Israelis in Berlin. An existential threat?
Aviad Kleinberg

The 'new Nazis' on the block

Op-ed: While Israel peacefully reconciles with European murderers' offspring, it rejects any attempt of reconciliation with its Palestinian neighbors.

The fact that Berlin has become an Israeli heart's desire is odd. As far as most Israelis are concerned, there is an emotional and cognitive abyss separating between the old Germany, which produced the evil that threatened to destroy their forefathers, and today's cool Germany, where one can buy cheap pudding.



The Israeli educational project, it seems, worked in mysterious ways. Decades of the "memory of the Holocaust" in its Israeli version (in Israel it is always a political expression of the rightness of the Zionist idea) on the one hand, and tight relations with post-Nazi Germany on the other hand, have led to an incomprehensible outcome.


The good Israeli student has internalized the lessons of the Holocaust (the entire world is against us; we are always minutes from boarding the next train to Auschwitz), but has completely applied them to the Arab world in a sort of cultural-political sleight of hand. As far as he or she is concerned, the Arabs are the new Nazis, the spiritual offspring of the old Nazis. And what about their flesh-and-blood offspring? They have been fully exempted.


Not just them (the grandchildren, of course, cannot be blamed for their grandparents' crimes), but their culture as well. Two-thousand years of Christian persecution have been erased. The enemy is the Arabs; and from the unique point of view of the Israeli culture, this has always been the case.


It is therefore logical that we are proudly-anxiously standing on guard against Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas and not against the Germans or the Western Christian culture. The years of living together in Muslim countries and the years of persecution in Christian countries have been forgotten.


And as if in order to stress the rift with the past, a unique urban entity has been created – "Berlin." Israelis don't travel to Germany – the explicit name still makes the conservatives turn up their noses, although the new Israeliness makes sure to turn up its own nose against the turned up noses. They travel to "Berlin," a sort of cosmopolitan, open and marvelous city whose ties with Germany and with the past are unknown.


There is something positive in the ability to disconnect the past (which should be remembered) from the present, in which every generation can choose to design the world in its image rather than in its forefathers' image. But as I argued earlier, the Israeli mental-cultural mechanism has not gotten rid of its subjection to the fears and illusions of the past, but has simply replicated them in its immediate surroundings.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Israel has reproduced Europe of 1938 in the Middle East, and while it peacefully reconciles with the children and grandchildren of the European murderers, it rejects any attempt of reconciliation with its Palestinian neighbors.


All the protests won't help. There is no use in arguing that Hamas, for example, is a small and primitive organization with no resemblance to the well-oiled and remarkably efficient war machine established by Hitler, the trigger-happy Prussian generals and the profit-seeking German capitalists. The anxieties remain unchanged, inflamed by a systematic shift of the historical lessons eastwards by Prime Minister Netanyahu and his yes men.


And the anxieties are not left solely in the external domain – the fear of the enemy threatening to grieve us to death at any given moment. They are also directed inwards. The hysterical reaction to the fascination with Berlin reflects a deep sense of threat.


It's as if we are not talking about a very small number of people who emigrated to the German capital for different reasons, about several thousand people out of a population of more than eight million, but rather about an existential threat.


In Israel, every threat is an existential threat (just like every leftist is "radical"). In our self-image, Israel is not a medium-sized, economically stable state, which is armed to its teeth and can deal sanely with immigrants and emigrants, but a tiny Jewish shtetl whose existence is threatened by any change in its situation.


What will happen if several thousand more young people travel to Berlin? What will happen if we talk to the Palestinians? What will happen if Netanyahu, the prophet of the Middle Eastern holocaust as an excuse for complete diplomatic cessation, leaves? The answers are as follows: There will be several thousand more immigrants in Berlin; there might be peace; things will be better.


פרסום ראשון: 10.15.14, 23:46
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