Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Abe Foxman Recalls Jabotinsky and Begin

In his JPost blog, Abe Foxman recalls what he learned as a young Betari in New York:-

...Most significantly, the efforts by some on the right to paint these laws as consistent with Likud ideology are egregiously off the mark. Indeed, those who initiate these laws are doing great damage to the nationalist cause they espouse.

A little history is in order. When Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and then Menachem Begin created and built Revisionist Zionism, they were often accused by the Zionist establishment as not only being extreme nationalists but of being anti-democratic. Some suggested they were Zionist “fascists” in the making. Indeed, when Begin was elected prime minister in 1977, there were those on the left who implied that Israeli democracy was at risk.

Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. The very fact that Likud came to power after 30 years of Labor’s dominance of the Israeli political system was a sign of Israel’s democracy strengthening and maturing. Whatever one thought about their broader nationalist views, and clearly, the arguments about territory continue to this day, the charge that the Revisionists, and later the Likud leadership, were anti-democratic was inaccurate and insidious. Prime Minister Begin, consistent with the views of his mentor Jabotinsky, did everything to strengthen democratic values, free speech, free courts and free expression.

For decades, Likud, representing the mainstream right, has been a living example that nationalism and democracy can co-exist in a healthy and harmonious relationship. Indeed, as strong defenders of Israel’s democratic values, the right was more able to make its case for nationalist foreign policies. Whether one agreed with them or not, the case could not be made that they were undermining democracy at home at the same time. While the left may have claimed that nationalism and anti-democracy were linked, they had no basis for that assertion.

Now the introduction of a series of laws that in their totality have the feel of restricting democratic values is making the early politicized criticisms of the left seem relevant.
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