Frontpage Interview’s guest today is P. David Hornik, a writer and translator living in Beersheba, Israel who is a columnist for Frontpage and PJ Media, and who has also been published in American Spectator, American Thinker, the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Press, Israel National News, Ynetnews, Moment, and elsewhere. He is author of the book Choosing Life in Israel, published this year by Freedom Press International. The book is about David’s personal choice to leave his native United States and live in Israel, and about Israel’s choice to affirm life and thrive in the face of challenges.
FP: David, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
You’ve been living in Israel for almost thirty years. Why this book now?
Hornik: Living in Israel for almost thirty years, but writing intensively about it for some ten years. I looked back over what I’d written, and saw that it formed a narrative of Israel’s emergence from the very dark days of the Second Intifada, brought on by Israel’s own delusions and errors, to a regained strength and realism—and a much more normal life for its citizens with far fewer terror attacks. I structured the book in that way. Its short Part 1 offers essays in a personal vein to give a flavor of my life here. The much longer Part 2 traces Israel’s progress from those painful days to brighter ones, though there are still dangers. I’m told it’s a gripping read.
FP: How do you feel at this point about leaving the U.S. for Israel? How has living in Israel changed you? How has Israel changed?
Hornik: It’s been for me a great experience of discovery, growth, and adventure, and of expressing—of living—what I consider my true national identity. I was a fiction writer when I made the move to Israel, and remained one for a while, but for now that’s fallen by the wayside; Israel itself became the subject matter, a hugely intense and colorful subject matter. Israel, since I came here in 1984, has changed to a much more free-market rather than socialist economy (though there is still a way to go), and you can see the results in the huge Israeli creativity and innovation in high tech, science, defense, communication, medicine, and so many fields. Israel is booming.
FP: The last few years have seen changes and upheavals in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, particularly in Egypt and Syria but also affecting Lebanon and Jordan, while the crisis of Iran’s progress toward nuclear weapons continues. What are Israel’s prospects as it faces this turbulent Middle East?
Hornik: The overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt is a positive development and offers hope. At present the Egyptian military regime is, with Israel’s approval, cracking down on terror groups in Sinai and even on Hamas. That doesn’t mean this regime consists of, as we say in Israel, Lovers of Zion, but we can hope for a continued pragmatic, nonbelligerent moderation toward Israel. In Syria both sides are very unsympathetic; Hizballah is tied down and, at present, weakened, and that’s also a positive development. So far Israel is staying vigilant and succeeding, impressively, to keep the dangers of that conflict from reaching us. The Iranian nuclear situation is grave and always getting worse. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is very aware of it and serious about it. I think that—provided that problem is solved—our prospects are bright. It won’t be a picnic here, but we have greater morale, unity, and capabilities than the other side.
FP: Can you talk a bit about the lies about Israel’s guilt and Palestinian innocence?
Hornik: Israel accepted the 1947 UN partition plan, created the Palestinian Authority in 1993, and in 2000, 2001, and 2008 made dangerously generous offers of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians have reacted by refusing to put an end to the conflict and continuing—both in Gaza and the West Bank—to cultivate a glorification of terrorism and a delegitimization and hatred of Israel. I don’t see this as so much a “Palestinian” phenomenon, but rather as part of a larger Arab and Muslim one—perhaps an intense version of it. If someone can’t see the difference between Israel’s democratic, peace-loving culture and the deeply problematic, supremacist Arab-Muslim culture of which the Palestinians are part, they’re either ignorant or lack courage or integrity.
FP: Why the heartless silence in the Western media and within the supposed “humanitarian” Left in regards to the dead and maimed children in Sderot?
Hornik: Fortunately the Gaza rockets have mostly stopped for the time being and near-normal life has returned to Sderot. For years it was a town under vicious, ongoing bombardment by Hamas and other terror groups. If the numbers of dead and injured were relatively small, thousands of children (and smaller, but considerable) numbers of adults were living at all times with severe anxiety symptoms. This did not interest the Left because, for that ideological persuasion, Israel—if it ever had it—had long ago lost its victim status by winning the 1967 war. The Palestinians as a “Third World” people made much more attractive ostensible victims for the Left. That the residents of Sderot are generally low-income, what used to be called “working-class” people made no difference; it did not help their case. The international Left with its BDS movement, Israel Apartheid Weeks, and Free Gaza flotillas does not care how many rockets crash into the homes of children in Sderot.
FP: Yet another diplomatic effort to reach Israeli-Palestinian “peace” is under way. Your thoughts?
Hornik: The latest word is that it was devised by John Kerry, with Barack Obama’s backing, to ward off a crisis of the Palestinians turning to UN bodies to obtain statehood unilaterally, to which Israel would have retaliated by using its financial leverage over the Palestinian Authority, and possibly in other ways. Seemingly the Obama administration, which also has financial, diplomatic, and political clout vis-à-vis the PA, could have used that clout to dissuade the PA from taking such steps, and also used its status as a superpower to dissuade international bodies from responding positively to the PA’s overtures. Instead Washington has gone for another “peace process” that is doomed to fail and is already exacting a price in soon-to-be-freed terrorists. Some in Israel think that if this “process” calms the Palestinian arena for the time being, and lets Israel concentrate on strategic issues, possibly with greater U.S. backing, it can be for the good. Time will tell if they’re right.
FP: How do you explain the survival of the Israelis against all odds?
Hornik: Tremendous will, toughness, talent, faith, and the imperative to “choose life.”
FP: David, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
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