Over the past few months, I keep returning to an extraordinary essay written by the great Israel novelist Amos Oz in 1982. The Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin had compared the Palestinian leadership to Adolf Hitler, so Oz wrote: "You display an urge to resurrect Hitler from the dead so you may kill him over and over again each day... Like many Jews, I feel sorry I didn't kill Hitler with my bare hands. But there is not, and there never will be, any healing for the open wound. Tens of thousands of dead Arabs will not heal that wound. Because, Mr Begin, Adolf Hitler is dead. He is not hiding in Nabatiyah, in Sidon, or in Beirut. He is dead and burned to ashes."
Israeli society consists, Oz says, of "a bunch of half-hysterical refugees and survivors". The 2,000-year trauma of the blood libel, the Inquisition, the pogroms, Auschwitz and Chelmno and the Gulag Archipelago, have produced a distorted vision, where every shriek of pain directed at Israel can sound like the rumble beginning in the massed crowds at Nuremberg.
This means that Israel is missing opportunities for peace. Even much of Hamas – an Islamist party I passionately oppose – is amenable to a long ceasefire along the 1967 borders. That isn't my opinion; it is the view of Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Israeli security service Shin Bet. He told the Israeli Cabinet before the bombing of Gaza that Hamas would restore the ceasefire if Israel would only end the blockade of the Strip and declare a ceasefire on the West Bank. Instead, they bombed, and the offer died.
1 - "The Nightmare of Netanyahu Returns," by Johann Hari, published in The Independent, 6th of February, 2009. (http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-the-nightmare-of-netanyahu-returns-1547608.html)