Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Conspiracies of Israeli Politics

I tend to stay away from voicing a position on Israeli politics. This is partly because I don't live in Israel but also because I know that unless I take the position farthest to the right I will be attacked as being foolish and gullible. Israeli politics is rife with conspiracy theories. Things are never as they seem, partly because "we" know the truth and no one is capable of reaching a different conclusion. Additionally, these conspiracy theories are frequently joined with an unearned confidence that permits people to denigrate anyone who disagrees. You can see it on the Israel blogs but, oddly, it is even stronger in person. Just suggest that the Disengagement was about security and get ready to have your intelligence insulted. Of course, some readers will say that this is because anyone who would make such a suggestion is a moron. Case in point. Just today I received an e-mail about an old post decrying those who create a conspiracy theory around Baruch Goldstein's mass murder. Of course, I was accused of refusing to look at the facts.

The current issue of Jewish Action has a symposium on the Disengagement and the future of Religious Zionism. One of the questions posed to participants is what prompted the Disengagement. Here are the answers to this question -- notably lacking in arrogance, which is a testimony to the high caliber of participants:

1. Peter Abelow: The Disengagement was all about breaking up Religious Zionism. Here is a great quote: "Unfortunately, the successful execution of the expulsion plan is a strong indication that many of the official institutions of the State of Israel are 'anti-Jewish.'"

2. R. Yedidya Atlas: "Clearly, the disengagement/expulsion plan was not prompted by security considerations... [T]he 'Sharon Plan' was introduced to divert attention from corruption charges..."

3. R. Yuval Cherlow: "[T]he truth, I am sorry to say, is simpler: A large part of the public would like to remove the subject of security from the agenda."

4. Michael Freund: No opinion on this issue

5. R. Moshe Grylak: It couldn't be security. Maybe Sharon's legal problems. But, "The more the facts are revealed, the clearer it becomes that two main social factors combined to cause Sharon's dramatic turnabout: deeply-rooted hatred toward the settlers on the part of secular Israeli society and the Jewish identity crisis suffered by the latter."

6. R. Simcha Krauss: "[I]t was seen as one way of dealing with the major problem facing Israel, that of war and peace, of sheer physical security."

Out of the five participants who directly answered why the Disengagement came about, only two -- one of whom only recently made aliyah -- think that it was about security. The other three dismiss security and prefer abstract theories.

Maybe they're right. Maybe there really is this huge conspiracy and Ariel Sharon (remember -- the former spokesman for the Israeli Right who dedicated his entire life to what he believed was best for the future of Israel despite political costs) sold out Gaza.

Israeli politics is insane.

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