Saturday, November 30, 2013

Light unto the Nations - anno 2013

On the day where there was signed in Geneva the agreement between Iran and the six powers I was on a family vacation in Holland.  In order to understand the main message of the headlines and the editorials,  no need of a perfect command of the Dutch language. There was an obvious relief at the receding shadow of a new war to be fought in the Middle East. Only at the bottom of the news item could be found the word "Netanyahu."

On the day when I came back to this crazy country, I opened the TV and I saw my prime minister speaking at a Chanukka ceremony near the Wailing Wall. It was there that he said: "We have come to expel the darkness, and the darkness is a nuclear Iran. If possible, it is better to do this by diplomatic means - and if not, we will be a Light unto the Nations."

"Light unto the Nations" is a ancient expression first used by the biblical prophets.  It conveys a vision of World Peace, "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks". The days of  "Light unto the Nations" were supposed to be an Utopian future in which Jews will set an example of sublime moral and peace-seeking behaviour. Not exactly what is reflected in the real existing state of the Jews...

The term has now gotten a meaning, rather different from how for example Israel's first prime minister, Ben Gurion, still used it.  Nowadays, "Light unto the Nations" means the blazing fire of a big war which the State of Israel will initiate and into which it will drag the rest of the world. Indeed, an innovative interpretation of the ancient term for which Benyamin Netanyahu deserves all the credit.

This week, we also saw another Benyamin Netanyahu, a bit less assertive and militant, conducting negotiations with the European Union on the sensitive issue of the settlements. Already several months ago, the EU declared that in the framework of the "Horizon 2020" scientific cooperation program European funds will be given only to Israeli institutions located and active in the recognized sovereign territory of the State of Israel. Not to any settlement institute located in occupied territory, neither in the West Bank, nor in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, whose unilateral annexation was never recognized by any other state. This week, there was no further time for delays. The government of Israel had simply to decide whether or not to adhere to the program under the European conditions.

For a moment, it had seemed that Netanyahu was bent on a head-on confrontation. He considered defending at all costs the settlements created in the territory where our ancestors lived 2000 years ago, to the extent of giving up for their sake half a billion Euro in grants to Israeli universities and research institutes, and also cut off the extensive networks of priceless contacts between Israeli scientists and their European colleagues. But, at the anguished outcry of the university heads gave in, and signed the agreement finalizing what was named by the media as "the European boycott."

"This agreement is a moral, diplomatic and judicial disaster" cried ultra-right former Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad.  "In the emergency cabinet meeting the right-wing ministers were stammering and finally folded up. For some dozens of millions of Euros per year, they are willing to sell their mothers, Jerusalem, sovereignty and national honour. They are trampling the Boycott Law which was a major achievement of the Greater Israel lobby in the previous Knesset." Eldad bitterly concluded: "They are nothing but rag dolls! When Netanyahu will go towards creating a Palestinian state in Judea and Samariya none of them will stop him."