The Economist decries Israel's 'Holocaust obsession'It's been less than a week since I last ripped The Economist for trivializing the Holocaust. And it's already time to rip them again.
In a review of Jeffrey Goldberg's Atlantic article laying out the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran, The Economist complains that our real problem isn't Iran, but the 'Palestinians.' And they have the gall to complain tht if only we could get over our 'Holocaust obsession,' we would be able to make 'peace' with the 'Palestinians.'
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been impossible to resolve both because of its viciously tangled concerns of security, religion and historical justice, and because of political defects on both sides. But on the Israeli side, the essential defect has been a lack of both the political conditions and the psychic equipment to address the nature of the conflict. Right-wing Israelis, who now constitute a majority of the electorate, have proven incapable of understanding themselves as occupiers, incapable of acknowledging the Palestinian claim to nationhood in Palestinian territory, and incapable of accepting that a Palestinian state must be created even if some level of terrorism continues. Many Israelis are unable to see themselves except as victims, threatened now, as throughout Jewish history, with annihilation by fanatical anti-Semites.The conflict with the 'Palestinians' has been impossible to resolve for one very simple reason: The 'Palestinians' do not, cannot and will not ever accept the existence of a Jewish state in this region. Neither do their patrons like Iran, Syria and Hezbullah, nor do the majority of citizens in the two Arab countries with which we are nominally at peace - Egypt and Jordan. Not even the Saudis are truly ready to accept the permanent existence of a Jewish state in this region.
Mr Goldberg's article rightly focuses on the centrality of the Holocaust to the way Israeli leaders think about Iran. (Former Israeli Air Force general Ephraim Sneh points Mr Goldberg to a poster on his wall showing three Israeli F-15s flying over Auschwitz in 2003. "We were too late," Mr Sneh says.) He fails to follow the insight through: to what extent does the Holocaust obsession irrationally distort the Israeli perspective on Iran? At some point, one has to wonder whether the Israeli conception of the Iranian nuclear threat as a second Holocaust represents a psychological projection of existential fears rooted in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Palestinian conflict cannot be resolved without tremendous political sacrifice, and perhaps not at all. Israelis don't even know what tools they would need to resolve it. It's understandable if Israelis and their leaders react by displacing their anxieties onto an enemy they can put in the familiar role of a Hitler or a Haman, one they can engage with a tool that gives them a familiar feeling of control and power: their air force.
The Economist's anonymous blogger "M.S." notes that 'right-wing Israelis' now constitute a majority. But the Right has not always constituted the majority in this country. During the mid-1990's in the heyday of Oslo, many people in this country thought there would be peace with the 'Palestinians.' Today, most people realize that there will not be peace and that's why the Right - which is seen as far more realistic - is now the majority. It wasn't an obsession with the Holocaust that changed people's minds. It was the murder of over 1,000 Israelis by 'Palestinian' terrorists during the Oslo War, followed by the 8,000 rockets we got in return for expelling all of Gaza's Jews.
There will not be peace with the 'Palestinians' in any of our lifetimes. And even if there were to be peace, it would not end the Arab - including the 'Palestinian' - desire to extirpate the Jewish state's existence. It would be regarded as temporary, as a phase, like Mohamed's treaty with the Quraish tribe, which was so often cited by Arafat. That is the reality that Israelis face and it is totally unaffected by the Holocaust.