Esor Ben-Sorek

Assassins among us… a voice crying in the wilderness

In a brilliantly-written but yet terribly frightening op-ed our Editor-in-Chief, David Horovitz, has proved to us that “if Netanyahu is not careful, there will be blood.” In it, he cites reasons leading up to fearful possibilities of political assassinations of candidates in the proposed “government of change”.

It was chilling to read it and to understand clearly the dangers and threats of the possibilities for which prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu… he, and he alone… must take responsibility.

The first assassination in Zionist history occurred in June 1933 when prominent Zionist leader Hayim Arlosoroff was shot and killed by fellow Zionists Avraham Stavsky, Zvi Rosenblatt and Abba Ahimeir.

Their reason for murdering Arlosoroff was presented to the courts at their trial. Arlosoroff had just returned from a mission to Germany where he met with Nazi leaders in an effort to permit emigration of German Jews to Palestine. His sincere efforts caused his assassination.

Jews throughout Palestine were shocked to believe that a Jew could be murdered by another Jew.

We were shocked again, years later, when another young Jew, Yigal Amir, pulled the trigger of his pistol and assassinated prime minister Yitzchak Rabin on 4 November 1995 as he was delivering a speech in a Tel-Aviv park, now called Rabin Square.

Two assassinations of prominent Jewish leaders by opponents who disagreed with their policies.

David Horovitz points out the dangers of a recurring assassination of candidates who oppose the Netanyahu policies and who demand a change in our government.

Naftali Bennet and his family, Ayelet Shaked, Yair Lapid are all under threats of danger and are protected by security police against deadly harm. Their homes are surrounded by hundreds of angry protesters who shout at them and who threaten them.

Except for the United States and Israel, what other civilized and democratic nation has witnessed political assassinations of leaders with whom we are in disagreement?

But let us face the fact. If, God forbid, any one of our political candidates is assassinated, the blame must be placed 100% on the head of Bibi Netanyahu who encourages the use of force to destroy his enemies and prevent them from ousting him as leader of a very sad and disappointed government and its people.

Reading and re-reading the Horovitz op-ed I feel myself as a kol ba-midbar, a voice crying out in the wilderness. Who but the grazing camels can hear me?

Among the daily morning prayers we ask God to rescue us from an evil man, an evil companion, an evil neighbor, an evil mishap and a harsh opponent. Binyamin Netanyahu is all of these.

In the biblical Book of Chronicles (Divrai Ha-Yomim), God rebukes the evil-doers “to my prophets do no harm”. We have lost our great prophets who have been replaced by dictatorial leaders and rabbis hungry for power.

The shouts and the placards of protesters against the anti-Netanyahu group calling out the frightening word “bogdim”, traitors, can lead to the same fate as Rabin’s… and only because there is no decent person in the Netanyahu bloc with the courage to stand up and denounce the name-calling which can lead up to death.

I am shocked by the silence of good men and women who may democratically express their opposition to Netanyahu’s political enemies but who cannot intend the assassinations of those with whom they disagree. We must never return to the 1995 wave of madness.

There were in our past two great fathers … Benzion Netanyahu, father of our prime minister and Shmuel Ben-Artzi, father of our prime minister’s wife, Sara.

Both men were brilliant scholars of Jewish history and Hebrew. Both were highly respected Zionists. And yet, in many ways, each one differed from the other.

Binyamin Netanyahu’s father was not in favor of Arabs living in Palestine. He, in fact, had a fervent idea of deporting the Arabs out of Palestine
In an interview with Maariv newspaper in 2009 he said “that the tendency to conflict is the essence of the Arab. He is our enemy by essence. His personality won’t allow him to compromise. It doesn’t matter what kind of resistance he will meet, what price he will pay. His essence is one of perpetual war”.

It strikes me curiously. While the son certainly upholds the thoughts of his father, he cannot openly repeat them. As much as the “enemy by essence”, he needs their votes and support.

The other great father and Jewish scholar and Zionist thinker was Shmuel Ben-Artzi, father of Sara Ben-Artzi Netanyahu. He arrived in British mandate Palestine in 1933 and inspite of Arab uprisings he did not participate in anti-Arab protests.

When he died at the age of 97, among those who came to pay a shiva visit of condolence was Ahmad Tibi, a prominent Arab member of the Knesset. It was a sign of respect to a man who had always been polite and courteous to Arabs since he first arrived in Palestine.

I believe sincerely that neither of the two fathers would ever support those who decry the present government-of-unity as “bogdim”, traitors, who, in accordance with biblical punishment, are worthy of the death penalty. Not since the execution of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann has Israel used a death penalty.

We are living in an era of madness. Of sheer insanity. Our democracy is rapidly falling apart and soon, unless we have a change of mind, heart and actions, our once blessed country will taste the scorn and bitterness of the nations of the world.

There must no more be assassins among us. No more assassinations. Only better understanding and expressions of goodwill and harmony.

That is my kol ba-midbar… my cry in the wilderness. And I hope that more than grazing camels will hear me.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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