Guardian

Pass him a mirror


This is a guest post from Israelinurse

Seth Freedman has got something right. In his latest article on CiF he rightly says that all Jews remember exactly where we were on the evening of November 4th 1995.

I was at home in the Golan having coffee with a dear friend when her husband called to tell us the awful news. We never did finish that conversation.

But from here onwards, Freedman descends into the realms of fantasy, stating that “with three bullets, assassin Yigal Amir managed to irreversibly derail the peace process” and claims that the entire region’s political journey abruptly changed course as a result of that tragic event.

In actual fact, the Oslo Accords continued to be implemented. On January 20th 1996 agreements were made regarding the IDF redeployment from areas to be passed over to PA control, the election of the Palestinian Council and the head of the Palestinian Authority. The 23rd October 1998 saw the signing of the Wye River Memorandum and on September 4th 1999 the Sharm El Sheikh Memorandum was agreed.

Just as the peace treaty with Jordan, signed just over a year before Rabin’s murder, did not fall apart , so the agreements with the Palestinians went ahead. But on July 11th 2000, the Camp David negotiations fell through and just over two months later the second Intifada began, shaking Israel to its core.

Freedman chooses to ignore the fact that the extremist who derailed the Oslo Accords may have had the same initials as Rabin’s murderer, but his name was actually Yasser Arafat.

Even whilst Israel was still reeling from the effects of the second Intifada the Israeli government still accepted the Roadmap on May 25th 2003 and executed the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, continuing to try to secure peace for its people.

Freedman claims that Amir managed to “drive a wedge through the heart of the political system, splitting left from right and religious from secular in an unparalleled act of division”. My own experience of the aftermath of Rabin’s death was very different. There was a new-found sobriety and a sense of responsibility which led people from differing camps to consider what they had in common rather than focusing on the differences.

Freedman also asserts that in the last 14 years “the country has swung decisively to the right”. Those of us who remember the euphoria of Ehud Barak’s election in 1999 and the feeling that peace was now in our grasp may well dispute that claim. In fact, Israel has – like much of the democratic world – become more centrist. Just as it is difficult to identify any major differences between Labour and the Tories in Britain, so the divides between the Likud, Kadima and Labour in Israel have become increasingly blurred.

Unfortunately for Freedman, he fails to comprehend that opposition to the Oslo Accords was not an opposition to peace itself and that the vast majority of those who criticised Rabin at the time had nothing whatsoever to do with his death.

On September 9th 1993 Yasser Arafat declared on behalf of the PLO that, amongst other things, it recognised Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, committed itself to a peaceful resolution of the conflict and renounced terrorism and other acts of violence. Given the hindsight we have all gained over the past 16 years, can we seriously declare that the people who were sceptical about this agreement at the time were way off the mark?

In the period after Rabin’s murder a new movement arose in Israel called ‘Dor Shalom’ – ‘generation of peace’. Many will remember their bumper sticker: ‘A whole generation demands peace’. These were people who like many of us had come of age listening to Abie Natan’s ‘Voice of Peace’ radio station and spent decades singing ‘Shir Lashalom’ and David Broza’s ‘Yihiyeh Tov’. For me at least, the second Intifada brought a new understanding that it is not enough to demand peace only from our own government; if we ignore the fact that there needs to be a desire to work towards peace on the other side too, we are no better than a toddler trying to impose his will upon an adult by throwing a tantrum.

“[T]hese remain dark days for anyone finding themselves on the receiving end of the far right’s wrath” declares Freedman, but I can assure him that being on the receiving end of the far left’s shrill denounciations and demonisations is no less intimidating. It was a concentrated campaign of demonisation on the part of a small number of extremists which gave birth to the atmosphere in which the assassination of a prime minister could take place. To my taste, there is little to choose between that demonisation by the far right 14 years ago and the demonisation of the right in which the far left is engaged today and which Seth Freedman so enthusiastically peddles in the foreign press. Will someone please pass him a mirror?

Striving for peace is a worthy goal, but if the price paid for that peace is the making of certain sections of our society into loathed enemies, then we will not benefit from it for long. I for one learned from Rabin’s death that such a price is not worth paying.

31 replies »

  1. Kol hakavod Israelinurse. You have the distinct advantage of possessing good sense and an accurate memory. You recount the events as they happened rather than the trivia of the years that have hidden them and the convenient revisions made to them. Freedman not only has no sense of history but he is one of those who finds new trivia to add to the obscuring layers taking care to denigrate Israel all the way.

    The country has not swung to the right. Don’t forget it was Bibi the who in faithful obedience to Oslo handed the first territories to the Palestinians. Let a Palestinian ask for peace and a Likud government will run not walk to accept it. Remember Begin?

  2. Spot on, down to the last dot on the i — except perhaps that Freedman’s inane blatherings really don’t deserve such a measured and well-argued response. The boy must have been about 15 at the time of Rabin’s murder, and he hasn’t noticably matured since then; it also seems that except for his own scribblings, he hasn’t even tried to read much to educate himself.

    And before anyone thinks it’s somehow unfair to call him a “boy” — I’m just quoting from memory: if I’m not mistaken, he once had a piece on Cif where he recounted meeting a Palestinian whom he described as a “boy my age”. At least somewhere deep down, it seems he knows his mental age.

    Of course Israelinurse is entirely right to point out that Rabin’s murder resulted in a very somber mood that led the vast majority of Israelis to feel that it was vitally important to overcome the devisive political debate. And hopes for peace — and the resolve to push for peace — remained high. Let’s remember that Peres lost the election after Rabin’s death due to terrorist attacks before the election; and let’s remember that in the 1999 elections, Barak came to power, with a clear mandate to leave Lebanon and go to Camp David.

    Just as Israelinurse says, it was Arafat’s NO at Camp David, and the “Al Aksa” intifada that started soon afterwards that caused so many Israelis to become pessimistic about the prospects for peace. Benny Morris was perhaps one of the most prominent Israelis to change his outlook, but the process he has described was one that many Israeli peaceniks went through. Still, there was the Geneva initiative, and there was yet again quite a bit of popular support for it. And many Israelis also genuinely believed that the disengagement from Gaza could be a first step towards peace, because it allowed the Palestinians the chance to build up a model for how they would run their affairs. They did.

    Seth Freedman may have an Israeli passport, but he doesn’t know anything about Israel and Israelis. Nothing could demonstrate this better than reading his piece and then Israelinurse’s comments here.

    But let’s face it: Israelinurse is one of a kind — with a unique ability to express the essence of mainstream Israeli sentiments and experiences.

  3. Seth Freedman plays to a gallery of people who hate Israel, but have little grasp of the facts of the region. I do find myself wondering how he feels at the end of the day. The Guardian only pay peanuts, so I wonder how much lower he would stoop for real money.

    Well done Israelinurse. As always you’ve hit the nail on the head with eloquent perfection. As many people as possible need to read your writings. Please keep it up.

  4. Thank you for this article, Israelinurse. In retrospect today one indeed might say that the assassination of Rabin, traumatic and heinous as it was, probably did not play a crucial role in derailing the peace process, as there was never really any such process underneath the appearances.

    I guess such romanticizing is legitimate for a people. But I would expect more from a journalist.

    Freedman indeed repeats without a hint of autonomous thinking (like a deaf blind and dumb parrot) the British-left’s mantra that for the last 14 years Israel “has swung decisively to the right”.

    Well, Israel has swung somewhat to the right only in the last decade, from a naive and very hopefull left, to the center. You can’t call it the “right” by any means since the majority of Israelis still support the two-state solution.

    And that so-called swing only happened when Arafat fulfilled his true nature, like the scorpion from the old parable, that eventually stung because ‘he couldn’t help it- it was in his nature’.

    Because ultimately the worst thing for someone in the terrorism, reactionism, and conflict business- is peace.

  5. Israelinurse

    A very good article and a very good perspective of the peace process. Peace is a two way street. Arafat’s decision to go to war after Israel’s offer of peace in 2000 proved (confirmed) that the Palestinians are not a true partner in peace – to this day.

  6. Seth Freedman’s articles are as predictable as the night follows day. Israelis are always portrayed as facscistic fanatics and the terrorists are always presented as wayward youths who are forced into becoming suicide bombers by Israeli policy. Supporters of Israel, whether Jewish or Christian, are always demonized. Freedman’s articles always end with Freedman confronting the Israeli wrongdoers. Freedman has not had an original thought in 30 years.

  7. Excellent article that presents the reality, and corrects the nonsense or worse that Freedman spouted. I really object to that ignorant Israel basher hypocritically using Rabin’s memory to advance his hatred of Israel.

    I think of Freedman and the other CiF house Jews in the same way as Michael Chabon wrote of one of his characters in “Kavalier and Clay”:

    his literary efforts were “only a long, spiraling chute, greased with regular paychecks, to the Tartarus of hackdom”.

  8. sababa – in Freedman’s article, which used Rabin’s memory as yet another effort to demonize Israel and drew the predictable responses from the usual 6 -7 mobsters, he mentioned that he was 15 at the time.

    “When the news first broke, we 15-year-olds were doing what we did best on a Saturday night, standing outside Carmelli’s on Golders Green High Road,”

  9. Excellent, IsraeliNurse!

    Of course the peace process began to be derailed before Rabin’s murder – and that process has been ignominiously helped along by Sethele and his ilk – shame on them.

    Arafat was subsequently shown to be incapable of being honest or knowing or telling the truth. The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege by Kenneth Levin describes this in great detail as well as the desperate wish for peace which had the Israeli government of the time believing what Arafat said.

  10. Freedman is a chancer who is motivated by what he can earn and he can earn (albeit peanuts) by publicly being one of the pet Jews on the most scurrilously anti-Israel blog on the web.

    I also believe that he must have a deeply personal animus against Israel, or rather the IDF, which he cannot let lie and he is using his access to CiF to play that out.

    He must have little insight and care even less as to how others perceive him. I believe that he believes in the utter correctness of his chosen cause, so any sense that he has betrayed his own people by lying about them (more by omission than otherwise) doesn’t even register.

  11. I just received a massive critique of Goldstone, which included the following – very approrpriate for CiF’s house Jews:

    “We usually strive to reveal in others the blemishes we hide in ourselves.”

    – The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements – Eric Hoffer

  12. Well, AKUS, he can’t even get an address right:

    Carmelli Bagel Bakery
    126-128 Golders Green Road
    NW11 8HB

  13. ** Postscipt **

    You may recall my exchange with Brian Whitaker about the Guardian’s lack of coverage of the Hamas rocket attacks during the week preceding Cast Lead which prompted his comment “You’re just making this rubbish up”.

    After several more comments from myself and others (and perhaps he even read the article here) Brian apparently realized that he should have checked my claim before popping off and he posted the following comment:

    BrianWhit
    29 Oct 09, 5:15pm

    “Please explain why during the week prior to the start of Cast Lead, when Hamas was firing 70+ rockets daily into Israel, the Guardian did not report these events”

    MindTheCrap:

    Your claim is factually wrong.

    During the seven days before Cast Lead started (i.e. 20-26 December), the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Independent and Daily Mail – among the British national newspapers – reported rocket attacks. The Times, Daily Express, Sun, Mirror and Daily Star did not report them during that period.

    On Dec 20 the Guardian reported the firing of two rockets; the Independent reported three. The other papers reported nothing.

    On Dec 22 the Guardian reported: “Palestinians launched 18 Qassam rockets, one of which struck a house and another a factory, while a third exploded near farm labourers, injuring one. Most landed in open fields. In the afternoon gunmen also shot at workers near the perimeter.” On the same day the Independent reported: “At least 20 rockets and mortar bombs struck southern Israel, including a direct hit on a house in the border town of Sderot. Nobody was hurt.” The other papers reported nothing.

    On Dec 23 a report in the Telegraph warned of possible suicide attacks and referred in general terms to rocket attacks from Gaza.

    There were no reports in the national press on Dec 24 (which was Christmas Eve).

    On Dec 26, the Daily Mail reported that since the end of the ceasefire (on Dec 19) “more than 200 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israel, causing damage but few injuries”. The Independent briefly reported an appeal by Ehud Olmert for “Palestinians to prevent Hamas from firing rockets at Israel”.

    The Guardian, Times, and Sun were not published on Dec 26 (Boxing Day).

    To which I posted the following reply:

    MindTheCrap
    30 Oct 09, 10:05am

    BrianWhit:

    Thank you for taking the time to write and research a detailed reply (which you should have done after my initial comment).

    My comment referred to the coverage in the Guardian in the week prior to Cast Lead and not in other newspapers (“Now go and compare that with the coverage in other newspapers” was your comment, not mine) or more specifically, the lack of coverage in an area where the Guardian devotes so much of its resources.

    You detailed list shows only one article in the Guardian during the period I cited, specifically on Dec 22. This article may have appeared in the print edition only, but as I stated before, I accessed the web site every day
    during that week and did not see it. I would do the “Guardian search” again to verify my claim regarding the Guardian’s web site, but your moderator has deleted my comment with the link for some inexplicable reason (while leaving your reply).

    In any case, even if that article exists, I think that one article relating to the biggest news item in the Middle East at the time is far below the average for the Guardian.

    I do not see how my statement deserves your judgment of “You’re just making this rubbish up”, particularly since it is apparent that you checked my claim only after writing this sentence.

    I think that an apology would be appropriate.

    No response was submitted.

  14. MindtheCrap, did you really expect one?

    The common denominator for the whole Henry coven is their imperviousness to the possibility that they may be very wrong in their approach. As those of us who used to post there know, factual information is not their strong point/ They have denial down to a very fine art and when they are proven to be wrong by the presentation of hard, objective facts which have the capability to wobble their “reality” in a big way, they have no other recourse but to remain silent.

    Whitaker’s attitude is a disgrace, of course, as is that of all the CiF coven. Whitaker/the Al-Babbler has seduced himself into believing that just because he says that something is true then it really is true. This is the foundation upon which all of CiF is built.

    The way to counter such florid lunacy is to present hard facts in an arena where they will not be deleted.

    So well done, MindtheCrap for keeping at Whitaker’s attempts to obfuscate.

  15. b752
    Thanks for the link to the Arendt article – an astute analysis of many things including Arendt’s own asajew position.

    And thanks also to IsraeliNurse, of course, as always.

  16. Seth Freedman’s favorite subject is Seth Freedman. Seth Freedman seems to think that the most important thing about the day of Yitzhak Rabin’s murder was what Seth Freedman was doing on that awful day. Actualy whatever Seth Freedman was doing that day is not terribly significant in the grand scheme of things. Only Seth doesn’t know it.
    His column paints a Palestinian leadership led by Arafat initiating peaceful gestures to the government of Israel and working tirelessly toward a two state solution without terrorism. Only the murder of Rabin by Israelis prevented the coming of peace for all. Freedman, as someone pointed out in the Guardian comments section, ignored every single terrorist attack that took place during Yitzhak Rabin’s time as PM. There was the horrible Dizengoff Street bus suicide bombing, the Haifa restaurant bombing, the murder of 21 youg soldiers at a snack bar north of Tel Aviv, the kidnapping and murder of Sgt. Wachsman and many others. Yasser Arafat winked at it all and made soothing sounds to the western press, all the while referring to the suicide bombers as martyrs when Arafat spoke in Arabic. Rabin himself had no use for Arafat and by the time of Rabin’s assassination, he would not even meet with Arafat. He allowed Peres to do that. Rabin had made it abundantly clear that he had no intention of ceding every inch of the territory that Israel had won in the deensive war of 1967.
    But Freedman tries to hijack rabin and turn Yitzhak Rabin, who had lived and bled for Israel into a European leftist pacifist just like Seth himself. Freedman can not explain how if all chances for peace died when PM Rabin was assassinated, an Israeli Prime Minister from the Labor Party was elected in 1999 by running on a peace platform. Freedman can not explain how that Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to give Arafat virtually all of the West Bank, all of Gaza and all of Eastern Jerusalem and how Yasser Arafat turned it all down.
    History does not conforn to the contortions and gymnastics and evasions of Seth Freedman, Tony Lerman and Richard Goldstone. But what the heck, there is work for all three of them at the Guardian. Just call yourself a Jew who disdains Israel and a column is available.

  17. Well done Isranurse, well researched and a good balanced article based on common sense and experience.
    After reading the offending article, it seems that it was a diatribe written with ignorance and flavored with an eye to the current political climate in England where even the usually reliable forms of media, once the bastions of pragmatism and “fair” editorial opinion, have decided to kotow to the very vocal Muslim minority and to have become a conduit for its extremists hate messages.
    One of the extremists terrorist organisations, The Hizballah, has a hymn, recited by school children, of which one verse states…” Today Shabbat, tomorrow the Sabbath”. An un-vieled threat that once they have destroyed the Jews, the next to come will be the Christians. English society would do well to remember this.
    Seth Freedman should remember his responsibilities as a journalist and consider the damage that his busy self gratifying fawning is doing and perhaps research the history of journalism in pre-WW2 Europe while he’s at it.

  18. The day Rabin was assassinated I just thought to myself: what a pity! Israel has now become a normal country just like the USA.

    And my second thought was that Rabin will have become a saint like JFK.

    He was a great man, but maybe it’s too soon to judge his legacy.

  19. Seth Freedman should remember his responsibilities as a journalist

    Sorry.

    I had to laugh and comment.

    Journalist??

    He’s just a muck raker. And not very successful either. I can imagine him listening to the news in English on the radio and reading the Jerusalem Post to search frantically to see where he can find some fresh dung to turn over and please his groupies on CI(F).

  20. Metapelet Israeli. Kol hakavod. Maya achuz.

    Ignore Freedman. Anyone who is so keen to bite the hand that feeds him is unworthy of our time or our thoughts. He left the UK, presumably to ‘find himself’ in Israel. And what has he found? That he has become a house Jew for the Guardian, and is quoted ‘as a Jew’ by those who hate Jews and Israel.

    His highly aggressive defensiveness when pulled up on anything indicates someone with a big chip on his shoulder, a chip that is entirely deserved it would seem.

    Interesting that AKUS reckons he needs to read the English edition as he is unable to read the Hebrew version.

  21. cityca – His highly aggressive defensiveness when pulled up on anything indicates someone with a big chip on his shoulder, a chip that is entirely deserved it would seem.

    There was a time where ‘Our Sethele’ and Petra Marquardt-Bigman were supposed to have a ‘discussion’ on CI(F) ‘above the line’. It never materialized and I would bet quite a bit of cash that ‘Our Sethele’ chickened out.

    From stuff that I have read by persons who claim with embarrassment to have had some personal contact with him, he has been described as a ‘whiney bitch’.

    From his CI(F) offerings, that resonates well.

  22. JerusalemMite

    I had several brief online debates with him. After the first, he said he had ‘marked my card’, and would be looking out for me in the future. After the second he implied that he would like to meet up and give me the benefit of his opinion face to face and finally, he rubbished the Sar-El volunteer programme that I support, following which I decided that if he was so ignorant of what Sar-El achieves, and so unable to debate without becoming personal, he was too immature to waste my time with.

    Nothing has changed, except that being now effectively banned from CiF, I can’t respond to him even if I wanted to. Such is freedom of speech on CiF.

  23. Cityca: Nothing has changed, except that being now effectively banned from CiF, I can’t respond to him even if I wanted to. Such is freedom of speech on CiF.
    ——
    It seems very unlikely that Seth was not told of this thread concerning him by some dear friend or other. I am sure that he would be very welcome to express his views here, just as the rest of us are. So don’t despair, our brave Sir Seth will be riding up on his trusty bicycle to challenge you to single combat very soon.

  24. Margie

    He won’t come on here. He’s not good enough to engage in serious debate with anyone who knows what they’re talking about and he doesn’t have his adoring groupies pandering to his ego.

    In two respects he’s like Galloway –
    a. he goes where the money is;
    b. he starts to bully, bluster and shout when he runs out of answers.