Monday, June 25, 2007

Israel the victim, or the root of all Evil?

I left South Africa to avoid going to the army (I was not going to fight for politics I was not in support of) and went to Israel because as a Jew, this was very easy. As soon as the politics changed in SA I came home (for many reasons not discussed here). I've become silent about Israeli politics mainly because it has too many vested interests to view truly objectively. The article in last weeks Sunday Times (17 June 2007 - page 29) written by our country's Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, raised an interesting perspective. This post is meant to stimulate discussion and answers to some critical questions. What's your view?

Look again: Israel is the victim, not the root of all evil

Blaming the Middle Eastern conflict on the Jewish state is an error that could see many people unwittingly complicit in one of history`s worst injustices, writes Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein. Sometimes we make the most fundamental errors. When large numbers of people make mistakes - even monumental ones - it is almost impossible to challenge the resultant prevailing view.

It was once the conventional wisdom that the Earth is flat. In ancient times, if anyone dared to claim that the earth was round, they would have been denigrated as being detached from reality. When, in the 16th century, Nicolaus Copernicus dared suggest that the sun was the centre of the solar system and not the Earth, he was regarded as a heretic.

In today`s world, any attempt to explain the Arab- Israeli conflict in terms other than "Israel`s illegal occupation of Palestinian land" and the "denial of Palestinian nationalist aspiration" is often regarded like a declaration that the earth is flat and the centre of the universe. But what if this view is wrong? What if, in terms of understanding the Arab-Israeli conflict, we are living in pre-Copemican times? What if the Jewish state that is considered to be the root of all evil in the Middle East were instead the victim? What if the apartheid of the Middle East is really one directed against the Jews? And what if Israel is the ANC of the Middle East?

In South Africa, our conflict was caused by a white racist apartheid regime. The ANC was always ready to talk peace, but the regime refused to talk and so the conflict could not be resolved, and the ANC was forced into an armed struggle.

Like the ANC, the Israeli government has always been ready to talk peace but has been forced since the birth of the Jewish state into an armed defensive struggle because the anti-Semitic Arab world has not been prepared to talk peace. The ANC had to wage an armed struggle for many years until white South Africans were ready to talk, and then the long-standing conflict was resolved relatively quickly.

Unlike the ANC, Israel has not found genuine negotiating partners, and so its struggle continues, and peace remains a distant dream. What if Zionism is not colonialism but rather an ancient people`s deep connection to their native, historical and covenantal land? What if the real colonialism is Arab expansionism, which contests a Jewish state on even l/520th of the area of Arab lands?

Nearly 4 000 years, ago the forefathers of the Jewish People, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, lived in the land of Israel, which God had promised to them and to their descendants forever. That promise was confirmed at Mount Sinai, and was delivered upon by G-d through Joshua, after the death of Moses, more than 3 300 years ago, when the Jewish People entered the land after being liberated from Egyptian slavery and oppression.

About 3 000 years ago. King David established Jerusalem as the capital city of the Promised Land. The Jewish people lived in the land of Israel for 850 years until their expulsion by invading Babylonians. They returned in large numbers 70 years afterwards and remained for many centuries until their eviction by the Roman Empire. Despite unremitting anti- Semitism and persecution, some communities managed to remain in Israel during the long interval between the Roman dispersion and the re-establishment of the Jewish state in 1948.

What if the dispute has never been about Palestinian statehood but really about the destruction of the Jews and the only Jewish state on Earth? In 1917, the Balfour Declaration, confirmed later by international law through the League of Nations, declared the British Mandate of Palestine to be a national homeland for the Jewish people. recognising 4 000 years of Jewish connection to the land, and the injustice of the destruction of ancient Israel by the Romans and the forced removal of the Jewish people. In 1922 the British took 76% of the land designated for a Jewish state and allocated it instead to the Arabs, creating east of the Jordan River a new country called Transjordan, later to be known as Jordan, which to this day has a Palestinian majority. In 1947, the United Nations voted to establish two states - one Arab and one Jewish - west of the Jordan river on the remaining 24% of the original portion of land allocated for a Jewish state by the international community. In spite of this reduction to their original portion, the Jews accepted the offer, which was then rejected by the Arabs. This was the beginning of a long history of Arab rejectionism.

And so, in 1948, the newly reborn state of Israel was invaded by Arab armies from Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and the Arab Legion, all of which made it quite clear that they intended to destroy the tiny Jewish state at its rebirth and to massacre its citizens, many of whom were Holocaust survivors. Israel survived the war, and from 1948 to 1967, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were in Arab hands and there was no "occupation" of these territories.

If the cause for the Arab-Israeli conflict is the "occupation" of the West Bank and Gaza, then why did the conflict rage throughout these years unabated, with continued Arab refusal to recognise Israel and to make peace with its Jewish neighbour? Why was it that in mid-1967, just before the Six Day War, and before the West Bank and Gaza fell into Jewish hands, Arab leaders called for the destruction of Israel? What "occupation" was at issue? Why did Syrian President Hafiz al-Assad order his soldiers to attack Jewish civilian targets to "pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews"?

For the 19 years that Jordan controlled the West Bank and Egypt the Gaza Strip, the Arab world had the opportunity of establishing another Palestinian state in those territories, and chose not to. Why not? If the conflict is about Palestinian statehood, then why was there no talk whatever of a Palestinian state for all those 19 years?

After the Six Day War, Israel immediately tried to enter into negotiations with the Arab world about the political future of the West Bank and Gaza. The response came from the Khartoum Conference of all the Arab States on September 11967, in the form of the infamous three nos: "No peace, no negotiation, no recognition." And so, when in 2000 at Camp David, Yassar Arafat rejected without making a counter-offer at all, Israel`s proposed 95% of the West Bank and Gaza as well as land compensation for the remaining 5%, his rejection was wholly consistent with Arab rejectionism of any Jewish presence at all.

If the Arab-Israeli conflict is about a Palestinian state, then there has always been an obvious solution of two states living in peace side by side. The conflict is more fundamental and therefore, all the more intractable, and is really about Arab rejection of the very presence and existence of a Jewish state, and probably any Jews at all, in the heart of the Middle East.

And so the very charter of Hamas calls for the murder of all Jews, worldwide. And rockets from Gaza continue to target Israeli civilians even after Israel`s evacuation. And threats of genocide and a second Holocaust, together with denial of the first, emanate from Iran. And the Arab world is awash with the most rabid and pernicious anti-Semitism. What if the war directed against Israel is really the global war of fundamentalist tyranny against freedom and democracy? Then indeed, all of those who believe, with the best of intentions, that they are defending a vulnerable victim, are actually being compltcit in one of the worst injustices in the history of human civilisation. They will have sided with the forces of death and destruction, of fear and prejudice.

What if the world is siding against the only beacon of freedom and democracy in the Middle East, thereby endangering us all, because the fate of Jews is often a sign portending the future? Hitler came after the Jews first, and then he attacked the world. Suicide bombings began in Jerusalem and then migrated to New York, Bali, Madrid, London and Nairobi.

We need clarity to understand these tumultuous times. We also need an ultimate vision of peace and reconciliation between Arab and Jew. The conflict in the Middle East is between brothers, and that is the real tragedy. We are all the children of Abraham; Jews are the children of his son Isaac, and Arabs the children of his son Ishmael. The Talmud tells us that, although the sons of Abraham fought for many years, when Abraham was buried in Hebron, Isaac and Ishmael were reconciled at his grave. Let us all pray to God that we will merit to see the day when brother will once again be reconciled with brother in the Middle East.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard a BBC interview yesterday in which a member of Hamas, a PhD, was comparing what is going on in Gaza to having two children locked in a room with nothing but a small piece of bread - what else could they do but begin to fight over the bread? This is obvious. Eventually they will figure out that they can share. Like the two children in the story, we must give residents of Gaza time to sort things out.

My parents, both Holocaust survivors, were locked in bunkers with five people per sleeping board and not even a crust to share among them. They never did what those two fictional children locked in a room see as the only thing to do. Throughout the millennia, Jews have been locked in ghettos and oppressed with hardly a slice of bread between them, and they too used sticks and stones. They used them to scratch letters on the floor to teach their children to read. They took that crust and found a seed on top that they could plant to grow more wheat. Did you ever hear the old Jewish tale, "Something From Nothing"?

To the Hamas PhD it is obvious that when two children with nothing but a small piece of bread are locked in a room, they will fight.
And so the population in Hamastan fights. And when they run out of enemies to fight, they fight each other.

To Jews it is obvious that when two children with nothing but a piece of bread are locked in a room, they will ration the bread until they figure out how to get more bread or get out of the locked room.

To the members of Hamastan, it is obvious that when you are left with the hothouses abandoned by your enemies, you break it apart and loot and destroy it to show your frustration with your situation and erase anything that reminds you of your enemies.

To the Jews it is obvious that when you find parts and broken pieces, you try to fix them or use them to build something useful.

To the members of Hamastan, it is obvious that when you have a small, crowded, barren piece of land with nothing to recommend it, you fight until the world recognizes your plight. You bravely sacrifice lives to destroy the neighbouring enemies to make room to expand into their land and their homes.

To Jews it is obvious that if all you have is a small, crowded, barren piece of land, you drain the swamps and make the desert bloom, sometimes sacrificing lives to help build a future.

To the members of Hamstan it is obvious that if you manage to get hold of resources or money, you use them to bolster your leaders and buy weapons to fight your enemies.

To Jews, it is obvious that if you manage to get hold of resources or money, you feed your children, build hospitals and schools, then businesses that can generate more resources and money.

One of us ended up with a country that in 60 years' time rivals countries many-fold its size and many times its age.

One of us ended up with nothing but fear and destruction, and blaming everyone else but themselves for their situation.

Which type of people would you rather have as a neighbour and a
partner in this world?

9:27 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely Hamas.

10:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

only ignorant americans oppressive europeans and you greedy jews would have the nerve to call isreal the victom. first things first the halocaust was bad but worse things have happened slavery was far worse and lasted 200 years not 6 years. the aparthide in africa and the things going on in that continent today are far worse than the halocaust and lets not forget about the native americans at least there are enough jews left to have a country. now further more why if the jews had such an injustice done to them by germany, and most of the jews who where in the haulocost where european jews. why wasnt germany given to them. because its not about right and wrong its about white and wrong. the land that was given to them known as isreal was strategically plotted by the bilderburgers to be used as a pawn to control the middle east. the problem with that is that the land had millions of people on it. now this is just me but if you are correcting the injustice of millions of displaced people you do not fix the problem by displacing millions more who where not even involved with ww2 at all. it just so happens that isreal also contains almost every holy city in it. but news flash. God Yarweh and Alla are fake you people still kill each other over comic books. the christians think superman was the best hero, the muslims think it was spiderman, and the jews are mad because they are waiting for batman. then the media gets involved using words incorrectly calling the people who fight against isreal terrorists, but im sorry if you invade my land and i fight you to defend my family i am a patriot not a terrorist. the terrorist are the people who create inhumane conditions for people to live in and the people who send tanks into villages and kill civilians, terrorist are people who build on land that the Un has said they have no right to Isreal and the jews within its borders are terrorist. the inhumane conditions that the isreali military forces uppon the people in ghaza strip are similar to those of the haulocast. the jews and america refuse to negotiate with the muslims they are fighting, they just want them to give up or kill them all i think its the later . if you pay attention to world news it is clear to see that zionists and jews want all the muslims. now as far as terrorist attacks on american interest would stop if we would stop giving isreal money and weapons to commit genocide and would stop telling other countries how to run their governments last time i checked america was not a utopia and had a list of problems thats bigger than the national debt. isreal and the jews within its borders have no right to be there neither do any other infadels (white people) because the crusades where won by the muslims by the way all thats out there is sand who wants that crappy property any way oh yeah i forgot jesus is coming ok makes the millions of deaths worth while

4:55 pm  
Blogger farc17 said...

To Jews it is obvious that if all you have is a small, crowded, barren piece of land, you drain the swamps and make the desert bloom, sometimes sacrificing lives to help build a future.To Jews, it is obvious that if you manage to get hold of resources or money, you feed your children, build hospitals and schools, then businesses that can generate more resources and money.One of us ended up with a country that in 60 years' time rivals countries many-fold its size and many times its age.

are you kidding me christians who actually continue to rule the appressed jews give your "great country" trillions so dont lie about the greatness of isreal by the way isreal spends more money on military than anything else thats weopons and buldozers to expand the land it stole and to stop protest jews are weak and have been conquered throughout history are curently ruled by america and have no right to there own nation if america wasnt scared of the muslim world and could afford to stop sending support to isreal the muslims would invade their land and reconquer it in the blink of and eye america saves isreal every time you jews are too weak to fight

5:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you remember Eric Hoffer?

He was a longshoreman who turned into a philosopher, wrote columns for newspapers and some books. He was a non-Jewish American social philosopher. He was born in 1902 and died in 1983, after writing nine books and winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His first book, The True Believer, published in 1951, was widely recognized as a classic.

Here is one of his columns from 1968.

This article was written 40 years ago!!! Some things never change.

ISRAEL'S PECULIAR POSITION by Eric Hoffer (LA Times 5/26/68)

The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews.

Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did
it. Turkey threw out a million Greeks, and Algeria a million Frenchman.

Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese and no one says a word about refugees. But in the case of Israel, the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single.

Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis. Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious, it must
sue for peace.

Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world. Other nations, when they are defeated, survive and recover but should Israel be defeated it would be destroyed. Had Nasser triumphed last June [1967], he would have wiped Israel off the map, and no one would have lifted a finger to save the Jews.

No commitment to the Jews by any government, including our own, is worth the paper it is written on. There is a cry of outrage all over the world when people die in Vietnam or when two Blacks are executed in Rhodesia. But, when Hitler slaughtered Jews no one remonstrated with him.

The Swedes, who are ready to break off diplomatic relations with America because of what we do in Vietnam, did not let out a peep when Hitler was slaughtering Jews. They sent Hitler choice iron ore, and ball bearings, and serviced his troop trains to Norway.

The Jews are alone in the world. If Israel survives, it will be solely because of Jewish efforts. And Jewish resources. Yet at this moment, Israel is our only reliable and unconditional ally. We can rely more on Israel than Israel can rely on us. And one has only to imagine what would have happened last summer [1967] had the Arabs their Russian backers won the war, to realize how vital the survival of Israel is to America and the West in general.

I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us all.

8:33 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOw.. What a crazy, biased, one sided article. There are so many factual errors in your article that I dare not comment on each one of them. You should stop writing; it would be a favor unless you are a Zionist propaganda agent (which I believe you're). Stop the crap and remember, no justice no peace. By the way, start to live with the fact that Israel is a failed project by your western masters and is destined to go away from the world map.

6:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By Yashiko Sagamori

If you are so sure that " Palestine , the country, goes back through most of recorded history," I expect you to be able to answer a few basic questions about that country of Palestine :

1. When was it founded and by whom?

2. What were its borders?

3. What was its capital?

4. What were its major cities?

5. What constituted the basis of its economy?

6. What was its form of government?

7. Can you name at least one Palestinian leader before Arafat?

8. Was Palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation?

9. What was the language of the country of Palestine ?

10. What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine ?

11. What was the name of its currency? Choose any date in history and tell what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, Japanese yen, or Chinese yuan on that date.

12. And, finally, since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur?

You are lamenting the "low sinking" of a "once proud" nation. Please tell me, when exactly was that "nation" proud and what was it so proud of?

And here is the least sarcastic question of all: If the people you mistakenly call "Palestinians" are anything but generic Arabs collected from all over -- or thrown out of -- the Arab world, if they really have a genuine ethnic identity that gives them right for self-determination, why did they never try to become independent until Arabs suffered their devastating defeat in the Six Day War?

I hope you avoid the temptation to trace the modern day "Palestinians" to the Biblical Philistines: substituting etymology for history won't work here.

The truth should be obvious to everyone who wants to know it. Arab countries have never abandoned the dream of destroying Israel ; they still cherish it today. Having time and again failed to achieve their evil goal with military means, they decided to fight Israel by proxy. For that purpose, they created a terrorist organization, cynically called it "the Palestinian people" and installed it in Gaza , Judea, and Samaria . How else can you explain the refusal by Jordan and Egypt to unconditionally accept back the "West Bank" and Gaza , respectively?

The fact is, Arabs populating Gaza, Judea, and Samaria have much less claim to nationhood than that Indian tribe that successfully emerged in Connecticut with the purpose of starting a tax-exempt casino: at least that tribe had a constructive goal that motivated them. The so-called "Palestinians" have only one motivation: the destruction of Israel , and in my book that is not sufficient to consider them a nation" -- or anything else except what they really are: a terrorist organization that will one day be dismantled.

In fact, there is only one way to achieve peace in the Middle East . Arab countries must acknowledge and accept their defeat in their war against Israel and, as the losing side should, pay Israel reparations for the more than 50 years of devastation they have visited on it. The most appropriate form of such reparations would be the removal of their terrorist organization from the land of Israel and accepting Israel 's ancient sovereignty over Gaza , Judea, and Samaria .

That will mark the end of the Palestinian people. What are you saying again was its beginning?

6:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must be a Zionists to say Israel is a victim.

10:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an american, I am white, I can feel for the people of palestine. If one day a bunch of international government officials and a few Native Americans showed up on the doorstep of the home my family has lived in for over 200 years, not mention farmed for over 200 years, and told me I have to give my home and land back to the native americans, because they lost/sold/traded/whatever it to my ancestors 200 years ago, and now they want it back, and I have to give it to them, with no restitution. I would also fight tooth and nail to keep what is rightfully mine. I would also raise my children to fight them until the land was rightfully returned to my family. You can't claim god gave it to you, because one cannot prove the existance of god. It is a shallow arguement from those with empty minds.

7:37 pm  

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