Israel is currently engaged in an intellectual civil war between historians who see Zionism as a heroic enterprise and post-Zionist historians who say that Jewish schoolchildren ought to know the family secret: Israel wasnít immaculately conceived but born of ìinfamy and sin,î as Haíaretz reports (Sept. 16).
The BBC Online (Oct. 7) says thereís a ìRow Over ëNewí Israeli History,î as Education Minister Yossi Sarid favors curriculums offering ìpainful introspection and examination of negative aspects and myth-breaking events,î such as a massacre of Arabs in 1956 by Israeli troops.The BBC says Sarid wrote to all Israeli social studies teachers: ìPupils must know about this shameful page of our history.î
The Jerusalem Post (Sept. 21) tells us that in Israelís secular ninth grades, three new textbooks ó actually approved by Netanyahuís Education Ministry when it was in the hands of Orthodox politicians ó teach that many Palestinians left in 1948 because of fear and expulsion by the Zionists, not because (as the old Zionists taught) Arab leaders promised the Palestinians could return once the Jews were killed off.Haíaretz (Sep. 16) adds, ìpost-Zionists seem to have the upper handî in Israeli classrooms, where post-Zionist historians are presented as ìchampions of objective, levelheaded truth.îSome old heroes, such as Joseph Trumpeldor who died for the Yishuv in 1920, are now having their legends die a second death. Last month, Israelís national television broadcast a drama in which the once impeccable Hannah Senesh ó the 23-year-old who parachuted behind Nazi lines to save Jews before being captured, tortured and killed by the Gestapo ó is portrayed as ìa traitor,î according to the review in Haíaretz (Sept. 2).
The New York Times and The Washington Post ó both of which were weeks behind other papers in reporting the Arab economic pressure on Disney and other corporations dealing with Israel, were nevertheless quicker than even some Israeli papers to rush the new post-Zionist theories into print. As early as Aug. 14, the Times ran the headline: ìIsraelís History Textbooks Replace Myths With Facts,î and notice that headline doesnít have a question mark. The Washington Post (Aug. 29) ran the headline: ìFresh Breezes in Israel.î
Now, in October, Yediot Aharanot columnist Elyakim Haetzni worries that Israeli students who do their homework ìwill look at their parents and teachers with the eyes of a stranger, and see them as conquerors, oppressors, usurpers, and relate to Israel as a country that is not theirs.îIn The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 10), Norman Podhoretz points out that ìthe clear implication is that [Israel] does not deserve to go on existing as a Jewish state.î Israelís intellectual class ìrejects the rationale of its own countryís existence and [looks] upon it with the hostile eyes of its sworn enemies.î Israelís culture, adds Podhoretz, is ìfull of the self-hatred that the early theorists of Zionism mistakenly believed would be purged by statehood from the Jewish soul.îOver at the Jerusalem Post (Oct. 7), Daniel Doron, citing the sarcastic spirit of Jonathan Swift, suggests that ìwe endorse the post-Zionistsí proposal to dismantle a Jewish Israel and replace it with a secular democratic state ëof all its citizens,í eventually mostly Muslims. This way we can atone for robbing Palestinians of their independence, and for destroying, without provocation ó as our deconstructive historians allege ó Arab villages. … Our subversive historians and a cooperative media have been tirelessly trying to relieve their terrible guilt by suggesting exactly that.îMeanwhile, in Jordan, Israelís most trusted allies are coming to believe the worst about Israel. Ghasan Joha of The Jordan Star (Sep. 30) writes: ìIt is widely believed that the Israelis plan to demolish Al Aqsa Mosque [the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount] in East Jerusalem in search for the Jewish temple.î
Joha adds his own post-Zionist contribution: ìStatistics show that 86 percent of the land in Jerusalem was extorted from its real owners to be sold to Israeli settlers and businessmen.îAlthough Israeli statistics released this summer show Jerusalemís Jewish population has been in a free fall, down to just 68 percent, The Jordan Star (Sep. 30) says the reverse is true: Jerusalem is experiencing a ìslow Judaization,î says the Star, as ìnearly eight percent of Palestinians are forced to leave their homes in the city each year.î These articles have repercussions. An editorial in that same dayís Star says: ìHamas and its sympathizers [have had] a plethora of local and foreign media to air their viewsÖ. Hamas enjoys wide sympathy among Jordanians.î
Israeli and Jordanian governments may be officially at peace, but the 80,000-member Jordan Press Association is officially at war. The Associated Press (Oct. 19) sent over a story saying that JPA ìimmediately dismissedî three prominent Jordanian journalists who are now ìbarred from practicing the profession.î Their journalistic crime? Visiting Israel ìin violation of a union ban on dealings with the Jewish State.î The three journalists include the executive editor of the English-language Jordan Times, Abdullah Hasanat, who says, ìSuch a decision is very harmful to Jordan and its image as a peace-loving nation seeking a comprehensive Arab-Israeli settlement.î There was no comment from Jordanís king.