You know things are deeply disturbed in Israel when you see the children of not one, not two, not three, but four right-wing Zionist political pioneers turn against their fathers’ political legacy. It is not really news that Yigal Arens, son of former Likud defense minister, Moshe Arens, is a devoted opponent of the Israeli Occupation. His critics have accused him of once being what they derisively call a “Matzpenist” which is the equivalent of calling someone a “dirty Bolshie” here in the States. He may or may not have been a Matzpen member. To me, Matzpen in its day served a similar role to the SDS here during the 1960s. There is no shame in being a Matzpenist if he was one. And I might point out that Matzpen ended its existence in the 1980s, so we’re talking about really old news here.
I wrote here about Dana Olmert, Ehud’s daughter attending a rally during the Lebanon war in which Dan Halutz was charged with war crimes. That must’ve caused some discussion at the family dinner table. The PM comes from a distinguished Irgun family and grew up in the Beitar youth movement. His daughter really has to cross some political distance from there to publicly denouncing the Israeli chief of staff.
For the past several years, Jewish and Palestinian peace activists have demonstrated every Friday in the village of Bilin, which hugs the Separation Wall. And every week, the Border Police manage in their thuggish manner to beat up and injure peaceful protesters. Maariv reports this week that one of the regular Israeli protesters for the past two and a half years is another scion of Zion; the grandson of one of the leading lights of the right-wing nationalist movement, Menachem Begin. Aminadav Begin, according to the right-wing tabloid, is an anti-war anarchist who doesn’t believe in nations or borders. Imagine how such a story will play in a nation for whom Menachem Begin is a god of right-wing Zionism. Even those who will dismiss the younger Begin’s actions with disdain will have to grapple with the question: how this could happen? They will have to wonder whether something has so changed within Israel that the descendants of the ultra-nationalist legacy are turning against it with a vengeance.
If you know Hebrew or want to see photos and video of Begin at the demo go to Maariv.
Finally, Avrum Burg has written a new book, Defeating Hitler (not yet available in English), which promises to be a bombshell because it savagely critiques both contemporary Israel and the entire Zionist enterprise. Burg himself, former Knesset speaker, former Shimon Peres protégé, former Israel Agency director, has left Israel and taken French citizenship. He has abandoned a family legacy of Zionist commitment. His father, Yosef Burg, served for decades as party chair of the National Religious Party. The elder Burg was a German Jew who fled Germany for Palestine. He always stood for a right-wing religious political agenda, but was principled in doing so.
The fact that Burg is quoted as saying that he believes a Jewish democracy is “dynamite” and that the State of Israel is rotting from within will seem like a knife in the back to many Israelis. Ari Shavit, himself a principled progressive Zionist journalist, has written of the vehement arguments they had as Burg was writing the book. It promises to be a good read!
Thanks to Sol Salbe for Begin portion of this story.