Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Death of a Bigot

I'm more than a little repelled by Ethan Bronner's fawning obit for a man who contributed so much to the misery of the people of Palestine.

I speak of Hanan Porat, who just died (age 67) of cancer at his childhood kibbutz.  Bronner writes of Porat's advocacy of "hard-line Zionism, . . .cutting a handsome figure with a mane of thick dark hair topped by a knitted yarmulke."  He then goes on to write of Porat's seemingly heroic role in helping to found Gush Emunim, whose members assert the right of Jews to colonize the West Bank as the "land of Israel" promised to them in the Bible.  And within the West Bank, as Bronner details, Porat was instrumental in establishing a colony of Jewish settlers in the heart of Hebron.

But not a word from Bronner about the misery those Hebron settlers specifically - and the Gush Emunin phenomenon more generally - have caused West Bank Palestinians, not to mention the Israeli government, which has had to station IDF troops in Hebron to "protect" people like Porat.  The Hebron colonists have made themselves infamous as gun-toting, arrogant, anti-Arab bigots who rampage through Arab shops and markets, insult the locals, etc.  Note this recent piece from Haaretz characterizing recent settler riots there as a "pogrom" against the Arab residents.  (The term "pogrom", by the way, is customarily reserved for the vicious anti-Jewish riots in Russia during the last years of the tsars.  Haaretz, to its credit, used that word intentionally, to make a point.)

And as for the Christian Zionists who surely will mourn Porat's passing . . . how quickly they forget Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, where he proclaimed "Blessed are the peacemakers."  All in all, Porat was the antithesis of that.  In fact, there aren't many individuals who contributed more than did Porat to obstructing the possibility of peace.

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