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Political Analysis and Commentary
The Unheroic Drama Of Israel`s `Disengagement` Farce, Not Tragedy
By Louis Rene Beres Posted 7/20/2005 - the Jewish Press
Second Of Two Parts
In Judaism there can be no justification for deliberate self-endangerment, and in classic Greek tragedy, there can be no deus ex machina. In tragedy, the human spirit remains noble in the face of largely inescapable death, but if there is anything remotely tragic in Israel`s Oslo/"Road Map"/"disengagement"- descent, it lies only in the original Greek meaning of the term — "goat song" — from the dithyrambs sung by goatskin- clad worshippers of Dionysus.
In every other sense, Israel now exhibits behavior that desecrates its sacred Jewish heritage and its manifestly obvious Jewish obligations.
Prime Minister Sharon proceeds with the expectation of a "Two State Solution." Yet, his Palestinian "partners in peace" remain openly dedicated only to a single, 23 Arab state. Israel does not exist on the maps of Mahmoud Abbas` Fatah. As for the still unrevised Fatah constitution, its plans for Isra! el are plainly Crimes Against Humanity — this according to unassailable standards of authoritative international law. Mahmoud Abbas` only solution for the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a familiar "final" one. Abbas, of course, is smugly identified in Jerusalem and Washington as the "moderate" Palestinian voice.
Aristotle understood, in his POETICS, that a tragedy must elicit pity and fear, but certainly not pathos, a kind of suffering less heroic than what is to be expected of a genuinely tragic figure. Aristotle identified the tragic with "good" characters who suffer, in part, because they commit some error (hamartia) unknowingly. Prime Minister Sharon, on the other hand, has continued his country`s march to disaster not because of any such error, or even because of wantonness or caprice, but (in the most charitable explanation) because his territorial nationalism has become explicitly detached from Judaism.
Israel is currently in a tragic dilemma, a situation init! ially created by Rabin/Peres, sustained by Netanyahu, heightened by Barak, and soon to be "finalized" by Sharon. Now, each Israeli surrender leads the country closer to an unbearable conclusion. Now, Israel is in the condition of Orestes. Commanded by Apollo, in THE LIBATION BEARERS of Aeschylus (458 BCE) to avenge his father`s death by murdering Clytemnestra, the slayer who is Orestes` mother, Orestes knows that — whatever he decides — will make him guilty of grave offense. Unlike Orestes and in violation of specifically Jewish precept, the leader of Israel has placed his people directly in the path of misfortune — in a "place of danger." It is not divine whim that has brought Israel to its present existential vulnerabilities; it is the continuous, stubborn and inexcusable self-delusion of Israeli and Jewish leaderships. In some respects, the always-visceral compliance of American Jewish leaderships with Israeli government surrenders is even more loathsome than the original capi! tulations in Jerusalem.
Today a Prime Minister of Israel still codifies Hamas/PLO/PA/Fatah`s jihad-centered rule over essential and expanding sectors of the Jewish State. Yet, Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas was mentored by Yassir Arafat, and Arafat, in the words of Gustav Hendrikssen, professor emeritus of Bible Studies at Sweden`s Uppsala University, "is the heir of Hitler and the Palestinian Covenant is a more disgusting document than the Nuremberg laws." When this self-described "aged and bitter Gentile" recalled his reactions to awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to "one of the most despicable figures in our century," he saw in that event the drama not of tragedy, but of pathetic farce: "When I saw the Prime Minister of Israel and its Foreign Minister standing next to this murderous clown," says Prof. Hendrikssen, speaking of Rabin and Peres, "I had to think again about the meaning of the term `friend of Israel.`"
A Christian for whom Israel had always been a "divine message," Hendrikssen confirms our understanding that Israel`s current "disengagement" and other incremental surrenders lack even the stuff of tragedy. If, after all, "...the Jewish people digs its grave with its own hand," it is a coming death without dignity. "Even the devil that dances on its grave is of its own making."
Soon, if "disengagement" is allowed to go forward, each and every soldier of Israel will be asked to fight battles that are already lost. Fawning upon their own doom, Israel`s leaders will still refuse to recognize that the spheres of reason in this world are terribly limited, or that George W. Bush and the American Jewish Establishment will not save them. For the latter, which takes out newspaper ads steadfastly supporting "disengagement," Israel will remain a quaint and ego-satisfying diversion, a good place to visit with the children from time to time and a convenient pretext for lavish banquets in New York. For the former, the underlying drama! of Israel`s redemption — the very raison d`etre of the reborn State of Israel — is just another traveling roadshow, here today, gone tomorrow. For Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin and others of their persuasion, Judaism is an embarrassment for which there can be no meaningful place in the "New Middle East."
Israel is now entering the final phase of an unwitting self-parody. Fortunately the last act has not yet been played. Israel can still put an end to the demeaning farce, but only if its people and government can finally understand why they have been ingathered in the first place. Citizens of Tel-Aviv should have no illusions. There is absolutely nothing about "disengagement" that will save them from the fury of Arab terrorism. On the contrary, the smell of carrion only inflames the vulture. There is still time for Israel to reject its descent into pathos, but only if its Jewish citizens can first understand the real meaning of human freedom in Judaism.
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LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with Israeli security issues and international law. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.