Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Unapologetic in Israel

Sarah Palin has a gift for encapsulating issues into a memorable phrase, and her reported question to Israelis while in Israel (“Why are you apologizing all the time?”) crystallizes a trait psychiatrist/historian Kenneth Levin explored in his monumental book, The Oslo Syndrome.

Palin probably knew her question reflected a profound historical echo, from a famous essay by Ze’ev Jabotinsky entitled “Instead of Excessive Apology:”

We constantly and very loudly apologize… Instead of turning our backs to the accusers, as there is nothing to apologize for, and nobody to apologize to, we swear again and again that it is not our fault…. Every accusation causes among us such a commotion that people unwittingly think, “why are they so afraid of everything?” … We think that our constant readiness to undergo a search without hesitation and to turn out our pockets, will eventually convince mankind of our nobility.

And if she did not know, more power to her. It is another indication she has a visceral feeling for the issues she champions. She may or may not be a good candidate for president, may or may not even run, but it is not entirely obvious that she would be worse than Mr. Next-in-Line, Mr. Double-Decaf, Mr. Three-Marriages-for-His-Country, and Mr. I-Dunno-I’m-Making-a-Lot-of-Money-Right-Now.