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Israel – A Disintegrating, Dysfunctional Society

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I’ve frequently pointed out that I believe the society around me in Israel to be dysfunctional, and to be collapsing, as my back stairs collapsed in St. Paul many years ago. In addition, I’ve pointed out that we are waiting for war in the shards of shattered illusions, as did Lily Galili in Ha’aretz. Most Israeli high school kids have been out of class for the last six weeks due to a teachers’ strike, a plan to replace gas masks that are now outdated from the 2003 American attack on Iraq continues in a very haphazard pace, with gas masks being collected slowly, and new ones hardly issued.

More evidence of this collapse of the civil society here and the glue holding it together comes from a friend of mine, a North American immigrant in the Border Patrol. My friend differs from me in some respects (aside from being a whole lot more physically fit – quite an accomplishment for a guy older than me).  I asked him for a story about his experiences and he offered me three, asking only that I leave his name out and "honor" him with a copy of what I write, so here is my condensation of his first-hand account of conditions here.

First, a little background. The Border Patrol (Mishmár haG’vúl) is officially part of the Israel Police, but its members generally come from volunteers from the army, and occasionally from the civilian population. The Border Patrol wears khaki, is under military discipline, stays in barracks, and functions as a para-military organization. The “blue” units of the Israel Police are like police in other countries, and while formally a certain amount of military-like discipline, are civilian forces. They wear blue uniforms. I am a member of a volunteer unit with the Israel Police wearing the blue uniform.

According to my friend, the three incidents all involve Jews in and around Mevasseret Zion, a prosperous suburb of Jerusalem. What links these incidents, in his view, is an attitude among certain Israeli Jews – an attitude of privilege and self-absorption and an absence of civic-mindedness and social consciousness that reflects itself as nothing less than contempt for the Israel Police and a careless, dismissive attitude toward the threatening security environment with which we here are all burdened.

The unit my friend serves in patrols in Mevasseret proper and around the neighboring Jewish moshavim such as Motza, Beit Zayit, Castel, Nataf, and others; in the valley between Mevasseret and Jerusalem known as Wadi Arazim, which contains popular smuggling dirt roads and trails into Jerusalem through Beit Iksa, a “Palestinian” village on the other side of the Green Line; and on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway (Highway 1) from the exit from Jerusalem going west to the entrance to Beit Shemesh. The unit also patrols in the Israeli Arab village of Abu Ghosh. Working in jeeps and on foot, sometimes in uniform, sometimes undercover, his unit is essentially an anti-terrorist unit, but they also interdict undocumented Arab workers, those who transport them (including, unfortunately, from time to time, Jews), car thieves and house burglars. According to my friend, “they have made some good ‘catches.’"

Car Chase in Mevasseret Zion

One night, around 2:30 am, the unit was patrolling in a marked Border Patrol jeep inside Mevasseret specifically concentrating on car theft, a big problem in that suburb, since a stolen car from there can disappear, via the dirt roads in Wadi Arazim, toward Beit Iksa and onward into the Palestinian Authority, toward Ramallah, in minutes. At that hour of the early morning in a small, quiet suburb like Mevasseret Zion, anyone driving around automatically attracts police interest.

They noted a relatively new SUV being driven by a lone adult male and decided to follow it. The driver, spotting the jeep behind him, sped up. At that point they turned on the blue flashers (Israel Police uses blue lights atop its vehicles instead of red) and ordered the driver, through the loudspeaker, to pull over. Rather than stop, he fled through the streets of Mevasseret. They turned on the siren and chased him, for some distance, through various twists and turns, until finally he pulled into the driveway of a single-family house. Convinced they had trapped a car thief or worse, the four members of the Border Patrol (Magavniks) leaped out of the jeep and surrounded the man and his vehicle, rifles at the ready.

As it turned out, the driver was Jewish (In Israel, people tend to segregate by religion and nationality in the smaller towns; nearly all the residents of Mevasseret Zion are Jews), in his own car, at his own house. He screamed at them for chasing him and for raising their rifles at him. He demanded that they get their jeep off his private property. "What am I, a terrorist?" he shouted. To make matters worse, a number of his neighbors came out of their houses and joined the melée against the four Magavniks. Over the radio they summoned a regular "blue" police unit for back-up. When that unit arrived, the angry driver and his neighbors berated those officers as well and lied brazenly, claiming that the Magavniks had cocked their rifles and pointed them at the driver's head – which they had not done.

And why did this respectable burgher of Mevasseret Zion flee from the Border Patrol vehicle? As it turned out, his vehicle registration had expired. The "blue" police gave him a ticket.

The Hitchhiker

Another story – again, early morning in Mevasseret, around 4 am. A young man, late teens, is standing alone at the bus stop/hitchhiking post along Highway 1 in the direction of Tel Aviv. The Magavniks, in their marked Border Police jeep, pull over, get out and ask to see his identification. He says he has none. He speaks fluent Hebrew, is well-groomed and well-dressed, appears to be Jewish, claims to be from Beit Shemesh, but, when patted down, has nothing in his pockets – no ID, no money, no cell phone – nothing.

The Magavniks ask the young man his name, his address, his ID number. He refuses to tell them anything (in Israel, it is the law that a person asked to identify himself, must produce identification). He's not drunk, not sick – just stubborn. "I don't have to tell you anything," he says. He’s advised that if he refuses to identify himself he is coming to the police station (under Israeli law, a person who refuses to identify himself can be detained by the police for questioning). No, he's not, he says. He is told him to enter the jeep; he refuses. He is told that if he continues to refuse, force will be used. In the end, the Magavniks have to manhandle him into the jeep.

At the police station the same story continues; the young man refuses to identify himself. Finally, the unit commander finds the key to open him up. "How old are you?" the commander asks. "Seventeen," says the kid. "So you're going into the army soon, right?" says the commander. "Oh yes!" says the kid, and starts to brag about how he's definitely going into an elite combat unit (under the law in Israel, a person over the age of sixteen must carry a Teudat Zehut, an ID issued by the Ministry of Interior).

"No," replies the commander. "After my report on you tonight through official channels, you're not going to be in a combat unit. You're not going to be enlisted. You will be explaining to your parents and your friends why you were unable to qualify for the IDF."

That did it; the kid's composure collapses. He tells the Magavniks his name, his address and his ID number. Why did he resist this? Because he thought he could, that's all. He tied up an anti-terrorist unit for hours with his antics simply because he believed himself to be above the law. The question arises, did he absorb that attitude from his parents? What was he doing in Mevasseret Zion at that hour of the morning? He had been at his girlfriend's house and was trying to hitch a ride home to Beit Shemesh.

The Terrorist Alert

Third story – the day before the Annapolis meeting, a general terrorist alert was called throughout the Jerusalem region in mid-afternoon. Israel Police had intelligence information which included the suspected terrorist's name and Palestinian ID card number and the warning that he was already inside Jerusalem but heading towards Tel Aviv.

My friend’s unit was instructed to back up the regular "blue" police in completely closing down Highway 1 in the direction of Tel Aviv at the Harel interchange at the entrance to Mevasseret Zion. This is called a maHsóm in Hebrew, a roadblock or checkpoint. They stood guard and directed traffic while some eight "blue" police checked the ID of every single vehicle occupant that passed through the quickly-improvised checkpoint.

At the Otéf, the standard checkpoint at the entrance to Jerusalem from Samaria, there is such a checkpoint, and cars pass through in silence. Though the drivers are frustrated with the wait, they understand the security concern. This is also true in the checkpoints that I have manned as a police volunteer. Not here, though. The shouting, the honking, the curses, the complaints of fellow Jewish citizens, whose passage toward Tel Aviv was delayed for a few minutes, was appalling. The Border Patrol was trying to save lives, but good residents of Mevasseret Zion, that cul de sac of privilege north of Jerusalem? They were losing their precious time.

Quoting my friend directly, now:

These anecdotes are all police-related, of course, but are illustrative, I believe, of a terrible decay of social cohesion in the Jewish population of Israel. Everyone will have their own view of why this is the case, and I have mine, of course, but since mine is no more enlightened than anyone else's I'll leave it for another time.

I asked him if he was willing to hazard a guess and write it down. He answered:

“Maybe one of these days, but not now – it's too tiresome and depressing”.

Ladies and gentlemen of the reading public, I rest my case.

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About Ruvy

Hi!! Thanks for coming to my article! I was raised in Brooklyn, was graduated from the City University of New York in 1978 with a BA in political science and public administration there. I lived in Minnesota for a number of years. There I managed restaurants and wrote stories. We moved with our children family to Israel where we now reside. My work can be found at Ruvy's Roost, Jewish Indy,, and on Facebook under my full name, Reuven Kossover
  • Aryeh Zelasko, a colleague with a similar outlook to mine, sent me this story by Aaron Klein of the World Net Daily.com, but the original story was covered by Shturem.net, a Haba”d news site.

    Hanukkah had always been an important part of the construct (see section 8 of Part I: Defining the Terms of Ruminations on the Future of the People of Israel) that had comprised “Israeli” culture.

    In the secular “Israeli” construct culture, Hanukkah represented the doffing of ghetto values of kneeling before the non-Jew subserviently. The bravery of the Maccabees in ousting the Greek imperialists from Judea was celebrated as part of the new Jewish fighting spirit, which the Haganá, and its successor organization, the IDF, was supposed to represent. Every single major town in Israel has Hanukkiót, the nine branched Hanukkah menorahs at every roundabout, and most of the Jewish minor towns have them as well. Until recently.

    We now see proof that the militant secularists in Israel understand fully my analysis of the importance of Hanukkah, even if they have never read it themselves. They realize that they are on the wrong side of the Hanukkah tale and don’t like it and, well read for yourselves….

    Jewish grinch robs town’s Hanukkah
    Secular leader smashes menorah, blasts ‘infiltration’ of observant Jews

    JERUSALEM – The residents of one secular Israeli town here were shocked today to discover a menorah lit last night by a rabbi in a public ceremony was smashed to pieces by the community’s Jewish leader in protest of observant Judaism.

    “He who disrupted the joy of the children and caused anguish to many of the residents here when he destroyed our menorah reminded us of the dark period of the Gestapo who found a Hanukkah Menorah hidden away in the Warsaw Ghetto and cracked the skull of a Jew with it,” said Etai Rappaport, a resident of Afek, a northern Israeli communal town or kibbutz.

    Rappaport yesterday invited Moshe Shmuel Oirechman, a rabbi and emissary for the Chabad Lubavitch worldwide Jewish outreach movement, to light the menorah in his town of Afek for several religious Jewish families.


    This morning, Rappaport and other locals found their public menorah shattered to pieces. Tvzi Assaf, head of the kibbutz, took credit for the attack on Hanukkah, telling residents he was protesting any public display of religious Judaism in the mostly secular Israeli community.

    Assaf was quoting telling town residents he was afraid of an “infiltration” of religious Jews into his community or that local secular Jews would become more observant.


    “Since when does a Menorah make one religious?” asked Rappaport. “I wonder what Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, would have to say about that. He encouraged the educational system to celebrate Hanukkah saying it symbolizes the courage of the Maccabbeas. It’s interesting to note that Ben-Gurion, who was known not to have a particular liking for religious Jews, declared that he considers Hanukkah as the most important holiday among the Jewish holidays.”

    [my emphases]

    The full World Net Day story can be viewed at the link in the story’s title, and the original report from Haba”d can be gotten to from a link in Aaron Klein’s report. The Haba”d link is in English.

  • Alec

    The law is not everything. Nor is authority. It sounds as though some people, especially younger people, are understandably resisting the simplistic notion that everyone must forever subjugate their lives to the idea that they are living under a permanent state of siege and so must accommodate authority.

    Note that I am not here under-estimating the threats that Israel must deal with. However, the idea that people should make their own desire for liberty secondary to the security of the state is unnatural. The fools that comprise the majority of the GOP presidential contenders are similarly trying to sell the American people on the utterly false idea that we must give up our freedoms so that we may wage perpetual war against the phantom of Islamo-facism.

    I cannot simplistically conflate the totality of Israel’s situation with that of the US. However, my gut feeling is that in the end Israel must strive to find a way to accommodate a degree of rebellion in its citizens, as opposed to insisting that everyone conform for the sake of security.

  • Alec,

    Welcome and thank you for your comments.

    Were Israelis generally law-biding types, and more important, if the rule or law was uniformly applied in a reasonably fair manner in this nation, your comments would be on the mark.

    But Israel is not like America. Due process here is perverted. The “leftists” (the rich establishment types) are protected and the “right wingers”, as well as many Arabs, are discriminated against.

    But to keep this all on point, my friend, the Magavnik, has to chase down terrorists and potential killers in a judicial atmosphere that gives the terrorists more rights than their victims. In addition, as the article points out, ….the valley between Mevasseret Zion and Jerusalem known as Wadi Arazim, which contains popular smuggling dirt roads and trails into Jerusalem through Beit Iksa, a “Palestinian” village on the other side of the Green Line; and on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway (Highway 1) from the exit from Jerusalem going west to the entrance to Beit Shemesh. The unit also patrols in the Israeli Arab village of Abu Ghosh. Working in jeeps and on foot, sometimes in uniform, sometimes undercover, his unit is essentially an anti-terrorist unit….

    In America, the lip that the little shit from Beit Shemesh gave an anti-terrorist unit would not have been tolerated. Not only would the kid not be going into the army – he would have had bruises to help him remember not to mess with cops. I used to live on the streets in St. Paul. I know just how nasty cops can get with people who have no ID and who give them lip, justified or not.

    I want to remind you again that the Border Patrol is primarily an anti-terror unit and re-emphasize this fact; they are not doughnut slobbering, coffee drinking pigs who are never there when you need them. They do not have time for bullshit from arrogant “I know it all, and it’s all coming to me” rich Israelis who crap on poorer Israelis and trample on them out of their own contempt for miskením, people less fortunate than themselves.

    Finally, the idea that people should make their own desire for liberty secondary to the security of the state is unnatural in a country that is not at war for its existence. This country is at war for its existence with enemies who do not want Jews to live here and who refuse to honor even our corpses in the grave.

    And don’t let anybody fool you with bullshit. And there are a whole bunch of idiots, sympathetic to Israel or otherwise, Jewish or not, who refuse to recognize the nature of the threat this nation faces.

    Read the words of Pamela Geller, who wrote an op-ed piece for Arutz Sheva. Read and understand.

    Last week, a line was crossed. A terrible line was crossed at Annapolis. With the world looking on, the President of the United States sponsored Judeophobia. Jew-hatred was okay, understandable even.

    Under the auspices of a global “peace” conference, the White House sanctioned Jew-hatred. The Jew is contemptible, inferior, ignorant, politically and socially disenfranchised: separate entrance ways, service entrances for the Jews, refusal to touch or shake hands with a Jew, refusal of audience members to wear the translation earphones when Ehud Olmert spoke.

    “Saud Al-Faisel’s ears, underneath his red keffiyah, were left bare. And no, it wasn’t because he understood Hebrew. It was the Saudi method of demonstrating their relationship to the State of Israel. Even as the Israeli Prime Minister was greeting him and speaking of peace, they were refusing to listen. For a minute I thought I was wrong that maybe there was a technical problem. But then I saw his aide next to him – also leaving his ears demonstrably naked.

    If you examine the bulk of my work here at Blogcritics Magazine, you will see that I characterize Jew-hating Arabs (and this does not cover all Arabs by any means) as the available enemies who can be killed. The real enemies of this nation are the puppets in the White House, Foggy Bottom and the oil and banking establishment that controls them. The real enemy of my people sits in power in America. They are the hand holding the hammer. The Arabs are merely the hammer.

  • Chris

    Ruvy, you are not required to carry ID on you at all times in the United States, so there would be no reason for an American cop to “beat” a “little shit” for not having ID.

    And what is wrong with standing alone at a bus stop at 4am? Isn’t that what people do at bus stops? Is that a crime in Israel? I don’t see why it was worth the trouble of the Magavniks to go to such lengths for someone who you even pointed out spoke fluent hebrew and was obviously Jewish. A waste of everyone’s time.

  • MAOZ

    Ah, if only the magavniks/”blue” cops/Hayalim would put some sort of addition onto their uniforms to let us know whether they’re the type that protect Jewish kids or the type that beats up Jewish kids….

    Ruvy, has your friend indicated whether he discerned the “absence of civic-mindedness and….contempt for the Israel Police” before ‘Amona? Before the “hitnatkut” ? Before the destruction of Hazon David?

  • Alec

    RE: But Israel is not like America.

    But people are always the same everywhere. Again, I do not underestimate or devalue the threats that Israel faces, nor do I minimize or romanticize the nature of the country’s adversaries. But people, especially younger people need a space to rebel, and will always attempt to make room to do so, even under the most dire circumstances. And sadly, it is also part of human nature for richer, priviledged people to try to piss on their poorer counterparts. I don’t for a nano-second condone such behavior, but again note that people have a need to carve out a space to be human and fallible, whatever the nature of the emergency, and will do so without regard to stern reminders from the more “serious minded.”

    It’s not a huge deal, but ultimately I think that accomodating rebellion and stupidity to some degree is more important than simply trying to slap it down, because this might sometimes elicit a more dangerous over-reaction. But I note all your points.

    The Pamela Geller piece was very illuminating. I have no great repspect for much of the way that the Bush Administration deals with the Middle East and do not think that Ms Rice is an effective, or even competent, Secretary of State. However, one section of Ms Geller’s article is profoundly ignorant. She writes of Ms Rice: “She doesn’t know what it means to be a Jew, to watch innocent people, babies, children, the old, the young, the tourist be blown to bits; shards of flesh flying in every direction, blood, guts strewn everywhere, missing body parts, and the survivors, with nails, nuts and bolts throughout their bodies, marred for life. My dear friend Wolf nailed it when she she said Rice doesn’t know what it’s like to have monsters throwing rocks at your car as you drive, to have bombs thrown at you, to live under constant mortar fire and have to spend the night in a bomb shelter.”

    Ms Rice’s schoolmate, Denise McNair, was blown to bits when white supremacists bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963. Rice often had to practice piano with her father standing by armed and guarding the house, because of bomb threats that the family received because her father dared defy segregationists. Her father’s friend and colleague, Fred Shuttlesworth once barely escaped with his life when racists planted sticks of dynamite under his bedroom window, and later was beaten with chains and brass knuckles in a public street while the police did nothing, because he had dared to attempt to enroll his children in a previously all-white public school. His wife, by the way, was stabbed during this attack.

    And oh yes, by the way, Reverend Shuttlesworth was counseled by “moderate” blacks and well-meaning whites (including some Jewish leaders) to go along, to appease racists, to not be noticed or to assert his rights. Sounds a lot like the situation regarding the behavior of some of the Annapolis conference participants that Geller so rightly condemns, doesn’t it?

    My point is this: Secretary Rice may be an ineffectual leader, but for someone to say that she does not understand raw hatred, up close and personal, is just plain and stupidly wrong.

    As an aside, a friend of mine, a person who I esteem and honor as I do my own mother, lost her first child to a terrorist attack when she and her husband lived in Israel some years ago. This, among other things, makes my support for Israel, and hope for the best of all possible outcomes, very personal.

  • Chris,

    A few points for you to ponder.

    1. You do not have to carry ID on you at all times in the US – yet. Be grateful for that. But, if a cop car shows up and you are standing alone in a neighborhood that is usually deserted at four in the morning, you are wise to produce some kind of reason for being where you are. Otherwise a cop might have reasonable suspicion to arrest you if there had been a break-in earlier – a fact you would not know.

    2. But leaving reasonable suspicion for burglary or other crimes aside, the problem was not that this kid didn’t have ID. The problem was that he refused to answer any questions at all. And in this culture, it is standard for a person to tell a cop who he is and where he is going. This is not America. Here, we are at war, and someone standing alone at a bus stop when the buses don’t run can seem damned suspicious. And when he refuses to answer reasonable questions, like his name, and where he lives, and has no ID on him, that is enough to raise the hackles of any cop, particularly an anti-terror unit. The kid’s attitude sent all the wrong signals as to his intent, which was in the end, quite innocent. And the reason the story is here is to show his arrogant assumption that he was above the law – which likely came from his parents.

    3. Finally, in St. Paul, at least, according to its Legislative Code (in 1983, when I had reason to check last), there is a curfew of 12:00 midnight unless you are in an establishment of entertainment (i.e. a bar). This curfew applies not merely to minors, but to all citizens seen in the presence of suspicious persons or who have no clear business on the street. This is the cops’ way of having an excuse to sweep homeless bums off the street. And having been one, I took care to know the law.

  • However, one section of Ms Geller’s article is profoundly ignorant. She writes of Ms Rice: “She doesn’t know what it means to be a Jew,…..

    Alec, feel free to copy that whole portion of your comment, go to her article at Arutz Sheva and leave it there as a comment. And then, duck to get away from the flames you’ll see coming at you! The American secretary of state has made it crystal clear with whom her sympathies lie, and why.

    Finally, as a police volunteer myself, I see enough stupidity, rebelliousness, and behavior that flouts common sense, let alone the law, to have come to the firm conclusion that it is G-d watching out for the idiots here – because they are too stupid to watch out for themselves – right up to their thieving, lying head of government.

  • I don’t know where Chris lives, but at least implicitly, you are required to have a valid ID in Texas. If you’re pulled over, or stopped on the street in Dallas, and don’t have one on you, cops can haul you away for refusing to show an ID. If your ID is expired, you can’t cash a check, much less open a checking account. Explicit or not, you are required to have a valid ID in the US at all times. We’re just more subtle here.

  • Heh,

    Yeah, I remember that “subtlety” well, Ray. When I was on the streets, there was an arrest warrant out for me. So I put my drivers’ license deep in the bowels of my coat, and produced my birth certificate when asked for ID. That was a quarter century ago.

    I probably wouldn’t be able to get away with that these days in Minnesota. They have an non-drivers’ “drivers’ license” type ID these days, and probably have something similar to it in most of the states of the union….

  • alessandro

    Sounds like moral relativism to me.

  • Oy! Pity you live in Israel, Ruvy. I’d love to have a drink with you. Birth certificate wouldn’t work in Texas–you have to have a valid photo ID to conduct business. I was a cute baby and all, but my footprint wouldn’t count.

  • You have a “baptismal certificate” or something from the hospital, Ray? My document, for what it was worth (which turned out to be quite a bit, for all the times it kept me out of jail), was from the Department of Health.

    Heh, when I lived on the streets, I used to go up to cops all the time, asking in my politest voice if they had the time, or the directions to some street, just to make sure I had the innocent look on me to keep them off my neck….

    But these days, my birth certificate is only good for getting a passport – maybe….

    Actually, living on the streets was kind of fun. No phone bills, no electric bills, no gas bills, no mortgage, no rent. All I had to do was make sure I had some food and some shelter. Heck, all it really took was stayin’ sober, and since I was never a drinker anyway, that was no big deal….

    Ah, to be thirty and homeless again – not!

  • brian

    well, at last an honest article! Yes, Isreal is dysfunctional…thats because it has the unconscous knowledge of its theft and appropriatyion of another peoples land and the subsequent attempts to annihilate their presence.
    We see the same sort of thing in american returned soldiers, who commit suicide, after their iraq stint.
    The way out for israelis is to move to a just one state solution with equal rights for all.

  • Brian,

    For your own sake, don’t embarrass yourself by displaying your ignorance in public….

  • Alec

    RE: Feel free to copy that whole portion of your comment … and leave it there as a comment. And then, duck to get away from the flames you’ll see coming at you!

    I may take you up on your challenge.

    RE: The American secretary of state has made it crystal clear with whom her sympathies lie, and why.

    This may be true, or she may simply be complying with the direction laid out by her boss, the President. In any case, in the passage I cited, Ms Gellar was not criticizing Rice’s sympathies, but amazingly, and again as I noted, ignorantly making ridiculous assertions about Rice’s personal awareness of hatred. I know a few people, from diverse ethnic and cultural groups, whose people have endured periods of discrimination or persecution, and who demonstrate a sad myopia in which they try to pretend that their group is the only one which has suffered, or that only their own sense of grievance matters. This kind of foolishness is to be pitied, but never coddled.

    Brian – RE: The way out for israelis is to move to a just one state solution with equal rights for all.

    I’m curious. Do you also believe that Pakistan should be dismantled and re-absorbed into India?

  • Alec,

    I’m not so stupid as to criticize Condaleezza Rice for not knowing what racism feels like. Ms. Geller’s article is not perfect by any means. But the central assertions in her article are not about Rice or whether she knows what it is to be a Jew. That’s just her belly-aching. If you found her points illuminating, for all of her inaccuracies about Rice, that’s good.

    Ms Geller was not criticizing Rice’s sympathies, but amazingly, and again as I noted, ignorantly making ridiculous assertions about Rice’s personal awareness of hatred. I know a few people, from diverse ethnic and cultural groups, whose people have endured periods of discrimination or persecution, and who demonstrate a sad myopia in which they try to pretend that their group is the only one which has suffered, or that only their own sense of grievance matters. This kind of foolishness is to be pitied, but never coddled.

    We’re in violent agreement her, Alec.

  • My friend, the Magavnik, whose stories are related in the above article, sent me this e-mail with a link, saying “You can’t imagine how much it pains me that this Haredi apologist, Jonathan Rosenblum, speaks for me in this opinion piece.”

    I’ve been saying something very much like this to you folks (and to him) for a long time now. When a very secular Israeli tells me that a “Haredi
    apologist” speaks for him on a very basic issue of national security, you can imagine how widespread that view is here. Or, if you still think you
    get the truth from CNN or Faux News (or the Voice of Israel), maybe you can’t.

    Let’s look at a few points from Mr. Rosenblum’s article, points that I sense my friend agrees with.

    At the outset of the Oslo process, the late Gerrer Rebbe remarked: “The Zionists regret having established a state.” At the time, the statement seemed unduly harsh. After all, does not every Jew consider peace to be a desideratum, and had not almost all of the greatest Torah leaders expressed their belief that territorial compromise is permissible for the attainment of peace?

    Only with the passage of time has it become clear how far-sighted the Rebbe was and how deep goes the malaise.

    During the Second Lebanon War, even Haaretz was full of op-eds lamenting the loss of national will. Ari Shavit declared reconstituting our national will to be the most important task confronting Israeli society, and lashed out at the country’s elites for having sapped all the sources of the old Zionist spirit in their headlong pursuit of money and pleasure.

    But his clarion call has not been answered. Ever since the reservists’ demonstrations in the immediate aftermath of the war, the country has sunk into a profound apathy. The prime minister’s personal popularity consistently hovers near the single digits, and every poll shows that his prescriptions for peace through compromise are rejected by the overwhelming majority of the public. Yet he goes on pirouetting around the world as if he actually spoke for the nation, and no one takes to the streets to protest.

    At the end of the article, Rosenblum quotes Daniel Pipes, lamenting that

    in the long run, victory usually goes to the side not with the stronger military or more vibrant economy, but to that with the greater belief in its own cause. Once, the Jews were the greatest proof of that proposition.

    If Daniel Pipes agrees with something I’ve written, it is no surprise. The same goes for Jonathan Rosenblum. But when my Magavnik friend agrees, quoting, of all people, the Haredi writer Jonathan Rosenblum, that says quite a lot.