burgalicious…or is he?
Avraham Burg had been given every advantage one could have in the State of Israel. Born in Jerusalem, his father Yosef Burg was a member of the Knesset for 37 years where he held numerous Cabinet positions. Avraham served in the IDF and rose to the rank of lieutenant in the much vaunted Paratroopers unit. A graduate of Hebrew University, he was also an activist with Peace Now and was injured in the grenade attack that killed Emil Grunzweig in 1983. In 1985 he got a job as an adviser to Shimon Peres and 3 years later he was elected to the Knesset as a member of the Labor Party. In 1995 he was appointed the head of the Jewish Agency and in 1999 he was elected speaker of the Knesset. In 2001 he ran for head of the Labor Party, and lost. Since then he’s left public life, had some shady and failed business ventures in Israel and then moved to France where he is now a “successful business man.”

Burg has recently received quite a bit of attention due to statements he made in an interview with the Ha’aretz Weekend Magazine about his upcoming book Defeating Hitler. In that interview, he said that

“To define the State of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end. A Jewish state is explosive. It’s dynamite …

Burg calls Israel a “Zionist Ghetto” and wants the Law of Return repealed believing that it is “the mirror image of Hitler … I don’t want Hitler to define my identity.” He describes Israeli society as “paranoid” and believes that “the separation fence is a fence against paranoia…” He defines himself as a citizen of the world and describes Israel’s presece in the West Bank as an “Anschluss,” predicting “an infinite explosion.” He concludes: “The Israeli reality is not exciting. People are not willing to admit it, but Israel has reached the wall. Ask your friends if they are certain their children will live here. How many will say yes? At most 50 percent. In other words, the Israeli elite has already parted with this place. And without an elite there is no nation.”

I have no doubt that half of the children of Burg’s friends in Israel will abandon the country. They’re abandoning it already. We’re witness to the lack of “elite” representation in the prestigious infantry units that used to be the almost exclusive domain of the elite. Now, signing up for such units is left mostly to new immigrants, farm boys, religious Zionists and kibbutzniks – in other words, to the naive and ignorant idealists, the friars who don’t know better than to get their asses shot at by those hell bent on destroying Israel. And what of those elites? Historically, it’s been a mixed bag. On one hand we have Moshe Dayan who was a great general but who had no problem looting archaeological treasures and who was well known for his various sexual escapades. One might also recall Ben Gurion and the Mapai party’s implementation of what is known as Protektzia which provided cushy civil service jobs to political allies and kept otherwise qualified political adversaries from getting hired. But even in the old days there were some standards. Most Prime Ministers, regardless of ideological orientation, lived modestly:

Exposure for unethical behavior represented the ultimate disgrace and the end of a public career. Thus, when Housing Minister Avraham Ofer was charged with illegal activities (benefiting the Party), his shame was so great that it led him to commit suicide. And when Leah Rabin was exposed for maintaining a minor illegal foreign currency account, her husband felt impelled to resign as Prime Minister — a far cry from the response of politicians today.

Case in point? Avraham Burg! “The Labor party primaries also became corrupt as exemplified by the annulment of the ballot for the leadership between Avram Burg and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer because more Druze voters supported Burg than were registered in the party.” Burg also left the country under a cloud of suspicion when a privatization scheme he implemented led to a police investigation. This is nothing new of course – it seems as if we are met with a corruption scandal every day. Some see this as a bad thing – but I see it as a sign that Israeli society is no longer tolerant of the sorts of shenanigans that used to be taken for granted. The so-called “elites” who felt that certain privileges were their birthright are begining to feel the sting of public recrimination and this purging will ultimately be a good thing for Israel.

What’s funny is that even Burg’s analysis of what ails Israeli society is elitist. The focus of his criticism seems exclusively one sided as he berates the militarism and brutality of Israel’s defense efforts while not acknowledging the roles played by the Palestinians and the Arabs in creating the need for a firm and strong defense. Why is this “elitist?” Because it implies that the primitive Arabs cannot be expected to act rationally and in their own best interests.

So go ahead Avraham. Go contemplate Herzl and Achad Ha’am in France while selling your little shmattes. Maybe you could hire Yael Dayan, Dana Olmert, Aminadav Begin, Yigal Arens and all the other embittered sons and daughters of the Israeli elite. I mean ultimately, you’re right – Israel is a shitty little country. But with the departure of smug, entitled and self-righteous people like you, it’s becoming less and less shitty every day.

Allons enfants de la patrie… allons y! Get out and stay out!

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • Let the elite go! These are people who ignore the Holocaust, forcibly secularized the Yemenites, and murdered their political opponents on the Tel Aviv beach. They have no Jewish identity (yes they have an Israeli identity-wow).
    I have now accepted the fact that when seculars become yordim or in the US become intermarried its not such a bad thing. Its a way to get rid of our dreck or a way of getting rid of those that the Germans would have selected to be our kapos.

  • No, that’s not what has been accepted and Burg isn’t secular and those people who were capable of being kapos have no relationship to one’s consideration of life in Israel.

  • Virtual spit on Avrum Boor-g!

    He recently tried suing the Jewish Agency to get them to keep paying for his post retirement car and chauffer perks. The court to note of his heftly private business income and threw the bum out.

    I remember seeing his parents and hearing Dr. Yoseph Burg speak on a number of occassions. The apple tree must have been planted on a cliff.

  • Do you live in Israel?

    If you did, you would know more about the elite infantry units and who serves in them. The gross generalization that you’ve made is actually nothing more than a burgeoning trend without statistical proof.

    In addition, though many secular Israelis are not Zionists, they ARE Israeli nationalists with Jewish identities, the MAJORITY of whom will NEVER leave the State of Israel permanently. Yet another generalization that is simply false.

    The situation here in terms of a will to survive and a love of country is not so bleak. What’s bleak is the diaspora’s lack of understanding and consequently, how Israel’s morale is portrayed in the diaspora.

    Personally, I’d prefer to live with paranoia (and I do) in the State of Israel in the hopes that my children will live with a bit less– rather than assimilate in the diaspora, and use words such as Burg’s to justify turning my back on Jewish Statehood— the key to Jewish continuity.

  • Hi Cori,
    I live in Israel – in Jerusalem in fact. You are correct – the generalization tha elite units are staffed predominantly by new olim, moshavnikim and kibbutznikim is based on anecdotal evidence. I hope I’m wrong. I hope the newspaper reports are wrong, I hope the 4 guys I hung out with for a week from the 101st Paratrooper unit and sayeret tsanchanim are wrong. I guess Tel Avivians and Druze soldiers are both equally adept at not getting shot at by Hizballah.

    I never said anything about secular Jews. Burgs Dad was head of the National Religious Party, an Orthodox Rabbi and even Burg jr. wore a kippah.

    The situation in Israel is indeed not so bleak. I agree. The economy is great, I still believe the IDF is the greatest and most moral army in the world, especially given the circumstances and living here, I want for nothing. Hope that clarifies things.

  • Facts:
    1. The secular labor zionist leadership ignored and even in the Kastner case collaborated with the Nazis.
    “I’d rather have no Jewish children leave Germany than have them go to Britain”
    Of course the Revisionists sent Kook to the US and he gained support from the Orthodox and gentile pols.
    2. The labor zionists enacted a program of forced secularization of the Yemenites-including pais cutting, treife food denial of jobs etc.. I find it outright chutzpadik that seculars now scream religious coercion.
    3. The Germans did profile secular liberals to be kapos- or even better intermarried Jews-the less Jewish the more compliant. German’s may have been evil but not stupid.
    4. Post zionist education has created a culture of “I’m not Jewish I’m Israeli” One million largely secular yordim now live in the US and are less Jewish than even the most assimilated reform Jews. Yes, there are seculars with strong Jewish commitment- think of Menachem Begin. He was totally Jewish. He was not interested in being “normal” or “Israelism” However with each generation(unfortunately) the proportion of secular but strongly Jewish decreases .
    5. The Jews in the Diaspora that assimilate are the secular. Orthodox don’t in statistically significant numbers. However when a galut Jew assimilates he disapears from the Jewish scene. Non-Jewish Jews in Israel either add to the one milion yordim or contribute to a culture that just apes all the worst of American trailer trash pop culture only more vulgar. At least assimilated American Jews are overrepresented in American high culture, but the trash Israelis try to poorly copy doesn’t get any play by Jewish Americans. I have seen innumerable posts in YNET about Britney Spears- but American Jews don’t listen to such low brow trash, and yet Israelis in search of a “normal” culture emulate that. Its embarrasing but the greatest cultural iconin secular Israeli culture is a transsexual. That is not something to be proud of , and for that I can understand why so many “I’m Not Jewish I’m Israeli’s” have become yordim. With culture like that your not going to attract American olim other than religious Zionists( who don’t participate in that culture).By the way the religious zionists now make the best soldiers- they fight for something they believe in.

  • Hey Avi! Don’t hate on Dana International!

    Look, some of what you say is factually accurate, but I dunno… we’re at the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Can’t we all just try to get along? I am bothered by the tone and timber of your writing. That kind of bitterness isn’t going to get Mashiach here any time soon.

  • some?
    It’s all painfuly true. Perhaps Dana’s physical castration is the result of her families spiritual castration. Bitterness? nothig I say compares with the articles and posts I see in YNET and Haaretz. The articles are agent provacateur’s bringing out the most anti-semitic post zionists.
    I’m not happy with that.

  • Avi, even if there is some truth to what you write, there is so much in there that is false and you write it with such venom that you undermine every part of your claim. Clam down, dude.

    Oh, and do try to remember that there wouldn’t be a state if it weren’t for the secular Jews you’re dismissing.

  • Its all true . If not edify me.
    As to seculars, my post was nuanced to distinguish “Secular but strongly Jewish ” and secular “I’m not Jewish I’m Israeli”.
    The problem is that the former is shrinking-think of Olmerts kids- while the latter is growing.
    If Ben Gurion , Kastner et al joined with the Bergson group and helped get American Jewry off their duff and got FDR to do something sooner than late 44 and the resulting action saved a million Jews but sacrificed a state. I would take the million Jews and wait a few more years for Israel.
    Unfortunately the 6 million were the best Jewsish community we had, and their survivors form the core of Judaism in America.
    perhaps there are those who would choose Israel over saving Eastern European Jewry and they did!

  • You’re officially tiresome. Let me guess, you’ve recently had a religious epiphany and now you think that everybody needs to subscribe to your devotion. The person about whom this post was written is an observant Jew. Get it?

  • When you can’t refute facts resort to insults.
    I’m still waiting for edification.
    I would love to be informed that Ben G really did try to get FDR to bomb the lines to Aushwitz or that the yemenites just decided on their own to be secular. Perhaps De Haan was killed because of homosexual inclinations and not because of politics. I would love to be shown that Rabin didn’t kill his political opponents in cold blood on that Tel Aviv beach. Hey if the intermarriage rate can be suddenly rediscovered to be 50 and not 70% maybe all that right wing propaganda I spew could be wrong.
    Burg is not his father, and actions and associations contradict his allegedly observant lifestyle. But as any statisticain will attest an outlier does not affect the overall bell curve.
    No I am not recently observant nor do I feel everyone needs to subscribe to my level or greater. As a matter of fact, let the Adam Shapiros of this world marry goyim. Or let the Peace Now and Burg types become yordim. To paraphrase Rabin , that would be a way of getting rid of our refuse.

  • Israel is NOT a ‘shitty little country.’ It’s a small, amazing, miraculous, embattled country with strengths and weaknesses, triumphs and failures, rich and poor,. It could be better. It should be better. But it’s only ‘shitty’ if you’re judging it on some utopian scale.

  • Wait Eitan – aren’t we supposed to be God’s chosen people, a light unto the nations? If ever a utopian scale were appropriate…

    But I digress. My comment was made tongue in cheek, and was a reference to a statement made by French Ambassador to London, Daniel Bernard. Burg is now a French citizen… see where I am going with this?

  • Avi, I don’t live in Israel so I won’t comment at length about your claims regarding Israelis. Very good friends of mine live in settlements outside of Yerushalayim and in the city. My secular friends definitely do not conform to your negative caricatures. But none are from “elite” backgrounds so perhaps that may have something to do with it.

    As far as the “low brow” versus “high brow” tastes of American Jews, you really need to educate yourself. Most folks in the U.S. are obsessed with consumerism and pop-culture. Members of every ethnic group, every national group and every religious group listen to Britney Spears and the like. That includes Jews. Nobody is immune…

    As far as intermarriage, one of the things that makes the United States such a wonderful place, in particular the cities, is the opportunity for people of different racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds to meet, eat, drink, dance, fuck, get married and have babies without killing each other. Much of the civilized world is moving in this direction.

  • WEVS1, you have a point, that the only way to escape Britney S and her belly button is to go heavy duty Orthodox. As for marrying and having babies, you are way, way too optimistic. Listening to Britney causes sterility. How many people are really in fact marrying and having babies? The other stuff, sure. But then you get carried away and take it to the logical conclusion. If only.

    There is being surgically sterilized, and then, there is being socially sterilized.

    People have become mules: intelligent, hardworking, comely, but sterile.

    Substituting Britney for shul does not work, Darwinly speaking. No kids.

  • I hear you JM, thanks for the comments. Brittney is not my cup of tea but I am way too old for that sort of stuff. As far as intermarriage between various groups (religious, ethnic, national, racial), it is increasing in the U.S. and I think this is a good thing.

  • It’s the sterility that bothers me. You are trying to get me to comment on intra versus inter marriage but I don’t want to. You are sliding past my remark that traditional culture is an engine of fertility. If that were true, and it sure looks true, would you still be so happy with intermarriage?

  • Jewish Mother, are folks (Jewish or not) no longer having kids anymore? That doesn’t seem empirically true to me.

    As for music causing social sterility: this may explain my own situation. Especially when I reflect that the likes of Beethoven, Brahms, and Bruckner never married, Gesualdo killed his (first) wife, and Liszt ended up in the priesthood.

  • Gee Willikers!!!!!

    Your post seems curiously self contradictory from one paragraph to the next.

    Maybe I need to eat something.

    I did NOT say MUSIC caused social sterility I said the disgusting pop culture, of which the unfurled martial banner is Britney Spears’s belly button, causes social sterility.

    It is all my generation’s fault. Leave poor Liszt et alia alone.

  • I know she is fading, but I meant her as a generic. I can’t be bothered keeping up with who her successors are.

  • I was slyly undermining WEVS1’s faith in the healing qualities of intermarriage. I was positing that although intermarriage may heal traditional cultural conflicts, it eliminates people, Darwinly, over the long term.

    Why? Because: people really have children because of a cultural imperative, an imperative that only an old, traditional, consistent culture can impose. Take away traditional culture, and the result is: no kids.

    (Although having children can be quite a challenge economically, alas.)

    1) happiness
    2) education
    3) money
    4) self expression
    5) freedom
    6) achievement
    7) self esteem
    8) joyful retirement
    9) death
    10) extinction
    11) oblivion
    12 Next?

  • All right, who’s putting in the emoticons? I never use emoticons.

  • David Remnick has an interesting, decently-balanced article on Burg in the current issue of New Yorker magazine.

  • avraham burg is right. israel must become a light to the nations. oppression of your neighbors, creating an “other” dehumanizing the palestinians is what burg is opposing. wake up!!
    israel’s hope is in making peace with their neighbors, withdrawing all settlements on the west bank. no more fence.

  • Avraham Burg is completely right. If you keep killing and Dont expect any reprisals then one is living in a Fools paradise. IF you dont treat your neighbours well then expect hostility. To Get respect one has to FIRST GIVE RESPECT. otherwise this cyclical war will continue for 100’s of years. Hatred will only grow. With nothing to lose the Palistinians will only pose a threat which one day will be reality (then it would be too late). History says Noone has Defeated a NATION. Learn and First GIVE RESPECT & AID . A FAT LION will never attack you.