Friday, December 18, 2009

Why I Don't Demonstrate

I used to. There isn't a demonstration connected to Eretz Israel that some representive of our family hasn't participated it, at least since our return in 1992. The reason I personally no longer participate stems from two separate reasons.

The first is self evident. It is a waste of time. Over two hundred and fifty thousand people crowded around the Israeli Kenesset building on the eve of the vote in favour of the Oslo Accords, all we got was a derisive mark by the Prime Minister at that time that we don't "move him" (Read ther fact that 250,000 citizens out of a population of 5 million left home late at night to camp outside the israeli Parliament building doesn't give him a hard on!) At best, demonstrations are escape values to let off pressure, let people feel they are doing something, when in reality there is absolutely no connection between the Israeli electorate and the elected in Israel once the ballots have been dropped in the box.

That leads into my second reason, why this particular set of demonstrations against the "Building Freeze" doesn't earn my involvement. Instead of attacking the real issue, the fundemental flaw in the Israeli political system that makes Oslo's and arbitrary negation of a citizen's rights something politicans can decide to do for whatever spurious reasons they want to provide, the organizers are attacking the decision as if it a sectorial issue of lack of building permits for one particular population.

Tzippi Hutiel said it best when she participated in the Press Conference on Saturday Night. The issue we should be protesting is the bankruptcy of the Israeli Democratic process! The bankruptcy of the Likud party as part of that system. Any system that permits the leading political parties to get elected on one very clear and articulated platform and yet consistently turns around and does exactly the opposite, is at best bankrupt, at worst corrupt to the core.

I have no doubt that when the day will come and some assute (and brave) person raises the banner of the need for a Renewal of Democracy in the Israeli political system, they will receive support from every segment of the Israeli electorate. The Left (and some of the leadership of the Right) like to talk about the chissim between the political ideaologies within Israel, but from where I sit, very close to the ground and far from positions of influence and power, the real chissim is between Israeli's leadership and the people they pretend to represent. The bitterness and dissolutionment grows greater year after year. The percentage of the general public that has faith in the Justice system, in the political establishment and in the Israeli government's ability to meet the needs of the people plumets from one poll to the next.

So, when someone holds a demonstration to demand a dramatic change to the Israeli electoral system which promises to make elected officals accountable to the people who elected them, let me know, I'll be the first to show up. Until then, stop wasting my time and confusing the issue with sectorial irrelivancies. Until the system is changed, you'll run from one brush fire to the next without ever having solved anything. It's a shame because in my opinion we can't waste too much more time.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Jew from Kuwait

[As my dear friend Dr. Block is mentioned in a very meaningful way in this story I felt the need to post it so I can return to it from time to time. There are echos of my story and my persional relationship with Dr. Block in this story. YBA]
The Jew from Kuwait
by Mark Halawa

My Muslim background left me unprepared for this shocking discovery.

Growing up in Kuwait, I had the best of everything. My father owned a successful construction company, and provided us five children with amenities like piano lessons, swimming, calligraphy and trips all over the world. Although we were Muslims like everyone else, we were totally secular and my father always aimed to shield us from religious people whom he described as crazies.

I grew up being told that Israelis and Jews were the lowest type of creature in existence, put on Earth only to kill us Arabs. In math class the teacher would say, “If one rocket killed X number of Jews, how many would six rockets kill?”

My father was rabidly anti-Israel. He was a product of Nasser's school of thought: secular from a Muslim point of view, yet deeply dedicated to the idea of pan-Arab unity. Israel, he believed, was an American proxy in the post-colonial Middle East.

My father was a supporter of the PLO since the 1960s when Yasser Arafat (who founded the PLO while living in Kuwait) was raising money from wealthy Palestinians working in Gulf States. As an engineer, my father participated in a program where the engineering association in Kuwait would deduct money from his monthly salary to be sent directly to the PLO. He insisted that war and resistance was the only way to deal with Israel.

In the summer of 1990, when I was 12 years old, our lives changed completely. We were on vacation when Saddam Hussein invaded and annexed Kuwait. My father's business -- along with much of the country -- was ravaged. Our savings became worthless pieces of paper. We could not go back to Kuwait, so we immigrated to Canada. My father did manage to sneak back in for a few days to retrieve important business documents that would later be useful in recovering compensation from a United Nations fund.

Praying in the Dark

Of my family, I’m the only one who stayed in Canada. My father never really adjusted to life in the New World, and he had good business contacts back in Jordan, so my parents returned there. All my siblings also moved back to the Middle East. One brother runs a successful company in Jordan, two brothers are studying in Egypt (one dentistry and the other business), and my sister lives in Dubai where she works in the banking industry.

One evening in 2003, I was studying at the university library in London, Ontario, when I happened to notice an older man. From his chassidic garb, he looked like a religious Jew. My curiosity was aroused, so I approached him and asked, "Are you Jewish?"

With a gentle smile on his face, he said, "No, but I like to dress this way." I didn't know whether he was joking or not. All the religious people I had come across in the past were pretty scary. Are Jews supposed to be funny?

His name was Dr. Yitzhak Block, a retired professor of philosophy. We exchanged a few words and then he asked about my background. My family history is pretty complex, and I get a headache every time I have to explain it all. So I simply told him that I'm an Arab from Kuwait, and mentioned that my grandmother from my mother’s side is Jewish.

My mother’s parents met in Jerusalem when my grandfather, an Arab from the West Bank, was serving in the Jordanian army fighting the Zionists. He was 18 years old and my grandmother was 16. Her father ran a school in Jerusalem -- the same school where she would jump off the wall to meet my handsome, uniformed grandfather. They fell in love, got married, and lived for a number of years in Shechem (Nablus).

After my grandfather was discharged from the Jordanian army, the family moved to Kuwait, where oil profits were fueling huge business and construction projects. That’s where my mother met my father and got married.

Knowing about my grandmother’s Jewish background always made me curious about Jews. Whenever we were on vacation in Amman, Jordan, I used to constantly watch the Israeli channel -- when my parents weren't around. My favorite was the Israeli national anthem, and I would stay up late waiting to hear them play it at the end of the TV transmission.

Standing there in the university library, this religious Jew, Dr. Block, looked at me and said, “In Muslim law, you’re considered Muslim, since the religion goes by the father. But according to Jewish law, you’re Jewish, since Jewish identity is transmitted by the mother.”

My head started to spin and memories of my childhood in Kuwait began to surface. I recalled how my grandmother had a funny name on her documents, Mizrachi, which I never heard before. She also had a small prayer book with Hebrew letters, and she prayed in the dark crying. (I thought the Wailing Wall was so named because crying was a part of prayer.)

Aside from a vague family legend, my grandmother never mentioned anything about being Jewish -- but now the pieces were fitting into place. I thanked Dr. Block for the conversation, and ran home to tell my roommate what I heard. He smiled and said, “So you're a Mus-Jew!” I was not amused.

I went to my room and called my mother. She rebuffed the story, saying, "Don't listen to people like that. We are Muslims and that's that."

I decided to call my grandmother myself and bring up the subject.

I beat around the bush a bit -- after all, she’d been denying it for the past 50 years -- and then finally blurted out, “Grandma, are you Jewish?”

She didn’t answer the question directly, but she started crying and spoke about the years of Arab-Israeli conflict. She told me how her brother Zaki had been killed in Jerusalem before the rebirth of the State. To me that was sufficient confirmation of her Jewishness and I decided to leave it at that.

Over the next few months, I avoided the whole issue of Judaism, mainly for the sake of not upsetting my mother. Besides, I was just finishing university, and career was my main priority. I was content with telling myself that I belonged to a mixed-faith family.

Streaming Tears

About a year later, I was rollerblading one day in my neighborhood when I took a hard fall and badly sprained my wrist. The road was smooth so I couldn't figure out why I had fallen. I couldn’t stop thinking that it seemed like a push from Above. These thoughts caught me by surprise, since I wasn't into spirituality and I never had any religious connection. I was a bodybuilder, had tons of friends, and was on the heels of a successful career as a foreign exchange trader. So why had this happened?

Because my wrist was heavily bandaged, I was forced to take off work for a few days. Dr. Block had mentioned the name of his synagogue, so that Saturday morning, I decided to go check out the scene. I was hesitant at the thought of everyone being from European background and me the only Middle Easterner, but I decided to go anyway.

I called a cab and got dropped off at the synagogue. As I walked in, the first person I saw looked Indian. He shook my hand, said “Shabbat Shalom,” and handed me a kippah. Then I saw a black man which really surprised me. And Dr. Block was there, too.

I was handed a prayer book, shown the proper page, and before I knew it everyone was singing, V'Shamru:

"And the Children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath an eternal covenant for their generations. Between Me and the Children of Israel, it is a sign forever that in six days God made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed."

Something hit me and I felt as though I knew this song. I just stood there taking in the sounds, the smells and the sights. Everything felt whole and perfect. It was the opposite of everything I'd ever heard about Jews or Judaism. At this point my tears were streaming in freefall.

After the services finished, I met everyone over Kiddush. I spoke with an Egyptian couple and we shared our personal stories. Jews from all backgrounds were gathered together and I was another piece of this puzzle.

After Kiddush, I accepted Dr. Block’s invitation to join him for lunch. I told him: “I can’t believe I'm here, singing and praying in Hebrew. I could never have imagined it.”

He smiled and said, "It's not so hard to believe. Every Jew is born with a little Torah and a little Menorah inside.” He then pressed his shoulder up against mine and said, “All it takes is for another Jew to bump into him and light it up."

Dreams of Peace

My interest grew from there, and I began studying Torah and keeping Shabbat. Last year I spent a month in Israel touring and studying on Aish HaTorah’s Jerusalem Fellowships program. It was a great “homecoming.”

I still keep in close contact with my family and old friends. They’re wonderful people and I love them very much. Yet it’s hard to relate to them on many levels. In the Arab world there are tons of misconceptions and misinformation regarding Israel. So I am working to develop a program to educate Arabs about Jews and Judaism, to dissolve the stereotypes propagated by the Muslim media and schools. I hope that my unique background can help bridge some of that divide.

Another way I hope to achieve this is to help establish economic relations between Israel and Arab countries. That would create trust and shared experience, which could be directed toward the goal of a genuine and lasting peace.

Another issue I’m trying to address is how the Arab world is filled with Holocaust denial. This past summer I went to Auschwitz, and I am working to produce the first-ever Arabic documentary about the Holocaust. I want to explain to Muslims in their own language exactly what happened.

It often seems like the Arab-Israeli conflict is intractable. Yet I believe in today’s world, there is a real opportunity for a breakthrough. Arabs today have a more universal education, which makes them more open and curious. Also they are meeting Israelis and Jews in their travels around the world, which breaks down misconceptions. And as we saw during the recent protests in Iran, many young people in the Muslim world are yearning for reform. On top of all this, they have high-speed Internet access which opens up all kinds of new avenues of communication, and the possibility of forming new friendships unrestricted by borders or political agendas. Perhaps this can be the basis of a grassroots movement to mend relations and hopefully one day achieve peace.

The other issue that needs urgent attention is intermarriage in Israel. Unfortunately, a story like my grandmother's is not so rare. Many young Jewish women are wooed by Arab men and brought back to live in their villages. The children and grandchildren are never told the truth, especially with political tensions and the emotional unrest this would cause a family. As a result, many Jews are lost to our people. My mother has five sisters, and from there I have a few dozen cousins who are all Jewish -- all living as Muslims in the Middle East. I recently met a seventh-generation Israeli, whose cousin married a Palestinian and went to live in Saudi Arabia; her descendents are Jews living in Saudi Arabia.

All my relatives know that I’m practicing Judaism, and for the most part they’re accepting. I can talk to them about Judaism and they’re politely interested. We love and respect each other. My father is resistant, however, given that secularism and war against Israel are the two ideological pillars of his life. When I first became interested in Judaism, I didn’t tell him straight out. We were having a political discussion and I mentioned that I support the State of Israel. That ignited a big clash and I’ve learned to only discuss these matters with him in an indirect way. I always know when I’ve crossed the line; he gets angry and calls me a “Zionist.”

The other big exception -- not surprisingly -- is my grandmother. I’ve asked her a number of times for more information about her family background, but she refuses to talk about it. Maybe one day I will find the key to opening her up.

Growing up, I was taught that Jews were the source of all evil, descended from monkeys and pigs. On the other hand, I had the image of my grandmother holding her small prayer book with the Hebrew letters, praying with tender devotion. She is the sweetest person I know and there's no way she came from a bloodthirsty gang of murderers. She gave me a Jewish soul, and in her own way, it was she who kept my Jewish spark alive.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Lies that Prevent PeaceThe 14 Lies Blocking Peace in the Middle East

The 14 Lies Blocking Peace in the Middle East

[YBA - The absolute best summary of this issue I've read anywhere!.]

By: Steven Plaut

Israel’s enemies around the world have poisoned the debate with their smoke and mirrors.

If a Martian were suddenly to land on earth and start listening to and reading the mainstream media, he would form the impression that the entire Middle East conflict were due to Israel building some settlements in land that much of the world thinks should become a Palestinian state. A near-consensus exists among the governments of the world and among media writers that peace has yet to break out in the Middle East because of three principle reasons. The first is that the Jews and the Arabs have been unable to agree about whether there should be a Palestinian state. The second is because Israel has obstinately refused to withdraw its troops from (so-called) “occupied Arab” lands. The third is because Israel behaves cruelly towards the Palestinians.

The Martian could easily carry these beliefs back to its home planet, as long as it did not bother to learn the background and the history of the Middle East conflict. Those three reasons cannot survive an antibiotic of familiarity with Middle East history.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seem to think the idea of Palestinian statehood is the most wonderful idea to come along since the Thirteenth Amendment. And almost all world politicians, along with the Israeli Left, insist that all Israeli settlements must be removed from the West Bank because they serve as the main obstacle to peace. The reality is that the Middle East conflict has very little to do with debate over Palestinian statehood and even less to do with Israeli “settlements.” In fact Israel has agreed in principle, somewhat foolishly, to the erection of such a Palestinian state, at least subject to some security conditions and other concessions from the Palestinians — like recognizing Israel’s right to exist. As it turns out, even so-called “moderate” Palestinians reject any such idea.

Meanwhile debate about the Middle East conflict is based on an incredible absence of historic information and on a series of stylish misconceptions about Middle East history. The anti-Israel Lobby, which grows by the day in its maliciousness and antisemitism, counts on the ignorance of much of the public concerning how the Middle East got to where it is.

Here are just a handful of popular misconceptions and their antidotes:

1. Falsehood: Israel was erected on land that belonged to Palestinian Arabs.

Truth: Before Israel was created its territory never belonged to Palestinian Arabs and had not been ruled by any Arabs at all since the Middle Ages. It had been a Turkish province for centuries until it was captured by Britain during World War I. The League of Nations awarded governance of “Palestine” to Britain at the end of the war in exchange for its commitment to turn the area into a Jewish homeland. The lands on which Jewish immigrants settled before Israel was created were purchased by Jews at above-market prices and in most cases had no Arabs living on them. Virtually no Arabs were evicted.

2. Falsehood: The Jews came to Palestine as foreigners and aliens whereas the Palestinians were the indigenous people of the territory.

Truth: Jews lived in “Palestine,” which is the Land of Israel or “Eretz Yisroel,” continuously from the time of the Bible. Most families of “Palestinians” migrated into “Palestine,” during the same period as the Zionist waves of immigration, starting in the second half of the 19th century. The largest ethnic group in the country at the time was the Turks. The “Palestinian Arabs” in 1948 were primarily families of migrants from Lebanon and Syria. Ironically, they were motivated to become “Palestinians” in the first place thanks to the Zionist movement, which brought capital and labor into “Palestine” and improved living conditions there. Huge numbers of the names of “Palestinian” Arab villages and towns are slightly-modified Hebrew names. It is difficult to dig in the ground of “Palestine” without uncovering Jewish artifacts, some thousands of years old. Meanwhile, two-thirds of Mandatory Palestine’s territory had been sliced off in the 1920s and used to set up Jordan, an Arab Palestinian state much larger than Israel. The remaining territory, Western Palestine, was to become the Jewish homeland. That was the original “two-state solution,” the same “innovation” now being promoted for the Western third of the remaining part of Palestine.

3. Falsehood: There is no Palestinian state today because of Israeli aggression and obstinacy.

Truth: There is no Palestinian state today because of Arab aggression and obstinacy. In late 1947, the United Nations approved by a two thirds majority a proposal to create in to create in Western “Palestine” two states to replace the British Mandatory regime there. One would be Jewish and the other a Palestinian Arab state. The Jews agreed. The Arabs rejected the idea. The Arab states launched an attack of genocidal aggression against the Jews, invaded “Palestine” and gobbled up the lands earmarked for the Arab Palestinian state. Most of those lands were then held illegally by Jordan and semi-legally by Egypt until 1967 when they were liberated by Israel in the Six Day War. The Arab world has maintained a state of war with Israel since 1948, refusing to recognize its legitimacy, and attacking Israel over and over in a series of wars and terrorism campaigns. The Arab states attacked Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2006, and sponsored terrorist atrocities against Jews in Israel since it was created. The reason for the attack which produced the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948 is exactly the same thing that stands in the way of any real peace settlement today.

4. Falsehood: Israel conducted “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinian Arabs in 1948-49.

Truth: The Arab states conducted ethnic cleansing of Jews after 1948. About a million Jews were expelled by Arab states, their property stolen, and most then became citizens of Israel. Palestinian Arabs became refugees in 1948-49 as a direct result of the Arab war of aggression against Israel, in which the Palestinians participated. The estimated number of such Arab refugees varies between 400,000 and 750,000, with the former the more likely correct estimate. Afterwards, many were quietly allowed to return to Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs from other Arab countries then declared themselves “Palestinian refugees” in order to get handouts from the UN and other international relief organizations. The actual Palestinian Arabs became refugees for the same reason that ethnic Germans living in Eastern Europe became refugees after World War II: because they were on the losing side of the war of aggression launched by their own political leaders.

5. Falsehood: Israel is an apartheid regime and mistreats Arabs.

Truth: Israel is the only Middle East country that is NOT an apartheid regime. Arabs living under Israeli rule are the only Arabs in the Middle East who enjoy freedom of speech and of the press, free access to courts operating with due process, legal protection for property rights and the right to vote. Israeli Arabs have higher standards of education and health than any other group of Arabs in the Middle East. Israeli Arabs are quite simply the best-treated political minority in the Middle East and are in some ways better treated than are minority groups in many European countries. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that does NOT deal with Islamist terror through wholesale massacres of the people in whose midst the terrorists operate

6. Falsehood: Arabs engage in aggression and terrorism because Israel occupies territories.

Truth: Israel occupies territories (that had been controlled by Jordan and Egypt before 1967) because of Arab aggression and terrorism. Had the Arabs made peace with Israel after 1949, the West Bank and Gaza would have remained under the hegemony of Arabs and they could easily have erected a Palestinian Arab state there any time they wished. Instead, they attacked Israel in an attempt at genocidal extermination in 1967 and they lost.

7. Falsehood: The Middle East conflict is and has always been based on Israeli opposition to Palestinian self-determination.

Truth: The Middle East conflict is and has always been based on Arab opposition to Israeli-Jewish self-determination. There is one and only one cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict, even if that single cause is buried beneath an avalanche of media mud designed to obfuscate and confuse. That single cause is the refusal of the Arab world to come to terms with Israel’s existence within any set of borders whatsoever. The cause of the war is Arab refusal to come to terms with Jewish self-determination in any form whatsoever. The Middle East conflict is not about the right of self-determination of “Palestinian Arabs,” but rather it is about the Arab rejection of self-determination for Israeli Jews. For a century, the Arabs have attempted to block Jewish self-determination, using violence.

No Palestinians before 1967 demanded any “homeland,” although they did demand that the Jews be stripped of theirs. That is because Palestinians are not a “people” at all and do not consider themselves such, any more than do the Arabs of Paris or of Detroit. Palestinians never had any real interest in their own state, and in fact rioted violently in 1920 when “Palestine” was detached from Syria by the European powers. Indeed the original term “Nakba” (“catastrophe” in Arabic and in leftist NewSpeak) was coined to refer to the outrage of Palestinians separated from their Syrian homeland. Immediately after the Six Day War a sudden need for a Palestinian state was fabricated by the Arab world, as a gimmick to force Israel back to its pre-1967 borders. Israel would then again be ten-miles wide at its narrowest, and so prepped for the new Arab assault of annihilation and genocide.

The Arab world invented the “Palestinian people” so that it would serve the same role as the Sudeten Germans did in the late 1930s. That role was to provide a pretense of legitimacy for the war aims and aggression of a large fascist power. The term “self-determination” has been repeated as a rhetorical “inalienable right” for so long that few people recall that pursuing “self-determination” can also serve as a tool of aggression by barbarous aggressors and totalitarian powers. When Hitler decided to go on a war of conquest in the late 1930s, he dressed up his intentions in the cloak of legitimacy, merely “helping disenfranchised and oppressed people attain self-determination.” He distorted the plight of ethnic Germans living in the Czech Sudetenland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, inventing tales of mistreatment. In reality of course these ethnic Germans already had the option of “self-determination” within the neighboring, sovereign German nation-states, and in fact enjoyed far more freedom and rights than did Germans inside Germany. Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia was prepared through postured indignity over the mistreatment of Germans by Germany’s neighbors. Hitler insisted he was simply seeking to relieve the “misery of mistreated ethnic Germans,” supposedly suffering inside democratic Czechoslovakia. “Self-determination” was also the pretense when Germany attacked Poland and other countries.

The Arab world decided that the “Palestinians” must play the role of Sudetens, serving as the political and moral pretense for Arab aggression and Islamofascist imperialism. The Arab fascists then misrepresent themselves as pursuing noble efforts at protecting a mistreated oppressed minority group of Arabs in need of “self-determination.”

8. Falsehood: Palestinian terrorism has been a response to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and as a response to Israeli settlements there.

Truth: Palestinian terrorism against Jews began in the 1920s, escalated in the 1930s, continued non-stop in the 1940s even in the midst of World War II, and reached heights of barbarism in the 1950s. All this was long before Israel “occupied” anything. The PLO was set up long before the Six Day War, meaning before Israel “occupied” the West Bank and Gaza, and before those areas held a single Israeli settlement.

9. Falsehood: Israel has no right to build settlements in the West Bank.

Truth: Israel has as much right to build settlements in the West Bank as France has to build towns in Alsace and Lorraine, or as Poland has to build in areas that once held ethnic Germans. The Arabs launched a series of wars of aggression against Israel and lost. Aggressors who lose a war also lose territory. The bulk of Jewish “settlers” are actually Israelis living in the suburbs of Jerusalem that were constructed after 1967. A handful of small rural “settlements” have been constructed in empty West Bank lands from which no Arab civilians were evicted. In any real peace settlement, Jews would have as much right to live in the West Bank as Arabs have to live inside Israel. A peace accord that rules out such an arrangement would be no peace accord at all.

10. Falsehood: The Middle East conflict continues because Israel refuses to share its land and resources with Palestinians.

Truth: The Middle East conflict continues because the Arab world refuses to share its land and resources with Jews. It is about the absolute refusal of the Arab world to acquiesce in the existence of any Jewish-majority political entity within any set of borders in the Middle East. The Arabs today control 22 countries and territory nearly twice the size of the United States (including Alaska), whereas Israel cannot be seen on most globes or maps. Arabs as an ethnic group control more territory than any other ethnic group on earth. They refuse to share even a fraction of one percent of the Middle East with the Jews, even in a territory smaller than New Jersey. Without the West Bank, Israel at its narrowest point is less than 10 miles wide, about the length of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The main reason the Arab world demands that Israel relinquish the West Bank to Palestinian terrorism is so that it can be used to attack Israel again and so that Israel can at last be militarily annihilated. The Arab world controls such vast amounts of territory and such vast amounts of wealth (thanks to petroleum) that it could have created a “homeland” for Palestinian Arabs anywhere within its territories at any time.

11. Falsehood: Israel deals with Palestinian violence and terrorism using excessive disproportionate force.

Truth: The number of innocent Palestinian civilians intentionally killed by Israel is exactly zero. The number of civilians injured in Israeli anti-terror operations is tiny when compared with NATO and Allied military operations in Serbia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, or Iraq. Given the near universal support among Palestinians for terrorist atrocities against Jews, the self-restraint and moderation used by Israel in dealing with the threat has no precedent in the world. Israel’s own Arabs make little attempt to hide their open identification with the genocidal enemies of their own country and they by and large support the annihilation of the state in which they hold citizenship. No other democratic country facing such open sedition and identification with the enemy in time of war ever responded with anywhere near the same restraint as shown by Israel. In World War II, when faced with a far less-dangerous problem, the United States locked up its ethnic-Japanese domestic population in internment camps. Democratic Spain set up teams of death squads to deal with its separatist terrorists. Democracies in war have junked habeas corpus and treated their internal Fifth Columns as the enemy, with no hesitation or squeamishness.

Democratic Czechoslovakia and India (as well as non-democratic countries throughout Eastern Europe) undertook wholesale expulsions of millions of members of their internal ethnic minorities who had sided with the enemy. Greece and Turkey and the two sections of Cyprus simply expelled altogether their minority populations. Israel, in contrast, operates affirmative action programs that benefit Arabs, finances Arabic-language schools in which Israeli Arabs preserve and develop their culture, overfunds Arab municipalities, and turns a blind eye to massive Arab sedition and lawbreaking, including with regard to illegal mass squatting on publicly-owned lands.

Israel is a Western democracy with a Scandinavian style social welfare system, the only democracy in the Middle East. It is hard to come up with words to mock satisfactorily the ludicrous nature of the complaints about Israeli “mistreatment” of Arabs. These complaints come from the very same people who are apologists for genocidal Islamofascist terrorist movements and for the Arab fascist states, regimes that are among the most barbarous and openly war-seeking on earth.

The endless complaints about “human rights violations” of the “Palestinians” by Israel are a rhetorical part of the broader campaign of aggression against Israeli survival. Arabs living under Israeli rule are the world’s foremost illustration of “Moynihan’s Law,” which holds: “The amount of violations of human rights in a country is always an inverse function of the amount of complaints about human rights violations heard from there. The greater the number of complaints being aired, the better protected are human rights in that country.”

12. Falsehood: Israel can achieve peace by trading “Land for Peace” and by relinquishing territories that it “occupies.”

Truth: Every time Israel relinquishes territory it “occupies” it triggers an escalation of terror and violence by Arabs against Jews. The main cause of anti-Israel terrorism today is the removal of Israeli occupation from Arabs. This is so obvious that it is a major intellectual challenge to explain why so few people understand it. Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip in its entirety in 2004 and evicted all Jews who had been living there. The complete Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip produced a barrage of thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli civilians inside Israel (NOT in the “occupied territories”), a barrage that eventually forced Israel’s reluctant leaders to carry out the “Cast Lead” operation against Gaza terrorism.

The Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon was unilaterally ended in the year 2000 by then-Israeli socialist Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The direct result of that fiasco was the launching of 4,000 Katyusha rockets from Lebanon against northern Israel in the summer of 2006, and several times that number now poised to strike Israel. The worst waves of Palestinian suicide attacks were directly triggered by the early Oslo withdrawals — before which there had been no suicide bombings. There can be no doubt that a complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and a return to pre-1967 borders would trigger a massive rocket and terror assault against the remaining areas of Israel, launched from the “liberated” lands in the West Bank. The same thing would result from Israel relinquishing the Golan Heights to Syria.

13. Falsehood: The Zionist Lobby exercises excessive influence and dictates policies to the United States, protecting Israel from just criticism.

Falsehood: The anti-Zionist Lobby exercises excessive influence and dictates policies to the United States, protecting Palestinians, Arab fascist regimes, and Islamofascism from just criticism. While the media overflow with nonsensical talk about a “Zionist/Israel Lobby,” it would only be a small exaggeration to claim that there is no such thing at all. The anti-Zionist lobby binds together anti-Semites and fanatics, ranging from Islamists, to the radical Left to the Neo-Nazi Right. There is little today that separates anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism and I have never met an anti-Zionist who was not also an anti-Semite. (Jewish leftist anti-Zionists are the self-hating moral equivalents of Taliban John and Tokyo Rose).

14. Falsehood: The Middle East conflict can be resolved through “Two States for Two Peoples.”

Truth: The “Two States for Two Peoples” idea is not a solution at all but simply a strategy for weakening Israel and forcing it behind indefensible borders. Right after “Two States for Two Peoples” would be implemented, the new “Palestinian state” would invite the rest of the Arab world to finish off what remains of Israel. Even the “moderates” within the PLO insist that any “Israel” left standing within “Two States for Two Peoples” must be flooded by Arab migrants and stripped of its Jewish majority, in effect converted to yet another Arab Palestinian state. The Arabs still condition any “two-state solution” on Israel agreeing to being flooded with Arab immigrants purporting to be Palestinians, so that it will morph demographically into the 24th Arab state. Israel obviously cannot agree. Israel would be blanketed in rocket and mortar fire from “Palestine” and waves of Arab terrorist infiltrators into Israel would raise the carnage to unprecedented levels.

That such a “two-state solution” will not end the conflict, but only signal the commencement of its next stage, has long been the quasi-official position of virtually all Palestinian groups. These have long insisted that any two-state solution is but a stage in a “plan of stages,” after which will come additional steps ultimately ending Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. The “two-state solution” is no more realistic an option today than it was in 1948, when it was militarily squashed by the Arab states, terrorists, and armies. It is ultimately as much of an existential threat to Jewish survival in the Middle East today as the so-called “one-state solution,” favored by the anti-Semitic Left, in which Israel is replaced by a Rwanda-like bi-national entity controlled by Arabs, in which the Jewish problem will be resolved in a Rwanda-style manner.

Creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel would be a major step in the escalation of the Arab war against Israel’s existence, even if that war is delayed for a brief time while the world celebrates the outbreak of a Potemkin “peace” in the Middle East produced by the end of Israeli “occupation” of “Palestinians.”

Since the Oslo “peace process” began in the early 1990s, the working hypothesis endorsed by nearly everyone on the planet (including large numbers of IQ-challenged Israeli politicians) has been that the most urgent task at hand is to end the Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian Arabs. The problem is that ANY Palestinian state, regardless of who rules it, will produce nothing but escalated violence, terror and warfare in the Middle East, certainly not stability or peaceful relations. It will seek war with the rump Israel, and will seek to draw the entire Moslem world into that war. It will be indifferent to the economic and social problems of its own citizens.

Humans seem to have a basic impatience with hearing the truth repeated over long periods of time. In an era in which technology, politics, and science change so rapidly, many consider it to be implausible that a statement that had been true 60 years ago could still be true today. Surely, they insist, explanations from the past, such as those of the Middle East conflict, must be obsolete by now, replaced with new updated “theories” and more-modern perceptions of reality.

The result of all this is pseudo-history, where people invent new “theories” about some of the most widely-accepted truths of history. No subject has been subject to quite so much pseudo-historic revisionism and denial of “out-of date” truths as the Middle East. George Orwell once said that the first duty of intelligent men is to restate the obvious. Obvious truths need to be restated because they are under assault by so many dishonest men.

The Palestinians have no legitimate claim to a right to set up their own state, and creation of such a state would result in escalated warfare and bloodshed, not peace. There was never in history an Arab Palestinian state. Even if such a right ever existed, the Palestinians – like the Sudeten Germans - would have forfeited it thanks to decades of terrorism, savagery, mass murders and barbarism. Their pacification today requires reimposing of martial rule by Israel and a thorough program of De-nazification.

The promotion of a “Two States for Two Peoples” solution has radicalized and Nazified most Israeli Arabs, who now identify with and openly support Arab parties and politicians openly calling for violence against Jews and for the destruction of Israel. The “solution” is a recipe for more bloodshed and strife.

Steven Plaut is a professor at the Graduate School of the Business Administration at the University of Haifa and is a columnist for the Jewish Press. A collection of his commentaries on the current events in Israel can be found on his “blog” at
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, February 20, 2009

Left? Right? A Clarification

Inspired by an article by Yehudit Desberg, published in Makor Rishon, 20.02.2009

In my old age I no longer have the energy or the patience to philosophize for hours at a time, searching for the essence of a concept or in a futile attempt to identify the differences between two opposing views.  Today I'm much more likely to read or hear someone else's moment of clarity and tap into it for the tools I need to make sense of the insanity I call reality.  In this week's Makor Rishon I read one such insight that I'd like to preserve in this monologue with myself.  What distinguishes some one or some idea or movement identified with Israel's political 'Left' from a person, movement or idea identified with Israel's political 'Right'?

Although it initially seemed superficial, after thinking through Ms. Desberg's arguments, I believe she has something to contribute to this particular question.  Her work was actually accomplished for her by one of the most iconic of Israel's political movements, my intention is 'Peace Now!'.

Ms. Desberg sums up her analysis of the arguments for and against the release of Gilad Shalit as expressed by Israel's 'Left and 'Right'.  The 'Left' argue - "release at any price!"  It does not matter how many hundreds or thousands of captured, tried and convicted terrorists you release, it is "impossible to stand in the face of a mother's tears."  They see the issue as one of the centrality of the individual.  The single individual and their immediate gratification are the paramount value in their world view.  Nothing else is important, or is as important as this primary overriding value.  It supersedes and determines all else.

The 'Right' don't lack sensitivity and don't feel the grieving mother's anguish.  What they have that the 'Left' doesn't have, is perspective.  They see the tears of one mother, Aviva Shalit, and they also see the tears of the countless other mothers who would eventually cry once hardened terrorists are released to return to their bloody campaign to kill Jews and destroy Israel.  Instead of releasing convicted terrorists, the 'Right' demand that every diplomatic, economic and military pressure be brought to bear upon the Hamas leadership in Gaza until they return Gilad, much like the Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant.

The 'Left' has no eternity.  Their only interest is in the 'here and now'.  The collective, the "People of Israel", the "Nation" play a role in their public pronouncements, but in truth these concepts play no role in their value system on a day-to-day decision making basis.

The 'Right' sees the present as just one link in a chain of existence.  What we do with our "link", our moment, can positively or detrimentally affect the entire future of the chain.  Therefore our decisions must take into consideration not just the mother standing in front of us, but all the mothers yet to come.

One final aside:  Israel has a great deal of experience with the exchange of prisoners for the release of our soldiers and citizens.  Statistically more than 50% of the terrorists release return to terror.  More importantly.  The higher their rank in the various terrorist organizations, the more likely they'll return to kill, maim and destroy Jewish lives.  This is not an academic debate.  Our lives and the lives of our children are affected by it's outcome.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Open Letter to A Critic of Israel

[ YBA - I have no idea who Annie Lennox is, sounds like a SkyNews journalist.  Similarly I never met the author of this letter Mr. Lipschitz, but due to the severe time restraints of my current occupation, I could never find time to write anything as clear and to-the-point as he has, so I'm sharing this with you, my readers.  All emphasis has been added by myself! Enjoy!]

Dear Annie,

As a long time fan of yours, I must say that I was so disappointed to see you sitting under a Palestinian flag, in the company of “Red” Ken Livingstone, George Gallagher, etc, all of them unabashedly not only anti Israel, but anti Semites to boot.

As well as being beneath your personal dignity to sit with such people you are also placing yourself decisively behind and identifying with only one side in the conflict and have abandoned any pretense of impartiality whatsoever.

I definitely value your concern for human rights and my heart goes out to your obviously genuine heartache for the Palestinian suffering. As do ours. Where, however was that beautiful voice of yours when 6000, yes, 6000 rockets rained down on unprotected Israeli civilian villages, towns and kibbutzim, all of them purposely targeting civilians and only civilians. A whole population lived in fear, children suffering post traumatic stress, economies floundering, and for what?

We unilaterally pulled out of Gaza, uprooted enterprises of 30 years standing, which during that time had prospered and made the previously neglected desert bloom.

We pulled out with peace in our hearts, and the deeds to prove it. We left behind, intact, the most technically advanced hothouses in the world. We were prepared to train Palestinians and conglomerates of American Jews (please check the facts) were offering to do joint venture with these Palestinians to help them develop their economy. This would offer unheard of opportunities in the ‘refugee’ world which I might add would really defeat the aim of the Islamic nations who USE these poor people as pawns.

Gaza was presented an opportunity to have become a thriving tax free port city and we could have been living in peace and trading (this is the best method of peace) with a prosperous Gaza. The Gazans unfortunately strengthened the old adage “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” and alas, the hothouses were looted and wantonly destroyed and we were met with a barrage of rockets instead of joint ventures.

Foreign aid was spent on deadly weapons. Even when we had a “cease fire” rockets rained in on a daily business and the Hamas interpreted our incredible restraint as weakness. We pleaded, we threatened, until our threats had lost all meaning. Enough was enough.

Where were you (and Sky News for that matter) when we were shown gruesome live footage of an Israeli boy screaming on the floor of a Supermarket. Yes, a Supermarket where civilians do their shopping, subsequent to an unprovoked rocket attack.. His leg had been sheared off by an assault calculatingly and cynically targeting civilians. The stories are endless.

Military might doesn’t solve anything. The answer is in diplomacy suggests Miss Lennox. Annie, who with? The Hamas will neither speak to us nor even recognize our basic right of existence. Like their Iranian masters they steadfastly call for our utter and total destruction. Nothing less.

It is said that they are holding out for open border crossings.

They had open crossings till they started bombarding us. The crossings were never permanently closed but their temporary closures were vainly and ineffectively used as a deterrent. They even bombed the crossings!! Go figure.

Is all of this madness in order to gain what they already had, and could have had way back then by doing one simple thing. Stop bombarding us!

Israelis yearn for peace and have proved with deeds that we are prepared to pay a high price for this. Our peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt are living proof. The Gazans will not talk peace, at very best a truce. The last “truce” with Hamas was exploited in their smuggling weapons, building tunnels, training shock troops in Iran and building fortifications, as well as maintaining their daily bombardment of Israeli civilians. Hamas, Hizbollah, Al Quaida, etc. not only call for the destruction of Israel but mock the Western democracies, which they have also openly promised to demolish. These threatened Democracies call for even handedness in the region which is also perceived gleefully in their eyes as weakness. Did we learn nothing from Chamberlain? 

Why is it that you, and other “liberal” people like yourself so savagely condemn Israel , with its democratic government, vocal opposition, free press, a world respected legal system, rights for minorities, etc? In short the only people in the Middle East, who adhere by YOUR standards, are vilified whilst you defend the people who trample on democracy, human rights, woman’s in particular, freedom of religion, freedom of speech. Need I go on with the list?

We have tried restraint, negotiations through 3rd parties, (as they won’t speak to us) cease fires (albeit one sided) nothing worked, all the above were seen as weakness. Like feeding the proverbial lion in order to get him to leave you alone it only increased their insatiable appetite, and so the time had come to act, and act strongly. Was our reaction disproportionate? Maybe we should have emulated them. For every Kassam rocket fired indiscriminately into a civilian population, should we have replied by sending helter skelter a rocket aimed into civilian areas and trust to luck where it falls? What would you, Red Ken and the gang have said about us then?

Hamas is to be judged, not only by its hideous actions but also by the company it keeps, Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, El Qaeda, all “giants of democracy and human rights,” all reviled by the democracies of the world, which nevertheless combine in a knee jerk reaction to malign Israel, when it eventually does what any other country would have done ages ago. Exercise its right of self defense and fulfill its obligations to its beleaguered citizens.

Annie, unfortunately you too, whom I so admired, must ultimately be judged by the company you keep.

Stanley Lipschitz