Saturday, July 22, 2006

The History of Context

Acknowledging that the Palestinians got a lousy deal and had good reason to fight back, not defending methods but not denying cause, David Ben-Gurion first leader of Israel was no weak sister, but he was honest about the injustice he helped cause:
"Why should the Arabs make peace? If I were an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we came here and stole their country. Why should they accept that?" (David Ben-Gurion quoted in "The Jewish Paradox" by Nahum Goldmann, former president of the World Jewish Congress.)
Blunt, uncompromising with the truth, Ben-Gurion knew Israel had been founded by terrorism. Born in the blood of 92 people dead in the Hotel King David, as the sickened Brits washed their hands of the whole mess. Ben-Gurion ruthlessly crushed the various gangs of Zionist gunmen who didn't swiftly submit to his authority - leading to the long political duel with Menachim Begin, leader of the gang that bombed the King David - against Ben-Gurion's objections - and later leader of Likud.

Ben-Gurion was no softy on Arabs - he supported ethnic cleansing - what he called transfers - to clear out Arabs. But he didn't try to pretend it was just.

Ben Gurion didn't even trust the fanatically religious among his own people and would have seen the care and feeding of radical Islamists to counter-balance secular Palestinian resistance for the crackbrained idea it was. He was dismayed by the dangerous fanatics the Jewish religious schools he had reluctantly supported produced - Yitzhak Rabin another Labour Prime Minister would be murdered by one, decades later - Ben-Gurion would have seen the rise of something like Hamas as the obvious result of supporting such currents in Islam.

What would he have thought of the Lebanon invasions, the last one, and the one about to commence? He was a pragmatist who probably would have seen the long term blowback such disproportionate over-reactions would inevitably cause.

He would have made a cold-blooded, possibly even brutal calculation, but one that acknowledged reality, and conceded his enemy's right to their anger.

And to their basic humanity.

1 comment:

FurGaia said...

As do those.

Thanks for this poignant post that I shall link to.

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