By Steven Plaut
An interesting trend has emerged in recent weeks. The Israeli Left, along with most of the world’s pseudo-intellectual classes, has suddenly discovered Abraham Lincoln, proclaiming him an honorary member of “Peace Now.”
Obviously with the recent movie Lincoln as a prod, columnists in the Israeli media are claiming that Israel needs to follow the ethical leadership of Lincoln. Just as Lincoln freed the slaves, or so their mantra goes, so Israel must “free” the Palestinians from “occupation.” The Israeli Left is convinced that, if Lincoln is regarded as a moral champion, identification with Lincoln must clearly lead one to support the agenda of the Israeli Left which would mean supporting Palestinian demands and “resistance.”
Hmm….Well, even someone with the shallowest familiarity with American history would know that the two most important principles championed by Lincoln would make him for all intents and purposes the ethical analogue of the Jewish settler leaders in the West Bank, not a Peace Now advocate by any stretch.
First, Lincoln fought the American Civil War to prevent the partition/division of his homeland, and was fully committed to using massive military force to achieve this goal. While in favor of peace, Lincoln did not see reaching for it at any price.
Now that we have Lincoln straight, we can see that those boosting the “two-state solution” are today’s Copperheads, the faction that opposed Lincoln on these two issues and promoted peace at any cost and division as the end in itself.
Second, Lincoln was not reticent about using the word “treason,” and made it clear that he considered the war against the Confederacy and its supporters to be a campaign against treason. Supporters of secession were engaging in treason, not academic debate as were those who made “understanding the Other” their priority instead of winning the war.
Those who are trying to deconstruct Lincoln as the ultimate opponent of “occupation” will have to explain why his party rightly or wrongly imposed a severe occupation on the former states of the Confederacy after the war. That would translate into a harsh suppression of the PLO and Hamas, just as Lincoln’s party smothered the Ku Klux Klan in the Confederacy. KKK “militants” and “activists” were jailed or fled as martial law was imposed throughout areas of the South. No one proposed seeking peace by granting the Klan its own country.
Aside from these two most obvious characteristics of Lincoln, his actions attested to an aggressive stance against the nation’s enemies, hardly a model that the Israeli Left would adopt. Lincoln abolished habeas corpus during wartime. He executed and deported traitors and had no hesitation using capital punishment. One, William Bruce Mumford, was convicted of treason and hanged in 1862 for tearing down a United States flag.
Five hundred people were executed by hanging or by firing squad during the war, some for desertion.
Lincoln had no patience for terrorists, known in the Civil War as “bushwhackers” and “bridgeburners,” and ordered them executed by firing squad. He believed there was only a military solution to the problems of terrorism. Hardly a model for the Left to co-opt.
Steven Plaut writes for the American Thinker (www.americanthinker.com) where this first appeared.