Israeli exceptionalism is a disease largely suffered by Zionists with one eye on the Holocaust. Despite the fact that a majority of Palestinians want Hamas to negotiate with Israel, Holocaust survivor and former parliamentarian, Tommy Lapid, believes that Israel’s behaviour is beyond criticism because of the Holocaust:
Israel currently has six million Jews living in it. We will not be deterred by the threats of our enemies; nor will we listen to the advice of our friends. We will not rely on anyone else.
For us, that is the most important lesson of the Holocaust.
So when you have difficulty understanding us, think about the Holocaust. When you find yourselves searching for our motives, remember the Holocaust. When you try to understand the steps we take, consider the Holocaust.
The Holocaust will inevitably shape Jewish thinking on Israel, but this does not justify occupying another people, nor does it explain a state that specifically discriminates against non-Jews. Lapid’s argument may have carried weight in 1949 or even 1960, but 2006 is another matter altogether. How much longer must we hear the same explanation for Israeli-only roads in the occupied territories or arbitrary checkpoints in the West Bank?
Israel needs to realise that to be fully accepted in the international community, it cannot use historical tragedies as excuses for brutality. Indeed, apartheid South Africa similarly claimed that it had no choice but to act cruelly against blacks because they supposedly threatened white existence.
The Jewish state is at a crossroads. Lapid’s hyperbole won’t insulate a perilous future.