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Ariel Center for Policy Research (ACPR)


A Journal of Politics and the Arts
Volume 16 Number 3-4 (98-99)  June 2004Tammuz 5764

Table of Contents


The Prime Minister

Tell Us the Truth, Arik: Telling "Nothing" is Merely Lying With Silence

Emanuel Winston

Sharon and the Media: The Unholy Alliance

David Bukay

The Self-Incrimination of Ariel Sharon

Paul Eidelberg

the Holocaust

Anti-Semitism: Integral to European Culture

Manfred Gerstenfeld

Where Memory is a Curse and Amnesia a Blessing:
A Journey Through Romania's Holocaust Narrative

Laurence Weinbaum

Rabbis in the Holocaust: Captains of a Sinking Ship

Esther Farbstein

Europe: The Return of Defeatism

Jan Willem Van der Hoeven


Tank Tops and Heavy Metal: Armor's Enduring Appeal on the Middle Eastern Battlefield

Rand H. Fishbein

The Palestinian Authority

Arab Terror

Rachel Ehrenfeld


A New Chance for the Original Jewish Self-Conception

Daniel Shalit


The Radicalization of Israeli Academia

Solomon Socrates

Chomsky's War Against Israel

Paul Bogdanor

Jewish Self-Degradation and its Misuse by Anti-Semites in Contemporary Germany

Susanne Urban

The Selective Freedom of Speech of the Radical Left

Steve Plaut


History and Heritage

Moshe Shamir

Homage to Orzion Bartana: "All" is But a Part of a Great Whole

Ran Yagil

The Warden of Plenty Rings

Sika Aharoni


Orzion Bartana • Esther Zilber-Vitkon • Anna Akhmatova

Book Reviews

Moshe Yegar on "Europe's Crumbling Myths" by Manfred Gerstenfeld Hillel Weiss on "The Fifty-Fifth Year" by Yossi Achimeir

The Wise Men of Chelm

A Letter from a Palestinian Friend


Selected Summaries


Where Memory is a Curse and Amnesia a Blessing:
A Journey Through Romania’s Holocaust Narrative

Laurence Weinbaum

Romania was largely unaffected by the historical confrontation that swept Europe in the mid-1990s, resulting in a reevaluation of many nations’ wartime narratives. During the Communist period, Romanian society did not face its own culpability in the destruction of its Jewish community and in the murder of Jews in Soviet territory under Romanian military occupation. Instead, despite their wartime alliance with Nazi Germany (which persisted until August 1944), Romanians were taught to see themselves as victims, not perpetrators. Murdered Jews were seen as “victims of Fascism” and their deaths were blamed on the Germans alone. Whatever discussion of the Holocaust that was permitted, usually focused on the annihilation of the Jews of northern Transylvania that was carried out by the Hungarians and Germans while the territory was under Hungarian control. After the 1989 revolution that spelled the end of the despotic rule of Ceausescu, no positive change in the country’s historiography was immediately forthcoming. On the contrary, a personality cult developed around the figure of Marshal Ion Antonescu, Romania’s wartime dictator who was responsible for the deaths of over 400,000 Jews (and who was hanged for war crimes in 1946). Not only in extreme nationalist circles, but even in the political mainstream, Antonescu was generally credited with being the savior of the Jews who survived his regime. Jews who dared contradict this version of history were accused of attempting to discredit Romania. In the summer of 2003, when asked to clarify an official Romanian government declaration that “within the borders of Romania between 1940 and 1945 there was no Holocaust,” President Ion Iliescu said that “the Holocaust was not unique to the Jewish population in Europe. Many others...died the same way...” He also accused Jews who were seeking the return of their plundered property of trying to “skin” Romanians. In October 2003, in large measure due to an international outcry, President Iliescu (who on previous occasions had not condemned anti-Semitism) announced the creation of an international commission of inquiry into the destruction of Romanian Jewry, to be chaired by Elie Wiesel. One hopes that the findings of this commission will help Romanians shape a new historical narrative that does not whitewash their forefathers’ own role in the Final Solution.


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A New Chance for the Original Jewish Self-Conception

Daniel Shalit

Any conceptual system trying to account for the present bewildering self-destructive tendencies in Israel cannot deal just with present difficulties, but has to account for the whole gamut of facts and features of the Jewish historical existence. A partial list of these features consists of Jewish fate, including destruction, exile, suppression, attempts at annihilation; the intensity of hatred, contempt, de-humanization and demonization aimed at the Jewish people; its own occasional self-refusal and self-hate verging on self-destruction; also, tendencies for assimilation, radicalism, revolution. In the face of all this – the longest known national survival; continued creativity (Biblical, legal, mystical, Hassidic; in Midrash, poetry, and prayer). In the modern age, the unbelievable institution of the State of Israel – and now, what seems its wholesale liquidation.

Our suggestion is to reconsider the traditional Jewish self-conception.

Its core idea is that the Jewish people is the central site of the dialogue between God and Man, or, in more mystical terms, a vessel for the conscience of the Infinite Divinity and its expression in human life – individual, family, social, legal, moral and political.

Such a project must arouse opposition from cultures or nations, who are less interested in it, inner opposition within the Jewish people itself, and, last but not least, resistance within the individual self. Furthermore, the opposition may be said to be even metaphysical, since in order for human choice to be free, a system of forces counteracting the Divine Word must be activated.


The Jewish people has, then, a capacity for infinite receptivity. In order not to apply this receptivity but to the Infinite, this people must carefully guard itself from more finite influences, hence its clear self-delineation.

Such a subtle balance between the Infinite and the human, the universal and the particular, has to evolve through long preparatory historical stages, which in themselves are far from balanced and therefore highly vulnerable. At these transitory stages, the contact with the Infinite may fail, and various negative conditions may be suffered:

•     External and internal oppositions may arise.

•     Self-delineation may become segregation.

•     Self-criticism may give way to self-negation.

•     Infinite devotion may become radicalism.

•     Self-surrender to the Infinite may be transformed into surrender and dependence on other cultures.


Such pathology may weaken and destroy any normal nation, but the Jewish people is apparently not normal in any normal sense; it is somehow protected against external malice and even against its own failures. There is always a way of turning all the falls into lessons and regaining the original relation to the Infinite.

So much for the traditional self-conception; for millenia it was not only a mere conception but a source of vitality. It certainly deserves to be translated into contemporary terms and to become once again a fount of powers for healing.


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Anti-Semitism: Integral to European Culture

Manfred Gerstenfeld

Anti-Semitism is an extreme form of hate, not to be confused with criticism. The resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe after the Holocaust suggests that it has become embedded over many centuries in its societal mindset and behavior and is thus integral to European culture.

That many Europeans condemn, dislike or are indifferent to anti-Semitism does not contradict its deep roots in European culture, as statements of mainstream politicians, media and leading intellectuals prove. Also, varying types of anti-Semitic feelings are expressed in polls. The anti-Semitic wave of the last few years, mainly but not exclusively focused on Israel, suggests that it is impossible to eradicate this deep-seated irrational attitude in European society.

New European anti-Semitism often originates from youth. This indicates that it is an anti-Semitism of the future rather than the past and thus likely to become stronger.

The European Union’s attitude toward anti-Semitism is double-handed. With one hand, by its discriminatory anti-Israeli declarations, the EU plays the role of arsonist, fanning the flames of anti-Semitism. With the other, it also serves as fireman by trying, at the same time, to quench the flames of classic religious and ethnic anti-Semitism. France is paradigmatic of this widespread attitude.

A major change in EU policies is required to combat European anti-Semitism more effectively. This will have to be based on better data collection and political, legislative as well as educational action.

The central elements of Europe’s anti-Semitism are so major and so manifold that Jewish organizations can no longer limit themselves to protesting against individual cases of anti-Semitism. A systematic “Europewatch” to monitor extreme politicians, institutions, media and intellectuals has to be undertaken.

Attitudes toward the Jews have often been an indicator of the health of a society. Making Europeans aware of this is a further important step in the battle to mitigate anti-Semitism. 


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Rabbis in the Holocaust: Captains of a Sinking Ship

Esther Farbstein

The article deals with the works of two rabbis who lived during the Holocaust period; one, the manuscript of a Hassidic master in the ghetto; the second, of a congregational rabbi written in a labor camp.

Rabbi Kalonymus Shapira, the “Piascesna Rebbe”, was known before the war both as an educator, the writer of “The Students’ Obligation”, a basic volume in Hassidic education, and as a lover of the Land of Israel.

During the Nazi occupation, he resided in the Warsaw Ghetto. His home was open for prayer, assistance and advice, and each Sabbath he delivered sermons which afforded encouragement and faith. During the deportations, he worked in Schultz’s shop, which was known as the “Hassidic masters’ workshop”, where rabbis studied Torah in the guise of “workers”. He was murdered in Bodzin, in the Lublin District, on November 2, 1943. His collection of sermons are considered the last Hassidic manuscript in Poland.

The Rebbe continued to formulate Hassidic philosophy in the Ghetto, calling to find God in every situation, as “there is no place that He is not present.” God is also present in the human soul and his suffering, and a time of suffering can be a time of intimacy and integration with the “pain of the Divine Presence”; suffering is a connection based on the shared fate of man and his Maker. Similarly, he called to find God through “love of the fellow Jew”, through empathy and assistance to others. His sermons deal with the meaning of suffering and they include various responsa which developed in light of existence in the Ghetto. In an addendum to the book, the Rebbe emphasized the uniqueness of the Holocaust, the fact that the Jews had never before suffered anything like it. And when there were no more words and no more Hassidim, all that remained was the final prayer: “Please, God, have mercy and do not delay our redemption, and God will have mercy upon us and deliver us in an instant.”

Rabbi Yehoshua Moshe Aharonson, the rabbi of the village of Sanik, wrote the second manuscript discussed in this article, during his internment in the Kunin concentration camp, from March 1942 until late August 1943.

The journal is written in fluent, rich Hebrew, and the memoirs are written in Yiddish. Among the descriptions of Jewish suffering and Nazi cruelty, existential, Jewish law and moral dilemmas, which faced the rabbi and the Jews in the camp, are intertwined. Some relate to daily life, like the eating of proscribed foods, matters of prayer and burial and some dealt with genuine questions of life and death, like formulation of deportation lists for the Germans and the question of suicide. The rabbi describes the circumstances, the ruling and his feelings as an arbiter of Jewish law in a concentration camp.

A comparison between these writings enables one to get a sense of the range of Jewish leadership during the Holocaust. Each one represented not only a different type of authority, communal and inter-communal authority, but also provided for his congregation in that spiritual realm characteristic of his leadership during their times of trouble. Thus, even when the bedrock of their existence collapsed and they were exiled with their flock, each held on to the essence of his role, one as a Hassidic intellectual, providing encouragement and consolation; the other as an arbiter and leader, serving as role models who practice what they preach.


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 Tank Tops and Heavy Metal:
Armor’s Enduring Appeal on the Middle Eastern Battlefield

Rand H. Fishbein, Ph.D.

Far from being a relic of the past, the heavily armored main battle tank is redefining its place on the modern battlefield. From Iraq and Afghanistan to the Palestinian territories, the tank is displaying a new versatility that has once again propelled it to the forefront of ground combat. A renaissance in technology has made the venerable tank not only more lethal and maneuverable, but more survivable as well.

The Middle East continues to serve as the principal proving ground for new armor technology with countries like Egypt, Jordan and Iran engaging in major upgrade programs. The US remains one of the principal tank suppliers to the Arab states, recently announcing that it will provide the latest version of the M1 Abrams tank, the A2, to its allies.

Israel, by contrast, stands at a crossroads in tank acquisition. With its defense budget under increasing strain, there is mounting pressure from the government to terminate production of the Merkava tank. Doing so, however, would have a crippling effect on the nation’s defense industrial base and most assuredly on the ability of Israel’s military leaders to address the growing threat of urban insurrection now gripping the country.

It is imperative that the government commit to an economic rate of Merkava tank production of at least 50 vehicles per year to ensure a viable armor industrial base. Legacy systems should be upgraded, where appropriate, and a robust research and development program for armor maintained.

The Merkava remains an essential part of Israel’s export economy, generating income not only from the sale of defense products and services overseas, but from the diffusion of technology into the civilian sector as well.

The advent of more lethal anti-tank weapons, attack aircraft and long range smart weapons has not diminished the value of the tank. Rather, it has emphasized the need for greater survivability and lethality on the modern battlefield. The ability to seize and hold ground will forever remain at the heart of winning strategy. The Middle East theater is no exception.

As Israel’s adversaries continue to improve their offensive systems it is imperative that the Jewish state not forget some of the hard won lessons of its past. Both quality and quantity are both essential components of victory in a war environment characterized by high attrition, beyond visual range engagement and the need for precision strikes. The heavy tank is an answer to each of these requirements, and as such, should remain an effective fighting tool well into the 21st century.


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Chomsky’s War Against Israel

Paul Bogdanor

Noam Chomsky, the linguistics professor and extreme left-wing activist, is one of the most prolific Jewish opponents of Israel and Zionism. This article explores the salient features of Chomsky’s anti-Israel discourse: his sophistical argument that a Jewish homeland cannot be democratic; his commitment to the creation of a revolutionary socialist federation in which Jews will be a subjugated minority; his apologetics for Arab extremism; and his depiction of Israel as a terrorist state which is prepared to risk a global “final solution” for the sake of establishing “Jewish dominance” throughout the Middle East. The article documents Chomsky’s political fanaticism and his systematic falsification of facts, evidence, sources and statistics. It concludes by examining Chomsky’s wider hostility to his fellow Jews, including his scurrilous attacks on the American Jewish community and his notorious endorsements of Holocaust deniers.

This article is an abridged version of a chapter to be published in Peter Collier and David Horowitz, eds., The Anti-Chomsky Reader (Encounter Books, 2004, forthcoming). Reprinted by permission.


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Sharon and the Media – The Unholy Alliance

David Bukay

The “Disengagement Program”, hurriedly submitted by Sharon, without government approval or Knesset deliberation, was conceived in the sin of competing with Yossi Beilin’s “Geneva Agreement”, and it stands as a sword of Damocles over us, despite the fact that it was rejected by an impressive majority of the members of the Likud. It is a unilateral, hasty, escapist political maneuver, whose objectives are unclear; its result dangerous and its systematic thinking and strategic logic are lacking. Did Sharon devote any thought at all to what would happen after such a panicky flight? Would terrorism end and Palestinian society moderate and cease being a lynching society, which sanctifies blood and death?

Israel has learned nothing, and the syndrome of frightened flight from Lebanon, which bears a large measure of responsibility for the outbreak of Arafat’s September 2000 terrorist war, is recurring. Hizbullah, from which we “disengaged” in Lebanon, has vigorously entered the Palestinian Authority arena and is the foremost leader, operator and initiator of terrorist acts. Israel fled Lebanon, however Lebanon has not fled from it and Israel will withdraw from Gaza, however Gaza will not withdraw from it and will continue to attack it.

The Israeli media, which established a “mutual admiration society” coalition with the messianic Left, provided Sharon with maximum exposure to disseminate his messages, in order to facilitate the successful adoption of his proposal. With a long series of contentions, we systematically refute his positions, in order to expose his “pack of lies” camouflaged in the “emperor’s new clothes”. Especially conspicuous is the disparity between Sharon’s declarations and President Bush’s letter to him and that unsupported pretension further strengthens those disparities.

Finally, we raise a series of questions designed to prove that it is highly probable that Israel’s strategic situation is liable to further deteriorate in the wake of the implementation of the disengagement program, and enumerate several dimensions of that process internally, regionally and internationally.


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The Radicalization of Israeli Academia

Solomon Socrates

Academic extremists maintain a very high profile in the Israeli, Arab, and world media and have had an impact far beyond their actual numbers. Examples of their influence are plentiful, from the negotiations cooked up by two academics that produced the Oslo Accords to the rewriting of the textbooks used in Israeli schools to reflect the Arab point of view. Israeli journalists tend to follow their lead and take their clues from the tenured extremists (note, for example, how the media and then the PLO turned Katz’s otherwise obscure M.A. thesis into a cause celebre). Even more important, the extremists have an impact on events and emotions in the Middle East by encouraging those seeking to destroy Israel as well as demoralizing the Israeli public, thus weakening its ability to defend the country.

The most surprising thing about all this is that Israel’s academic extremists do all this damage while being funded by the Israeli taxpayer and by Jewish contributors from around the world, most notably in the United States. (University students pay only about 15% of the costs of their education, with the remainder coming from these taxpayers or donors.) Donors making philanthropic gifts to Israeli universities do so to assist with the Zionist enterprise; obviously, such persons will want to think twice before permitting their funds to further promote anti-Israel extremism.


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Jewish Self-Degradation and its Misuse by Anti-Semites
in Contemporary Germany

Susanne Urban

In the last few years, a steep rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism as well as anti-Americanism has been observed throughout Germany. This development started nearly parallel to the “Second Intifada” in 2000 and took a steep increase after 9/11 and the War in Iraq. Anti-Semitism on various levels – from subtle to open – is expressed by intellectuals, in the media, at public gatherings, in politics, schools and universities. The best means to assure that it will not be considered anti-Semitism but “only criticism” of Israel is to quote or interview , above all, leftist Israeli and/or Diaspora Jews who underline this hostile attitude. Another statement which is constantly repeated, is that because of the Holocaust, Germans have to side with today’s victims – and therefore with Palestinians in general.

But the German tendency to side with Israelis or Jews who are not only critical about Israeli politics but who are full of self-hatred is obvious. The “New Historians” are surprisingly not only those who gain most of the interest of anti-Zionists in Germany, but journalists and other public figures who are popularizing the topic of being anti-Zionistic.


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