Shame On Us

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THE SPINE DECEMBER 5, 2008

Shame On Us

Avi Issacharoff is one of the top field reporters of Ha'aretz. And by "field" I mean the circumstances in which Israelis encounter Palestinians, often peacefully and normally, sometimes tensely and also across the barriers of fear and aggression. He is an honest reporter which is a big thing at Ha'aretz which employs dishonest journalists almost as a point of faith: Amira Hess and Akiva Eldar.

I've read Avi for some years now and read him, therefore, writing on events and phenomena I've observed myself, the withdrawal from Gaza, for example.

So when I noticed his article, "Hebron settler riots out and out pogroms," I hastened to read it, not once, but twice. And now thrice. It's not because I doubted what I was reading. I'd been to Jewish Hebron -small enclaves in Hebron proper- and I'd seen the saintliness of these gangster Jews.

No, I don't believe that Jews, even these unpleasant Jews, should be barred from access to the Cave of the Patriarchs. After all, Hebron is the place where Abraham actually bought land and where the patriarchy and matriarchy of Israel was spawned until a massacre put an end to the continuous Jewish presence in 1929. I'd have a bit more respect for those (Christians, Muslims, Jews) who clamor for Arab sovereignty by at least equally unpleasant Palestinians over Jerusalem if they were prepared to recognize a deep and compelling Jewish stake in Hebron.

Still, these Jews are gangsters of a peculiarly vicious sort. Like terrorists. Their viciousness is holy, at least to them and their less up-front comrades who do not have the stomach to draw blood.

But there are plenty of Hebron settlers who do have that strong stomach. And they have already poisoned their children with their self-righteous bravery.

Issacharoff's narrative is calm. It is the happening that stuns. The reporter calls it a pogrom, and a pogrom it seems very likely to be.

An old narrative of the third wave of pogroms in the Ukraine wrote that a "pogrom is a terrible word, like a cry in the night." Yes, very much like a lynching.

Pogrom, lynching. Shame on us.

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