The Mea Culpa State

By David Isaac

Shmuel Katz (Jabotinsky poster in background)

On Yom Kippur, Jews say an “Al Chet” prayer – a confession of sins – ten times during the course of the services. Israel has managed to turn the annual “Al Chet” into a daily devotional, becoming a serial apologizer.

It wasn’t always thus. Think of Chaim Herzog as he tore up the “Zionism is Racism” resolution at the UN, a thoroughly appropriate response. When exactly the watershed occurred, and Israel reverted to a formerly ghetto mentality, is open to debate. The Sabra and Shatilla massacre is as good a starting point as any. Then, Israel apologized for a slaughter it didn’t commit.

Shmuel Katz, who boldly asserted Israel’s rights to the Land of Israel, would have been angered by the recent spate of apologetics spewing forth from the Netanyahu government, from freezing settlements – really an apology for being in Judea and Samaria at all – to falling over itself to apologize for building in its own capital.

Add to the list Israel’s collapse in the face of international criticism following the flotilla crisis. On July 14, Israel set up a commission of inquiry which, according to Netanyahu, “will make it clear to the entire world that the State of Israel acts according to the law, transparently, and with full responsibility.”

Naturally, this investigation will not satisfy the world which has already made up its mind despite overwhelming evidence that the flotilla was a set-up, with a gang of hoods lying in wait for the woefully unprepared Israeli seal team. Two foreign observers will participate in the investigation, a new intrusion on Israel’s freedom to run its own affairs. This sop to the world has been predictably dismissed as not enough by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who says Israel’s investigation lacks international “credibility”.

Again in an effort to subdue international pressure, the government on Sunday announced it would lift much of its land blockade on goods crossing the Gaza border. Even material that can (and will) be put to a military purpose will be allowed. Of course, the pressure continues unabated with the White House saying it wants “to explore additional ways to improve the situation in Gaza.”

Shmuel, who was a disciple of the great Zionist leader Vladimir “Ze’ev” Jabotinsky, would have likely trotted out an excellent piece by his mentor written in 1911 titled “Instead of Excessive Apology.”

“We (the Jews) constantly and very loudly apologize…. Instead of turning our backs to the accusers, as there is nothing to apologize for, and nobody to apologize to, we swear again and again that it is not our fault… Isn’t it long overdue to respond to all these and all future accusations, reproaches, suspicions, slanders and denunciations by simply folding our arms and loudly, clearly and calmly answer with the only argument that is understandable and accessible to this public: ‘Go to Hell’?”

“Who are we, to make excuses to them; who are they to interrogate us? What is the purpose of this mock trial over the entire people where the sentence is known in advance? Our habit of constantly and zealously answering to any rabble has already done us a lot of harm and will do much more. …”

“We do not have to account to anybody, we are not to sit for anybody’s examination and nobody is old enough to call on us to answer. We came before them and will leave after them. We are what we are, we are good for ourselves, we will not change and we do not want to.”

Words to live by.


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