יו”ר המזכירות הפדגוגית לשעבר במשרד החינוך צבי צמרת רומז כי שרת החוץ של שבדיה תחוסל כפי שקרה לרוזן ברנדוט ב-1948 pic.twitter.com/fRZW5wGb4O
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) January 22, 2016
Zvi Zameret, the former director for instruction for the Israeli education ministry has written an op-ed in Makor Rishon, Sheldon Adelson’s pro-settler newspaper, praising the 1948 assassination of UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte by Yitzhak Shamir’s Lehi gang. Zameret accuses Bernadotte of being an anti-Semite and claims that his views originated in a Swedish society that was suffused with this perspective. He claims that ridding the world of the Swedish Count was necessary to protect Israel’s new existence.
He wends his way through a long historical discourse involving material already well-known related to Bernadotte’s proposals, which were rejected by Arabs and Jews alike. Then he brings us up to the present day by alleging that remarks of the current Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom, demanding that Israel be held accountable for the 160 Palestinians killed over the past two months in the latest Intifada, stem from the same well of Swedish anti-Semitism.
Zameret hints that Wallstrom herself should share a similar fate to Bernadotte. Here is the passage in question:
“What do the things I have mentioned attest about Bernadotte? [They indicate] covert anti-Semitism, ignorance and arrogance, collaboration with senior elements in Israel [Hebrew University President Judah Magnes] and interests that play a decisive role. Has anything changed in the Swedish DNA in the decades following Bernadotte’s death? Nothing has changed.
The Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom, in the covert anti-Semitism which characterizes her, along with her ignorance and arrogance, and anticipation of the interests of her future Muslim voters–she too is attempting to battle against the basic foundation of the State of Israel. I am certain that her intentions will be defeated, just as were those of the disreputable Count Bernadotte.
When Barak Ravid tweeted this, Israelis disputed his interpretation of the passage, but he stuck to his guns. Whether Zameret advocates Wallstrom’s demise explicitly or implicitly is hardly important. Even if you accept the argument that he isn’t explicit, clearly the reason Bernadotte failed in his mission is that Jewish terrorists assassinated him. When you say you wish her intentions to be defeated just as his were, the line between murder and political defeat becomes exceedingly murky. Especially if you consider that future leaders of the State (Yitzhak Shamir and Lehi) were the ones who assassinated Bernadotte. Jonathan Offir offers a comprehensive summary of the full article here.
Note further, that Zameret indicates that Judah Magnes, because he supported Bernadotte’s approach, was a “collaborator” with the enemy. This is no different than the Israeli far-right leading the country today who accuse “leftists” of betraying the country by making common cause with foreigners like Wallstrom. We’re heading into very dangerous territory here, folks. Territory of bloodshed and death.
As with most of the Israeli far-right, history is not their strong suit. Zameret has forgotten the courageous efforts of Raoul Wallenberg, which saved hundreds of Jews in Hungary during the Holocaust. He also forgets the destination of the thousands of Danish Jews who escaped by boat during the same era: it was Sweden. In fact, one of Israel’s greatest national poets, Natan Alterman, praised the Swedes in a poem he wrote, The Swedish Tongue, to honor their heroic act. How quickly the current Israeli right forgets its history! Zameret also forgets that Sweden has an impeccable international reputation regarding upholding human rights for all peoples. All that is lost on this supposedly learned man.
Imagine, this was an individual entrusted with creating educational policy for the children of Israel. A pedagogical specialist who advocates the assassination of foreign leaders because they criticize Israel. Is it any wonder that Israeli youth come out of Israeli schools with full-fledged racist views?
Zameret’s views coincide with recent pronouncements by Israel’s leaders that Israeli NGOs and activists who support BDS may be considered traitors to the State. Once you label someone such, there is but a small step to murder. Indeed, this is precisely what happened in the run-up to Rabin’s assassination. Then, there were blood curdling cries of hate and vengeance against the prime minister for agreeing to the Oslo Accords and other imagined crimes against the State. We know the result.
Just as Netanyahu, who delivered a fiery speech shortly before Rabin’s murder should’ve been arrested for incitement, so should Zameret be investigated. But he won’t be. Because he’s saying precisely what Bibi thinks. Instead, he’ll be given a medal or a nice juicy consulting contract with the ministry.
Another aspect of Zameret’s article that disgusts is that the Lehi assassin who pulled the trigger & murdered Bernadotte, Yehoshau Cohen, was never charged for his crime. Nor was Shamir, who ordered it. No one was. The closest Israel came to a gesture of apology was to offer Bernadotte’s widow a Jewish National Fund forest in his name. The forest, of course, would be planted on ethnically cleansed land. Imagine such a gesture offered to the memory of a man who devoted his entire life to aiding refugees (including thousands of Holocaust survivors whom the Nazis repatriated just before the end of the War).
Cohen became a trusted member of David Ben Gurion’s security detail and one of the state-founder’s best friends. On her death-bed, Zameret recounts that Cohen’s wife said to the killer that the bullets he shot “weren’t fired in vain.” That his crime (my word, not hers) was worthy.
We often note that Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir were assassins with blood on their hands. But somehow Ben Gurion gets off scot-free as a statesman of sorts. In this instance we note that Ben Gurion chose as his best friend a hardened Lehi assassin. Speaks volumes.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.