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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Israel's "Ambassador" winner talks to the American radical left

The winner of Israel's popular reality TV show "The Ambassador", Eytan Schwartz, is spending this year in the US. Here is an excerpt from a Ynet article he wrote about the radical American left-wing and what they know - and don't know - about Israel.

Last week I had occasion to enter the building of one of the American socialist parties and to speak with one of the party’s main activists. When he heard that I’m from Israel, a stormy political debate began.

What can I say - this guy was a walking encyclopedia of the history of Israel, and for minutes he recounted every detail, date, and fact that Israel’s opponents like to bring up in order to attack the country: He asked how it is possible that Ariel Sharon became prime minister after his involvment in Sabra and Shatilla, he wondered how it is that people accuse the Palestinians of terrorism when members of the Jewish underground during the British Mandate also used violence against Arabs.

He asked why Jews insist on dispossessing the Palestinians of their land when even Herzl was prepared to consider the Uganda Plan. These are things that I’d managed to forget since I took my high school Jewish history exams.

All these statements had one clear intention: to show Israel in a negative light and to convince me that the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem is to establish one democratic socialist state for everyone.

At a certain point I began to speak about Arab members of Knesset and I saw that the guy had no idea what I was talking about. I mentioned the fact that 20 percent of Israel’s citizens are not Jewish, and he looked at me in amazement. I spoke about freedom of expression, about homosexuals in the army, about the High Court’s independence, about minority rights - in short, all the things that American leftist organizations are fighting for, and which are an intrinsic part of Israeli life.

And then I realized something incredible: that this intelligent guy did not know everything I was saying. And he was not pretending; he really didn’t know.

He was able to reel off all the negative or dubious things that could be said about Israel without batting an eyelash, but the positive things, the progressive things, the humane things, the liberal things, he simply did not know about.

It is a shame that Eytan didn't make the next logical leap - that liberalism is not the driving factor of the radical left vis-a-vis Israel, but it is Jew-hatred masquerading as a pretense to caring about Palestinians. Because any true liberal would be far more sympathetic to Israel than to any Arab entity, for the reasons Schwartz mentioned.