Limud Z’chut on the late S. Yizhar
Yizhar Smilansky, better known under his pen name S. Yizhar, was born in 1916 and died a few days ago, on August 21, 2006. He was a left-wing writer.
He is held in ill memory by Jewish right-wingers, for he was one of the initiators of the movement of self-skepticism about the Zionist project. His writings to that effect are, like Chomsky’s, widely paraded nowadays in anti-Semitic circles.
However, unlike Chomsky, he was not a post-Zionist, not a quisling, but an honest critic. This post engages in limud z’chut, speaking to the credit of the person in question. Three consecutive parashot in Leviticus are Acharei Mot (“after the death of…”), Kdoshim (“Holy [ones]”) and Emor (“Say”), which are joined as “acharei mot, kdoshim emor”, to mean, “After the death of [people], say, ‘Holy ones [are they]’.” For any person not deemed totally evil (like Haman, Hitler or Ahmadinejad), the Jew must attempt to speak good things about him after his death. On S. Yizhar I bring the following, by way of Uri Orbach’s column on today’s Yediot Achronot, from Yizhar’s column “On the Suicide Bombers” of April 18, 1995:
“A society that agrees to send its sons to suicide warfare and sees it as the pinnacle of national patriotism destroys the common basis necessary for all humans, excludes itself from the human collective and turns into a party that cannot be talked with. Just as there is no talking with cannibals… the allowance that the senders of the suicide bombers take for themselves in denying what is human and making a human into a live bombshell—in that they treat his life and being in scorn—raises the question as to whether they are humans, and [regarding] those who surround them, whether they are still a human society having the right to demand human rights. A society that accepts the turning of a child into an explosive negates itself, and invalidates itself from being a party in negotiations; its humanity is cast in doubt.”
A far cry from the Chomskyites, whose fanaticism for the “Palestinian” cause drives them to justify their dysfunctional society and inhuman actions! In that is one litmus test for distinguishing between legitimate critics of Israel and the anti-Semitic majority of them. S. Yizhar, whatever he could be faulted for, was innocent of that. May HaShem grant him peace.