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Michael Devolin

Benjamin Netanyahu and the Realm of High Audacity
By Michael Devolin
Feb 2, 2010 - 12:30:34 AM

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After reading a brief reference in Canada's National Post newspaper to Benjamin Netanyahu's attendance at a memorial service at the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz and his words, "we will never again allow the hand of evil to destroy the life of our people," I couldn't help but think of the Jewish families of Judea and Samaria who have been ordered by Netanyahu's government to cease and desist living as Jews in the land of Israel. I couldn't help feeling embarrassed for Prime Minister Netanyahu because of the fact that his government's special Yassam units have recently destructed a Jewish Synagogue in the Shomron-Binyamin community.

I am not a Jew and therefore not extremely knowledgeable of Judaism and Israeli politics, but even a Gentile like me knows that for Netanyahu's government to forbid observant Jews the Zionism prescribed them in their Torah, to destroy Jewish synagogues in Israel is rather contrary to his promise, "we will never again allow the hand of evil to destroy the life of our people."

I'm left to wonder which Jewish lives Prime Minister Netanyahu was referring to at that memorial in Auschwitz. Surely it couldn't be the lives of those Jewish families formerly of Gush Katif, nor could it be the lives of the Jewish families being persecuted in Judea and Samaria: When one is destroying synagogues in Israel and forbidding Jewish families their Zionist aspirations, it is utterly shameful to assume the guise that one is saving Jewish lives.

How could a Prime Minister of Israel stand in such close proximity to the unimaginable cruelties of the Holocaust and make the promise to "never again allow the hand of evil to destroy the life of our people" while at the same time he insouciantly accedes to the wishes of a pro-Islamist American president by virtually negating the future of those Israeli Jews whose only inconvenience to the international community is the observance of their Torah-their Zionism?

Simeon Strunsky wrote in No Mean City (1944) that "People who want to understand democracy should spend less time in the library with Plato and more time on the buses with people." Perhaps Prime Minister Netanyahu has become disjointed from the nonpareil Zionism of those courageous Jewish families of Judea and Samaria; perhaps he has been too long in the company of those political carnivores who cannibalized the life and breath of Ariel Sharon, at one time a devoted friend of the "greater Israel" movement.

In E.L. Doctorow's famous novel Billy Bathgate, the main character relates how the condemned gangster Bo Weinberg insults his mob boss Dutch Shultz, how the insult "to this moment gave me to understand the realm of high audacity these men moved in, like another dimension." These same words gave me to understand the careers of both Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu: both were cozened by the populist and imprudent, non-Jewish platitude that refusing Jews their right to live in the land of Israel will conciliate those of Islam's faith who are no less implacable (and even more religious!) than the Nazis who dreamed Auschwitz into existence. Jewish historians will recount in shameful detail how both Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu chose to destroy the lives of Jewish families for the sake of political expediency. The land of Israel is expendable in the realm of high audacity these men move in.

Michael Devolin,
B'nai Elim Canada
Michael Devolin's Magic City Column


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