Denial and Anti-Semitism in the Baltic States
Although this article
presumes to focus on all three of the important phenomena expressed
in its title, in the post-Holocaust reality they often commingle
and cannot always be differentiated properly. In the main, this
is said about the problem of distinguishing between general
denial of the Holocaust2
and partial denial, which includes components of
disinformation and distortion. All of them frequently interrelate
with the new forms of anti-Semitism. Be this as it may, this article
will attempt to present several facts that represent our knowledge
of these phenomena in respect to the Holocaust in the three Baltic
countries, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
1 See Dov Levin, “On the Relations between the Baltic Peoples and
Their Jewish Neighbours Before, During, and After World War II”, in
Remembering for the Future, Theme I—Jews and Christians During
and After the Holocaust, Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1988, pp.
the proliferation of views about this phenomenon, one view seems the
most appropriate and relevant for the contents of this article: that
“the real purpose of the denial is to clear the Nazism that clings
to it; to achieve for it the rehabilitation that will pave the way
for those radical movements that are experiencing difficulty in
gaining a broad foothold in the public and political arenas.” Yisrael Gutman, Denying the Holocaust, Jerusalem:
Shazar Library, 1985, p. 13.
The Autumn 2005 Riots in France:
Their Possible Impact on Israel and the Jews
The French 2005
autumn riots were a classic example of “first the Jews are attacked
then others follow.” What France experienced in 2005, was similar to
what thousands of Jews who live close to Muslim communities had
already gone through since late 2000.
were almost exclusively North and West Africans, the great majority
of them Muslim. They had three major motivations. The first
was socioeconomic. The second was that many rioters were hooligans
or criminals. The third motivation for the riots was racist-ethnic.
Some of the rioters publicly said that they are anti-French and
community kept a low profile during the riots and was not
specifically targeted this time. However, several anti-Semitic
incidents took place in the months after the riots. The main one was
the cruel murder of a young Jew, Ilan Halimi. After the riots, the
question arose, what would have happened if the French government
had protected the Jews more forcefully when they were attacked so
often in the past few years. Would it have prevented the 2005 riots?
For years the rioters had seen that only a small number of those
attacking Jews and Jewish institutions were caught and brought to
issues to be analyzed when trying to identify the disturbances’
relevance for French Jewry include subjects such as whether there
was a specific impact of the disorders on the French-Jewish
community, what specific conclusions the Jewish community should
draw from them, what changes in societal attitudes and governmental
measures may affect the French-Jewish community, and whether the
French government will make specific demands on the Jewish
Since the riots, it has
become evident that there are some similar motifs in the problems of
France and Israel. One is unlikely to be proved wrong when
forecasting that the ongoing Muslim incitement propaganda will
create substantial new problems in Europe as well. The recent
decline in self-assuredness and increased confusion in Europe,
however, opens new possibilities for Israel in its interaction with
France and Europe.
Righteous Gentiles – What is Their Fear?
Among the 20,757 people who have received the Righteous Gentile
medal, the largest group is Polish: 5,874. Truly impressive.
However, when, last autumn, a festive reception was held on behalf
of the Israeli embassy in Poland for the recipients of the righteous
Gentile medals in the Lublin district, only three representatives of
their relatives attended. Just before the reception, relatives of
two other families called and made their attendance contingent on
the lack of media coverage of the event. A planned reception in the
Spring in Bialystock was canceled as family members claimed that
even if there would be no media coverage of the event, it will be
impossible to keep it a secret and it will ultimately become known.
As a result, the medals and the certificates were sent in the mail.
The reception in the village of Podolska Biala was described by a
local journalist who was present: “None of those in attendance
agreed to give his name to the media representatives. Righteous
Gentiles are very apprehensive. The Israeli embassy resolutely
refuses to give the media any identifying details regarding the
identities of those receiving medals or their relatives.” A reporter
who sought to interview one of the families had a door slammed in
his face. And if someone relented and agreed to talk, the standard
response was: Sir, please leave me alone. What will be accomplished
by immediately publicizing the family name? Who knows what the
neighbors will say, how the children will react? And after all, so
much time has passed since then, who needs this…?
Naval Deterrence as Part of the New Strategic Perception
In this essay, I will
attempt to explain that it is not possible to effectively
protect the State of Israel today against the strategic threats
confronting it without sea expanses along with a mobile,
multi-purpose, aggressive (and nuclear) durable navy.
The State of Israel is
like a “strategic platform”, upon which, in situations of emergency,
crisis and war, a strategic surprise could take place – a surprise
attack employing conventional, chemical or biological missiles and
in the future, even nuclear missiles or bombs. This platform must
deter, prevent, absorb and neutralize the other “strategic
platforms” (Arab countries) from which the missiles were launched.
The platform is narrow, densely populated in its center, where all
of the recruitment, logistic, medical and industrial centers are
also concentrated. Therefore, as technology progresses, threats grow
more ominous and distance (even thousands of kilometers) loses its
significance, the need arises to enlarge the platform, otherwise it
will “collapse” (while Israel’s land expanses are gradually
expansion into space and to sea. Israel has “dabbled” at space and
its accomplishments are tremendous, however the required budgets are
as astronomical as the distances involved. Expanding the country’s
borders (primarily to the east) creates an inconsequential security
belt (as the strike at the center is what counts).
In contrast to all
that, sea expanses create natural strategic depth with strategic
advantages for sea vessels like those provided by land vehicles:
Mobility, quick movement from sector to sector, sea-based deterrent
and defense capability against planes attacking the country’s skies
and the ability to participate in the decisive battle. In terms of
the underwater realm, the submarine has advantages in firing
conventional and non-conventional (ballistic and cruise) missiles
due to its survivability.
The requisite funds
should be provided after a reorganization of the defense components
as a whole in the face of the threats.
In addition, other
forms of cooperation are possible such as the use of ports and
infrastructure, mutual use of intelligence, “reciprocal coverage and
As a result of the
above, in the nuclear era that is liable to become a reality in the
near future (no surprise), the primary strategic threat facing
Israel will be a surprise nuclear attack. Deterrence by means of
submarines armed with cruise missiles with nuclear warheads or
surface vessels armed with appropriate discovery and warning systems
are the optimal operational response at Israel’s disposal at
Today, the navy must
move from the stage of operating strategic vessels – the Saar 5 and
the Dolphin strategic submarine, to a stage of operating
synergistically as a strategic branch of the armed forces, employing
tactical nuclear attack capabilities.
The Navy’s budget should
be upgraded in accordance with those needs.
“Tenured Radicals” in Israel:
From New Zionism to Political Activism
The decision of
the British Association of University Teachers to call for an
academic boycott of Haifa University and Bar-Ilan University aroused
waves of protest in Israel and abroad. Most of the rage was directed
towards a group of Israeli academics who supported the boycott. The
fact that Israeli academics are pawns in the hands of those
interested in implementing an action of this sort against Israel
moved many to issue a call for the dismissal of those “radicals with
tenure”. Others, including much of the media, wondered how was it
that senior academics, whose salary is funded by the Israeli
taxpayer, could utilize their position in order to harm the national
interest of the State.
are insufficient to deal with the complex issue and the relationship
between academic endeavor in the social sciences, academic activism
and academic freedom. It is appropriate that a discussion of this
sort, which became extremely contentious in the United States over
recent decades, should take place in Israel as well. At its
foundation, stands the need to confront the challenge posed by the
critical theory widely accepted in Western academia to the
traditional configuration of knowledge in the social sciences and
sees the “post-Zionism” of that group of academics as the Israeli
version of “post-modernism”, a trendy critical theory among Western
academics over the last 50 years.
different approaches in post modernism, among them the interpretive
approach as propounded by Michel Foucalt, Jacques Deride, Jean LeCan
and the German philosopher, Jurgen Habermas who claimed that the
accepted “social narratives” reflect the power structure in a given
society. The neo-Marxist approach, among whose central scholars are
Andre Gunder Frank, Henrik Cardozo and Samir Amin, criticized
free-market democracy and introduced the “dependencia”
movement to the world. Researchers from the Dependencia
School claimed that socialism and not free-market democracy is the
ultimate destiny of mankind. Edward Said, who adopted the
fundamentally economic critique of Samir Amin, developed his highly
influential cultural criticism known as “Orientalism”. In a book of
the same name published by Said, he claims that the West
misrepresented the Arab societies and described them as a backward,
threatening “other”, in order to justify colonial conquest.
approaches to international relations developed and became
“constructivism”, which claimed that a state is shaped in accordance
with its identity needs and profound fears, including the view of
the “other”. During the Cold War, the constructivist school
propounded the theory that the Soviet Union is nothing more than a
ghost, a product of the American military-industrial complex, and
that it, in reality, poses no threat to the West.
adoption of this “revolution by method” as it was characterized by a
famous radical critical humanist, the critical scholars were
liberated from the shackles of empirical social scholarship
practiced by their colleagues who conduct themselves in accordance
with behaviorist scholarship concepts and methods. A leading Israeli
scholar phrased it thus: “Post-Zionism is a semi-analytical,
semi-normative approach, which challenges the traditional Zionist
way of thinking.” Equipped with the tools of the sort provided them
by the critical theory, the critical scholars or Israeli
post-Zionists have succeeded in producing mounds of theories and
interpretations. For example, the attempt of the “new historians” to
deconstruct the traditional “Zionist narrative” that was constructed
around the period of the establishment of the State of Israel and
the fate of the Palestinian people is well known. Benny Morris
started it, and it was continued and elaborated upon by Ilan Pappe,
Avi Schleim and others; “new historians” who deal with the “myths”
that became part of the traditional database including the “myth” of
the balance of power, the “myth” that the Palestinians left of their
own volition and the “myth” of the intransigence of the
rejection of the founding narrative of the Jewish state, critical
scholars, like Uri Ram, reject the notion that the Jews have a
legitimate right to the Land of Israel. Basing himself on Said, Ram
claims that the “Zionist project” is a colonialist enterprise, which
does not grant the Jews any more rights to Palestine than the
British had to India.
School of Thought in Service of Political Activism:
De-Legitimatization of Israel as a Means towards the Liberation of
the Palestinian People
True to the
mandate that they assumed to change society, the scholars of the
critical school turn to political activity with the objective of
underscoring the illegitimacy of the occupation. As Ophir put it,
they are motivated by the fear that “rule over the Palestinians” led
to “the adoption of political patterns of an ethnocentric, racist
nation-state”. Many of the scholars are involved in the “Campus is
Not Silent” organization, a group that has branches in Tel Aviv
University and in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The group was
founded in 1996, as a continuation of “Ad Kan”, a movement
that was established during the first intifada in the late
1980s. Others are active outside the group, which numbers 150
faculty members. About 20 of them serve as the spearhead, others
participate in the organization and there are those who exploit
their academic research projects to promote its primary objective –
the de-legitimatization of Israel.
mobilize international pressure involve a range of strategies –
awareness raising through the use of media outlets in the United
States and in Europe; turning to sympathetic organizations like the
UN Human Rights Committee and NGOs involved in human rights, groups
affiliated with international churches; support of sanctions like
the boycott of universities, institutions and companies that
encourage the “occupation” and others.
has not been reached as to the optimal manner in which to duplicate
the success enjoyed by the activists in South Africa, the scholars
adopted different strategies. For example, Pappe, Reinhart, Giora,
Yablonka and Ram support an academic boycott and other forms of
pressure; Gordon and Greenberg supported petitioning the
International Court for War Crimes against IDF officers in the
territories and the Commander of the Air Force whom they want to put
on trial for the targeted killings. Kimmerling, who believes that
“academic institutions are an indivisible part of the oppressive
State of Israel, which among the other contemptible and foolish acts
that it has perpetrated, has committed unforgivable crimes against
the Palestinian people”, opposes an academic boycott unless it is
part of a comprehensive boycott modeled after the South African one.
Ophir is angry that the “shadow of anti-Semitism” prevents Europe
from adopting a more severe approach vis-à-vis Israel and
says that “if things continue as they are” it is possible that there
will be room for the intervention of NATO, which will bomb Israel.
Despite their limited number, the critical scholars have wielded
significant influence both in Israel and abroad and the boycott
imposed by the British Association of University Teachers is the
most conspicuous example. In order to understand how such a
relatively small group of academics can achieve such impressive
results, a more profound understanding of their methods of operation
Democracy in Service of the Global Caliphate
of Muslim Brotherhood
On October 28,
2005, President George W. Bush denounced Islamo-Fascist movements
that call for a “violent and political vision: the establishment, by
terrorism, subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that
denies all political and religious freedom”.
Brotherhood (Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimun) also known as the
Ikhwan is a good example of what the President described and
what he must protect us against.
1928, in Egypt by Hassan al-Banna, The Muslim Brotherhood spawned
and encouraged many Islamist proxies dedicated to the spread of
Shari’a law around the world and the establishment of the
Caliphate. In many countries it has also been linked to terrorist
groups and activities, such as Hamas and al Qaeda in the US it calls
for a form of government that would deprive Americans of their First
interest of preserving freedom in the US while advancing it
globally, it is time for the US government to thoroughly investigate
the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots and consider designating it
and them as terrorist organizations.
Identity and Place – What Settlement Means
post-Zionism as a component thereof) erodes the Israeli-Jewish
existence and brings about loss in three significant dimensions:
Loss of the Value of
Time. Time, in the spiritual-internal experience, is
existence; it contains the memory of the past and proceeds towards
the future. The Jewish consciousness is totally historical, built
upon memory from the beginning of recorded history and proceeds
towards the future, towards redemption. The post-modern condition
negates the value of time, the value of history and lacks any
vision towards the future.
Loss of the Value of
Place. In the post-modern condition, we are citizens of the
world, residents of the “global village” and we are not
necessarily tied to a specific country or place. This perception
erodes the Jewish consciousness, which is tied to one place, one
of a kind and extraordinary, the Land of Israel.
Loss of Identity.
If there is no identity, no “I” – then there is nothing to connect
the past to the present and there is nothing to provide place with
meaning. This is true of collective identities, like a nation. The
national identity is progressively eroding under the pressure of
global standardization. Erosion of the individual and national
identity runs counter to the Israeli Jewish identity, which always
demanded choice, purpose and will.
What do the settlements
express regarding these three aspects? The settling of the entire
land, and specifically of the settlements, constitutes a statement,
actions that speak louder than words. However, in accordance with
the three above points, one may phrase the statement in this manner:
Identity is possible,
even under the corrosive conditions of post-modernism. Jewish
identity is historical, in other words: It was constructed over time
in a manner where on the one hand it is dynamic and on the other
hand is static. In terms of change, it is composed of at least five
disparate historical eras: A. The forefathers and the tribes; B. The
First Temple; C. The Second Temple; D. The Diaspora; E. The
modern-day return to Zion. That is the extent of the dynamic aspect;
however, in terms of identity, all five eras participate in one
process and construct it from different perspectives. Each one of
the stages constituted a renewal and the identity appeared
transformed in each stage, while at the same time true to its
distinctive essence. And now too, in the midst of the current
crisis, a similar renewal is impending.
This identity manifests
itself in place. However, living in the Land of Israel is not
something that “exists” but rather something that ought to be,
conditional upon the Jewish people being worthy to inherit the Land;
Abraham was born in Ur Kasdim and sets out for the Land; the
Children of Israel come together as a nation in Egypt and Sinai in
order to enter the Land; when Israel is unworthy they are exiled
from the Land, and in exile they maintain their identity all the
while aspiring to return and express themselves in the Land. In
other words: Israeli identity does not grow in Israel, but rather
from the exile-redemption proportion. Thus, Jewish identity is not
merely assertiveness, but rather an ethical identity, which exists
only when it is worthy. However, the identity is worthy only when it
realizes its transcendental, divine potential.
The Jewish people have
the “patent” on the Land of Israel as there, and in the surrounding
areas, the Jewish people established ethical values that became part
of world culture, and they have not yet had their say completely:
The unity of the universe, the unity of humanity, the unity of
history, personal responsibility and fraternity that encompasses all
of humanity. But it is not simply about the “right” to the Land. It
is about what we are obligated to do in the Land, our obligation to
a destiny beyond ourselves; one that if we ourselves heed, the
world, which is on the brink of oblivion will listen to as well. The
residence of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel is a
fundamental need of the world.
We do not have an
iron-clad or absolute right or ownership vis-à-vis the Land,
but rather a provisional right contingent upon an obligation.
Therefore, the right to the Land is weakened by those parts of the
nation that do not accept the Jewish ethical-religious mission upon
themselves. (Just as it is weakened by those Jews, who identify as
Jews and observe the commandments of the Torah, who do not move to
Israel although they pray five times daily to return to Israel).
One who rejects the
Jewish settlement in the country’s central regions – in the
mountains – as unethical, for all intents and purposes, also denies
his ethical right to the “consensus” territories. He exposes himself
to the claim that there too he is a colonialist, a foreign occupier.
There is no such thing as partial morality.
difficult to identify with the Jewish, Israeli, settlement matter?
“Difficult is beautiful.” Let us draw strength from the place that
bestows strength, life and existence.