Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tom Segev's Zionism

From here:

...Ben-Gurion even made an effort to put himself in the Arabs' shoes and stated: "A people doesn't forget so quickly that its country is being taken away from it." On more than one occasion, he said that if he were Arab, he too would fight the Zionists. Here is Ben-Gurion as a justifier of Arab patriotism. Ben-Gurion likened the heroic glory surrounding Izz ad-Din al-Qassam in the 1930s to Yosef Trumpeldor's fame. The terrorists that al-Qassam led and the intifada fighters, more recently, may also be likened to the terrorists that Menachem Begin led. Here is a basis for another riveting discussion about statesmanship and terror...Begin, too, plays a role in the Palestinians' national disaster.

At least some of the Arab students will be entitled to vote in the next elections, and in that context they ought to become acquainted with what Ben-Gurion promised the Arab citizens of Israel: complete equality, with the exception of the Law of Return. An Arab could even be elected president of the state, Ben-Gurion declared. But in the 1950s he imposed on the Arab populace the evils of military rule. Here is a basis for a conversation about the difference between what politicians say and what they do.
Menachem Begin adopted the liberalism of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, who sang about the sons of the land as though they were brethren - "The Arab, the Christian and the Jew." Begin was opposed to military rule, and subsequently returned Sinai to Egypt, in exchange for peace. That was the same Begin who dreamed of a "Greater Israel" and gave a major boost to the settler movement in the West Bank. During a certain period, Ben-Gurion also dreamed of a "Greater Israel."

So you see, there is no pair of politicians more relevant today than Ben-Gurion and Begin, and it still remains for students to explore the relationship between the two. They habitually compared each other to Hitler. Here is yet another subject highly worthy of being taught, in both Jewish and Arab schools: great statesmen also say silly and demagogic things on occasion.

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