“Schlaglicht Israel” offers an insight into internal Israeli debates and reflects selected, political events that affect daily life in Israel. It appears every two weeks and summarizes articles that appeared in the Israeli daily press.
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Main topics covered in this Publication:
- Another Election Victory for Netanyahu Possible
- Again Serious Clashes in the West Bank
- Stagnation in Iran Deal Negotiations
- Selection of Articles
1. Another Election Victory for Netanyahu Possible
Don’t expect too much from a national unity government
(…) The discourse is beyond toxic, the atmosphere is confrontational in the extreme, and the political maneuvering is as bewildering as it is distasteful. The rivalry between the two major blocs — perpetuated by participants and commentators alike — is now being countered by a call for “a broad national unity government without the extremes” (…). The debate between those who continue the binary battle between the blocs and those who advocate for a cross-cutting coalition is now emerging as the central axis of the election campaigning. This is a misleading and dangerous development. It offers more of the same under different guises. (…) It freezes social divisions without providing a real panacea for the troubled state of Israeli society. (…) Its goal of establishing a wide coalition between the major political lists and increasing their centrality in Israel’s political firmament is gathering momentum, as the prospects for a clear-cut outcome between the blocs diminishes. For Netanyahu (…) it offers him both the possibility and the legitimacy to return to power. (…) Israel’s record with national unity governments is uneven at best. (…) The Bennett-Lapid coalition in office since last summer, ostensibly a change government but incorporating immense socio-political diversity, is a microcosm of the severe limitations inherent in these formations. It, like most of its predecessors, sowed social discord, rather than solidarity. It chipped away at citizens’ faith in government and boosted simmering alienation from the public sphere. It proved incapable of dealing effectively with the fundamental issues of inter-group enmity, rising violence, socioeconomic inequities — let alone the basic question of Israeli-Palestinian relations both within and beyond the Green Line. And it failed to adhere to any moral compass or guiding value system. There is no cause to infer that a reconstructed national unity entity would fare any better on any of these counts. (…) There is a different path. One which acknowledges the built-in diversity of Israeli society, recognizes the justness of claims of exclusion and inequality on all sides, and seeks to develop points of convergence around a new vision of an embracing and tolerant Israel committed to giving a voice, a place, and a share in the power structure to all its citizens. (…) Don’t be blindsided by the false illusion of a national unity which defies any hope for societal cohesion. Take what may be this last opportunity to make elections here truly meaningful.
Naomi Chazan, TOI, 05.09.22
Israeli political discourse is at an all-time low
Sometimes it seems as if the level of discourse in Israeli politics has reached a nadir, and then something happens that breaks new ground. (…) for a serving Israeli minister to call a former prime minister the “scum of the Earth” (…) crosses all boundaries of political discourse even further. With the myriad of critical issues facing Israel, to have a former prime minister and a current finance minister engage in such despicable mudslinging is an affront to the country and its citizens. An Iran nuclear deal is forthcoming, housing prices are out of control, the country is one big traffic-jammed parking lot, the rate of terrorist attacks against Israelis is approaching Intifada-like levels, and this is what our elected officials are bickering about and accusing each other of? (…) Let’s not forget that we’re still two months away from a fifth election within a two-year period. That is never a sign of a healthy democracy. (…) we’re likely going to be faced with more character assassination from both sides of the political divide. The cult of personality has taken over Israeli politics and there appears to be no turning back. Netanyahu and Liberman are not the only culprits (…). Words can do damage – and as Israelis have learned the hard way, sometimes they kill.
Editorial, JPO, 06.09.22
No Plea Bargain with Fascism
(…) A plea bargain was not and should not be under discussion at all, but not because of political considerations or its impact on public confidence in the justice system. The relevancy of a plea bargain depends only on the strength of the evidence and the belief by the prosecution and the attorney general that Netanyahu committed crimes that can be proven were committed. These two conditions already prevail by virtue of the indictment and the fact that a trial is being held. The concern over a “civil war” (…) that supposedly justifies a plea deal (…) destroys the standing of the law, legal procedures and the purpose of the trial. (…) the very presentation and discussion of the dilemma over whether the center-left should join a government with Netanyahu renders that a legitimate option – and it is not. (…) the slogan “anybody but Bibi” rests on the ideological values of democracy, or at least not on criminality. The slogan “anybody but Ben-Gvir” is not its alternative. Those who believe that there is a difference between the two, will apparently continue to be persuaded that only a plea deal with Netanyahu will force the sun to rise.
Zvi Bar´el, HAA, 07.09.22
Netanyahu’s Legacy and Lapid’s Challenge
Intentionally or not, Benjamin Netanyahu has bequeathed a historic legacy to Israelis, in every area apart from the conflict with the Palestinians. During his many years as prime minister, many Israelis felt for the first time that this was their country, that they were no longer guests, no longer new immigrants, even no longer a so-called Second Israel. (…) he was responsible for a dramatic change in the sense of ownership and belonging on the part of a large segment of the Israeli public. The problem is that such a dramatic change (…) is accompanied by hard feelings on the part of the country’s founders (…) the First Israel – that the country had been “stolen from them.” For a long time, the fight between the two groups over the ownership of the Jewish state continued. (…) The fight was waged behind a series of disagreements over policy: territory in exchange for peace versus the Greater Land of Israel; a free-market economy versus a welfare state; and support for or opposition to the High Court of Justice. But in recent years, the battle lacked any attention to questions of policy. That was in evidence among the party heads of the outgoing coalition government, which was itself very diverse. They demonstrated that they had no fundamental disagreements with Likud and that the only thing that stood in the way of coalition cooperation was Netanyahu. Actually, most Israeli Jews currently also have no deep disagreement on issues of foreign policy. The failure of peace negotiations and the rounds of Palestinian violence have obliterated the left wing in its old sense. On the other hand, the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the apathy of a majority of Israelis regarding the settlement enterprise and proposals to annex territory in the West Bank also obliterated the right wing in its old sense. Most Israelis support the Abraham Accords normalizing relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates and oppose Iran’s obtaining nuclear weapons. They are in favor of some kind of separation from the Palestinians, particularly in regard to security. (…) The past few elections, consequently, have not revolved around policy issues, but rather around questions of ownership. (…) One side espouses statesmanship, Zionism and “blue-and-white” – the colors of the Israeli flag – to send the message that it is the loyal representative of the state and its symbols. The other closes ranks behind its leader, who shows that he is the most effective at representing them when it comes to the country’s ownership. (…) Yair Lapid now has a rare opportunity to create a historic legacy and reconcile the camp that believes the country was stolen from them to the fact that the country was never only theirs. (…)
Einat Wilf, HAA, 08.09.22
Extremist Ben-Gvir should be challenged, not censured
(…) The rules and laws of this land have determined that Otzma Yehudit faction leader Itamar Ben-Gvir can run for the Knesset and serve in the nation’s parliament. (…) Freedom of speech means that even those whose opinions you find appalling have the right to express them. That is not meant to imply that freedom of speech is absolute; there are limits, of course. (…) what is not only foolish but rather deeply troubling, is the racist slogan – “Your village should burn” – chanted by some of Ben-Gvir’s supporters as they faced off against his detractors outside the school. This chant, even if spouted out by only a fringe, is a repulsive call to harm Palestinians just because they are Palestinians. Such a call has no place in Israeli society and should be utterly condemned whenever it is heard. (…) Most Israelis – to their credit – have not gone down that rabbit hole. (…) The way to fight back against these slogans is to challenge those chanting them and show how dangerous they are. (…)
Editorial, JPO, 07.09.22
Being cautious never won anyone an election
(…) There is no Jewish majority west of Jordan, something that should be a nightmare scenario for any Zionist who believes in democracy. The Palestinian Authority can’t be strengthened when every night our soldiers search for suspects in their homes, and when the alternative to a diplomatic solution is financial assistance and work permits in. (…) After many years in which the right-wing thought that the solution lies in cooperation with Hamas and weakening the Palestinian Authority, and after years in which the centrists thought that strengthening the PA’s economy could lead to pushing off a diplomatic agreement into the distant future, both schools of thought have hit a wall. Perhaps Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be the one to pull the coals out of the fire for us when he makes his annual speech to the United Nations General Assembly about ending the Palestinian commitment to Oslo. (…) With elections looming, Lapid will be hesitant to enter the diplomatic fray lest he be accused of being left-wing, God forbid. But exercising caution is not a recipe for winning elections. An unequivocal statement that if he is elected prime minister, he will finally determine a border between Israel and the Palestinians (…) could give him a political advantage. Many Israelis who have lost hope for peace would view this as a crucial statement. It would also speak to many Palestinians who have lost all faith in the possibility of reaching a diplomatic agreement, and it would make the elections a referendum on the need for a solution to save the Zionist enterprise.
Yossi Beilin, IHY, 09.09.22
2. Again Serious Clashes in the West Bank
The West Bank Pressure Cooker Is About to Explode
(…) To gain control of the flames that have risen in Jenin and spread to Nablus and Ramallah, the IDF is using the “pressure cooker” method: Large forces besiege the home of the terrorist/s, who are ordered to surrender. If they do not, anti-tank missiles are fired at the house (…). The terms of the method cause most of the terrorists to surrender. (…) The pressure cooker “strategy,” it’s important to note, has replaced its predecessor, “low-intensity combat,” which was employed (…) during the second intifada. (…) The approach reached the height of stupidity and number of victims in the time of (…) prime minister, Ariel Sharon. It took the lives of over 1,000 Israelis: (…) Sharon, a man of war, waited a long time, too long, until he was forced – in the atmosphere of despair that prevailed after the attack on Netanya’s Park Hotel on Passover in 2000 – to abandon the low-intensity strategy in favor of an all-out military operation dubbed Defensive Shield. We are not there (yet). But we must note that the previous operations also began with “localized terror attacks.” Due to the erroneous military concept (…), the terror war became an all-out war, with numerous victims and considerable pain, frustration and despair. Even if today’s events don’t repeat themselves to the same extent, we must not wait, as in those bad days, for escalation, for the victims, the fear, the population’s despair, the army’s low morale – and only then, when there’s no other choice, launch an operation like Defensive Shield. (…) The government need only remove the IDF and the rest of the security organization from their conceptual and operational pressure cooker and order them – because the escalation is visible to all – to snap the neck of the terror while it is still in the stages of gathering force and motivation. We cannot afford for our eyes to remain wide shut, as they were two decades ago. (…)
Israel Harel, HAA, 02.09.22
Israel doesn’t have an alternative to Palestinian Authority
(…) There is no doubt that the weakness of PA’s security apparatus – and of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ government altogether – is correlated to the increase in violence that we are witnessing in the West Bank over the past few months. (…) Why is the PA growing weaker? One of the reasons, unfortunately, is because of Israel. Since 2009, when Benjamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister, Israel has been weakening the PA and Abbas’ Fatah, and strengthening Hamas. The absence of any progress on the diplomatic front, continued settlement construction, and other factors have all led the PA to lose its legitimacy in the eyes of the Palestinian public. (…) the PA is struggling to function as an authority in large parts of the West Bank. This directly corresponds with a dramatic surge in violence aimed toward the IDF and Israeli civilians. Israel, the IDF and the Shin Bet is no longer dealing with a structured organization like Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in the north, but with a frustrated and armed youth, who are fed up with the Israeli occupation and with the PA. They do not see signs of political stability, not to mention the economic one, on the horizon. This is the main reason for the increase in violence that no one on the Israeli side wants to address. (…) the PA is not in a rush to act against “ordinary” frustrated youth, many of whom were formerly part of the Fatah movement and some of whom have relatives in the security apparatus. (…) In certain cases in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, the Islamic Jihad has partially succeeded in providing financial incentives for the armed youth to carry out terror attacks against Israel. Some Palestinians in Jenin receive between 100-350 NIS to attack Israeli targets. Although the money is Iranian, the motives are not. The terrorists’ motivation comes from their own longing for change. (…) The problem Israel is facing right now is that Abbas and the PA are irreplaceable. In other words, Abbas’ retirement, or PA’s dissolution may lead to the kind of spike in violence we have not seen in many years – if ever. Abbas, which many Israelis consider an enemy, is one of the only Palestinian leaders that outright rejects violence and terror. (…)
Avi Issacharoff, YED, 07.09.22
Another intifada is just around the corner
The (…) storm has already arrived. Not a day goes by without violent incidents between the IDF and Palestinian mobs or without some raid in a Palestinian village turning into a battlefield with hundreds of residents clashing with troops, who respond with fire. Not a day goes by without some stabbing attack or ramming incident, and there has also been a spike in the number of Palestinian casualties, with each death fueling tensions even further. Jenin, the capital of terrorism, may be the main hotspot, but the Jordan Valley recently became a flashpoint, as has the Binyamin region. Nablus, Hebron, and the Jerusalem area (…) have all seen daily occurrences of violence. In other words, Judea and Samaria is on fire. (…) The PA and Abbas are weak and lack the will to impose order in the areas they control. But the future will be worse because those who replace Abbas won’t have the same legitimacy he has enjoyed as the one who was Yasser Arafat’s right-hand man. (…) No one anticipated the first two intifadas (…), because they erupted somewhat spontaneously and gradually without someone orchestrating it from the top down, not in Tunisia in the 1980s and not in Ramallah in the early 2000s. The masses were the ones who led the violence, facing an unprepared Israel that failed to respond on time and even lost control for a while. (…) Total calm is something our generation is unlikely to see. Israel has recently marked 55 years of holding Judea and Samaria, a period that is much greater than that of the British Mandate and the Jordanian occupation combined. Many view the status quo as the lesser of two evils because it allows Israel to hold on to the territory without facing a diplomatic backlash on the world stage. But there comes a point where the disadvantages of the status quo exceed its benefits. At such a point, it is imperative to think outside the box in order to effect change. The Palestinians, despite not admitting as much, would prefer to become Israeli citizens, despite this not being in Israel’s interest at this point. Regardless of the situation, Israel should counter this wave of terrorism with all its force before it becomes a full-fledged uprising and keep its finger on the pulse so that it gets a proper indication of when the status quo is no longer in effect.
Eyal Zisser, IHY, 11.09.22
Security official says revoking work permits for Palestinians, not collective punishment
(…) Over the past years, Israel decided to bolster Palestinian’s earnings and quality of life, by issuing growing numbers of permits to work inside the country, and to evaluate its contribution to reduce terror activity. (…) Israel’s goal is to create leverage so that support for terrorism will result in losses for the terrorists and their supporters, through steps that show the Palestinians that they are made to pay the price for such actions. The Israeli government prevented access to work in Israel for some 2,500 relatives of Palestinians who carried out act of terror. Security officials see revoking permits not as a short-term solution, but rather as having long-term effects on the economy and on family income. (…) Every day around 112,000 Palestinians with work permits, cross into Israel for jobs, while others are permitted to enter in search of work, while thousands more, enter illegally. Some 38,000, have jobs in Jewish settlements. Palestinians who work in Israel, earn higher wages than those who are employed inside the Palestinian Authority. (…) The policy of employment as a tool to lower the bar of terrorism, and as a lever for creating pressure, was successfully implemented in the recent round of fighting in Gaza, last August. The officials believe this was one of the reasons Hamas did not join the fighting. (…)
Elisha Ben Kimon, YED, 15.09.22
3. Stagnation in Iran Deal Negotiations
Iran nuclear program hasn’t crossed Israel’s red line yet
(…) Iran is a threat, it is pursuing a nuclear capability, and continues to grow closer to its goal as time passes. Nevertheless, the sword is not yet up against Israel’s neck, as Meir Dagan, Barnea’s predecessor at the Mossad, and the architect of Israel’s covert sabotage campaign against Iran, once said. (…) although Iran is unconstrained today with some parts of its nuclear program, it is not yet building a bomb, and as long as that is the case, Israeli military action will likely wait. This is a change in the definition of Israel’s red line for when it would need to act. (…) the red line has moved. Even with military-grade uranium, Iran would still need to take the gas and turn it into uranium metal, a highly complicated process that – together with assembling a warhead that could be installed on a ballistic missile that could reach Israel – would take at least two years. (…) Lapid is right to publicly threaten Iran and to present it with a clear and credible military threat. Deterrence is critical. On the other hand, the Iranians know that Israel is not close to activating a kinetic military option, and that part of what is behind this talk is the upcoming Israeli election. (…) Israel’s red line has fluctuated, sometimes due to operational success, sometimes due to sanctions, and sometimes due to diplomacy. There was a period in the mid-2000s when Military Intelligence announced every year that that year was the point of no return, and here we are almost 20 years later. When discussing red lines, there is one additional aspect that is important to point out: While the IDF has publicly said that it is working on a military option and that it hopes for it to be ready within the year, that is in reference to an ideal option, one that would be accurate, well planned and practiced. But make no mistake: There is no prime minister in Israel who would sit in the Prime Minister’s Office, receive intelligence that Iran has started building a bomb and not order action, no matter the price, the risk and the lack of training. This is a potential existential threat for Israel that needs to be stopped.
Jaakow Katz, JPO, 08.09.22
Biden’s tilt towards Iran involves more than nuclear talks
No one is happier about the apparent deadlock in the nuclear talks between the United States and Iran than Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. Had the Iranians finally agreed to a new and even weaker agreement than the one that Barack Obama negotiated in 2015, it would have been a political disaster for the head of the makeshift temporary Israeli coalition government. (…) Fortunately for Lapid, the Iranians have not yet tired of their never-ending game of pushing the Americans for more and more concessions. (…) Election-year politics in both countries appear to be behind the Biden administration’s sudden acquisition of a spine in the Iran talks. Even more than helping Lapid prevent Netanyahu from becoming prime minister again – a prospect the Democrats dread – Biden would prefer to present Congress with a new Iran deal after the midterm elections, just one week later than Israel’s. (…) Biden, and by extension, Lapid, is benefiting from the pause in nuclear negotiations with Iran. But as long as the goal of American diplomacy is to strengthen Tehran and its supporters, disaster in the form of heightened terrorism and a nuclear threat is just over the horizon.
Jonathan S. Tobin, IHY, 14.09.22
Israel Appears Resigned to Iran Nuclear Agreement
Israel seems resigned to a renewed Iran nuclear agreement, but insists it will not be bound by it and will be free to continue its covert campaign of sabotage against Iran’s nuclear program and its personnel. (…) Talks to resurrect it have been going on in Vienna for the past year and a half without a diplomatic breakthrough. In the meantime, Iran has violated the terms of the old agreement, which froze Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of international economic sanctions. (…) the Iranian regime has enriched uranium from the acceptable level of 3.6 percent to 60 percent, increased its stockpile of enriched uranium well beyond the accepted limit, installed advanced centrifuges at its facilities in Natanz and Fordo, and turned off surveillance cameras at key facilities that were monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. (…) Last month, in a bid to break the current impasse, the European Union sent Iran the final text of an agreement to restore the JCPOA. Iran sought further clarifications that the United States would lift its crippling economic sanctions and that a new agreement would be honored by Biden’s successors. Iran also demanded that the International Atomic Energy Agency should close its investigation of several undeclared nuclear sites. Subsequently, France, Britain and Germany issued a joint statement in which they raised “serious doubts” about Iran’s sincerity in seeking an agreement and warned Tehran they had reached “the limit of their flexibility.”
Sheldon Kirshner, TOI, 15.09.22
Israel should keep up its Octopus Doctrine against Iran
Talk of an Iran deal continues, but such a deal appears increasingly unlikely, at least in the short term. (…) Two trends – the decision by Israel to implement an Octopus Doctrine of targeting Iranian planners of attacks, as well as the decision by Iran to continue to ignore its obligations under the 2015 Iran deal – mean that tensions in the region will increase. (…) In Israel, our view is that Iran must be deterred from a breakout that would lead to a nuclear weapon. At the same time, we want Iran’s proxies to be deterred. (…) Israel must always be prepared to take matters into its own hands. (…) we face a complex Iranian adversary. (…) Israel has resorted to what is called the Campaign Between the Wars for the last decade to contend with Iran’s growing role in Syria. Recent airstrikes on airports in Damascus and Aleppo, which the Syrian regime blamed on Israel, illustrate a sense that Iran is continuing to traffic weapons via key Syrian airports. The Octopus Doctrine potentially gives Israel a way out of the Whac-A-Mole strategy in Syria. Iranian members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and other forces must know they cannot continue to attack Israel or plot against Israelis abroad. Iran has tried to cook up numerous plots, especially in Turkey, in recent years. Thwarting those plots is important, but Iran also has to pay a price. Israel should continue to adopt this Octopus Doctrine and work with our friends and partners abroad to raise the alarm about how Iran’s threats to Israel are also threats to the wider region and the world. (…)
Editorial, JPO, 15.09.22
4. Selection of Articles
Israel Admits Responsibility for Abu Akleh’s Death
IDF Shireen Abu Akleh probe shows Israel will learn from its mistakes –
An investigation by the IDF into the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, whose results were released this week, concluded that “there is a high possibility that Shireen was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen, during an exchange of fire in which life-risking, widespread and indiscriminate shots were fired toward IDF soldiers.” This is an important finding and concludes an important investigation into the killing of the Palestinian-American journalist for Al Jazeera. Unlike other countries that might have tried to cover up these findings, Israel did not. It investigated itself and then released the results to the world, despite knowing that it would have negative fallout. (…) How will Israel learn from the Shireen Abu Akleh incident? This includes learning from the incident to see how journalists can be better protected during military operations. Journalists are always going to find themselves in the line of fire when Israel is forced to battle terrorists in urban areas. However, the IDF must always weigh the presence of these civilians with the operational necessity of the missions. In general, Israel has vastly improved its ability to prevent unnecessary civilian casualties, and that needs to apply always. The defense establishment should be applauded for conducting an investigation into this death and determining more of the facts than were known initially. (…) Israel has learned from its past mistakes and will learn from this incident. We hope the IDF has already learned from the raid on Jenin to improve procedures and protocols. (…) The use of technology and briefing soldiers on what is expected in complex urban battlefields will help us reduce the chances of more incidents like the death of Abu Akleh.
Editorial, JPO, 07.09.22
Quarrel Over Light Rail on Shabbat
There is no religious reason not to operate Tel Aviv Light Rail on Shabbat
Israel must not give up on plans to operate Tel Aviv Light Rail on Shabbat. We can certainly find a way to implement the plan without harming the uniqueness of this day and offending the sensitivities of the religious public in Israel, which generally vehemently opposes the operation of public transportation on Shabbat. (…) We, nevertheless, mustn’t make this issue a point of friction between religious and secular sectors, since it would further distance the Israeli society from benefits of having transportation on Shabbat: a day of liberation from the day-to-day rat race; An important social movement of freedom from work and leisure for the soul; An advanced environmental concept of a nature reserve in time. The light rail is a different kind of public transport. It’s clean and quiet. It also moves on a set path. Its operation doesn’t include the noise and pollution associated with buses. It will aid in reducing the use of private vehicles, which swarm Israel’s roads 24/7, even on Shabbat. To aid the religious and ultra-Orthodox populations, the light rail could be operated like a Shabbat elevator – which works in a special mode, operating automatically, to satisfy the Jewish law. We could also make the light rail free of charge over the weekend, so the act of payment on Shabbat would be an issue. Haredi populations also shouldn’t have a problem with Israel hiring “Shabbos Goys,” a non-Jew who is employed to perform duties Jews are unable to do on Shabbat, to operate the light rail. (…) every practical religious concern of operating a light rail on Shabbat can be addressed. If politicians, however, decide not to permit the move, it won’t be due to trying to protect day of rest’s sanctity, but due to trying to satisfy their cowardly political interests.
Dr. Dov Khenin, YED, 03.09.22
Shoa Educational Trips for Young People to Germany and Poland
What Do Shoah Trips Teach Our Youth?
(…) The focus on the German extermination camps in Poland is understandable: They were the most deadly and extreme culmination of what the Nazis called the “Final Solution” to the Jewish problem. In the occupied countries, the Nazis found governments, political parties and people who abetted them – but the Holocaust was the Nazis’ plan to eradicate the Jewish presence in Europe and ultimately in the entire world and was part of the comprehensive racist ideology of their totalitarian regime. Without understanding this context of the death camps in Poland, one cannot properly comprehend a visit to them, and this can lead to a distorted historical understanding of the Nazi atrocities wrought by the Holocaust. The (…) should begin in Germany and then continue to Poland (…) students will learn about the Nazi ideology, the elimination of democracy, the construction of concentration camps for opponents of the regime – liberals, socialists, communists – and the dispersal of their political parties, about the arrests and murders of homosexuals, of Gypsies and of opponents of the Nazi dictatorship from within the churches. Visiting a camp like Dachau will illustrate the meaning of the Nazi tyranny, as will descriptions of the killings and the torching of synagogues on Kristallnacht. The trip to Germany should conclude with a visit to the Wannsee Villa on the outskirts of Berlin, where in January 1942 top German government officials discussed the annihilation of European Jewry, not as if they were discussing mass murder but as if it were merely a technical issue involving a population census and transportation arrangements. The chasm between the seeming normalcy of the administrative discussion that took place in the relaxed atmosphere of a charming villa and the murderous content of the discussion only heightens the horror. (…) Only after presenting the nature of the Nazi regime to the students can the trips continue to Poland. (…) The Germans may not like having large groups of young Israelis visit the country in connection with the Holocaust, particularly after Germany took responsibility for it and today is a true friend of Israel. (…) The profound antisemitism that existed in parts of Polish society cannot be ignored, but the focus must be on the horror that came out of the Nazi regime in Germany, even if the extermination camps were located in occupied Poland.
Shlomo Avineri, HAA, 04.09.22
HAA = Haaretz
YED = Yedioth Ahronoth / Ynetnews
JPO = Jerusalem Post
IHY = Israel HaYom
TOI = Times of Israel
GLO = Globes
Published: September 2022.
Dr. Paul Pasch,
Head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel