I assume that, at the time of this writing, you have already returned to your safe and secure enclave in New York. You dropped in on us, did a great job promoting your [new film] “Norman,” the hearts of middle-aged women skipped a beat at your dashing appearance and you even spewed a few political slogans into our air.
Sorry to tell you Richard, but those cookie-cutter catchphrases proved how shallow you are. Jerusalem needs to be divided between two peoples - you said. You only forgot to bring up the fact that New York, your city, was, at one time, divided between whites and blacks, and that today it’s united and it’s not a problem for whites to go to Harlem.
But lets leave the black quarter of New York. Feel free to correct me, but I’m assuming that there were those who advised you - it’s good for public relations, after all - to say a few words like “Jerusalem is the capital of two peoples,” about the “occupation must end,” about how “Israel is losing its way,” and how “the settlements are a provocation and have to be stopped.”
To tell you the truth, you didn’t tell us anything new, Richard, you only proved that you, in fact, are living in a movie. If so, I have an idea for you: come here - with or without [the Director of “Norman”] Joseph Cedar - make a movie not just about [Morris] Talansky, but about the attack on the Egged bus in Maale Akrabim.
You don’t know the story? I don’t blame you. In Israel, too, there are not many who remember the massacre that took place during a celebration marking five years since the liberation of the city of Eilat. Returning home, as the passenger bus slowly ascended the hills, the bus was attacked by Arab terrorists (back then they were called infiltrators) and 11 of the passengers were murdered.
True, Richard: since then there have been countless numbers of wars and terror attacks, thousands of Israelis fell in battle and were murdered - so what’s so special about that terror attack? Why bring that one up in particular? Why?
First, right at the time of your heart-conquering visit to Israel, at the time when your political statements were making headlines, a memorial service took place at the Nahalat Yitzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv for the victims of that heinous attack, 63 years ago. Among the participants was the only survivor - then only a 5 year-old girl. Her parents and brothers were murdered. Miraculously, she was saved.
Second, the year was 1954. Does that say something to you? Correct - it was 13 years before the terrible “occupation” of Judea and Samaria, Gaza, and the Golan by the original occupiers: Jordan, Egypt and Syria.
Palestinians? Who took them into account in those days when they were under the rule of their brethren? But Israel had already existed for some 19 years. Yes, it had survived within those same strangling borders into which they want to return us, you and the world’s leaders, “the Arab initiative,” and even a couple of our own citizens, those naive and those pretending to be.
That terrible attack and others like it that I won’t mention here were perpetrated against little Israel and its citizens. No “occupation” and no “apartheid.” But, like then, so it is now: in Ramallah and Gaza some PA and Hezbollah spokespeople aren’t hiding what their plans are. They say loud and clear that their intention is to liberate “Palestine.”
Israel, according to them, has no right to exist (and the murderer of seven girls in Beit Shemesh, who was freed when you were here and in whose honor celebrations were held [in his Jordanian hometown] is not the only one saying this). The Jewish people has no historical ties to this land - that’s the narrative with which they educate their younger generation. And also: the Jews need to return to their “places of origin-” to Europe, or North Africa.
In conclusion, I return to the idea stated above: recently they published the memoir of that one survivor of the Maale Akrabim massacre. Miri is her name. I suggest that you read that riveting book (make sure somebody translates it into English), her memories and wanderings since the tragedy that befell her and doesn’t let up, and get the script for your next movie going.
I am sure, Richard, that it would be a hit movie. Heart-conquering.
Yossi Ahimeir is a journalist and media consultant who served as an MK in the 13th Knesset. He heads the Israel Jabotinsky Institute and is editor of the Hebrew ideological quarterly Ha-Umma.