Monday, March 14, 2016

Fwd: A critical year of national consciousness by Ariel Kahana

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Subject: A critical year of national consciousness by Ariel Kahana
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This article appeared in Hebrew in this Friday's Makor Rishon
(11/3/2016). Written by Ariel Kahana. Because of its utter importance
Women in Green had it translated. Translated by Sally Zahav.

A Critical Year of National Consciousness

Only with the arrival of 2017 will the Obama-Netanyahu quarrels, like
the one that happened this week over the cancelled meeting, come to an
end. But then the really difficult war will begin, the war over
national consciousness

"The past actually happened, history is what someone wrote down", the
American comedian Whitney Brown once said. This pithy saying exactly
describes the approaching critical year of national consciousness.
Even at the beginning of the year 2016, all eyes are already set on
2017. During that year Israel, the Palestinians and everyone who is
connected to the Jewish-Arab battle over the Land of Israel, will mark
the one-hundred-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, seventy
years of the partition, and fifty years since the Six Day War.

The battle over the world's memory regarding these points in time will
be almost as bitter and difficult as the wars that accompanied each
one of them. Palestinians and their supporters, including self-hating
Jews from Israel and the diaspora, have already begun preparations to
undermine our rights to the Land in general and to Judea and Samaria
in particular. Israel, perhaps thanks to a prime minister with an
especially developed historical awareness, has also begun positive
preparations. This is good.

Already during the last Jerusalem Day, the government determined that
a ministerial committee would begin planning celebrations for the
jubilee year of the city's unification. The task was assigned to
Minister Miri Regev and an inter-ministry committee was established,
headed by Managing Director of the Ministry of Culture and Sport,
Yossi Sharabi. On the next Jerusalem Day the government is expected to
approve the plan and the events themselves are already expected to
begin. Simultaneously, Minister of Education Bennett announced that
the academic year for 2017 will mark fifty years of the unification of
the eternal capital of the Jewish People.

However, neither Netanyahu nor Bennett took advantage of their
authority to sharpen the message which is no less important: the
jubilee year of the return of the Jewish People to the historical
tracts of the Land of Israel, meaning Judea and Samaria. One need not
be a rightist in order celebrate the miracle of this war of salvation,
and one need not be religious to claim that Elon-Moreh, Beit-El,
Beit-Lehem and Hevron are the cradle of the Jewish People's homeland.
There is, of course, a political dispute over the question of what to
do in these tracts of land today, and it is clear that the educational
system must not get involved in the bitter argument. But the past must
be told. If not, others will come and rewrite history, and actually,
they are already doing this.



The Palestinians have already succeeded for some time to penetrate the
international consciousness with the lie that they are an ancient
people that have, from time immemorial, lived in the land. They scream
"It is all mine", but are answered by our side with "okay, then we
will divide it" and not "It is all mine". It's no wonder that many
people, and not only the ignorant, are convinced that the State of
Israel arose on the ruins of the state of Palestine, even though such
a thing never existed.

Israel refrains from screaming about its fundamental rights in Judea
and Samaria. And as long as it continues to do so, Israel can expect
to suffer a crushing defeat in the battle for national consciousness
since her claims are not convincing. The Palestinians in 2017 will
scream "Fifty years of robbing us of our country and usurping our
lands". Israel, as it has through the years, will mumble that her
actions stem from security needs. That is, she will say implicitly
that the land indeed is Arab, but the occupation, the theft and the
usurpation, are done in the name of Israel's security. With such a
message as this it is impossible to win. Just as it is impossible to
settle in a neighbor's home just because he is an irksome nudnik, it
is also impossible to justify the theft of another people's land on
the grounds of national security. "Give them what is theirs, and solve
the security problems in another way", is the outsider's expected
response.

The Israeli hasbara system has not internalized this fundamental
point. In the opinion of the hasbara people, the claims of history and
rights are automatically connected to a contemporary political
solution.

Therefore, it is preferred to obscure the past. Instead of
differentiating between rights and an agreement that perhaps will
exist in the future, both are treated equally. This is analogical to a
lawyer not representing the reasons that the accused is not guilty
because of misgivings that the judge will not be convinced, which
might lead to him actually not being convinced. Like a dog that
returns to its vomit, Israel goes back to her futile security claims
and flees from the main question – the question of the right to the
Land.

The only one in the Israeli system that has understood this concept is
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely. She had some time ago already
formed a team and a plan to promote hasbara projects that emphaszie
Israel's rights in Judea and Samaria. The program includes a
presentation that will move throughout the country to tell of the
continuity of Jewish communities in the Land of Israel over the years,
film clips and hasbara dossiers in Hebrew and English. But in order to
implement it, the approval of the minister of the treasury, Moshe
Kahlon, is required. "The idea is to emphasize the message of
liberation and the return to the territories of the Land, rather than
the term "occupation", say those in Hotovely's office.  The Yesha
(Hebrew acronym for Judea, Samaria and Gaza) Council plans its own
celebrations to mark the jubilee year of the return of the Jewish
People to its historic inheritance. The question is why Prime Minister
Netanyahu and head of HaBayit HaYehudi Bennett, who are polished
public relations presenters and understand the matters at hand, stand
on the sidelines. Why do these two leaders not also initiate
celebrations and courses of action to send this essential message,
which they both know so well: the historical miracle of the return of
the Jewish People to the heart of its homeland.

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