Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Say It Again

If you haven't seen this column by David Landau, the former editor of Haaretz, it is worth a moment, especially his final paragraphs:

As history, both ancient and more recent, teaches us, there is another vital component in the inculcation of a whole society with xenophobia. It's the big lie, repeated over and over until ordinary people inadvertently come to regard it as truth. "Go and worship your God," Pharaoh pretended to Moses, time after time. His own people no doubt believed him.

In our own case, this past year, Netanyahu has incessantly repeated his mantra that he's merely doing in Jerusalem "what all my predecessors have done for 43 years." The purpose of this pretense is to erase from the public mind, at home and abroad, the fact that two of his predecessors negotiated with the Palestinians and the Americans over dividing the city. The purpose, too, is deliberately to blur the hugely significant difference between building in the Jewish neighborhoods that have been developed over decades and forcibly inserting Jewish settlers into all-Arab neighborhoods like Sheikh Jarrah. The purpose, basically, is to obliterate any chance of implementing the "Clinton parameters" - Jewish areas to Israel, Arab areas to Palestine, Holy Basin to God [or an international consortium representing Him] and thus reaching a fair compromise on Jerusalem.

The demonstrations taking place on Fridays at Sheikh Jarrah offer some smidgen of hope that not everyone has been duped and silenced. The Naomi Chazan front was abandoned. The "Nakba Law" front was lost without a fight. The battle line in Israel's war of survival as a Jewish and democratic state now runs through the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. There, alongside the few brave Israelis out demonstrating, the president of the United States has planted his pennant, too. Is that the line, at last, where Israel's decline will be halted?