In the hypocrisy that characterizes Israel’s view of Palestinians, this is the height of it: The greatest denouncers of Palestinian violence against Israel also tend to be the greatest defenders of pre-state Zionist violence against Britain.
After electing [Menachem] Begin prime minister, we elected Yitzhak Shamir, who had been one of the leadership trio of Lehi (the Hebrew acronym for “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel”). Lehi went Etzel [the Hebrew acronym for “National Military Organization in the Land of Israel”] one better — not only did it kill for Israeli statehood, it killed after statehood, too. On September 17, 1948, Lehi men in Jerusalem shot to death Count Folke Bernadotte, the UN’s envoy to the Middle East (who, as a Swedish diplomat during World War II, had saved many thousands of Jews from the Nazi death camps).
At Lehi’s 70th anniversary celebration in Jerusalem last month, National Union MK Arye Eldad (whose father, Yisrael, had been one of Shamir’s partners in the leadership) said from the podium: “Count Bernadotte wanted to internationalize Jerusalem. In response, Lehi killed him. With his death, the concept of taking Jerusalem away from the Jewish people died with him.”
Hooray. And after Yitzhak Shamir dies, there will be highways, neighborhoods, hospitals and schools named after him, too.
It seems to me that if you are going to condemn the Munich Olympics killings and the Coastal Road Massacre, you also have to condemn the King David Hotel bombing and the Bernadotte assassination. By the same token, if you justify or even “understand” Begin’s and Shamir’s violence, you also have to justify or at least understand the violence of Muhammad Oudeh and Dalal Mughrabi.
And if you don’t — if violence in the name of your nation’s freedom is what you call heroism, but violence in the name of the enemy nation’s freedom is what you call terrorism — then you have no principles at all. Then the only thing you stand for in this world is the side you happen to have been born on.