Israel With Weariness & Fear
By Lionel Rolfe
24 June 2002
It is with a certain weariness and even fear
that I lift my pen -so to speak- and put down a few thoughts
It is necessary to do so because the country to which I remain
very attached is going down a road that will only lead to
I grew up getting beaten up for being a Jew.
Back in the fifties in Long Beach, California, I was chased
the back alleys from Woodrow Wilson High School by a gang
of Christian thugs. Their leader was the son of a minister,
and oh my God what a bigot was he! The basic charge was that
as a Jew, I was responsible for Christ getting killed. I
guess I did it personally. That's what they seemed to be
saying. Or something horrible coursed through my veins, and
that horrible something was that I was a Jew whose antecedents
had drunk the blood of Christian children. He was, like a
lot of the other former midwestern farmers in Long Beach,
a follower of Gerald L.K. Smith.
I naturally got interested
in what being a Jew meant, and like many other Jews I read
everything I could about the
Holocaust, and that defined me forever. My favorite novel
was It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. It was about
fascism in America.
The problem for me began when the likes
of Menachem Begin took office. I was not willing to become
a fascist in order
to support Israel. To my mind, Israel was supposed to be
the opposite of a fascist state. At least Begin, an accomplished
old terrorist himself, ultimately backed off his war in Lebanon.
It turns out his general, Ariel Sharon, had hijacked the
Israeli army and invaded Beirut without initial permission
to do so. A lot of his soldiers would fight in Lebanon during
the weekday and return on weekends to surround his house,
chanting against the war in Lebanon. It was pressure from
his own people that defeated Begin -or more accurately Sharon.
True to form, Sharon had provoked the war -just the way he
more recently provoked the Palestinians with his storming
the Temple Mount.
But I said to myself that as important as
Israel is, I was not going to be forced to follow the likes
of Jewish fascists
like Begin, Shamir and Sharon, whose ideological mentor Vladmir
Jabotinsky admired Mussolini's kind of politics, but not
Hitler's, only because Hitler hated Jews whereas Mussolini
was much more laissez faire with his Jew hatred. So convoluted
were the Jabotinsky's allegiances, forces identified with
him sided with the Nazis against the Communists in the Warsaw
Perhaps I had asked for the kind of trouble
I had with the Christian thugs. For I had quite publicly
refused to attend
a Christmas play at Woodrow Wilson High School, objecting
because as a Jew I was being forced to listen to another
religion's propaganda. The principal told me that this was
a Christian country, and I had better get used to that.
I edited for nearly a decade the B'nai Brith Messenger, the
third oldest newspaper in Los Angeles. It was a Jewish
paper, and had my grandmother lived to see me in such an
exalted position, she would have been very proud. She read
the Messenger for many years -read every line of it.
Now suddenly Israel's strongest supporters are the likes
of Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson or the Bushes, folks
whose natural inclination would be to hang Jews because they
are too liberal and somehow satanic. Or chase them through
back alleys and curse them as Christ Killers or perhaps see
them off to pogroms. Or stab them in the back to please the
But then the world has been turned very upside
down anyway for some time now. A relatively liberal president
United States -John Kennedy- as well as some more politically
committed leftist -like Martin Luther King- get assassinated.
Then right-wing types took over, ending hope for a decent
American future. In the eyes of many, the "secret government" had
taken over openly. The likes of Nixon, Reagan and Bush triumphed
-and the result looks dangerously like It Is Happening Here.
in Israel. It looked like Rabin and Arafat were putting together
something through the peace process when Rabin got
shot. All during that period, Binyamin Netanyahu was giving
speeches to his right-wing followers practically urging Israelis
to kill Rabin. When one of their numbers pulled the trigger,
the right was rewarded with the leadership of Israel. It
used to be a novel way of running an election. Kill anyone
who might accomplish something and put the thugs in charge
Meanwhile a very few million Jews are surrounded
by a sea of angry Arabs -people who have every right to be
off at the likes of a Sharon.
he world has become a bit of a nightmare, I
fear. And not just for Jews.
Copyright © 2002 by the
News Insider and Lionel Rolfe
Lionel Rolfe is the author of
the just released third edition of "Literary LA" (California
Classics Books). He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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