čtvrtek 1. března 2012

Tom Segev exclusively on the Middle Eastern Pages!

Tom Segev (*1945) is one of the most famous Israeli historians. Although he is already an elderly man,he is still considered to be a "new historian". They were analysts who in the eighties began to explore the newly opened Israeli archives and started to rewrite the official Israeli history. It was often built on a lot of national mythology and pathos. When the "new historians" started to write, readers began to learn about the various detailed context of politics, which often did not corresponded with the "official" image. The "new historians" then gained many praise and criticism. Tom Segev is one of the most respected of them - his book "The Seventh Million: Israelis and the Holocaust" (2000), "One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate" (2000) have become global bestsellers. This year, Tom Segev will publish his new book about Simon Wiesenthal in Czech language. Below you will see a small part of the interview with him, which I took during my stay in Jerusalem last December. The entire interview will be published in connection with the publication of his book in Czech and I will mention it on the Middle Eastern Pages.

...How do you assess the approach of the Israeli government towards the Arab Spring? Do you think that government acted foresightfuly by not supporting the changes in the Arab world and relied too much on the established status quo in the region?

I do not know if it's really matter of diplomacy. The best thing to do is not to say anything. Israeli politicians talk too much all the time, they make statements all the time. Perhaps the best thing would it be keep silent and to see what is happening. But the Israeli diplomats are not good in this. I think that the Israeli diplomacy was under very heavy test during Arab spring. It was very difficult to detect the winner in Arab spring. You should support the winner. You also do not want to turn your back on Mubarak too early. Tomorrow he wins. So what you do?! It´s very, very difficult. So I think in this situation is the best thing to do to keep silence.

 ...How do you see the strange phenomenon that some radical right-wing European politicians and former anti-Semites - for example from Austria, Belgium and from elsewhere - now come to Israel to meet with some politicians and soldiers, and they speak very admiringly about Israel?

I know, I heard about it. I wouldn´t say they are typical friends of Israel. But anyway, it is very weird on their part. Israel actually has more friends than many people know. And these friends of Israel are very diverse: We have strange fundamentalist Christians in the U.S., we have some sect of people in Japan who come here and loves Israel. In short, Israel has good relations with many countries and I certainly do not feel that Israel is isolated. I think this atmosphere "we are isolated", "everyone hate us" etc. - I don´t think that´s the case at all. I think there is obviously much criticism of the government of Israel - and it´s well meant. Very often it´s not anti-Israeli, it´s pro-Israeli! You are against the Netanyahu government but not because you are anti-Israeli but because you are pro-Israeli.

In the Czech Republic critical reporting on Israel is still a little problematic. Virtually every criticism of Israel is at least suspicious, if it does not have some other hidden agenda ...

I really feel the opposite than this feeling - which some Israelis have "we are all isolated" - not really! I do not feel that whole World is against us. I feel that situation in Israel may be much worse without people from abroad keeping their eyes on us. And that´s true for all the countries by the way. Human rights are something that can only be protected from the outside....

If you think about how Israel might look like in twenty years ...

I am always wrong when I try to predict anything! (laughs) For example, if forty years ago someone asked me if today there will be peace in the Middle East, I would say, "Of course!". I really do not know what will be here in twenty years and it is better not try of any prophecy. I'm always surprised by what actually happens here.

Thank you!
                                                                                                                        Marek Čejka

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