Thursday, December 24, 2009

War as Tool or Goal

Yitshak (Ike) Aharonovitch, captain of the Exodus, has died. He was 86. Yossi Harel, Haganah commander of the operation and Aharonovitch's superior, died last year. He was also in his 80s (89, I think). May they rest in peace; we owe them both.

Apparently the two never ceased arguing about the outcome of their glorious moment, not when they were in their 20s, and not when they were in their 80s. Harel was willing to kill or be killed for the national goal, but in a pragmatic sort of way. Aharonovitch wanted to die with glory and justice, and was peeved for the next 60-some years that he was destined to die in bed. Yoram Kaniuk, another old-timer writes about their arguments that ended only in death (the translation is awful, you've got to pretend you're reading it in Hebrew).
All of Zionism is the story of the struggle between Yossi and Ike. Ike wanted Yossi to continue the war to show that we were heroes and in order to beat the British and Yossi said he didn't bring the ship so that 4,500 Holocaust survivors would be killed, and if Ike's Palmach wanted war he should bring the young people from the kibbutzim. Ike didn't forgive him. No logic would get through to him. He accepted the battle that was almost Masada in the sea. Yossi wanted life. Ike wanted struggle and victory.
Historians can't know "what if" - so how can we know Harel was right, and Aharonovitch was wrong? Unfortunately, because while in the Zionist camp the Harel's mostly win, with the Palestinians the Aharonovitchs always win.

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