There is a common thread linking The Jerusalem Post’s attack on Thomas Friedman last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s refusal to write an opinion column for The New York Times and an attack on my views by Haifa resident Ella Berkovitz on the Post letters page last Thursday. In all three instances, the individuals in question showed they prefer to take the easy road of crowd-pleasingly attacking the New York Times and one of its senior columnists, without addressing the fact that similar views are held by the United States government and most Western democracies.It amazes me that intelligent people, people who think that they love Israel, get basic facts so wrong.
To begin with, Berkovitz’s honorable and intelligent letter drew a comparison between Palestinian Israelis and Jewish residents of the West Bank. She is certainly correct that Israeli Arabs live on a nearly equal footing with Jews in Israel, and that the Israel we love and are so proud is an admirable and egalitarian democracy. So if Arabs can live as citizens in Israel, goes the argument, why can’t Jews live in Palestine?
But the comparison is fallacious because the Palestinians had lived throughout Palestine as 98 percent of the population for many centuries before 1948. In contrast, Israel has only recently settled the West Bank, outside her internationally recognized boundaries.
Jews lived in Judea and Samaria continuously since the fall of Judea. Jews lived in Hebron and in the Old City of Jerusalem, for example. Adler's implication that Jews only moved there after 1967 institutionalized the anomalous 19-year history of the area being Jew-free as if that is the status quo. This is incredibly offensive, yet he cannot conceive of that. And it appears that he knows this, because he changes the terminology from "Jews" (as the letter writer wrote) to "Israelis." What a friend, using semantics to avoid the truth!
And he does it again by referring to the 1949 armistice lines as "internationally recognized boundaries." He carefully doesn't call them "borders" because he knows very well that they weren't internationally recognized as borders at all. The "boundaries" are merely an accident of where the Jewish and Arab armies ended up when the cease fire went into effect. No one considered them national borders; they were simply armistice lines.
Adler knows the truth - he just wants to fuzz it a little.
[T]he post-1967 settlement drive occured at a time when we already had a country to call home, and Jews around the world had a safe haven to run to in case of persecution. The Zionist dream had indeed been met. Israel had no choice but to fight the Six Day War, but there was no need to plant civilian communities around the newly conquered territories in the aftermath of that victory.
So according to this lover of Israel, Jews have no right to live in the heart of their historic homeland because the Jordanians expelled them from it. They have no right to visit their holy places. They must be barred from the Cave of the Patriarchs, the Western Wall, the Temple Mount (obviously) and Rachel's Tomb, and only be allowed to visit if the magnanimous Palestinian Arabs allow them to. Since these same Palestinian Arabs are known to be so moderate and tolerant towards Jews, this is no problem at all.
One would expect a graduate of Harvard Divinity School to be a little sensitive to the feelings of those for whom the Land of Israel is more than just a "refuge" with no religious significance whatsoever.
Most modern Israeli historians conclude that the yishuv – the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine – knew full well that as a tiny minority, it needed to “cleanse” the area in order to create a Jewish majority and to make the new state viable. Jewish leaders at the time said as much, and carried through. Those are the historical facts and are well known around the world. That is also the (obvious) reason why Palestinians, even women and children, were not then allowed to come back home. In this light, it is Dermer’s view, not Friedman’s, that could not survive elementary fact checking.Perhaps Adler considers Ilan Pappe to be the foremost Israeli historian, but in fact it is a distinct minority view that the Zionists actively worked to expel most of the Arabs in their territory. A minority were expelled, yes. A larger minority - including many community leaders and wealthy businessmen - left quite voluntarily to get out of the way, especially in the early days of fighting. But the vast majority fled out of fear and in response to wild rumors of Israeli massacres.
Also, his use of the word "cleanse" in quotes appears to be a libel. I am not aware of that word being used by any of the Zionist leaders, even in the out of context or false quotes attributed to them - usually, the word is "transfer," a word that the British used as well in the Peel partition plan.
If I am right, Adler is using the terminology of the Israel haters, claiming that Israel "ethnically cleansed" the Palestinian Arabs - which is the worst kind of libel.
[T]he Post editorial repeats that fallacy there was a conflict even before the the settlements began and so that the settlements are irrelevant. Yes, there was already a conflict – for the obvious reasons just stated – but the fallacy here is a simple one; time moves on. In contrast to Khartoum’s “three nos,” the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative has been on the table for a decade, but Israel has resolutely ignored in order to keep its settlements.Time does move on, abut the Palestinian Arabs have not modified their goals of destroying Israel. One only has to look at Saeb Erekat's JPost op-ed piece last week:
[W]e have engaged Israel and the international community and exerted sincere efforts to achieve our inalienable right to self-determination through the establishment of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state on the territory occupied by Israel in 1967, including East Jerusalem, and a just solution to the Palestinian refugee issue in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.As Adler no doubt knows, the "right of return" and "Resolution 194" are code words for destroying the Jewish state. He may downplay it but the fact is that this has been a consistent motif of the Palestinian Arabs and the Arabs altogether since 1948 - including the heralded 2002 Arab Peace initiative. Wishful thinking that this demand will just disappear will not make it so, and it has been drilled into the minds of generations of Arabs as non-negotiable.
In other words, it is the encapsulation of Arab intransigence, and it has not changed one bit. And the Palestinian Arabs themselves are quite clear that they view the two-state solution as a mere stage to ultimately destroy Israel.
Unfortunately for the Post, and for Ron Dermer, and for Ella Berkovitz, the democratic world just isn’t buying the transparent fallacies put forth by current Israeli hasbara (public diplomacy). It’s not just Tom Friedman, The New York Times or their “liberal Northeastern Jewish” readers. Israel is unfortunately on a path to over-extend itself demographically and to force upon itself either a one-state solution or an unjust apartheid state. That will lead violent uprisings and a worldwide South Africa-style BDS movement, and eventually to national suicide.Another pundit falls for the "all or nothing" fallacy. There is a large range of solutions between the Palestinian Arab maximalist demands and any danger to Israel's demographic nature.
Israel has made many peace offers; all of them were rejected. Any of those plans would have forestalled the apocalyptic predictions of frightened Jews like Adler. Yet the Adlers, the Friedmans, the Walts and other who pretend they love Israel insist that the world must pressure Israel, and only Israel, to continue to sweeten the peace offers even further, rather than pressure the Palestinian Arab leadership to accept them.
Palestinian Arabs, seeing the overwhelming acceptance by leftist Jews of their maximal demands as being normative, have no incentive to compromise on those demands.
Which means that Jews like Adler are encouraging Palestinian Arab intransigence.
Does that sound like something a friend to Israel does?