Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Who is an Israeli? (cont'd.) by Joseph Agassi

From Joseph Agassi's eulogy for Hillel Kook:
Hillel Kook said repeatedly that Israel’s leadership stole form
the Israeli people their nationality. The French Jew is both French and
Jewish. The American Jew is both American and Jewish. Only Israeli
Jews are not Israelis. OF course, Israel is a Jewish state the way Franc
is a Catholic state. And why can an Israeli not declare, as Hillel Kook
did repeatedly, I am 100% a Jew and 100% an Israeli? Why not?
Because if this were admitted, than it would also be admitted that
Israel has also nationals who are 100% Israeli but not Jewish at all,
but Muslim or Christian or Druse, or whatever else they may be.
Israeli Jews find this unacceptable. And on the ground that Israel must
be the state of all Jews no matter where they live. And this on the
ground that we must avoid the repetition of the shameful abandonment
of the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust. And so Israelis find the
right to religious discrimination in the Holocaust and in the
irresponsibility of their leadership then.

Religious discrimination has made Israel bi-national de facto.
As long as she maintains a national minority, said Hillel Kook, she
will not be viable. Most regrettably, recent events prove him right.
The national minority in Israel ahs the peculiar status. Its members
have the right to elect and to be elected, but not to bear arms. This
amounts to the idea that weapons speak louder than laws, that soldiers
are mightier than legislators. This is an intolerable insult to the laws,
and it introduces violence into all areas of life here. In Israel there is a
clear preference for contempt for the law, since the settlers violate the
law of the land. They imitate the heroic settlers in the period of the
British Mandate. In that period the British government had betrayed
its Mandate. Today the Israeli premiere praises the lawbreakers and
thus belittles the law and the government that rules by the law and
himself as its head.

Hillel Kook demanded all his life that we establish an Israeli
Republic that will be a normal nation-state in the western liberal
democratic pattern so that its government could initiate practical
political solutions to the difficult problems of the day that no Israeli
leader claims to have a plan for its solutions. Hillel Kook changed his
positions repeatedly in the light of changing circumstances and in
accord with the principle that a responsible government should display
one-sided political initiative. He was amazingly free of dogma. The
fact that he stuck to the idea of nationalism has no basis in any dogma.
It rests on two facts. First the sense of duty that he had towards the
people who dwell in Zion. The second is the absence, to date, of any
form of government that is preferable to the western-style liberal
democratic nation-state. This form is far from perfect. He was
convince that a day will come and nations will disappear, so he wrote,
and the unity of all humanity will prevail. But he added to this that if
we will not fulfill our national purposes, then we will have no
descendents to witness that great day. It is a matter of life and death.
We take leave of Hillel Kook with the promise not to forget his
message. It is a matter of life and death.