Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Zionist History Quiz About Two Decades of
Israeli Extremist Policies
By Neve Gordon
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, May 15, 2012
Zionist history: a short quiz
highlights the slide in Israeli political thought over the past 20 years
with a quiz the answers to which “expose just how far right Israeli
politics, as well as the public discourse informing it, have shifted”.
Take this test to find out how much you know about the gradual shift
in Israeli political thought over the decades.
Not long after
Israel celebrated its 64th birthday on 26 April, a friend prepared a quiz
of sorts. She read out loud political quotes to about 10 guests who were
having dinner at my house, and asked us to identify the politician who had
uttered each statement.
Truth be told, none of my guests did very
well on the quiz, but I thought that readers acquainted with Zionist
history might do better and would be able to identify the source of each
of the following statements. There is only one rule to this game: all
search engines, including Google, are off limits.
- "Does a bad law become a good one just because Jews apply it? I
say that this law is bad from its very foundation and does not become
good because it is practiced by Jews... We oppose administrative
detention in principle. There is no place for such detention."
- "We do not accept the semi-official view ... wherein the state
grants rights and is entitled to rescind them. We believe that there
are human rights that precede the human form of life called a state."
- "We have learned that an elected parliamentary majority can be an
instrument in the hands of a group of rulers and act as camouflage for
their tyranny. Therefore, the nation must, if it chooses freedom,
determine its rights also with regard to the House of Representatives
in order that the majority thereof, that serves the regime more than
it oversees it, should not negate these rights."
- "We would propose that the Knesset enact a law of its own free
will, limiting its authority and stipulating that it will not tolerate
any legislation that limits oral or written freedom of expression or
association, or other basic civil and human rights to be enumerated
before the constitution, law, and Justice Committee."
- "The day will come when a government elected by our people will
fulfill the first promise made to the people on the establishment of
the state, namely: to elect a founding assembly whose chief function –
in any country on earth – is to provide the people with a constitution
and issue legislative guarantees of civil liberties and national
liberty... For the nation will then be free – above all, free of fear,
free of hunger, free of the fear of starvation. That day will come. I
can sense that it is coming soon."
- "Some say that it is impossible for us to provide full equal
rights to Arab citizens of the state because they do not fulfill full
equal obligations. But this is a strange claim. True, we decided not
to obligate Arab residents, as distinguished from the Druze, to
perform military service. But we decided this of our own free will,
and I believe that the moral reason for it is valid. Should war break
out, we would not want one Arab citizen to face the harsh human test
that our own people had experienced for generations."
If you are having trouble identifying the
author, you are not alone. After hearing the quotes, I, too, wondered why
they were so difficult to decipher. But, following a few misguided
guesses, I recognized the source of the difficulty. The quiz was
counterintuitive, and not only because all of the statements were uttered
by a single politician.
No doubt, time has done its work
and what was once pronounced by the undisputed leader of the Israeli
right, now sounds more like declarations coming out of the liberal and far
left – such as Knesset members from Meretz and Hadash. Even the head of
the Labour Party, Sheli Yichimovich, does not oppose administrative
detention, and does not dare to claim that "there are human rights that
precede the human form of life called a state", probably for fear of
losing potential voters.
My friend's quiz managed to expose just
how far right Israeli politics, as well as the public discourse informing
it, have shifted over the years; so much so that, within the current
political climate, declarations once uttered by former Prime Minister
Menachem Begin, who passed away 20 years ago, can now only be reiterated
I have no doubt that if Menachem Begin, commander of
the infamous Irgun militia during 1943-48, were alive today and would
utter these very same statements in the Knesset, his own party members
from the Likud – as well as the Israeli majority – would condemn him.
Today, citizens who hold such positions are simply called "traitors".
A version of this article first appeared on Al-Jazeera’s
version here is published by permiission of Neve Gordon.