About The Soft And The Delicate
By Amos Oz
Published in the Israeli daily
DEC 17, 1982
"You can call me anything you like. Call me a monster or a murderer. Just note that I don't hate Arabs. On the contrary. Personally, I am much more at east with them, and especially with the Bedouin, than with Jews. Those Arabs we haven't yet spoilt are proud people, they are irrational, cruel and generous. It's the Yids that are all twisted. In order to straighten them out you have to first bend them sharply the other way. That, in brief, is my whole ideology.
"Call Israel by any name you like, call it a Judeo-Nazi state as does Leibowitz. Why not? Better a live Judeo-Nazi than a dead saint. I don't care whether I am like Ghadafi. I am not after the admiration of the gentiles. I don't need their love. I don't need to be loved by Jews like you either. I have to live, and I intend to ensure that my children will live as well. With or without the blessing of the Pope and the other religious leaders from the New York Times. I will destroy anyone who will raise a hand against my children, I will destroy him and his children, with or without our famous purity of arms. I don't care if he is Christian, Muslim, Jewish or pagan. History teaches us that he who won't kill will be killed by others. That is an iron law.
"Even if you'll prove to me by mathematical means that the present war in Lebanon is a dirty immoral war, I don't care. Moreover, even if you will prove to me that we have not achieved and will not achieve any of our aims in Lebanon, that we will neither create a friendly regime in Lebanon nor destroy the Syrians or even the PLO, even then I don't care. It was still worth it. Even if Galilee is shelled again by Katyushas in a year's time, I don't really care. We shall start another war, kill and destroy more and more, until they will have had enough. And do you know why it is all worth it? Because it seems that this war has made us more unpopular among the so-called civilised world.
"We'll hear no more of that nonsense about the unique Jewish morality, the moral lessons of the holocaust or about the Jews who were supposed to have emerged from the gas chambers pure and virtuous. No more of that. The destruction of Eyn Hilwe (and it's a pity we did not wipe out that hornet's nest completely!), the healthy bombardment of Beirut and that tiny massacre (can you call 500 Arabs a massacre?) in their camps which we should have committed with our own delicate hands rather than let the Phalangists do it, all these good deeds finally killed the bullshit talk about a unique people and of being a light upon the nations. No more uniqueness and no more sweetness and light. Good riddance.
"I personally don't want to be any better than Khomeini or Brezhnev or Ghadafi or Assad or Mrs. Thatcher, or even Harry Truman who killed half a million Japanese with two fine bombs. I only want to be smarter than they are, quicker and more efficient, not better or more beautiful than they are. Tell me, do the baddies of this world have a bad time? If anyone tries to touch them, the evil men cut his hands and legs off. They hunt and catch whatever they feel like eating. They don't suffer from indigestion and are not punished by Heaven. I want Israel to join that club. Maybe the world will then at last begin to fear me instead of feeling sorry for me. Maybe they will start to tremble, to fear my madness instead of admiring my nobility. Thank god for that. Let them tremble, let them call us a mad state. Let them understand that we are a wild country, dangerous to our surroundings, not normal, that we might go crazy if one of our children is murdered - just one! That we might go wild and burn all the oil fields in the Middle East! If anything would happen to your child, god forbid, you would talk like I do. Let them be aware in Washington, Moscow, Damascus and China that if one of our ambassadors is shot, or even a consul or the most junior embassy official, we might start World War Three just like that !"
......We are talking while sitting on the balcony of the pretty country house belonging to C. which is situated in a prosperous Moshav. To the west we see a burning sunset and there is a scent of fruit trees in the air. We are being served iced coffee in tall glasses. C. is about fifty years old. He is a man well known for his (military) actions. He is a strong, heavy figure wearing shorts but no shirt. His body is tanned a metallic bronze shade, the colour of a blond man living in the sun. He puts his hairy legs on the table and his hands on the chair. There is a scar on his neck. His eyes wander over his plantations. He spells out his ideology in a voice made hoarse by too much smoking:
"Let me tell me [sic] what is the most important thing, the sweetest fruit of the war in Lebanon: It is that now they don't just hate Israel. Thanks to us, they now also hate all those Feinschmecker Jews in Paris, London, New York, Frankfurt and Montreal, in all their holes. At last they hate all these nice Yids, who say they are different from us, that they are not Israeli thugs, that they are different Jews, clean and decent. Just like the assimilated Jew in Vienna and Berlin begged the anti-Semite not to confuse him with the screaming, stinking Ostjude, who had smuggled himself into that cultural environment out of the dirty ghettos of Ukraine and Poland. It won't help them, those clean Yids, just as it did not help them in Vienna and Berlin. Let them shout that they condemn Israel, that they are all right, that they did not want and don't want to hurt a fly, that they always prefer being slaughtered to fighting, that they have taken it upon themselves to teach the gentiles how to be good Christians by always turning the other cheek. It won't do them any good. Now they are getting it there because of us, and I am telling you, it is a pleasure to watch.
"They are the same Yids who persuaded the gentiles to capitulate to the bastards in Vietnam, to give it in to Khomeini, to Brezhnev, to feel sorry for Sheikh Yamani because of his tough childhood, to make love not war. Or rather, to do neither, and instead write a thesis on love and war. We are through with all that. The Yid has been rejected, not only did he crucify Jesus, but he also crucified Arafat in Sabra and Shatila. They are being identified with us and that's a good thing! Their cemeteries are being desecrated, their synagogues are set on fire, all their old nicknames are being revived, they are being expelled from the best clubs, people shoot into their ethnic restaurants murdering small children, forcing them to remove any sign showing them to be Jews, forcing them to move and change their profession.
"Soon their palaces will be smeared with the slogan: Yids, go to Palestine! And you know what? They will go to Palestine because they will have no other choice! All this is a bonus we received from the Lebanese war. Tell me, wasn't it worth it? Soon we will hit on good times. The Jews will start arriving, the Israelis will stop emigrating and those who already emigrated will return. Those who had chosen assimilation will finally understand that it won't help them to try and be the conscience of the world. The 'conscience of the world' will have to understand through its arse what it could not get into its head. The gentiles have always felt sick of the Yids and their conscience, and now the Yids will have only one option: to come home, all of them, fast, to install thick steel doors, to build a strong fence, to have submachine guns positioned at every corner of their fence here and to fight like devils against anyone who dares to make a sound in this region. And if anyone even raises his hand against us we'll take away half his land and burn the other half, including the oil. We might use nuclear arms. We'll go on until he no longer feels like it...
"...You probably want to know whether I am not afraid of the masses of Yids coming here to escape anti-semitism smearing us with their olive oil until we go all soft like them. Listen, history is funny in that way, there is a dialectic here, irony. Who was it who expanded the state of Israel almost up the boundaries of the kingdom of King David? Who expanded the state until it covered the area from Mount Hermon to Raz Muhammad? Levi Eshkol. Of all people, it was that follower of Gordon, that softie, that old woman. Who, on the other hand, is about to push us back into the walls of the ghetto? Who gave up all of Sinai in order to retain a civilised image? Beitar's governor in Poland, that proud man Menahem Begin. So you can never tell. I only know one thing for sure: as long as you are fighting for your life all is permitted, even to drive out all the Arabs from the West Bank, everything.
"Leibowitz is right, we are Judeo-Nazis, and why not? Listen, a people that gave itself up to be slaughtered, a people that let soap to be made of its children and lamp shades from the skin of its women is a worse criminal than its murderers. Worse than the Nazis...If your nice civilised parents had come here in time instead of writing books about the love for humanity and singing Hear O Israel on the way to the gas chambers, now don't be shocked, if they instead had killed six million Arabs here or even one million, what would have happened? Sure, two or three nasty pages would have been written in the history books, we would have been called all sorts of names, but we could be here today as a people of 25 million!
"Even today I am willing to volunteer to do the dirty work for Israel, to kill as many Arabs as necessary, to deport them, to expel and burn them, to have everyone hate us, to pull the rug from underneath the feet of the Diaspora Jews, so that they will be forced to run to us crying. Even if it means blowing up one or two synagogues here and there, I don't care. And I don't mind if after the job is done you put me in front of a Nuremberg Trial and then jail me for life. Hand me if you want, as a war criminal. Then you can spruce up your Jewish conscience and enter the respectable club of civilised nations, nations that are large and healthy. What you lot don't understand is that the dirty work of Zionism is not finished yet, far from it. True, it could have been finished in 1948, but you interfered, you stopped it. And all this because of the Jewishness in your souls, because of your Diaspora mentality. For the Jews don't grasp things quickly. If you open your eyes and look around the world you will see that darkness is falling again. And we know what happens to a Jew who stays out in the dark. So I am glad that this small war in Lebanon frightened the Yids. Let them be afraid, let them suffer. They should hurry home before it gets really dark. So I am an anti-Semite ? Fine. So don't quote me, quote Lilienblum instead [an early Russian Zionist - ed.]. There is no need to quote an anti-Semite. Quote Lilienblum, and he is definitely not an anti-Semite, there is even a street in Tel Aviv named after him. (C. quotes from a small notebook that was lying on his table when I arrived:) 'Is all that is happening not a clear sign that our forefathers and ourselves...wanted and still want to be disgraced? That we enjoy living like gypsies.' That's Lilienblum. Not me. Believe me. I went through the Zionist literature, I can prove what I say.
"And you can write that I am disgrace to humanity, I don't mind, on the contrary. Let's make a deal: I will do all I can to expel the Arabs from here, I will do all I can to increase anti-semitism, and you will write poems and essays about the misery of the Arabs and be prepared to absorb the Yids I will force to flee to this country and teach them to be a light unto the gentiles. How about it ?"
It was there that I stopped C.'s monologue for a moment and expressed the thought passing through my mind, perhaps more for myself than for my host. Was it possible that Hitler had not only hurt the Jews but also poisoned their minds? Had that poison sunk in and was still active? But not even that idea could cause C. to protest or raise his voice. After all, he said to have never shouted under stress, even during the famous operations his name is associated with..."
Note: Amos Oz is one of the leading Israeli authors. His books have been translated into many languages.