Prof. Steven PlautSteven Plaut teaches at the University of Haifa and is author of "The Scout" (available from Gefen Publishing House). More of his writings can be seen on the New Plaut Blog, as well as in numerous electronic and print newspapers.
An interesting trend has emerged in recent weeks. The Israeli Left, along with most of the world's pseudo-intellectual classes, has suddenly discovered Abraham Lincoln. Obviously it is thanks to the new Hollywood movie. Leftists do not read books; they form theirmoral evaluations mainly based on fashionable movies, like the
abominations that Israel sent to the Oscar ceremonies this year orlike the movies produced by Michael Moore.
The Israeli Left has embraced Lincoln because it is convinced that, if Lincoln is regarded as a moral champion, clearly identification with Lincoln must lead one to support the political agenda of the Israeli Left.
First and foremost this would mean supporting Palestinian Arab demands and aggression against Jews. And of course the "social justice" economic and social bolshevism of the Left.
Take the recent column by Bradley Burston, the English-language columnist for Haaretz, Israel's far- left newspaper, titled "Lincoln Abolished Slavery Israel Must Abolish Occupation" . The title really tells it all.
'As Lincoln abolished slavery, Israel must abolish occupation." Bradley opines: 'I realize now that I am an abolitionist and that occupation is slavery. I also realize that I need to pay more attention to Abraham Lincoln, in his ability to remind us all of the wisdom hidden in the obvious.'
If you have a strong stomach, readthe whole article.
Then a few days later, we have a column in Haaretz by one Ithamar Handelman Smith, who claims to be a writer and journalist, one who is so anti-Israel that the Likud government is likely to grant him a governmental subsidy to make some bash-Israel flicks. His column is titled ' What do you Know of Lincoln, Ms. Livnat? He opines:
'The culture minister couldn't see the parallels between the Academy Award-winning story she loved (Lincoln -- SP) and the stories behind the Israeli documentaries (The Gatekeepers, ed.) she shunned.'
You will like this excerpt from Smith: 'Israel is a democracy to be proud of? Maybe, if you’re extremist-right-wing-Jewish settlers. But everyone else Arabs, hareidim, African refugees, leftists live here under one of the least democratic regimes in the Western world. And no, a democracy doesn’t get defensive about movies like 'The
Gatekeepers' and '5 Broken Cameras.' A democracy learns from films like these about what’s wrong with it and what can be fixed.'
Not, of course, from any books!
So what do we make of this new "Lincoln as Leftist Pro-Palestinian social democrat" campaign by Israel's Left and its newspaper?
Well, even someone with only the shallowest familiarity with American history would know that the two most important principles represented by Lincoln would make him for all intents and purposes the ethical analogue of the Jewish settler leaders in Judea and Samaria.
Lincoln fought the American Civil War first and foremost in to order to prevent the division of his homeland, and he was fully prepared to use massive military force to achieve that goal. This makes him the moral brother of every Jew in the world who is opposed to partition of the Land of Israel and carving out from it any Palestinian Arab state. Those proposing such a "two-state solution" are the 21st century's copperheads.
Second, Lincoln had no reluctance about using the word "treason, and throughout the Civil War he made it clear that he considered the Union war against the Confederacy and its supporters to be a campaign against treason. Those who supported secession or the Confederacy were consistently described by Lincoln as "traitors." Those who opposed the Union's national interests were engaging in treason, not academic freedom.
Lincoln did not mollycoddle traitors in the name of "understanding the Other." He did not insist that those opposing national interests be allowed to control the universities and the courts and the media. Lincoln's war against treason did not make him a 19th century leftist columnist, but rather the moral ally of all those who despise them and who oppose the anti-Israel Left in Israel.
Aside from those two most obvious characteristics of Lincoln, which make him the moral analogue of Jewish settler leaders in Judea and Samaria, Lincoln had a few other features that will make the Left squirm.
Lincoln abolished habeas corpus during wartime. He had traitors executed and deported, and had no hesitation about the use of capital punishment. Lincoln also imposed censorship on the press and suppressed treasonous journalism. (Want to ponder how Lincoln would handle Haaretz?)
Then in Sherman's march to the sea, Lincoln conducted war against CIVILIANS, explicitly targeting and attacking the civilian population and its infrastructure to end rebellion and treason. With no Betselem and no Supreme Court interference.
Perhaps most notably, Lincoln also imposed an uncompromising blockade upon the Confederacy. The very same Israeli Leftists, who insist that lifting the "embargo" of Gaza is the highest form of humane morality so that the Hamas can more easily import weapons, will have an interesting challenge explaining the blockade imposed by the world's moral champion, Abraham Lincoln. Guess how Lincoln would have dealt with "Gaza Flotilla" blockade runners. Honest Abe used exactly the same tactic against the Confederacy over which the Israeli Left is now sobbing its eyes out!
And frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!