The Obtrusive Voice of Yisrael Aumann

In a world obsessed with reputation, a conservative Israeli Nobel Prize winner is rocking the liberal media boat

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CORRECTION: Israel Today wants to correct the impression in the following article that David Goldman is post-Zionist. Though the original interview does create this impression, Goldman by his own admission is a Zionist who deeply respects Professor Yisrael Aumann.

Brilliant as he is, we would have not heard of Yisrael Robert Aumann (85) if it wasn’t for the Nobel Prize he received in 2005 for his work on conflict resolution through game-theory analysis.

One would think that after his outstanding achievement had been awarded with the highest honor, Israelis would treat Aumann with a corresponding level of respect. But Aumann is religious and conservative, two traits detested by most Israeli journalists.

Nevertheless, since ignoring Aumann following his recognition in 2005 is no longer an option, the media does reluctantly allow his voice to be heard. That’s why one might incidentally come across a 2014 interview he gave to David (Dudi) Goldman, who simply couldn’t hide his disdain for Aumann’s political views.

The leading paragraph sets the tone for the entire interview:

“The real danger,” says Aumann, “is not Hamas, and not the rising European hate toward Israel, but our resilience, and the more the numbers of anti-Zionists increase so our resilience weakens.”

Goldman believes that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has waved the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees to Israel as a condition for peace, which makes him hopeful that the conflict could be resolved if only Israel would agree to the two-state solution.

For Aumann, this is a delusional, wishful thinking:

“Nonsense,” he retorts. “Not a single Palestinian waves the right of return. Abbas’s position,” he alerts Goldman, “is a diversion tactic. Among themselves, Palestinians continue to talk about returning to Haifa, Jerusalem, Ramleh [a town near Ben Gurion airport].”

Goldman also supports Europe’s negative attitude toward Israel stemming from the view that the Palestinians are “natives” under the thumb of Israeli “colonialists.”

Such a view shocks the professor.

“What you are saying is horrific,” returns Aumann. “Your approach is disastrous, since it means that we are colonialists, and we are not. Do you know that in 1885 Jews in Jerusalem were the vast majority? The tragedy is that there are still Israelis, like you, who think in terms of natives. If this is the case, we have no business being here.”

Post-Zionists like Goldman, insists Aumann, “are extremely dangerous because they undermine the moral justification of our existence. If the post-Zionists are right, then [people like] Helen Thomas [who famously told the Jews to ‘get the hell out of Palestine’] are right, and we should start packing and give the keys to Abbas and [Hamas leader Ismail] Haniya.”

Following Israel’s most recent elections it has become clearer than ever why the “Goldmans” marginalize the “Aumanns.”

No matter how brilliant the latter may be, Zionists or pro-Zionists are perceived by a growing number of people as primitive and slow-minded.

Post-Zionists, on the other hand, are seen as rational, educated and enlightened. Posturing themselves as such, post-Zionists, along with radical Muslims and Western liberals, have successfully justified hatred toward Israel and framed the conflict in the cosmological terms of a battle between light and darkness.

Aumann, however, insists that this image of “angels of light” hides a sinister agenda that has nothing to do with peace or light.

Myriad people around the globe don’t have the time or knowledge to decide who’s telling the truth, who is right and who is wrong. They therefore rely more than anything else on the contenders’ reputation.

In the Aumann-Goldman skirmish, reputation tilts strongly toward the one decorated with a Nobel Prize, which is why his voice ought to be presented as obtrusive in a liberal media landscape.


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