Gil Troy back’s Trump decision on JerusalemHistorians in the News
tags: Jerusalem, Gil Troy, Trump
… [Poet Natan] Alterman would snicker at today’s elaborate excuses justifying why only the Jewish state has been denied the right to choose its own capital. He would dismiss the verbal fog of legalistic lies pretending this unacceptable 70-year-old anomaly is some legitimate baseline or status quo – or even worse, making recognition of our capital a prize Israel must earn. And watching the European hypocrites lecture Israel and America – with the Czech Republic replacing Sweden as the one reasonable nation showing up the others by recognizing Jerusalem –Alterman would understand that Europe remains Europe.
Similarly, Alterman knew how to say thank you to whomever helped the Zionist cause – regardless of their other sins. He, along with the rest of the Jewish world, toasted the UN Partition Plan, even though it passed thanks to the evil dictator Joseph Stalin, who delivered five votes from the USSR and its satellites. Perhaps Alterman would write a poem, along the lines of one of my friend’s suggestion that those who don’t want anything from Trump shouldn’t start with Jerusalem: first return all their stock market gains since his election.
Most inexplicable – yet eerily familiar – to Alterman would be the sniveling warnings that the declaration was “ill-timed” and might trigger terrorism. These fears validate the Palestinians’ violence veto, contradicting the usual cant that terrorism never works. These warnings are like telling George Washington to postpone the American Revolution, Abraham Lincoln to tolerate slavery, Franklin Roosevelt to forgive Pearl Harbor, or David Ben-Gurion to wait before declaring a state, because there might be trouble, and our sworn enemies – who seek to destroy us – might object.
The seed for Alterman’s most famous poem sprouted from a conversation he overheard between two Hagana military experts amid the midnight celebrations on November 29. They estimated that 10,000 Israelis might die in the upcoming war. When Alterman published his poem two weeks later, the Arab rejection of the UN’s compromise plan had already killed 120 Palestinian Jews.
Alterman’s poem anticipates the day after the fighting as “the land quiets, the crimson sky slowly dimming over smoking frontiers/ And the nation arises, heartbroken but breathing, To receive the miracle.” A young man and woman represent the fighting generation, armed, dirty, “bone weary” yet “wearing their youth like dew glistening on their head.” They tell the nation, “We are the silver platter on which the Jewish state was given.” They make their pronouncement “and fall back encased in shadows/ And the rest will be told in Israel’s chronicles.”
Alterman had ideological range. He blasted the military regime imposed on Israeli Arabs until 1966. Yet after the 1967 war he left the Left and helped launch the Greater Land of Israel movement. Ultimately, he understood that a Zionism without pride has no heart; but a Zionism without liberal democratic ideals has no soul….