Two obituaries are prominently featured in the Times today (May 1). The first is for Ben Zion Netanyahu who is headlined as a “hawkish scholar,” an oxymoron that conjures up first fights in the library stacks; the second is for Fred Hakim, a Times Square hot dog vendor whose selection to share the page seems motivated less by the significance of the deceased than by an attempt to offset the importance of his page-mate’s accomplishments. Both articles feature pictures of a smiling father entwined with a smiling son. Can you see the editors deciding on their choices? “Let’s commemorate the man who penned a 1,300 page history of the Spanish Inquisition, was editor of the Encyclopedia Hebraica, the Encyclopedia Judaica and The World History of the Jewish People, the father of the current prime minister of Israel (whom we don’t like) and to balance that, let’s highlight the guy who sold hot dogs and knishes in a seedy 7 seat luncheonette on Times Square. Or maybe the editors saw equivalencies between the two men - after all, Hakim was a gym teacher at the Murray Bergtraum High School in lower Manhattan and Netanyahu taught at Cornell, another New York school. Or perhaps it was a case of free association - say the names Ben Zion and Netanyahu quickly 3 times, click your heels and what comes to mind is Hebrew National - a famous hot dog and a perfect segue.
In Netanyahu’s obituary, the Times would have us believe that “revisionist Zionism originally opposed creating the new Israel by dividing Palestine between Jews and Arabs. It wanted a bigger Jewish state, which would have included present day Jordan.” It goes on to stress that “The revisionists were led by Vladimir Jabotinsky, whose belief in the necessity of an ‘iron wall’ between Israel and its Arab neighbors has influenced Israeli politics since the 1930’s.” You don’t have to be a scholar to learn what has been omitted from these statements; just go to Wikipedia’s entry on Jabotinsky and read the following: ” In 1934, he (Jabotinsky) wrote a draft constitution for the Jewish state which declared that the Arab minority would be on equal footing with its Jewish counterpart ‘hroughout all sectors of the country’s public life.’ The two communities would share the state’s duties, both military and civil service and enjoy its prerogatives. Jabotinsky proposed that Hebrew and Arab should enjoy equal rights and that ‘in every cabinet where the Prime Minister is a Jew, the vice-premiership shall be offered to an Arab and vice versa.”
The Times is also taken aback by what is referred to as Ben Zion Netanyahu’s extremist belief that Jews remain endangered in the Middle East. How does that opinion differ from the reality of the Hamas Charter which is opposed to recognizing Israel, much less reconciling with the state; the continual Arab wars against the Jewish state; the Iranian declared intention to wipe out Israel and Jews militarily; the enforced apartheid of every Arab state from which Jews have been expelled and forbidden to return; and the directives of the Islamic faith which urge even the trees to call attention to any Jew hiding behind them so they can be found and killed.
Sadly Jabotinsky and Netanyahu were presciently correct about the course of Arab-Israeli accommodation and history. Sixty-four years after the birth of Israel, Arabs have become more hawkish, to use the Times’ favored term, and the Arab Spring, so heralded by the paper as a sign of democracy, has become a tornado that is spinning wildly into the hands of fascist, Islamist rule. I extend my condolences to the family of Ben Zion Netanyahu on the death of a great father and a great man, and to the Hakims on the loss of a beloved famiy member, friendly teacher and proprietor of the now defunct Grand Luncheonette.
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here