselves leave in droves for Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. and New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of , if only they can afford to move.'
'You're just dead wrong on numbers alone,' Abe bristled bris·tle
1. A stiff hair.
2. A stiff hairlike structure: the bristles of a wire brush.
v. bris·tled, bris·tling, bris·tles
v.intr. . 'Israel has kept growing and growing.'
'I'm not wrong. Hitler made the beachhead swell briefly - Hitler, and the Arab countries that expelled their Jews. Now it's shrinking again. The British created the beachhead. They brought in the Jews in World War I, with some notion of protecting the Suez Canal. In 1948 the Brits pulled out, leaving the beachhead Jews behind to have their throats cut by the seventy million Arabs. Which is the only way it can all end.'
In a moment of quiet, the Israelis looked at each other. Abe slumped on a chair, regarding his father with a drawn face.
'All wrong, Moyshe.' General Lev calmly broke the pause. 'The Arabs aren't Americans, and Israel isn't a beachhead. The Arab countries are unstable fragmented provinces of the Ottoman Empire. They have no cohesion. Their tribal enmities go back hundreds of years. Their culture doesn't have an industrializing tendency. That's what Israel brings to the region. As a people, as a culture, the Arabs can be noble, and generous, and proud, and hospitable. Our future among them will be secure once we make peace. We are a small country, but solidly structured, very strong and stable, and they need us to help them bury their ancient differences.'
'Pipe dream,' said Nahum Landau quietly.'"
It is amazing how much of that conversation could be had verbatim today, despite the passage of 35 years that have included several more shooting wars between Israel and its neighbors, the end of the Cold War, and the hopeful birth and slow starvation of the Oslo peace process. Yes, larger numbers of Jews have gone to Israel, but apart from a few fanatics from the States, the newcomers still tend to make the trek "to escape some unendurable place" (typically Russia or some other part of the defunct Soviet empire). And even though they are generously subsidized, especially if they agree to help colonize col·o·nize
v. col·o·nized, col·o·niz·ing, col·o·niz·es
1. To form or establish a colony or colonies in.
2. To migrate to and settle in; occupy as a colony.
3. occupied land, many of them still head for the West as soon as they can.
The same basic options remain in place: Israel can insist on existing as a beachhead, a garrison state for which each war is merely a battle in a longer conflict it is destined des·tine
tr.v. des·tined, des·tin·ing, des·tines
1. To determine beforehand; preordain: a foolish scheme destined to fail; a film destined to become a classic.
2. to lose. Or it can make a fair peace with its neighbors, one that allows the two parties to coexist and even help one another (notwithstanding a patronizing attitude that some Israelis might have to unlearn). The third alternative is the apocalyptic one that Landau represents, and he - fittingly given Israel's official policy of "constructive ambiguity" regarding its nuclear arsenal - says very little.
The current slaughter in Gaza is part of a process guided by misguided zealots Zealots (zĕl`əts), Jewish faction traced back to the revolt of the Maccabees (2d cent. B.C.). The name was first recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus as a designation for the Jewish resistance fighters of the war of A.D. 66–73. , both American and Israeli, who have attempted to graft various parts of these options - usually the wrong ones - onto one another. They cling to the ideal of a modern Sparta but ignore the monstrous behavior required to sustain it, the inexorable erosion of humanity that ensued (and is ensuing), and the eventual fate of their inspiration. Their "solution" is to drive wedges among all those former Ottoman provinces, hoping thereby to keep the beachhead safe from a concerted assault. And over the entire process hangs the nuclear sword, which promises only to destroy both those whom Zionists cannot deter or defeat and that patch of land which Zionism cannot, in the long run, defend.
Marc J. Sirois is managing editor of THE DAILY STAR. His email address is email@example.com .
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