Gilad Atzmon: Israel Cannot Handle Its Past
Israel cannot handle its past. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu decided this week to extend from 50 to 70 years the time state archives remain classified. Israel realizes that it has too much to hide.
Haaretz reported this week (in its Hebrew edition only), that the first documents will be released to the public only in 2018 (1948+70). Many of the documents that are stored in the archive are relevant to the history of the first 20 years of the Jewish state: the mass expulsion of the Palestinian people, the massacres in Deir Yassin, Tantura and many others, the 1956 Suez conflict, the Israeli nuclear project and so on. Disclosing such documents may bring to light some facts that could “shatter myths and cause embarrassment to many entities and individuals” said the Israeli paper. I guess that president Shimon Peres is one of those ‘many individuals’.
In my latest work I elaborated on the concerning fact that history is foreign to the Jewish religion, ideology and politics. Israeli and Jewish history are set as phantasmic tales. Facts and historical documents are either pushed aside, shoved under the carpet, eliminated or simply destroyed. As we all know, truth seeking is interpreted by Israelis and Zionist as anti Semitism or even holocaust denial.
As it seems, 50 years were not enough for Israel to tackle its original sin. The reason is simple, the crimes that are entangled with the foundation of the Jewish state have never been resolved. Millions of Palestinian refugees are still awaiting to return to their land. Israel is still driven by racist and supremacist laws. The Jewish state has never matured from its lethal philosophy of constant physical intimidation. Consequently, the IDF, the Mossad and the security services mounted pressure on the government to extend the classification status of these 50 year old documents. And no surprise, Netanyahu has provided the required extension.
Haaretz pointed out that it is slightly peculiar that PM Netanyahu, the son of Benzion Netanyahu, a Zionist historian, gave his hand to a crude attempt to conceal historical research and truth seeking. I read Benzion Netanyahu, I actually learned a lot from him. Benzion wasn’t exactly an ordinary historian, he was a Zionist historian (as opposed to a historian of Zionism). He was there to give the Jewish national aspiration a contextual pseudo academic meaning. PM Netanyahu's decision to hide facts for another 20 years is actually in line with his father’s philosophy.
A disclosure of the truth regarding Israel's early days would reveal that the Jewish state was a murderous lethal attempt from its very beginning. As much as Zionist and Israeli leaders vowed publicly to make Jews ‘people like all other people’, behind closed doors they commanded their army and secret services to kill like their imaginary Biblical forefathers.
I would argue that from a historical perspective, Israel can keep sitting on its secret files as long as it wants. We do not really need the Israeli archive in order to examine the true murderous meaning of the Jewish state and the Jewish national project. However, the fact that Israel insists on hiding its past, means that there is a little bit of shame and consciousness left in this tribal collective. This is actually a positive sign.