FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Zionist History: a Short Quiz

by NEVE GORDON

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 Independence Day on April 26, a friend prepared a quiz of sorts. She read out loud political quotes to about ten 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.”

Confused yet?

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 recognised 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 Labor 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 by leftists.

I have no doubt that if Menachem Begin, commander of the infamous Irgun militia from 1943-1948, 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”.

Neve Gordon is an Israeli activist and the author of and author of Israel’s Occupation (University of California Press, 2008). He can be contacted through his website www.israelsoccupation.info

This article first appeared in Al Jazeera. 

More articles by:

Neve Gordon is a Leverhulme Visiting Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies and the co-author of The Human Right to Dominate.

February 21, 2018
Cecil Bothwell
Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail