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View Full Version : For those of you that were disgusted by Amotz Asa-El 's JPost colum this past week



Oh Jerusalem
05-30-2004, 12:16 PM
IMRA's Dr. Aaron Lerner was as pissed off as many of the rest of us. I disagree with many a JPost opinion piece but Asa-El's piece was disgraceful.

Here's the whole IMRA article, which includes a copy of the Asa-El's viscious column:

Sunday, May 30, 2004
Exchange: Jerusalem Post Ed. & IMRA on Column on Min. Landau (http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=21009)

The following is an exchange between Jerusalem Post Editor Bret Stephens and
Aaron Lerner - IMRA. It should be noted that Amotz Asa-El is executive
editor of The Jerusalem Post. Besides the puzzling line, the article is
chock-a-bloc with barefaced lies that raise serious questions as to the
ability of Asa-El to differentiate between his ideological beliefs and
reality.

Asa-El tries to deceive his Jerusalem Post readers into thinking that Sharon
was elected on a platform that supported unilateral withdrawal - a central
issue in the campaign - when in point of fact Sharon strongly opposed and
ridiculed unilateral withdrawal and roundly defeated the Labor Party that
supported unilateral withdrawal.

Contrary to Asa-El's claims that Landau is a blind ideologue, Minister Uzi
Landau voted in favor of the Jordan-Israel peace treaty while (ideologue?)
Sharon did not. Landau has also repeatedly stated for the record that he
would accept compromise within the context of a peace agreement.]

Part #1 Distributed on 29 May 2004

Columnist Calls For Assasination of Min. Uzi Landau?

"Fortunately for him, Suslov died in 1982, well before all he defended
unraveled. Will Landau be as privileged? And must we sit idly by until we
find out? " Amotz Asa-El - The Jerusalem Post 28 May 2004

IMRA: The hysteria over the decision of the Likud membership to reaffirm
their support for Ariel Sharon's election campaign platform against
unilateral withdrawal in the recent referendum reached new heights with the
conclusion of the Amotz Asa El's column:

Middle Israel: Mikhail Suslov returns
Amotz Asa-El The Jerusalem Post May 28, 2004
www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=108562
9658074&p=1006953079897
[complete article at the bottom]


It remains to be seen if the editors of The Jerusalem Post will take
corrective action (the Attorney General can be expected to argue that
Asa-El's call is subject to interpretation).


Part # 2 Initial response:
From: Bret Stephens
To: Dr. Aaron Lerner
Sent: Saturday, 29 May, 2004 23:00
Subject: Jerusalem Post Columnist Calls For Assasination of Min. Uzi Landau?

Aaron, don't be ridiculous.


Part #3 Response from Lerner:
From: Dr. Aaron Lerner
To: Bret Stephens
Sent: Saturday, 29 May, 2004 23:12
Subject: Jerusalem Post Columnist Calls For Assasination of Min. Uzi Landau?
Your cavalier attitude frankly disturbs me.

Bret,

In all due respect, before you walk away from this imagine if this were an
article appearing on Feiglin's Manhigut Yehudit website and it was talking
about Sharon and it ended with a similar sentence?

Actually, we do not have to imagine anything.

A considerably milder sentence in an article a few weeks ago on Feiglin's
website caused a media circus with Minister Livnat asking for an
investigation by the Attorney General.

True, the Attorney General ultimately ruled that the item could be read in
various ways and thus the case was dropped - but Manhigut Yehudit rushed to
drop the op-ed from their website the moment they heard of the problem.

Your cavalier attitude frankly disturbs me.

I sincerely hope that after giving this more consideration that you see fit
to treat this unacceptable language with the same fervor that you would if
it came from the other camp.

Best regards, Aaron

PS: The Post does censor offensive items. I would note that only a week
ago your newspaper saw fit to refuse to publish a Women In Green cartoon
that showed Peres, Beilin and Arafat dancing together with their hands
drenched in blood

Part #4 Response from Stephens
From: Bret Stephens
To: Dr. Aaron Lerner
Sent: Sunday, 30 May, 2004 00:47
Subject: Re: From Lerner Please let me know if you have anything more to
include in item besides "Aaron, don't be ridiculous."

Aaron, I'm on holiday, and trying to enjoy it. Amotz was plainly not calling
for anybody to be killed. I don't see how any fair-minded reader could read
the sentence that way.

A fair-minded reader would take the following from Amotz's article. To wit:
that while Russians had to wait for the passing of the Suslov generation of
ideologues in order to get the change they sought, Israelis should not have
to wait until the passing of Landau's generation to get the changes Amotz
claims they seek. This is not a call to kill anybody. It's a call for
Israelis to get on with their agenda irrespective of Landau's. In other
words, it's a call to IGNORE Landau.

I'm perfectly willing to exercise my editorial prerogatives to censor
offensive items, such as the Women in Green cartoon you mention. This is not
such an item.

Bret

=====

Oh Jerusalem
05-30-2004, 12:17 PM
(continued)


Middle Israel: Mikhail Suslov returns (www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=108562
9658074&p=1006953079897)
Amotz Asa-El The Jerusalem Post May 28, 2004

Having spent some three decades in the center of the USSR's innermost
circle, Mikhail Suslov was neither a joker nor a vegetarian.

The son of peasants who would never leave the party he joined at 19 until
his death 61 years later, played first violin in some of totalitarian
history's most elaborate purges, intrigues, and mass murders.

Having overseen the deportations to Siberia of thousands from the Caucasus
before the war, and Lithuanians after it, Suslov was no stranger to
brutality. Having helped Stalin purge thousands in the Urals and the Ukraine
during the late 1930s, he was no stranger to murder. And having turned, in
the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis, on his superior Nikita
Khrushchev, in order to crown Leonid Brezhnev, he proved he could teach even
Shimon Peres a chapter or two of Machiavellianism.

It must have, therefore, been refreshing for this patently eventful life to
finally arrive at its long-overdue decrescendo, as Suslov - by then in his
60s - became the party's chief ideologue.

Those who followed communism in its waning years were amused by what the
practice of that cryptic task actually entailed. Apparently, Suslov's role
in the Brezhnev operation was similar to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's in Shas,
namely to rule whether a major move - from allowing the importation of Pepsi
Cola to invading a dangerously reformist Warsaw Pact ally - was in line with
Marxist doctrine.

Actually, in its own bizarre way, all this conformed with the ardently
atheistic Communist system's quasi-religious conduct. Like a sinister
religion, the Soviet Union had its own catechism, in the form of the writing
of Marx and Lenin; its own inquisition, in the form of the KGB; its own
rituals, such as the celebration of "work heroes," and its pope of sorts -
Suslov.
"Rabbi," they could have asked him, "what if we were to emulate Joseph
Tito's 'self management' program," or, "what can we experiment here with
some of Hungary's goulash communism?"

For his part, Suslov must have had a great time playing that role, which was
the embodiment of maximum authority with minimum responsibility. And
Westerners, who would always see Suslov well-positioned on the Kremlin
balcony at the May Day parade, could not help but conclude that Suslov had
the best job in the world, the kind of job that made the party place him
right after Brezhnev, Podgorni, and Kosygin in its fake elections for the
Supreme Soviet.

Funny, people in the West said when they saw the kind of ideological
rigidity and utter castration of the political process of which the Suslov
phenomenon was a lasting symbol, surely this can't possibly happen in a
Western democracy. Yet the Mikhail Suslov phenomenon actually does exist in
the West. In fact, he lives right here in Israel and commutes regularly from
Ra'anana, where he resides, to Jerusalem, where he works. His name is Uzi
Landau.

FORTUNATELY, OUR own Mikhail Suslov brings with him none of the original
chief ideologue's criminal record. On the contrary, Landau has sent not one
person to a gulag, consorted with no Stalin types, and shied away from
intrigue. In fact, unlike the original Suslov, he was the ideologue from the
outset, not merely in the aftermath of a career spent gathering and
exercising power. Indeed, now that he has unwittingly won a major political
bout, people suddenly realize that in the past he was so ideological that he
was often on the losing side of political battles, such as the time he
challenged Binyamin Netanyahu for the leadership of Likud even while the
former was the incumbent prime minister.

The reason to challenge Netanyahu then was the same one for which Landau now
challenged Sharon, and the same one for which Suslov stood up to Khrushchev
in the Sixties: ideological deviation.

Landau's message to two prime ministers (so far) and any would-be
land-compromiser is the same as the counter-Reformation's was to Martin
Luther: Interpreting the catechism is not for just anyone to do. We're
talking dogma here, and dogma is only for the synod, the presidium's
ideologues, or the party's membership.

That is also why his campaign against the Gaza pullout conveniently ignores
not only what appears to be the public's current will, but also how the
prime minister got elected in the first place. The way the ideologue
portrays it, it was the Greater Israel ideology that handed Likud a
landslide.

The cruel fact, however, is that Sharon had made it plain before last year's
election that he supported a Palestinian state, and the public needed no
explanation as to that state's location, or price. That, not Landau's
rigidity, was what handed Sharon his victory, no less than the general
disgust with Labor's messianic hallucinations. Those who thought like
Landau - all 10% of them - voted Lieberman and Eitam.

Then again, that is part of the cause. Sharon's great accomplishment as
prime minister has been the restoration of the Israeli consensus, which had
collapsed in the aftermath of the 1967 war. And he managed that because he
responded to the current war the way his real ideological nemesis, Shimon
Peres, did not: he conceded ideological failure. Had Peres conceded that the
New Middle East was a mirage, he too might have won more respect from the
Israeli mainstream, and had Landau conceded that settling Gaza was wrong,
let alone mad, he too would have won the public's respect.

Ultimately, reality wins, as Suslov's story demonstrates.
In his time, Suslov diligently nipped in the bud any change in the USSR, and
often also beyond it. That is why he grew disillusioned with his former ally
Khrushchev, and that is why he felt so good with a guy like Brezhnev, whose
refusal to change anything, at any time, in any place was second only to
Yitzhak Shamir's. Still, one must contrast his inflexibility with the
eventual collapse not only of the policies he advocated, but of the entire
Soviet empire and Communist idea.

Fortunately for him, Suslov died in 1982, well before all he defended
unraveled. Will Landau be as privileged? And must we sit idly by until we
find out?

Binyamin
05-30-2004, 09:04 PM
I usually like Asa-el, but this article is definately offensive.

Oh Jerusalem
05-30-2004, 09:24 PM
Originally posted by Binyamin
I usually like Asa-el, but this article is definately offensive.
You bet. I sometimes agree, sometimes disagree with his article, which are usually well written, no matter what they say. But this was trash.

I agree with Dr. Lerner. If ugly stuff like this can be published in the Post, the WIG cartoon should appear harmless to them.