Previous posts in this discussion:
PostNetanyahu's Corruption and the Gaza Crisis (Leo Goldberger, USA, 05/19/21 4:36 am)
Dear Tor (if I may be informal),
While I agree with John E that calling Bibi Netanyahu a neo-Nazi is counterproductive, I fully support your characterization of him as liar and a financial crook, likely headed for jail should he lose the election. As you all must know by now, it is not unheard of for the Israeli justice system to send a former president and a former prime minister off to prison.
I am familiar with Israeli politics and have visited many times (via a cousin of mine who served in the Knesset with Bibi for some years, as well as my own dear parents who lived in Jerusalem in their retirement--and are buried there). Over the years, despite the incredibly impressive background, my cousin has consistently characterized Bibi as a very insecure person who tended to follow the directions of his domineering father--and later also his last of three wives. It should be recalled that it was Bibi's deceased older brother (who like in the Kennedy clan) was supposed to become a potential prime minister of Israel, while Bibi was off to study architecture and later economics and management at MIT. Certainly a very bright, ambitious--but seemingly a rudderless--man, yet...he ended up in long and most colorful and varied stints in Israel's conservative Likud party wing, with the support of the Orthodox Jews (not that he was one of them, though one of his daughters seems to live in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Israel).
As part of his exceedingly varied background, he at one time had befriended such a legendary cult figure as the Chassidic Rabbi Menachem Schnerson, as well as the real estate mogul Fred Trump--yes, the father of Donald, if you can believe it!
With the criminal charges, including corruption, bribery, fraud and breach of trust, awaiting him should he lose the next election, it is no wonder he has cast caution aside before the inevitable world outcry against the tragic destruction going on in a trapped Gaza and an internal conflict raging in Israeli quarters. He doubtless has no moral backbone and, like Trump, is also a seasoned liar to his blind followers. Who knows what will happen. Will he, too, question the validity of his forthcoming (hopeful) loss of the prime ministership? I am awaiting word from my cousin's prediction.
In the meantime, let's hope for a quick cessation of the present, horrendous bombings and killings, destroying so many innocent lives...on both political sides!
As a lucky survivor of the Holocaust, I can only ask: "Did mankind not learn any lessons from the slaughter of millions of us Jews--and the millions of other others also caught in Hitler's racist net?
JE comments: Bibi's father Benzion Netanyahu was a noted historian of Jewish Spain, and died relatively recently at the age of 102. I never suspected he was domineering, but Leo Goldberger's professional characterization comes as no surprise, considering the personality of his son.
Given his tenuous political situation, is Netanyahu (fils) "going for broke" with the latest attacks on Gaza? He is likely only gaining popularity among Israel's hardest hardliners.
An Encounter with Benzion Netanyahu
(Angel Vinas, Belgium
05/20/21 3:55 AM)
I met Bibi Netanyahu's father in NYC at a dinner with Spanish diplomats. It was organized by a Spanish CUNY professor, Ángel Alcalá. I went with my wife. Much to my regret Benzion and I started discussing historical subjects, in particular the Inquisition's role in the Middle Ages. Not my cup of tea. With due regard to the other guests I tried as much as I could to place the conversation on current affairs. I think I wrote something about it in my memoirs about my years of service with the European Union.
Certainly I wouldn't call Bibi's father a Nazi or neo-Nazi. This is when applied to Jews utterly contradictory. However, his father was to my mind a racist and saw the Inquisition in purely racist terms. I measure my words.
Later on it was suggested to me that after the posting to the UN I should go as an EU ambassador to Tel Aviv. Our neighbors at 72nd Street in the East Side, who were Jews of German and Czech origins, were flabbergasted, They advised me in the strongest terms not to accept. I did not, but for other reasons. Incidentally, it was one of the best decisions I made in my life, although I see this now in retrospect.
This said, I have always defended the State of Israel but not its current policies.
JE comments: Ángel, if I may pry, what is your appraisal of Netanyahu père as a historian, in particular his massive (1300-page) Origins of the Inquisition in 15th-Century Spain? The senior Netanyahu gave a talk at Wayne State U during my time there (1990s). I somehow missed it. I need to get out more...
Benzion Netanyahu as Historian
(Angel Vinas, Belgium
05/21/21 3:49 AM)
John E asked for my appraisal of Benzion Netanyahu as a historian of the Spanish Middle Ages.
I don't remember very much except that I found Benzion to be highly racist. However, I am not an expert on the era he studied. In my view, the Inquisition had a religious aim, to convert Jews into good Christians. Many did and nothing happened to them. Others didn't and they were thrown out of the kingdom.
In this respect other motivations undoubtedly played a role, for instance greed, pure and animal greed.
The elder Netanyahu was even more racist on his comment on the Arabs, but I didn't want to put it that way.
JE comments: We all believe we understand what Zionism is, but how "racist" is it in its theoretical underpinnings? If we had to prioritize politics, religion and race as the pillars of Zionist thought, what would the hierarchy be? This is doubtlessly a controversial question.
- Irish Support for the Palestinians (Tor Guimaraes, USA 05/20/21 4:50 AM)
My gratitude to my friend Leo Goldberger (May 19th) for his great post about Netanyahu.
I believe it is very productive for the whole world to say what they think and feel about public figures. The target person may finally see the light (not likely), or at least change course a little.
Everyone keeps talking about Palestine as if it is just a military pissing match between Hamas and the IDF. That is the media BS view of what is going on. The whole drama is about colonial settlements. I did some homework on the subject, and besides the Likud Party, Oliver Cromwell's reputation went into the mud as well.
I noticed that Irish people tend to be strongly for the Palestinians. The reason is that Cromwell invaded Ireland and did to the natives what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians: dehumanization, misappropriation of their productive lands and other resources, destruction of their towns, placing them in hell holes, and then declaring them terrorists when they fight back. Does that sound familiar?
You have to give it to the British. They are great creators of forever intractable situations: Northern Ireland, Pakistan/India, Palestine, etc.
JE comments: Our authority on all things Irish, Patrick Mears, could comment on the prevailing view in the Republic about the latest Israel-Palestine conflict. The historical parallels, including the notion of a "two-state solution," are impossible to overlook.
Irish Solidarity with the Palestinians
(Patrick Mears, -Germany
05/21/21 3:18 AM)
My thanks to John E for the "referral" of the complex question that Tor Guimaraes presents to us WAISers. My initial reaction is that there are some important similarities between the partition of Ireland in 1920 and its aftermath and the partition of Palestine in 1948. There are also important differences. The following are some initial thoughts. There are also some written sources that I have just ordered via the Internet, one of which looks particularly interesting--a book titled God's Peoples: Covenant and Land in South Africa, Israel and Ulster authored by Donald Akenson and published by Cornell University Press in 1992. Akenson possesses impressive academic bona fides and I hope that his volume is helpful to our analysis of this difficult puzzle.
As Tor points out, Great Britain became the sovereign in Ireland primarily through military conquest, although the British made military and political alliances along the way that extended their rule in the absence of continual armed conflict. By 1603, the Irish and their Spanish allies had lost the critical Battle of Kinsale to the British forces and the "Flight of the Earls" to the Continent had begun. At that point, Britain held suzerainty over the island and proceeded to consolidate its power and diminish that held by the Gaels. Although the Roman Catholic population had been "on the ground" since the days of St. Patrick, the Protestant population of Ireland began to increase in number and consolidate its property and power in Ireland after the Anglo-Norman conquests, which began in the Irish Pale surrounding and including Dublin and expanded outward thereafter. I suppose that both the Arabic and Jewish peoples could make similar claims with respect to their historical presence in Palestine, except that the Diaspora interrupted the growth and influence of the Jewish community in Palestine, at least until the 19th century when Jewish settlers, primarily from Europe, began their emigration to these lands then ruled by the Ottoman Empire.
I do not yet have a sense of how "the Irish" perceive the "latest Israel-Palestine conflict," but will begin polling my contacts in Dublin and elsewhere to see if I can obtain some good feedback on John's question. I suspect that those Irish who consider themselves militant Republicans, in the sense that they believe that the Brits should leave Northern Ireland now without conditions and not wait for a border poll to be taken under the authority of the Belfast Agreement of 1998, would generally identify with the Palestinian side. These Republicans likely see a parallel between the piecemeal takeover of Ireland by the British from the 12th to the 17th centuries and the steady expansion of Israel's territory and influence in the region, at least since the Six-Day War in 1967.
With respect to the remainder of the Irish population on the island, I have a sense that they may not have a firm position one way or the other on what would be the best and most equitable solution of the "two-state" issue in Palestine. I wonder as I write this as to whether the apparent dampening of desire in the Irish Republic for a United Ireland might have a knock-on effect concerning the current Irish perception of the recent eruption of military conflict in Palestine.
A few additional comments for now. The Irish mainstream media, e.g., the Irish Times, are focusing not much on historical analyses right now but are preoccupied with getting the ceasefire in place and operational, which is no surprise, that being the immediate concern. There were large public rallies in Dublin, Cork, Belfast and Galway on May 15th in "solidarity" with the Palestinians and more are planned throughout Ireland on Saturday, May 22nd. These upcoming actions are being coordinated by an organization formed in 2001 and named the "Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign." Here is a recent internet post announcing these upcoming events from the IPSC. https://www.ipsc.ie .
The Irish press is presently carrying a fair bunch of articles sympathetic to the Palestinians physical plight and against the violence. See, for example, https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/gaza-the-militarised-and-ethnically-motivated-persecution-of-a-people-1.4568617 . The not-so-subtle undercurrent of these posts and activities was likely crafted to appeal to the historical memory of the Irish concerning ethnic and religious discrimination by a "foreign occupier."
Pax et lux and ar aghaidh, Pat
JE comments: Pat, you never disappoint us with your scholarly diligence! Many thanks. One followup question on the "mood" in Ireland--how is public support (in the Republic) waning for union with Ulster? I presume Brexit has much to do with it, but I'm curious to learn more.
In the meantime, there is an encouraging development: Hamas and Israel have agreed on a ceasefire effective today.
- Irish Support for the Palestinians (Tor Guimaraes, USA 05/20/21 4:50 AM)
- Benzion Netanyahu as Historian (Angel Vinas, Belgium 05/21/21 3:49 AM)