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This is confession time. I now expose myself so that you can assess how I, an average Israeli, have arrived at my current position and viewpoint on the root cause and reasons for the impasse in the Middle East conflict.
My first admission is that I had always voted Labour in the Israeli national elections.
I was never a passionately political animal, but Labour's call for a two state solution to end the conflict always seemed to me to be reasonable and sensible.
I lived, for many years, on various kibbutzim. The last one, before departing for Netanya, was Mishmar HaSharon, the home of Ehud Barak. Barak, steeped in his socialist upbringing and in the philosophy of painful concessions to end the Middle East conflict, made the most sweeping and generous offer to the Palestinians at Camp David, an offer that included future discussion and future concessions on outstanding issues.
Like many Israelis, tired of the conflict and wishing for peace in our lives, I backed Barak at Camp David. At last, it seemed we were heading to a Shimon Peres type 'New Middle East' where Israel could offer its Arab neighbours so much and the region would blossom and develop with Israel's assistance.
Prior to Camp David I had also supported Rabin and Peres in the Oslo Accord. Like everyone, in those halcyon days, I applauded the White House ceremony and smiled ironically as Rabin reluctantly and publicly shook the hand of Yasser Arafat. It seemed as if we were entering into an era when arch-terrorist Arafat was turning statesman, and peace and harmony would reign supreme.
How naive I must have been. How wrong we were.
What caused me to become a stringent and clarion voice in defense of Israel? What has led me to write and speak about what is the root cause of the decades-old Middle East conflict, and what is driving world events today?
I began to remove my rose-tinted glasses at the time of a suicide bombing outside a beachfront Tel Aviv disco one Friday night.
Twenty two teenagers were killed and many more seriously injured in that attack by a Palestinian terrorist.
This was not the first such attack. Innocent civilians were similarly blown to pieces in Jerusalem, Afula, Rishon le Zion, and other Israeli cities.
Palestinians were walking into peoples homes and killing little children in their beds, shooting women and babies in their cars, murdering grandmothers and kids in ice cream parlours.
Yet, still I dreamed of a different world. Maybe we Israelis were wrong. Maybe we deserved to be slaughtered?
Then the bombers and gunmen reached my town. Netanya, then with a population of only 160,000, experienced twelve terror attacks, including three suicide bombings, that killed fifty of our citizens and injured more than 400.
The pinnacle of this onslaught was the Pesach Massacre that took place that Passover in the Park Hotel on the Mediterranean clifftops of Netanya.
A Palestinian, who had once worked in this hotel, walked into the banqueting hall and blew up over thirty people, some of them survivors of the Holocaust, who had gathered to recount the Jewish story of slavery in the Diaspora of Egypt and deliverance to their ancestral home in Israel.
At that time I not only demanded of my Government to protect me and my family, I also began to examine the root cause of this relentless wave of hatred. Why was this happening to us when we were offering the Palestinians a state of their own, a two state solution, a Palestinian state living in peace alongside the Jewish state of Israel? Surely, this is what they had been demanding?
The deeper I delved into my research, the more I exposed what the Palestinian leadership was telling it's own people, the more I read of the history of the origins of the Middle East conflict, the more I came to the inevitable conclusion of what lay at the root cause of the whole conflict.
Everything began with anti-Semitism. Everything began with hatred of the Jews.
Even when the area known as Palestine was a malarial infested, uninhabited, swamp at the turn of the 20th Century and Jews began to arrive from Europe to reclaim and revitalize the land, the neighbouring Arab leaders eyed their progress with distrust.
Even when Arabs began to drift into the region to find work and food from the Jewish agricultural and industrial developments they took the money to feed their families but resented the industrial Jew who gave them their employment.
The massacre of Jews in Hebron in the 1920's was just one expression of this resentment. The overall rejection of the Jewish state in 1948 was a wider expression of anti-Jewish feeling.
Yasser Arafat was never up for a permanent solution of the conflict if that solution did not inevitably lead to the eradication of the Jewish state. Everything in his upbringing, everything in his political philosophy, everything in his rhetoric to his people was forged in the destruction of Jews and the Jewish state. Arafat, exhorting his people to Jihad and martyrdom was straight out of the Islamic lexicon of anti-Jewish hatred.
The call for a Palestinian state 'from the River to the Sea' was one example of the ultimate aim of the Palestinian cause. This is true to this day. The Palestinian Charter still insists on The complete liberation of Palestine and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.
If this is not clear enough it states in article 17 that: Armed struggle is the inevitable method to liberating Palestine. In case you were wondering if Palestine simply refers to the area that came under Israeli administration after 1967, it makes the point abundantly clear in article 19:
This armed struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state- that is Israel - is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated.
These are quite openly professed as the goals of the ruling Fatah party in the Palestinian National Authority. It does not attempt to hide them. It does not pretend anything else.
The Fatah call for the eradication of Zionist existence and the demolition of the state of Israel is nothing short of a call for genocide against the Jews. In this, Fatah shares the same ambitions as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
When this obsession for our destruction is personified by over twenty four thousand separate terror attacks within a four year period one has to question a society that is driven by such a cult of death against Jews. Yet, the Western media, who should be sensitive to such a phenomenon, has totally it. Moslem motivated activists backed by their far left supporters throughout Europe, have targeted Israel for the most outrageous lies, boycotts, and demonisation. True facts have been ignored in a frenzied desire to portray Israel as the perpetrator of the worst crimes of the century. Jenin massacres, the spread of AIDs, poisoning wells, lack of academic freedom in Israeli universities, are just some of the malevolent slanders that have been thrown at Israel.
When Israel alone is isolated for criticism that is false and unjust, then anti-Semitism is the root cause.
The pandering to the spread of this vehement hatred only encourages this new brand of anti-Semitism. It is increasingly the Jews of France, Holland, and Britain, that are feeling exposed, uncomfortable, and isolated as the centre s that are enflaming this hatred reach their towns and cities. In Europe the assault is mainly verbal. Inevitably, it will become physical.
The Jews of Israel are now not alone in being victims to this hatred. We in Israel have learned to stand up to and fight this vicious and murderous campaign against us.
We still harbour a still silent pray that reason, light, and courage will be sparked among a pragmatic Palestinian leadership that will stand up against the dark and radical forces that control the streets, the hearts and the minds of the Arab world.
Yet, when I see the anti-Jewish hate that appears on Arab television, when I hear the anti-Jewish hate and lies coming out of their mosques, when the 'Elders of the Protocol of Zion is the best selling book from Egypt to Japan, when the Angican Church can divest from Israel yet ignore the Islamic countries that persecute Christians and burn Bibles, there is little reason to be optimistic.
Barry Shaw made aliyah from Manchester, England 25 years ago with
his family. He spent eleven years on various kibbutzim, ending up at
Mishmar HaSharon, the same kibbutz that served as home to Ehud Barak.
After leaving the kibbutz for Netanya, Barry Shaw set up a busy real
estate office in Netanya. He writes the "View from Here" columns from
Israel. To sign up to receive his emails, contact him at
Barry Shaw made aliyah from Manchester, England 25 years ago with his family. He spent eleven years on various kibbutzim, ending up at Mishmar HaSharon, the same kibbutz that served as home to Ehud Barak. After leaving the kibbutz for Netanya, Barry Shaw set up a busy real estate office in Netanya. He writes the "View from Here" columns from Israel. To sign up to receive his emails, contact him at email@example.com
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