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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Abie Nathan, As Mensch



Today's morning's news is filled with the death of Abie Nathan.

It would be easy to list all of the reasons I, as a proud pro-Jewish civil rights in Eretz Yisrael patriot, didn't like the late Abie Nathan. I'll leave that to others.

Chazal, our sages, teach us the importance of looking for the good in all, and besides having enjoyed the music his radio station broadcast every evening from 6:30-8pm, I have something else to say.

I once met Abie Nathan. It was in the late 1970's during one of his hunger strikes. My friend Rosaly had given me a call to come and counter-demonstrate. I joined her a a couple of others, all of us speaking foreign-accented Hebrew. One of Nathan's young groupies began to shout to all passers by:
"Don't listen to those ladies!. They're not
Israeli!"


I confronted her.
"How can you call us not Israeli?"
"You're all new immigrants."
The conversation continued and she admitted that she had been brought to Israel by her parents when she was a baby.
"We're more Israeli, I countered, since we made the conscious decision to live here, and you didn't at all."



Her attitude really bothered me, and I had this feeling that considering Abie Nathan's story and idealism, though misguided, he may even agree with me. So I got up my courage, at the time I was just an ordinary young mother of three, and I entered his tent.


Abie Nathan was movie star handsome. There were bottles of mineral water near him, giving the impression that his hunger strike was more a natural health regime than a political protest. In those days, your ordinary Israeli didn't buy water.

I went straight to business:
"That young girl," and I pointed to her, since she had followed me in, "is shouting to passersby that my friends and I aren't Israeli, since we are immigrants. Do you agree with her?"
"No," he answered, and he told her very firmly to stop that shouting.

He was very gracious, and I thanked him.
Baruch Dayan Emet

9 comments:

YMedad said...

I agree with your sentiments. Ideological disagreements need not slip into personal vendettas or animosity. And besides, he was an immigrant himself.

YMedad said...

Oh, and I continue to oppose drawing analogies between Nazis, Nazism or the Holocaust and things that happen here between Israel's politicians and the people they govern, or sections thereof.

goyisherebbe said...

Abie Nathan not only was a decent human being on the left. He really believed in peace and was willing to put himself on the line for it. As long as his Voice of Peace station was still on the air it was impossible for the government to shut down Arutz-7. After he ceased broadcasting and scuttled the ship, the government, with its monolithic statist attitude, looked for a way to shut down A7, probably already looking ahead to the Expulsion, even though no one knew it yet. The radical difference between Israel and the US is that while the US was built privately from the bottom up, Israel was build from the top down with barons, Histadrut and Balfour Declaration. The result was that whenever people in Eretz Yisrael tried to do something like settle the land, they first went looking for a patron. As a result, when the patron pulled out the rug, they considered themselves basically lost. The government of Israel in turn relates that way to the US, UN, EU, etc.
The US was founded by people who got a private charter from the King, who thereafter left them alone, gave them nothing and left them alone. Then when King George III suddenly decided to tax their tea, they just said, "Listen, Georgie, old boy, you never did anything for us and we don't owe you diddly." And they fully believed it and were willing to fight even though they were fighting fellow Englishmen. The experience of building a country had made them something different. The Israelis are still beholden to their patrons, whether capitalist or socialist, and never changed into anything other than slightly disguised ghetto Jews. They have no sense of being morally right in the struggle against the government because the government is pretending to be only taking back what it gave them. That has to change. Israel also has to stop taking money from America for the same reason.

goyisherebbe said...

Winky (ymedad) opposes comparing Israelis to Communists and Nazis. I say yes and no. No because they are not massacring people. Yes because they are using the same propaganda tactics without the same level of killing, although they indirectly cause their opponents to be killed by "accidents" or enemy action. They are guilty of the Expulsion, the Altalena (that was a direct attack), and the Kastner affair. In 1974 they framed Yehoshua Ben-Zion and destroyed his bank, with the Histadrut's Bank Hapoalim taking over its branches. They also blacklisted political opponents from employment, not physically starving them, but forcing them to either work outside the system with greater difficulty making a living, or leave the country. The authorities never apologized or made restitution for any of their actions against political opponents. And to this day the Knesset and judiciary are appointed from the top down, by party lists and rubber-stamp appointments committees rather than by the people or their duly elected representatives in open hearings. In short, the government takes the position that it put the citizen where he is, gave him whatever he has, and knows what's best for him. Therefore the government can take it away as well.

Batya said...

y, goyish,
good points

I was really impressed by Abie Nathan when I met him. He listened and seemed very sincere.

Uri DeYoung said...

Shalom!
Well, my husband and I knew that confiscating the A7 boat was a very bad sign, especially the fact that no-one seriously protested it. The same goes for the destruction of the synagogue in K'far Tapuah. It took Amona to wake up most people.
Hadassa
P.S. When someone is personally responsible for an act, he or she deserves to be directly blamed for it. Concerning similarities, when the shoe fits, it fits and when it doesn't, it doesn't.

Batya said...

Hadassah, it looks like we haven't ended the nightmare yet.

Hadassa, K'far Darom/ Elon Moreh said...

Shalom!
Let's see what happens in and with Migron.
There is now a public dialog of a sort we unfortunately did not have before the expulsion of Gush Katif and the northern Shomron and not even before Amona. What happens to the community of Migron will have far reaching ramifications - possibly to Ofra and maybe even Shiloh.
(Elon Moreh has been a thorn in the side of the governmnet long before we moved to it.)
Hadassa

Batya said...

You're right. Very good points.