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When the Palestinian Intifada broke out in September, 2000, world sympathy was overwhelmingly in favor of the Palestinian uprising. It seemed that everyone was shedding tears for the "poor, oppressed Palestinians struggling for liberation from the lengthy, harsh Israeli military occupation." With all the misery, poverty, disease, disasters, and starvation in the world, the most tears were shed for the "plight of the Palestinian refugees," who were maintained in UNRWA refugee camps for 55 years. Collections of food, money, and clothing were made for the "Palestinian children, who were the neglected, innocent victims of the long, turbulent conflict." This implied that that the Israeli children, who were killed and maimed by Palestinian terror attacks, must have been guilty victims. Their crime was to ride a Jewish bus on the way to a Jewish school, in the free, democratic, sovereign, successful Jewish State of Israel. On the other hand, Palestinian boys were cheered and encouraged as they threw stones at the big, bad Israeli soldiers with their long rifles and heavy riot helmets. The Palestinian suicide bombers were glorified as martyrs, willing to sacrifice their lives for the desperate struggle to obtain a little homeland for their people. Their leader, Yasser Arafat, was honored by the international community as a statesman and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He was welcomed by Presidents and Prime Ministers around the world who gave him hundreds of millions of dollars each year to help him achieve his goal of "an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital."
In contrast, the State of Israel was verbally attacked and vilified by journalists, academics, and diplomats. Academics at prestigious universities labeled Israel, "a racist, apartheid state engaged in a program of genocide against the Palestinian people." University presidents were urged to divest college funds from Israeli institutions. Israeli produce was boycotted in Europe and left to rot in their crates. Israeli policies towards the Palestinians were compared to Nazi persecution of the Jews during the Third Reich. When challenged to support these statements, Palestinian sympathizers cited unsubstantiated Palestinian allegations about the Israeli security practices at checkpoints, border crossings, and interrogations. That's hardly a fitting comparison to transports, concentration camps, gas chambers, and crematoria.
When the New York Times published a photo of a bloody teenage boy crouching below an Israeli soldier, the world expressed outrage at the brutality of the Israeli soldiers and wept for the unfortunate Palestinian victim. This time, the tears only lasted for a few days until the paper printed a correction that the Palestinian boy was actually an American yeshiva student who was beaten by Palestinian youths, and the soldier ran to assist him. Of course, a highly respected paper like the NY Times can be forgiven for an occasional, little error. On September 30, 2000, news media around the world showed the image of 12-year old Muhammed Al-Durrah being shot and dying in his father's arms. These images quickly became the symbol of "Israeli brutality" and were used to justify the intifada. Of course, nobody bothered to ask what he was doing with his father in a combat zone, or whether he was really shot by an Israeli bullet. A clue to those answers came from an interview that Sakhr Habash, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, gave to a Palestinian newspaper in December, 2002. He said, "We have weapons that the Zionist enemy does not have. The boy - Fares Odeh who attacked an Israeli tank with stones and was killed - is our strongest weapon. He reflects the true image of the Palestinian people for the world which supports us."
Shortly thereafter, when the investigation into the Al-Durrah incident was completed, Daniel Seaman, director of Israel's Government Press Office, commented that Al-Durrah could not have been shot by an Israeli bullet and most likely the whole incident was a hoax, a staged forgery designed to justify the intifada and gain support.
A few months later, in March, 2003, gallons of tears were shed for Rachel Corrie, an American student who was killed when she got in the way of an IDF bulldozer in Rafah. The IDF was operating there to stop weapons smuggling through tunnels. A Google search on "Rachel Corrie's death" yielded 9,650 results from around the world, mostly sympathetic to Corrie. She was hailed as a "courageous, martyr" who died in a brave battle with the big, evil Israeli demolition monster that wanted to devour little Palestinian homes. There were many who believed, like Rachel and her ISM colleagues, that Israel should not have the right to defend itself against Palestinian terror.
A year later, in March 2004, Steven Niva, an instructor of international politics and Middle East Studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where Rachel Corrie was enrolled, wrote a mendacious, vitriolic attack on IDF policies in the Gaza Strip. According to Niva, "Any weapons that get through tunnels are only used in guerrilla action against soldiers and settlers within the Gaza Strip, not against civilians within Israel." Apparently Niva has better intelligence sources than the IDF and knows exactly where these weapons are going. According to Niva, if the weapons are being used to kill Israeli soldiers and settlers, then they are being used legitimately, and Israel shouldn't have the right to defend its soldiers and citizens.
Perhaps Rachel Corrie can be forgiven for her foolishness. She was young, naïve, and inexperienced- a misguided victim of environmental influences and instructors like Steven Niva. That same excuse can't be used for the UN and its agencies. In March, 2002, 125 Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorist acts. On March, 29, 2002, Israeli troops entered Ramallah, then to other Palestinian cities to destroy terror cells.
The UN lost no time in responding to the incursion. On March 30, 2002, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1402 by a vote of 14-0. The resolution called for immediate "withdrawal of Israeli from troops from Palestinian cities including Ramallah," thereby rejecting Israel's right to self-defense. Then three weeks later, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1405 which expressed concern for the "dire humanitarian situation of the Palestinian civilian population" and emphasized the need for humanitarian access to Palestinians. None of the UN resolutions ever noted that Jews have along history of association with the cities of Hebron, Bethlehem, Jericho, and Nablus (Shechem). They only became "Palestinian cities" because the Arab pogroms in Jerusalem and Hebron from 1920 to 1938 made it unsafe for Jews to live among a hostile Arab population. Also, there was never a UN resolution demanding humanitarian access to Israelis who were kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists.
Resolution 1405 was adopted after the IDF completed its military operation in Jenin. Peter Hansen, the UN Commissioner of UNRWA supported the Palestinian allegations about a large civilian massacre. He remarked, "I had hoped that the horror stories of Jenin were exaggerated and influenced by the emotions engaged, but I am afraid that these were not exaggerated and that Jenin camp residents lived through a human catastrophe that has few parallels in recent history." Apparently, Hansen didn't believe that the Passover massacre in Netanya, three weeks earlier, was a human catastrophe. What really has few parallels in recent history is a refugee relief agency which maintains refugees for 55 years without offering them any opportunity for resettlement elsewhere. Three weeks after the Jenin operation, a UN fact-finding team found that 52 Palestinians and 23 Israeli soldiers were killed in Jenin. According to the report, "Allegations by a senior Palestinian Authority official that some 500 were killed in Jenin have not been substantiated." Instead, the casualty figures supported Israeli assertions that the IDF put its own soldiers at greater risk in house-to-house combat, rather than to use aerial bombardment, which would have increased civilian casualties. Despite the UN fact-finding report, the Palestinians continue to circulate books and movies about the "massacre" in Jenin and the UN continues to pass biased resolutions against Israel. There can be no excuse for the UN's anti-Israel bias. Those experienced diplomats in the Security Council should know better.
Neither can there be an excuse for Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States, architect of the Camp David accords, author of 16 books, Distinguished Professor at Emory University, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
In an article in the Washington Post, Carter wrote, "It has been recognized that Israeli settlements on the occupied territories were a violation of international law and the primary incitement to violence among Palestinians." So according to Jimmy Carter, peaceful Jewish communities on desolate lands are inciting Arabs to commit barbaric acts of murder and terrorism. Lest you believe that this is an isolated view, Mr. Carter quoted former Secretary of State James Baker who said, "I don't think there is any greater obstacle to peace than settlement activity that continues not only unabated but at an advanced pace." So Carter believes that settlement activity is a bigger obstacle to peace than terrorist activity. What was most astonishing about Carter's article was the date: September 23, 2003. This was two years after the terrorist attacks in the United States and six months into the Iraq war. Did Jimmy Carter also believe that Israeli settlements were to blame for the terrorist attacks in the US, Bali, Madrid, Turkey, Kenya, Beirut, and everywhere else? How would Mr. Carter explain the Fatah terrorist attacks from 1965-1967 when there were no Israeli "settlements" or "occupied territories?" Does Carter really believe that if all Israeli settlements were removed, the Palestinians would throw away their guns and bombs and devote their efforts to building homes, raising goats, and growing olives? When Carter wrote his article, we already knew the nature of the enemy that Israel was facing. We already knew about the incitement to hatred and violence coming from the mosques and classrooms. We knew about the Palestinian corruption, abuse of funds, arms smuggling, and calls for jihad. President Bush had already shunned Arafat, condemned him as a failure, and noted the suffering that he caused. A week before Carter's article, Yaakov Perry, former head of Israel's Shabak intelligence agency, remarked, "Arafat came to be revealed as a trickster, a liar, and the biggest manipulator in our history. Since the Oslo process, we have been living in one ongoing deception. I, also who believed in him, just like Yitzhak Rabin, felt disappointed and even somewhat foolish." Yet Carter still claimed that Israeli settlements were the "primary incitement to violence." There is no excuse for Carter's bias against Israel, he should know better.
Despite all that was known about Arafat's chicanery, corruption, and support for violence, he was still given the royal treatment when he lay on his deathbed in a Paris Hospital in November, 2004. Well-wishers from around the world came to lay flowers outside his hospital room. There were even more flowers for his royal funerals in Paris, Cairo, and Ramallah. But where are the flowers for the thousands of Israelis that he left maimed and disfigured, who have to struggle for the rest of their lives with prosthetics and wheelchairs?
Where are the flowers for the 21 teenagers who were killed while waiting on line to enter a disco?
Where are the flowers for the Gaza schoolteacher whose pregnant wife and four daughters were shot at close range by Arafat's terrorists?
Where are the flowers for the woman who lost both her mother and her daughter in one bombing incident? The little girl's body was splattered not only with her blood, but also with the ice cream that her grandmother bought for her as they shared a summer day together.
Where are the flowers for the woman who was pregnant with twins and was killed with her husband after returning joyfully from a visit to the gynecologist?
Where are the flowers for the hematologist who was killed on the way to the hospital to treat both Arab and Jewish patients?
Where are the flowers for the renowned trauma physician who was killed with his daughter the night before her wedding?
Those flowers have long wilted and gone. But the flowers for Yasser Arafat are still fresh and vibrant. Dignitaries from around the world are rushing to Ramallah to curry favor with the new PA leadership and place a wreath on Arafat's tomb. Jimmy Carter is still a champion of the Palestinian cause and was selected to supervise the recent elections. He was filmed visiting Arafat's tomb to pay his respects. Peter Hansen never apologized for his accusations about Israeli massacres in Jenin and even justified having Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll. The European Union promised to contribute a lot of money to develop the Gaza Strip, but only after the Israeli communities are removed. Wouldn't it make more sense to develop the Gaza strip with both Arabs and Jews so it could become a model for peaceful coexistence and mutual cooperation? Similarly, James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, wants to give the Palestinians an additional $500 million per year over the $930 million per year that they are currently receiving in international aid. He wants to do this after Israel removes checkpoints and closures in order to "restore the possibility of hope for young Palestinians." He hasn?t offered to restore any hope for the young citizens of Sderot who live under a constant barrage of Qassam rockets that are shot by young Palestinians.
Despite all that is known about the financial abuse in the Palestinian Authority, why is the whole world so eager to throw more money at them? At the same time, the tiny State of Israel, which is a barely visible speck on the face of the Earth, but an acknowledged leader in science research, technology, and health care, has become the focus of world censure and enmity. The whole world seems eager to carve it up and feed it to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. There are two possible solutions to this enigma. The first is that we're all living in Rod Serling's Twilight Zone where good and evil, right and wrong, are all confused in a mixture of fantasy, reality, and imagination. The other possibility is that we are all living in the current chapter of the long saga of the persecution and harassment of the Jew. One has only to browse through Abba Eban's Heritage: Civilization and the Jews, to learn that in the last 1000 years, there was hardly a day when Jews somewhere in Europe, Russia, or the Mediterranean, weren't tormented, persecuted, slandered, harassed, or defamed. The history of the Jew in the last 1000 years is replete with tortures, Inquisitions, massacres, persecutions, blood libels, expulsions, pogroms, and exterminations. But today there is more politically correct way to hate Jews. One can say, "I have nothing against Jews, I'm only against Israel's expansionist policies and its oppression of the Palestinian people." Another popular saying is, "I'm only against those biblical fanatics who believe that they have a God-given right to occupy Palestinian lands." These people would like the Arab Muslims to have 23 Judenrein states while Jews should be confined to a miniscule area with indefensible borders, that they should share with hostile Arabs.
Jews must understand that the continued vilification and demonization of the miniscule State of Israel, combined with an outpouring of sympathy for the "plight of the Palestinians," has nothing to do with occupation, settlements, or refugees. These are issues which could have been easily resolved a long time ago by partners willing to compromise at a negotiating table. Israel has made many offers to return land in exchange for true peace, but the Arabs "never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity." Instead of encouraging the resolution of these issues through negotiated compromise, the world keeps pumping more money into a Palestinian Authority which uses it to incite more violence from its mosques, classrooms, media, and websites. The world has already become enamored with the new leader of the Palestinian Authority. He earned the appellation of being a "moderate" because he wears an American-style suit and tie, and wants to destroy Israel slowly and non-violently.
Everyone knows that a tiny, fragmented Palestinian State on the West Bank and Gaza would not be physically or economically viable. There are too many barriers to overcome before there could be mutual cooperation like there is among the European nations. The two biggest employers in the Palestinian areas are the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA, both of which get almost all their funds from international contributions. Instead of resettling the Palestinians into areas with lower population densities, where they could become more self-sufficient, the world still insists on supporting the concept of a tiny, fragmented, overcrowded, Palestinian State that would only serve as two thorns on both sides of the State of Israel. The Palestinian State would be declared Judenrein, and act as pincers to squeeze the Jewish State to death. The State of Israel would be in a constant struggle to defend its citizens until they all have to flee for their safety. That is what the enemies of Israel want.
It is unfortunate that there are still many people in the world that are fascinated with the concept of persecuting, harassing, and tormenting the Jew. Support for a Palestinian State is their way of achieving that goal. Attacks on the settlers of Gush Katif, whether they be verbal or physical, are attacks against all Jews. We are all settlers! New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Johannesburg, Toronto, and Melbourne were all home to new Jewish settlements in the last century. Even Tel Aviv started in 1909 as a settlement of 66 Jewish families. If Jews have no right to live in Gush Katif, then we have no right to live anywhere else either. That's the next goal of Israel's enemies. It starts with Gush Katif, but where will it end?
The 14 million Jews of the world - whether right or left, religious or secular - must understand that the issues of settlements and refugees are only a masquerade for continued persecution of the Jew, and we cannot allow it to happen. We may be small in numbers, but our strength lies in our knowledge, skills, and determination to survive and succeed wherever fate leads us. Only if we form a united front to confront the current existential threat to our people, can we be victorious over our enemies. When the Noam Chomskys, Yossi Beilins, and Satmar Rebbes of the world realize that they are just as vulnerable as the settlers of Gush Katif, then we can work together to ensure our continued survival. If we split into warring factions of left and right, religious and secular, then we will fall.
Even if the flowers are all gone, we can't lose the faith, hope, and determination that bind us together. We must realize that there is an existential threat, not only to the State of Israel, but also to Jews around the world. We failed to recognize the dangers in 1939, but we can't afford to let that happen now. In an age of WMD and suicide bombers, the stakes are much too high. As Pete Seeger sang so poignantly, "Oh, when will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?"
Israel Zwick holds advanced degrees in biology and psychology but often writes on topics of Jewish interest. Though he lives in New York, he has children and grandchildren in Israel. Contact him at email@example.com
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