We’ve discussed the horrible tragedy that befell the Grossman family. I’ve been seeking the translation for the eulogy by David Grossman for his son, Uri, who was killed on the day prior to the cease fire in Lebanon, and have just found an excellent one written by the lovely, talented and gracious Lisa Goldman and posted on Lisa’s superb On The Face blog. Here it is:

Uri my dear,

Over the past three days almost every thought has begun with the word “no”. No, he won’t come back. No, we won’t talk, and no we won’t laugh. No, there won’t be another boy like that, with the ironic look in his eyes and the fabulous sense of humour. No, there won’t be the young man who was so wise beyond his years, no there won’t be that warm smile and healthy appetite. No, there won’t be that rare combination of determination and gentleness, no there won’t be his straightforwardness and his wise heart. No, there won’t be any more of Uri’s infinite gentleness, and no there won’t be his inner quiet that calms every argument. And no we won’t watch The Simpsons or Seinfeld together, and no we won’t listen to Johnny Cash. And no we won’t feel your strong hugs. And no we won’t see you talking to Yonatan as you gesticulate wildly, and we won’t see you hug your beloved sister Ruthie.

Uri my love, throughout your short life we all learned from you. From your strength and your insistence on going your own way. For choosing your own path even if there was no chance you would succeed. With astonishment we watched your struggle to be accepted to an officers’ training course. You knew you would be a good officer, and you were never satisfied with being anything but the very best you were capable of. And when you succeeded I thought, Here is a man who has such a simple, sober understanding of his own abilities. He is completely free of pretension and arrogance. He is completely unaffected by what others say about him. His source of strength lies within himself.

That is the way you were from the time you were a child. You were a child who lived in harmony with himself and his environment. A child who knew he belonged, who knew he was loved, who knew his limitations and understood his uniqueness. And truly, when you forced the army to submit to your will and accept you as an officer, it was clear what kind of an officer and human being you would be. And now we hear from your friends and your soldiers about the officer and the friend, about how you would wake up before everyone else to arrange everything and go to bed only after everyone else had fallen asleep.

And yesterday, at midnight, I looked at the house that was quite a mess after hundreds of people came to visit and comfort us, and I said, Well, now we need Uri to help us tidy up.

You were the leftist of your battalion, and they respected you, because you stood by your beliefs while carrying out all the missions you were assigned. I remember your telling me about your “checkpoint policy,” because of course you spent a lot of time at the checkpoints. You said that if there was a child in the car you stopped, you always started by trying to calm him down and make him laugh. And you always reminded yourself that the child was about Ruthie’s age, and that he was very afraid of you. And how much he hates you, and that he has reasons to hate, but in spite of that you would do everything in your power to make that terrible experience easier for him, while simultaneously doing your job without compromising.

When you entered Lebanon, Mum said that the thing she feared most was your “Eliphelet’s Syndrome.” [Eliphelet is the hero of a poem by Nathan Alterman, about a naïve soldier who unquestioningly sacrifices himself for others; the poem was set to music and sung by Arik Einstein, amongst other famous Israeli singers. According to the Hebrew bible, Eliphelet was the name of one of King David’s sons]. We were very afraid that, like the Eliphelet in the poem, if it was necessary to save a wounded soldier, you would run straight into the line of fire, and you would be the first to volunteer to “restock the supply of ammunition when it ran low” [a line from Alterman’s poem]. And that just as you were your whole life, at school and at home and during your army service, just as you always volunteered to give up your furloughs because another soldier needed the break more than you did, or because someone else’s situation was more difficult – so you would behave there, in Lebanon, in the terrible face of war.

You were my son and also my friend, just as you were to your mother. Our souls are connected to yours. You were a person at peace with himself, a person whose company was a pleasure. I cannot express properly the extent to which you were someone to run with [reference to the title of Grossman’s novel for teenagers, Someone to Run With]. On each of your furloughs you would say, “Dad, let’s go talk.” And we would go out together, usually to a restaurant, and sit and talk. You told me so many things, Uri, and I was so proud to be the keeper of your secrets. That a man like you chose me as your confidante.

I remember how you deliberated once whether or not to punish one of your soldiers who had committed some disciplinary offense. You really suffered over that decision, because you knew it would enrage your soldiers, and also other officers who were more forgiving than you of certain offences. And you did pay a high price for your decision to punish that soldier, but afterward that event became one of the legends of your battalion – a sort of measuring stick for proper behaviour and sticking to the law. And on your last furlough you told me with bashful pride that your commanding officer held up your decision as an example of correct behaviour for an officer.

You lit up our lives, Uri. Mum and I raised you with love. It was so easy to love you with all our hearts, and I know that your short life was a good one. I hope that I was a fitting father for a boy like you. But I know that to be your mother’s son means that you were raised with generosity and kindness and infinite love, and you received all of that in plentitude. And you knew how to appreciate that, to be grateful and not to take any of it for granted.

For now I am not going to say anything about the war in which you were killed. We, your family, have already lost this war. The State of Israel will have to do its own self-examination. We will retreat into our own pain, surrounded by our good friends, enveloped in the enormous love that we feel today from so many people, many of whom we didn’t even know, and I am grateful for their boundless support.

I only wish we all knew how to provide this kind of support and solidarity in different times. This is perhaps our greatest and most treasured national resource. I wish we knew how to be a little gentler with one another. I hope that we succeed in extricating ourselves now, at the very last minute, because even more difficult times are waiting for us.

I would like to say a few more words.

Uri was a very Israeli boy. Even his name was very Israeli, very much a Hebrew name. He was the essence of Israeli-ness as I like to see it. The kind that has been almost forgotten, that is sometimes considered almost a curiosity. Many times I looked at him and thought that he, like Ruthie and Yonatan, was almost an anachronism. Uri with his uncompromising directness and acceptance of complete responsibility for everything that happened around him. Uri who was always the one to take initiative, who was always completely reliable. Uri with his deep sensitivity for suffering, for all emotional pain.

Uri was a man of principle. That word has often been mocked over the past years. Because in our mad, cynical, world it is no longer “cool” to be principled. Or to be a humanist. Or to be truly sensitive to the suffering of others, even if the Other is your enemy on the battlefield.

But I learned from Uri that it is possible to be both principled and cool. That we do need to uphold our values and defend ourselves simultaneously. We have to insist upon upholding our values in the face of temptation to give in to power and simplistic thinking, to give in to the corruption of cynicism and contempt for humanity, which are the true, great curse of those who have lived their whole lives in our disaster-prone region of the world.

Uri simply had the courage to be himself, always, in every situation, and to find his own voice in everything he did and said, and that is what protected him from the destruction, pollution and constricting of his soul.

Uri was also incredibly funny and witty. It is impossible to talk about Uri without mentioning his hilarious brilliance. For example, when he was 13 I once told him: “Imagine if you and your children were able to fly to outer space just as people fly today to Europe.” And he smiled: “I’m not so attracted to outer space, you can find everything on planet earth.”

Or another time, we were driving in the car, and his mother and I were discussing a new book that was attracting a lot of attention and talking about various authors’ reviews, and Uri who was 9 years old piped up from the back seat: “Hey, you elitists, remember that there are simple people back here who don’t understand a word of what you’re talking about!”

Or for example Uri, who really did not like figs, once held a bunch of dried figs in his hand and said: “Remind me, aren’t dried figs just regular figs that sinned in a previous life?” Or when I once hesitated over accepting an invitation to Japan, Uri said: “How can you not go? Can you imagine what it’ll be like to visit the only country in the world where there are no Japanese tourists?”

Dear friends, on the night between Saturday and Sunday, at twenty minutes before three in the morning, our doorbell rang. The voice at the intercom said it was from “the municipal officer,” and I went to open the door and I thought to myself, “That’s it. Life is over.”

But within five minutes, when Michal [Grossman’s wife] and I went into Ruthie’s room and woke her up in order to tell her the horrible news, Ruthie, after her first tears, said: “But we will live, right? We will live just as before, and I want to continue to sing in the choir, and that we will continue to laugh as always, and I want to learn to play the guitar.” And we hugged her, and we told her we would live. And Ruthie also said: “What a fantastic threesome we were, Yonatan, Uri and I.”

And you really were a fantastic team. Yonatan, you and Uri were not just brothers, but soul mates, with your own world and your own private language and your own sense of humour. And Ruthie, Uri loved you with all his heart and soul. He always treated you with such gentleness, and I remember how during our last phone conversation, when we were so happy that the UN was about to declare a ceasefire, he insisted on speaking with you. And how you wept afterward. As if you already knew.

Our lives are not over. We have just suffered a very hard blow. We will draw the strength we need to absorb the blow from one another, from our togetherness, from Michal and from me and from our children and also from the grandparents who loved him with all their hearts – “neshumeh,” they called him, because he really was all soul – and from your aunts and uncles and cousins and from all your many friends from school and from your comrades in arms who accompany us here with such concern and deep affection.

And we will also draw our strength from Uri. He had such a plentitude of strength that it will serve us for many years. He radiated such strong vitality and vibrancy, such warmth and love, and his light will continue to shine on us forever – even if the star itself is extinguished.

Our beloved one, it was our great privilege to live with you. Thank you for every moment you were ours.

Mom, Dad, Yonatan and Ruthie

The Hebrew is here.

About the author

themiddle

30 Comments

  • the little scumbag deserved to die for murdering lebanese civilians and children. Let the greedy shekel-worshiper burn in hell were he belongs!

  • ^^^Oh dear. I hope Arian God’s not one of my basement dwellers.

    A poignant and heartbreaking eulogy. Thank you very much for the translation, Lisa.

  • “Arain”,
    You are an uneducated White trash loser. You obviously know that because your IQ level is barely above two digits. You can’t spell and your mind has been affected by drugs and abusive parents.
    The reason you have so much hate towards the Jewish people is because you’re jealous. They are superior to you in every way and that makes you very angry.
    My advice is to get psychological help, finish high school and get a LIFE!

  • Look this is the vermin that Israel has to defeat, this arian, or he will behead you, or blow himself up. When will Israel and Jews wake up? When it is over, when Israel is no more?

  • Nina, maybe you need to learn to read? “Arain” was not written anywhere in these posts. Secondly, the anglosax language we are using to communicate is far from my native – and you don’t speak Arian, so I had to lower myself to your pig-language :). Also, could you be so kind as to explain how you deduce one’s IQ by reading a single post on internet? Is that Mensa-approved test? Could you post a link to the magic place where they teach you to find out opponent IQ via internet message board? Must be sooooo scientific. 

  • White trash or Arab loser;
    Are you finally sober? Arian or Arain no one gives a shit. You are an idiot who needs to blame all your problems on the Jews because you are a failure in life. I’m pretty sure that you work at McDonalds while studying the “Arian” language. What a loser!

  • Mr. Grossman’s artistry – and the eye for human detail that made his works so popular – did not abandon him at this sad moment… very moving.

  • A genuinely heartrending expression of what is, after all, the ineffable agony of losing a child that has sacrificed his life in defense of his country. Is it even conceivable what it must be like to stare into the loneliness of that abyss, the guilt and desolation, and to have a group of your fellow citizens declare that you had it coming, that your son died because you were insufficiently bloodthirsty about slaughtering the enemy? I can’t imagine what twisted ideology, what truly malignant worldview, could produce human beings capable of such inexplicable cruelty and malice.

    Speaking of those fanatically convinced of their own moral infallibility, Ben-David says:

    Mr. Grossman’s artistry – and the eye for human detail that made his works so popular – did not abandon him at this sad moment… very moving.

    That sounds like a rather sensitive and compassionate response to Grossman’s loss. But that’s a bit of a tough sell when, two weeks before, Ben-David was utterly resolute in his support of the monsters who told Grossman he’d caused his own son’s death:

    That’s the way it goes. If Grossman didn’t want the attention, he shouldn’t have stepped into the spotlight. . . .It is therefore the greatest, truest mercy to discredit as fully as possible the David Grossmans . . . who sent Uri and his brothers on a fool’s errand.

    Is there anything beyond the pale of decency for this gang of religious fanatics and professional patriots?

  • David, it’s not just “religious fanatics” who do this. There have been settlers who have been injured and killed and some Left wing fanatics have voiced understanding of the violence against them. Some Left wing fanatics also accept that suicide bombings are a legitimate form of attack against Israel and have expressly blamed Israel for the bombings. Crazies exist on both sides of the extremes.

  • Be patient with david smith, themiddle. He often has a hard time discerning shades of grey. Self righteousness does that to a person.

  • Middle,

    Yes, I hear that a lot. But frankly, I have my doubts.

    Despite your own generally measured and cerebral approach to most issues, the sheer malevolence of those who gloated over Uri Grossman’s death provoked the most visceral response of any matter I’ve seen you address. But as you recently noted, while the ranks of the settlers include vicious fundamentalists, they also include those who are compassionate and politically moderate. Likewise, you further point out that malevolent extremists are found not only on the Right, but at either end of the political spectrum. Of course, given your appellation it’s hardly surprising that you’d gravitate toward that view. And though you are, of course, literally correct about the presence of fanatics on both the Left and Right, I am profoundly skeptical at the implication that there’s some balance – some moral equivalence, if you will – between the polar extremes. For a number of reasons, that claim strikes me as singularly implausible. The salient question, then, is whether the incidence of fanaticism on the Right is essentially an isolated and marginal phenomenon, or is something pervasive and consequential.

    On one level, the question is completely subjective. The simple truth is that on those many occasions when I’ve read a story detailing some sickening tragedy associated with a terrorist attack, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of truly vitriolic and hateful comments I recall having read from the Left. Such comments by those on the Right, on the other hand, seem to me to be immeasurably more pervasive. A far more important measure, though, is the extent to which such views have practical consequences on political policy and daily life. From that perspective, there is simply no comparison between the significance of extremism on the Left and Right.

    First, it’s important to note that I’m not making any accusations about the specific incidence of extremist views among those on the Right; that, I suppose, would constitute an example of “Ortho-bashing.” Perhaps the overall proportion of “crazies” among the settlers is miniscule. Fine; in that case, the criticisms herein are directed only to those “crazies,” and to no one else. But among those who do embrace such views, here are some of the practical effects that have followed:

    There was the recent “death curse” against the current prime minister of Israel, as well as its rather more well known predecessor that incited the murder of Yitzhak Rabin. There are the mass murders committed by Goldstein, Reinman and Natan-Zada, and the related tendency, as discussed in a current Jewschool post, of denouncing Arabs as the “ a people similar to donkeys…a vile nation of savages… [that has] a great desire to murder and are even worse than the Nazi enemy.” There are the incitement of violence against gays, the constant denunciations of democracy, and the designation of non-Orthodox Jews as heretics and moral deviants. Finally, there is the idol worship of medinat yisrael, contemptuously flouting the single most fundamental prohibition of Judaism as it has been practiced for thousands of years.

    Not much better than the fanatics themselves are the supposed centrists who attempt to rationalize their extremism. Thus I’ve seen explanations of how the death curse is no such thing, but only public plea for the execution of God’s judgment; Amir just got it a bit wrong, that’s all. Then there’s the dismissal of the massacres by Goldstein and his ilk as the random acts of deranged madmen, having nothing to do with their immersion in the sewer of Rightwing messianism.

    In short, Middle, these incidents paint a portrait of real live sedition that, for me, is inconsistent with the casual observation that there are crazies “on both sides of the extremes.” Israel was prescient and courageous in banning the institutionalized racism of Kach, and it must be equally vigilant in protecting itself against the followers – however many or few there are – of its current incarnation.

    Lenny:

    Now, I know this is a really wild idea, but if by some chance you’re suddenly stricken with the urge to impersonate someone with a brain, why not actually describe how what I said was self-righteous, or explain where the shades of gray are in the comments of those who gloat over the death of David Grossman’s son?

    In any case, I sure wish you wouldn’t be so insensitive! As you can tell, I’m just kvelling with love and respect for the devotees of this blog, and it just kills my self-esteem when some douchebag I’ve never exchanged a word with grunts some anonymous insult at me over the internet. In fact, I’ll probably stop submitting my comments any minute now if the yapping chihuahuas from the Jewlicious amen corner keep intimidating me like this.

    Just sayin’

  • David, you’re lumping right wingers with religiously observant people and calling them all Right-wingers without discrimination. There are secular Rightists and Lefty Orthodox. Still, even if you counted every single “settler” as a religious right winger, you would still only have about 250,000 people out of a Jewish Israeli population of 5,000,000. However, the fact is that of those 250,000, the core group of extremists is a small fraction of that number. In interviews, the Israeli security services have alluded to thousands of people at best.

    You also suggest some sort of movement here that espouses violence, and again the numbers simply don’t bear out. It is telling that the disengagement from Gaza took place with virtually no violence considering that these are the very people about whom you are speaking. They protested vociferously; made their points (including some of them making disgusting comparisons between the IDF and Nazi soldiers as well as between themselves and Holocaust victims); and then submitted peacefully. I believe this speaks much more to the typical person whom you describe on the Right. I will also point out that after kibbutzniks and moshavniks, the group which suffered the most deaths and casualties in the recent war were religious soldiers, many of whom come from the settlements or who are affiliated through family with the settlements. This would be despite their deep disappointment with the disengagement that was foisted upon them by the state.

    I’ll acknowledge that direct violence is far more likely to emanate from the Right than the Left. However, indirect violence also causes death and maiming and I do believe that the campaign by the Israeli and international Left opposing “occupation” and Israel’s general political status, general societal factors and relationship with Palestinians has been extraordinarily damaging and has allowed activities such as suicide bombings and more recently katyusha attacks on Israel to go on without real criticism and worse, with sympathy for the perpetrators in many corners of the world. The ongoing encouragement – tacit and open – for these attacks has definitely brought about an enviroment where the perpetrators feel immune from criticism and actually believe they are assisting their cause. The same applies to the unbelievable language, comments, editorials, cartoons and political speeches that come out of the Arab world and go on unremarked in the West. Would we be in this situation if the language and sympathy of the Left was not so deeply embedded in the rhetoric of this conflict and had not succeeded in changing conventional wisdom in many countries? Does this contribute any less to violence against Israelis?

    Activities like the “die-in” about which Krawitz wrote is a prime example of how people’s minds are converted to accept that violence against Israel is justifiable. There is no shortage of similar activities on numerous college campuses across the US, not to mention the numerous academics who tend to be on the Left (think Juan Cole) who make it a point to falsely speak of Israel in negative ways and provide educational fora where they falsely describe Israel as a murderous, apartheid regime committing war crimes regularly.

    Historically, of course, the Left has brought us Stalin, Lenin, Mao, and Castro. I don’t think one can deny that when the Left wishes to inflict pain and violence, or adversely affect a society, it can and will do so.

    (A personal note, if I may. The attacks on Lenny or ck diminish your other comments and their impact. Save your energy and your poor fingers for the topic at hand – these side battles are an unpleasant distraction and your on-point comments are much more worthwhile.)

  • The douche bag responds!

    David Smith, what does it matter if we’ve ever exchanged words? You’ve made a number of statements on this blog and I am merely responding to them. My ability and right to respond are also not remotely diminished by my anonymity. Mine is the same anonymity that you enjoy Mr. Smith (the most common surname in the US by the way) and just as you see fit to make presumptuous assumptions about others, I too can and will say whatever I like. You criticized my anonymous barking and then immediately turned around and did the very same thing. Self-righteousness is defined as “excessively or hypocritically pious.” What you just did perfectly typifies that, you certainly don’t disappoint.

    Your inability to discern the differences between moderate right-wingers and the infinitesimally tinier extremist elements was decisively demonstrated by TheMiddle in his previous comment. That is an example of your failure to discern shades of grey in your argumentation. None of this has anything at all to do with gloating over the death of any soldier. I’m unsure how you made that leap, but I am pretty certain that it is awfully presumptuous. Gloating at the death of a member of the IDF killed in action defending the state is wrong under any and all circumstances.

    Another recent example of your lack of subtlety preventing you from making a coherent point is found in a recent comment of yours when you say “I think I’m on pretty safe ground when I say that I don’t think there’s anyone alive that hates the Occupation more than I do, or who believes that its continued existence constitutes the most lethal and insidious threat to the viability of Israel’s existence as a democratic society.” I believe there are a few million people living in Gaza and the West Bank who might dispute that. There are also at least a few thousand people who hate the occupation so much that they would become suicide bombers. Do you honestly believe that you hate the occupation more than they do?

    Others might also dispute your characterization of the occupation as “the most lethal and insidious threat to the viability of Israel’s existence as a democratic society.” I’ll assume you lead a relatively comfortable life somewhere in the United States, but for those living in Israel under the constant threat of rockets, suicide bombers and one day soon, Iranian nuclear weapons, there are more immediate threats to Israel’s continued viability.

    Finally, despite the fact that I’ve been an avid reader of this blog almost since its inception, I was driven to comment for the first time because I was grossly offended by your personal attacks and offensive language. You seem to have some kind of obsession with canine analogies as a tool to denigrate those you disagree with – rabid, yapping, barking, chihuahuas and schnauzers. It doesn’t stop there either, you called a female poster of Jewlicious a “bubblehead,” a sexist designation I doubt you would instinctively use to characterize a man you perceived as witless. All the other name calling you engage in, “putz” and “douche bag” being the least of them, is all the more offensive given that you show some facility with the English language.

    I trust that I have amply demonstrated the soundness of my seemingly off the cuff comment. I could continue and offer more examples but I’d rather enjoy the rest of my well-deserved vacation and this lovely glass of Pinot Noire.

  • Soon I’m going to have to write a post eulogizing the death of this post.

    Please people, be nice to each other. And, most important, send us your extra bottles of pinot noir.

  • I’ve been away for about a week, delightfully out of reach of computers, but have been looking forward to getting your response on this matter. As I see it, your criticisms of my analysis focus on three specific issues:

    1. The qualitative nature of the Israeli far Right, a movement I’ve described as consisting of a combination of ultra-nationalists and religious fanatics;
    2. The quantitative character of this movement, and the extent to which its views and objectives are representative of the Israeli Right as a whole; and
    3. The extent to which the threat posed to Israeli democracy by the far Right is paralleled by that of the Left, and whether or not I’ve understated that threat.

    As to the first question, I don’t think much doubt can be cast on the existence of a political faction that exhibits the characteristics I’ve outlined here. The alternative view, of course, is that the incidents I’ve attributed to the far Right – the assassination of Rabin, the massacres, the messianism, the virulent racism against Arabs, and the like – are not the product of a political ideology, but a random and disconnected series of events produced by those with nothing in common but their personal delusions. Evidently, that is hardly a view that you, yourself, embraced in the past, as reflected in post you submitted some months ago:

    The Israeli government was accused of being Nazi-like before the disengagement . . .Who made this decision? A group of people who believe that somehow their Zionism is greater than that of those of us who don’t subscribe to a Greater Israel vision . . . We are no longer talking about a small group, or an Yigal Amir who has lost his moral compass. We are now talking about a large segment of Israeli population that is turning away from the state, becoming insular and even hostile to the state . . . The hostile language, the symbols used to accuse the IDF and Israel’s government, the angry leadership of some religious leaders in a community with many devout and observant Jews, are combining to distance this group from the mainstream.

    The second question concerns the claim that I’ve somehow exaggerated the extent to which such views are representative of the Israeli Right as a whole. On behalf of that claim, you state that

    if you counted every single “settler” as a religious right winger, you would still only have about 250,000 people out of a Jewish Israeli population of 5,000,000. However, the fact is that of those 250,000, the core group of extremists is a small fraction of that number. In interviews, the Israeli security services have alluded to thousands of people at best. You also suggest some sort of movement here that espouses violence, and again the numbers simply don’t bear out.

    I have a couple of objections to this claim. Most importantly, I explicitly noted that my criticism was intended to apply narrowly only those who perpetrated acts of violence or subscribed to the beliefs of which they are an expression:

    First, it’s important to note that I’m not making any accusations about the specific incidence of extremist views among those on the Right; that, I suppose, would constitute an example of “Ortho-bashing.” Perhaps the overall proportion of “crazies” among the settlers is miniscule. Fine; in that case, the criticisms herein are directed only to those “crazies,” and to no one else.

    The preceding assertion was specifically intended to exculpate those among the Orthodox and those among the settlers who haven’t embraced the extremist agenda of the far Right. Accordingly, the obvious question is as follows:

    What, exactly, is the correct terminology for referring to those Israelis that are “turning away from the state, becoming insular and even hostile to the state?”

    As noted, I have a second objection to the claim that I’ve exaggerated the incidence of extremism and religious fanaticism on the Right. Specifically, it seems to me that many of those who rely on this quantitative argument are using it as a pretext to deny the very existence of an extremist movement on the far Right. They reject the notion that conduct such as the assassination of Rabin or the massacre of Arabs is a reflection of political ideology at all, suggesting, instead, that such actions are all but accounted for by a handful of schizophrenics wandering around somewhere in the Negev.

    Your last point was that I unfairly exaggerated the threat of the far Right simply by understating the impact of the violent rhetoric and fanaticism of the far Left. I don’t disagree with your general observations about the historical effects of such Leftist ideologies, but there was a specific reason that I omitted it from my initial criticism. Specifically, my focus was on the respective threats posed by the extremes on the Jewish and Israeli spectrum of political ideology, not that of the world as a whole. Though the consequences are no less real, it seems to me the moral calculus is different when analyzing the culpability of those on “our side,” than when discussing that of our enemies. Nonetheless, the confusion resulted from my failure to make this distinction explicit in my original comment.

    Finally, I just want to comment briefly on your observation concerning my “attacks” on ck and Lenny. I understand that such crap hardly makes anyone involved look good, and I have no intention of turning your posts into a battleground. Indeed, it was precisely out of respect for you that I submitted no response to personal attacks against me submitted in a previous thread by three people with whom I’d never previously exchanged a word. Nonetheless, I think it’s misleading to characterize my comments you describe herein as attacks, when, in both cases, they were responses to those who attacked me first. I guess I’m not real big on turning the other cheek, and can’t imagine that I’d sit by passively if such attacks continue. On the other hand, I have no intent of pursuing some kind of feud, and am entirely willing to drop the matter if those who dislike what I have to say criticize my position, rather than attack me personally.

    Lenny:

    Though, as noted, I’ve no intention of turning Middle’s thread into a battleground, let me respond with a couple of very general observations, on the off chance you check this thread again.

    If you had bothered outlining your “argument” in the first place, rather than simply calling me self-righteous with no explanation, I would have responded with an argument of my own, rather than an epithet. You would have equally wrong, of course, but I also wouldn’t have called you a douchebag.

    you called a female poster of Jewlicious a “bubblehead,” a sexist designation I doubt you would instinctively use to characterize a man you perceived as witless.

    Now THAT is impressive. See, I don’t recall mentioning a single word that would provide even the vaguest hint about whom I was referring to in my comment, yet you seem to have immediately recognized that I was talking about a “female poster at Jewlicious.” Isn’t that fascinating?

    I was driven to comment for the first time because I was grossly offended by your personal attacks and offensive language.

    Given your remarkable powers of clairvoyance, I’ll have to assume you’re aware of the incident in which I was called an asshole, as well as the rest of the personal invective to which my “personal attacks and offensive language” were responsive. Accordingly, it appears that your capacity for becoming “grossly offended” is rather selective.

  • Yes, TM, a fascinating article indeed. Most compelling, by far, are the comments, the majority of which are loathsome, malevolent, and deeply twisted expressions of paranoia and self-pity. Apologists can make as many excuses for the poor little babies as they like, but it demonstrates to me quite clearly that the moderate, reasonable, law-abiding portion of the settlement movement you reference is not merely a silent majority, but deaf and dumb.
    In any case, in the absence of some accepted terminology for this fanatic wing of the Right, I guess I’ll have to keep on referring to them exactly as I have been, i.e., as that extremist faction that either participates in or endorses the activities I outlined above. This offers the advantage of excluding from stigmatization all those loyal, centrist members of the settler movement, while excoriating the insidious fifth column that is terminally disloyal to Israeli democracy.

  • Huh? Representative of nothing? Why, because they’re not from Israel? A fair number of these comments did, indeed, originate in Israel. Additionally, I suppose I should have been more precise, but what I meant by “settlement movement” was not only the settlers themselves, but those factions of the Jewish Right, whether in Israel or the Diaspora, that support them with their material and political resources.

    As represented by the following excerpt, one commenter from Haifa is almost impossibly reasonable, measured, thoughtful, and fair:

    The role that has been forced upon the IDF in the territories for almost forty years now is obviously not THE reason for Israel’s defeat in the last war, but it certainly contributed to it. . . . Also, while for decades we and our sons and daughters have been trained mainly for police and paramilitary roles, many of us are not able anymore to think and fight like real soldiers. An army whose main task it has become to protect a privileged though sometimes. . . . I am not blaming ‘the’ settlers (but rather the politicians of the Right and the Left, who pampered and (ab)used them for 40 years to further their own interests ), and I am not naive enough to believe that an end of the occupation will bring us peace (it is only an excuse for our enemies) but I do believe that the occupation hurts us more than it hurts the Palestinians, both from within and from without. (David, Haifa)

    The responsive comments from those on the Right, on the other hand, are not only absolutely typical, but – as I previously described them – loathsome, malevolent, and full of paranoia and self-pity.

    He is a product of the idiot school of Israel. Seems that thats the only one producing such morons. Israel is in deep trouble with these types of idiots. You are on your own. Have a nice day! Al, Canada

    Bazak is in the IDF to make money. Like Sharon’s family, they all went to the IDF, as we know now, to make money. They don’t care about Jews. Through Jewish history there were several famous corrupt generals, some of them even converted (to Islam or other “religions”). Jim , Chicago

    Setlers are not to befrended? Why? because they are JEWISH? Perhaps a “too Jewish” for HIS taste? Military that braves itself against its own CIVIL POPULATION is not a national army of a sovergn state, but rather becomes a “strong arm” of tyranical excesess of few IDIOTS that are making “social experiments” with its people. Nebojsa Yitzchak M , Toronto

    This Officer will actually be in charge of the IDF operational command & he has no idea WHY he is defending the land of Israel. . . .In effect, he is just a good little soldier and wil execute whatever plans they tell him to. Kind of reminds me of the German officers.
    Adina Kutnicki , US

    In preparation for the ethnic cleansing of 10,000 Jews from Gaza and north Samaria, millions of dollars were spent in training that involved brainwashing techniques. Soldiers were given specially designed uniforms and hats, backpacks and water canteens.
    Linda Rivera, New York

    Yet another leftist, self-loathing jew: what else is new? Hannah, Tel Aviv

    TM, in your previous post which I excerpted above, you said, “I say to those who belong to this community: nobody is doing this with acrimony or hatred towards you.” This is where we differ; my criticism is made with a great deal of acrimony. These are many of the same people that attack my religion as deviant and heretical, and – as is obvious from these comments – my political beliefs as treasonous. I’m fucking tired of it. And I’ve no intention of muting my criticism of the fanaticism expressed in these comments because no one cares to identify it in a manner that distinguishes it from the more moderate Right.

    In short, you’re welcome to dismiss the significance of this phenomenon, but I neither can nor want to.

  • Well, to even begin a discussion on treason, you’d have to be, you know… here, in Israel. Which you’re not. So it’s not an issue and besides, we still have a certain measure of free speech. The thing that gets my goat is that much of the really hateful discourse about the settlements etc. comes from overseas. You can call settlers loathsome fanatics, right-wing nutters can call people who don’t see eye to eye with them self-hating traitors, and at the end of the day, what does it matter to y’all? We here have to deal with the reality of the situation. This acrimonious discourse does not reflect the facts on the ground – it merely amplifies the distortions caused by distance. In reality, not every settler is religious, Israeli society is not so clearly segmented and there is far more nuance on the ground than can be accurately discerned from the diasporah. You should see the wildly divergent people that come over for shabbat! Gay activists, settlers, yeshiva students, reform rabbinical students, religious lefties, secular nationalists, etc. etc. We all somehow seem to get along here in Jerusalem. Go figure…

  • David, your quotes include a bunch from outside Israel that are fairly nasty, one from Tel Aviv speaking about self-loathing leftists and one from Haifa that represents a moderate viewpoint. For all we know, he may have voted for the NRP. As I said, many of the commenters in English live outside Israel and those who post from Israel in English tend to be Anglos who have moved there.

    I have learned from Jewlicious that comments do not describe a prevailing mood, nor do they profile a readership.

    The issue before us relates to how we should perceive the hard-core Right. I think where we differ is on the issue of size and overall impact on society at large. I claim the negative characteristics you ascribe harshly apply to a core group of several thousand loonies, but not to the movement at large and not even to the “settlers” as a group. That’s not to minimize their ugly convictions or the strength of those convictions, but as I look at the peaceful nature of the disengagement despite the harsh rhetoric that came from certain quarters, I can only conclude that the vast majority of the people involved continue to strongly support the state, unity of the people, respect for democracy and the government and a sense of morality and respect for the rule of law that is well enough entrenched that it isn’t broken even by the loss of their homes and communities. This is very telling. The sons of this community were among those who fought bravely, side by side with kibbutzniks, in this past war, as they do regularly and I would think there are few things more telling than people fighting and risking lives together to protect their nation. It certainly became clear that they were motivated to fight hard and win and you didn’t see any flagging passion on the part of the Right because of any ideological rift. On the contrary, even the same politician (Eitam) who spoke a couple of days ago of essentially expelling the Arabs of the West Bank and eliminating the political rights of some Israeli Arabs, did not speak out against the government or this war during the war, but stood by in support despite having a military background that informed him that things weren’t going as they should. I don’t see him planning to start a revolution because of his views, rather I see him trying to work legitimately within the political system.

  • ck:

    My objection to claims of treasonous conduct is, of course, metaphorical; the accusation is not one of treason per se, but disloyalty, and its object is not the State of Israel, but the Jewish People as a whole. As to free speech, I’m fairly close to being an absolutist, so, no, I don’t advocate silencing even the most hateful and provocative of extremists through government regulation.

    I’d acknowledge that your frequently reiterated point about the limits of legitimate criticism directed toward Israel from the Diaspora is fair with respect to certain issues. For example, notwithstanding my frequent criticism of the Israeli government, I didn’t presume to substitute my own judgment for that of the IDF when it came to Israel’s security needs in the war with Hezbollah. Still, I believe there are two contexts in which those living outside of Israel have every right to criticize its conduct. First, Israel is subject to the same universally applicable standards of moral conduct as every other nation, none of which has the right to violate the human rights of those under its control, or deflect criticism of the same on the basis of the cultural or geographical remoteness of its critics. Second, I believe Israel’s status as the national homeland of the Jewish People establishes a symbiotic relationship of sorts with the Diaspora, giving every Jew a certain privileged position from which to criticize the country, at least with respect to certain issues.

    Finally, the situation of relative harmony “on the ground” you describe is quite encouraging, and not all that surprising. Not surprising, because the restraints of civility are always more easily shed in the context of rhetorical conflicts than face-to-face relationships. Encouraging because it suggests that hatred, fanaticism, and intolerance may be largely limited to those on the fringes of Israeli society, while those at its center are more committed to living with their fellow citizens than furthering their ideological agendas.

    TM,

    It’s heartening to learn that the rhetorical fanaticism of the far Right – vicious and implacable though it is – appears to stop short at assuming a posture of outright disloyalty to the government. Frankly, that always struck me as a rather dubious proposition: I recall a post on Jewlicious not that long ago about a group of something like 10 or so members of the IDF who had stated their refusal to follow any orders requiring them to “destroy their own homes,” i.e., dismantle West Bank settlements as part of Olmert’s Convergence plan. Indeed, I’ve occasionally wondered if the sheer virulence of much of the extremist rhetoric wasn’t somewhat of a posture intended to convey the threat to mainstream Israeli society that a withdrawal from the occupied territories could never be effected without provoking a reaction on the order of a civil war. That may be less than a salutary state of affairs, but more so than were the threats sincere.

    At he same time, it’s deeply discouraging – almost incredible – to hear of Israeli politicians calling for the mass expulsion of Palestinians, or for curtailing the civil rights of Israel’s Arab citizens. I can hardly think of a pair of issues that more fundamentally implicates the nature of the Israeli state or the rationale for its very existence. Beyond the moral obscenity of such policies, I wonder if it’s remotely conceivable that the Israeli public as a whole could fail to recognize how suicidal they are. I would personally renounce any connection with or support for the state of Israel I such a circumstance, and suspect that a very substantial portion of the American public would do so as well.

  • Well, Eitam was immediately attacked and quite harshly for his remarks. I think what he describes is a profoundly confusing situation with few possible solutions. He has proposed one solution, which, as one of the Arab MKs pointed out, he might as well have said while speaking German. There isn’t widespread political support for what he said. I have a post in mind about this and if I can find the time, will write more.

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