Translation of an article in Ma'ariv
Avnery] / 27.5.01
In May 1291, exactly 710 years
ago, the last of the Crusaders were thrown from the sea-wall of Acre
into the sea. Yitzhak Shamir might have said: "The Muslims are the same
Muslims, the Crusaders are the same Crusaders and the sea is the same
* Paraphrasing Shamir’s famous
saying: "The Arabs are the same Arabs, the Jews are the same Jews and
the sea is the same sea." – meaning that it is the unwavering aim of the
Arabs to throw the Jews into the sea.
Among the Christians were eighth
generation Sabras, the Crusaders’ presence in the country had lasted for
almost 200 years. There were many reasons for the eventual downfall of
their enterprise. One of them was the problem of the new immigrants.
The participants in the First
Crusade were adventurers imbued with religious zeal, and they conquered
the country with blood and fire – much blood and much fire. But
gradually they adopted the easy-going Eastern life-style, learned the
geo-politics of their new homeland, made treaties with Arab rulers and
began to integrate themselves into the region.
And then a new wave of immigrants
arrived, again adventurers imbued with religious zeal. They were
outraged when they saw the Christians wearing oriental dress and
entertaining Arab nobles. The new immigrants destroyed the fabric of
co-existence, which had begun to emerge, and started a new war against
the Arabs. This happened time and again, in every generation, until the
Crusaders succeeded in uniting the whole Arab world against them,
engendering a Muslim religious fanaticism which had not existed
previously. It all ended on the sea-wall of Acre…
I was reminded of this historical
example last week when I saw the chapter on the recent Russian
immigration in Haim Yavin’s TV series on the election upheavals in
Israel. According to Yavin, the almost all the "Russians" are unbridled
nationalists, born Arab-haters. They are sure that the whole of
Eretz-Israel "belongs to the Jews", that we, the old-timers, have become
tired and weak, and that they, the immigrants from Russia, must save
Israel from perdition and the gas chambers of a second Auschwitz.
This did not surprise me at all.
Ten years ago, when I visited Russia several times in the course of
writing my book "Lenin Does Not Live Here Anymore" (published only in
Hebrew), I was astonished by the anti-Muslim, anti-Armenian and
anti-Georgian racism I encountered everywhere in Moscow. At the time I
wrote that with the evaporation of Marxism, nothing was left of
Bolshevism but an extreme, totalitarian, racist and anti-democratic
nationalism. I coined a formula: "Bolshevism minus Marxism equals
(By the way, 70 years of
Communist indoctrination in Soviet schools disappeared without leaving a
trace. It might be worthwhile for Education Minister Limor Livnat and
all the other Bolsheviks in our government, who believe that the schools
can "instill ideological values", to ponder this fact.)
The million immigrants from the
former Soviet Union are a part of this Russia. Like all new immigrants,
they bring with them the world-view that they have absorbed in their
former homeland and apply it automatically in their new surroundings.
Greater Israel instead of Great Russia, Arabs instead of Uzbeks and
Tartars – everything is the same.
At meetings of the far right,
these Russian meet American settlers, who come with myths of the Wild
West. In their eyes, the Arabs equal the Red Indians and the settlers
are the white pioneers. For them, too – everything is the same.
Trouble is, the "Russians" may
decide the fate of the nation in future elections as they already have
in the past.
However, nationalism is not the
only component of the "Russian soul". There is also a profound longing
for peace ("mir"), born of the memories of the murderous Nazi invasion,
and perhaps of the Napoleonic war. There is also a deep antipathy to
religious coercion, especially on the part of the hundreds of thousands
of Christians who came here under the "Law of Return". All these
tendencies are fighting each other in the hearts of the new immigrants,
and the Israeli New Left can influence the outcome.
The Israeli cocktail contains a
million religious people of all shades, almost all of them, right-wing.
There are a million Arab citizens, almost all of them left-wing. We must
not, under any circumstances, resign ourselves to the addition of a
million "Russians" to the rightist camp. We must battle for their souls.
The sea is the same sea, but we
are not condemned to be the new Crusaders, creating the situation for
the appearance of a new Saladin.