Sunday, December 13, 2009

Israel's Prussian Heritage; and Destiny?

By Uri Avnery
Palestine Chronicle

(Left: Herzl's diaries are full of admiration for the German state.)

"A short historical quiz: Which state:

1. Arose after a holocaust in which a third of its people were destroyed?

2. Drew from that holocaust the conclusion that only superior military forces could ensure its survival?

3. Accorded the army a central role in its life, making it “an army that had a state, rather than a state that had an army”?

4. Began by buying the land it took, and continued to expand by conquest and annexation?

5. Endeavoured by all possible means to attract new immigrants?

6. Conducted a systematic policy of settlement in the occupied territories?

7. Strove to push out the national minority by creeping ethnic cleansing?

For anyone who has not yet found the answer: it’s the state of Prussia.

But if some readers were tempted to believe that it all applies to the State of Israel – well, they are right, too. This description fits our state. The similarity between the two states is remarkable. True, the countries are geographically very different, and so are the historical periods, but the points of similarity can hardly be denied......

When I first brought up the similarity between Prussia and Israel (in a chapter dedicated to this theme in the Hebrew and German editions of my 1967 book, Israel without Zionists) it might have looked like a baseless comparison. Today, the picture is clearer. Not only does the senior officers corps occupy a central place in all the spheres of our life, and not only is the huge military budget beyond any discussion, but our daily news is full of typically “Prussian” items. For example, it transpires that the salary of the army chief of staff is double that of the prime minister. The minister of education has announced that henceforth schools will be assessed by the number of their pupils who volunteer for army combat units. That sounds familiar – in German.

After the fall of the Third Reich, the four occupying powers decided to break up Prussia and divide its territories between several German federal states, Poland and the USSR. That happened in February 1947 – only 15 months before the founding of the State of Israel.

Those who believe in the transmigration of souls can draw their own conclusions. It is certainly food for thought."

No comments: