Here is the cover story in this week’s U.S. News – an essential and brave argument in the face of obstinate hypocrisy.
Highlights (or lowlights, depending…)
Just as historic anti-Semitism has denied individual Jews the right to live as equal members of society, anti-Zionism would deny the collective expression of the Jewish people, the State of Israel, the right to live as an equal member of the family of nations. Israel’s policies are thus subjected to criticism that causes it to be singled out when others in similar circumstances escape any criticism at all. Surely if any other country were bleeding from terrorism as Israel is today, there would be no question of its right to defend itself.
This phenomenon has its origins in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war…With the territories seized at the end of the war, the “plucky little Jewish state” was no more. In the years since, as it responded again and again to Arab attacks, sympathy for Israel eroded further still as the world’s TVs broadcast images not of terrorists but of armed Israelis responding to terrorism. Only somehow the word “responding” too often got lost in the chaos.
Is Israel’s approach, which seeks to minimize civilian casualties, the same as that of the terrorists, who seek to maximize it? … Such questions are prompted by an unprecedented reversal of history: Arab terrorists, incredibly, have managed to inspire more sympathy than their victims…As a consequence, the era of reconciliation that obtained between Israel and the world after the Holocaust is, tragically, no more. In much of the world’s news media and in its elite communities, as a result, there is a pattern of delegitimization of Israel.
In England, the guardian wrote that “Israel has no right to exist.” The observer described Israeli settlements in the West Bank as “an affront to civilization.” The New Statesman ran a story titled “A Kosher Conspiracy,” illustrated by a cover showing the gold Star of David piercing the Union Jack. The story implies that a Zionist-Jewish cabal is attempting to sway the British press to the cause of Israel. In France, the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur published an extraordinary libel alleging that Israeli soldiers raped Palestinian women so that their relatives would kill them to preserve family honor. In Italy, the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano spoke of Israel’s “aggression that’s turning into extermination,” while the daily La Stampa ran a Page 1 cartoon of a tank emblazoned with the Jewish star pointing its big gun at the infant Jesus, who cries out, “Surely they don’t want to kill me again.”
…tolerance, sadly, is not to be found in the world body created to foster universal values and human ideals–the United Nations. Tragically, the growth of international hostility to Israel has found its most prominent expression in the operations of the U.N. … the U.N. has adopted an almost reflexively anti-Israeli stance canted to the anti-Israeli majority of its membership. The U.N. today is a regular forum for vicious anti-Israel attacks, conferring on the spurious and the hateful the false cloak of reason and legitimacy, and thus has become an organization for the conservation, not the reduction, of the Middle East conflict. Some U.N. actions simply defy belief. At the World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa, Israel–the only democracy in the Middle East committed to civil rights, the rule of law, and Arab participation in democratic government–was attacked by Arab and Third World nations and accused of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid. Then there is the Fourth Geneva Convention, drafted originally in response to the atrocities of the Nazi regime, to protect people like diplomats and visitors subjected to a military occupation. Last year, U.N. conferees met and, for the first time in the 52 years since its adoption, excoriated one country–Israel–for alleged violations. Not Cambodia and Rwanda, with their well-documented records of genocide. Not Zimbabwe, with its racist economic policies. Not the Balkan states, with their ethnic cleansing. Not even China, with its dismal record on Tibet. Only Israel was singled out.
The [U.N. Commission on Human Rights] went so far as to affirm, last April 15, the legitimacy of suicide bombing against Israelis, or in judgment-free U.N.-speak, “all available means, including armed struggle.”
The Arabs, having rendered the Palestinians homeless by refusing to accept partition in 1948 and having kept many of the Palestinians who fled the battle homeless in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan by refusing to resettle them in their lands, now blame this homelessness on the Jews.
Even the foreign press, in regular contact with all sides during the conflict of 1948, wrote nothing to suggest that the flight of the Palestinians was not voluntary. Nor did Arab spokesmen, such as the Palestinian representative to the U.N., Jamal Husseini, or the secretary general of the Arab League, blame the Jews contemporaneously with the 1948 war for the flight of Arabs and Palestinians. In fact, those who fled were urged to do so by other Arabs. As then Prime Minister of Iraq Nuri Said put it, “the Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down.” One Arab who fled encapsulated this thinking in the Jordanian newspaper Al-Difaa: “The Arab governments told us, `Get out so that we can get in.’ So we got out, but they did not get in.”
The U.N., through its administration of the camps, has made a complicated problem infinitely more so. How? U.N. officials define refugees in the Middle East to include the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948. In other parts of the world, descendants of refugees are not defined as refugees. The result of this unique treatment has been to increase the numbers of Arab refugees from roughly 700,000 to over 4 million, by including children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren. As a former prime minister of Syria, Khaled al Azm, wrote in his memoirs, “It is we who demanded the return of the refugees while it is we who made them leave. We brought disaster upon them. [We] exploited them in executing crimes of murder and throwing bombs. All this in the service of political purposes.” And so it goes, to this very day.
The notion of land for peace bears exploring. If it is taken to mean that Israel must turn over more land until peace is achieved and Arab belligerence ended, the incurious may be left with the conclusion that the lack of peace must be the result of Israel’s failure to yield sufficient land…But the story is not one of occupation of the West Bank by Israel. If the term “occupation” had any relevance at all, it was lost three years ago with Arafat’s rejection of Barak’s proposal for a Palestinian state. The issue is Palestinian refusal to grant Israel the right to exist as a Jewish state.
The insight of Amos Oz, the liberal Israeli writer, is pertinent. He is haunted, he said, by the observation that before the Holocaust, European graffiti read, “Jews to Palestine,” while today it has been changed, to “Jews out of Palestine.” The message to Jews, Oz says, is simple: “Don’t be here, and don’t be there. That is, don’t be.”