Friday, March 28, 2014

I finally got a copy of "Zionism Unsettled," the Presbyterian Church USA's 80-page "study guide" to teach Presbyterians how awful Israel is that was in the news a month ago.

Others have done a good job showing how bad it is - and it is very bad. For example:

  • After describing how much pressure Jews are under to not say anything bad about Zionism, it goes on to quote a hundred years' worth of anti-Zionist writings by Jews. 
  • It has a sidebar of an "unsung hero of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising" - because he was anti-Zionist.  
  • It gives Brant Rosen, the anti-Zionist reconstructionist "rabbi," an entire chapter to describe his pseudo-theological basis for hating Israel. 
  • It shows The Map That Lies
  • It says in a pull-quote  "There are similarities between Zionism, South African apartheid, and Jim Crow segregation in the Southern US."

I thought it would be helpful to reproduce the PCUSA's timeline of the region's history to show how easy it is to lie with facts and factoids  - when you get to select which ones to use.

Like all anti-Israel histories of the conflict, they start with the 19th century. Jewish people living in the Land of Israel from Biblical times aren't good to mention because that undercuts the fundamental argument that the land is Arab land that Jews came and took away. 

And the "First Aliya" was hardly the first wave of Jews to return to Israel. They came throughout the centuries, perhaps not in waves but there was always a desire in Jewish culture to return. Major rabbis made "aliya" from Babylonia to the Land of Israel in the 2nd-5th centuries CE. They never stopped coming.

Also not mentioned is that the large majority of Palestinian Arabs in this timeframe did not want an independent state but they wanted to be part of Syria, just to forestall the possibility of a Jewish state. Then, as now, the point was not to establish a state but to end one. 

Notice anything missing?

They don't want to mention the deadly anti-Jewish attacks in 1920, 1921 and of course the pogroms in 1929 where many Jews lost their lives and many more lost their homes. Yes, Jews were driven out of their homes by Arabs (in Jaffa, Hebron, parts of Jerusalem and elsewhere) long before the "nakba." Yet only one set of people have rights according to PCUSA.

The 1936-9 revolt was not only against Jewish immigration - it was against Jews altogether. It was a violent uprising and hundreds were killed. Not worth mentioning, of course.

Here the writers are engaging in sophisticated deception. Zionism of course predates the Holocaust and by the eve of World War II there was already a functioning Jewish government in Palestine in readiness for statehood. No such parallel government existed on the Arab side. 

But PCUSA wants to frame Israel's founding completely as a result of the Holocaust, with the implication that the Arabs did nothing to deserve suffering at the hands of the Holocaust victims. Of course, the Holocaust contributed to the urgency of establishing a haven for Jews (as well as Western reticence at accepting hundreds of thousands of refugees) but the timeline minimizes Zionism's pre-war accomplishments.

The last item is a lie. There were zero Arabs displaced by Zionists in mid-November, 1947. In fact, before the partition vote Jews were forced out of their homes in Jaffa in August 1947 - once again, the first victims were Jews. Arabs shot at the Jews from minarets of mosques. 

Tens of thousands of Arabs did flee at the first attacks of Arabs against Jews in the hours after the partition vote. They remembered 1936-39 and those who had the means decided to flee to Lebanon and elsewhere to sit out the fighting. It was completely voluntary. 

Why put "war of liberation" in scare quotes? Well, if you don't believe that Jews have a right to their historic land, then it isn't liberation, is it?

Plan Dalet is not described here, but it is certainly being misrepresented as a plan to ethnically cleanse Arabs. This is a lie.

Deir Yassin is mentioned - but not the Hadassah hospital convoy massacre a few days later  which had a similar number of victims. How's that for bias?

Why is the UN adopting the UDHR mentioned here? Obviously because PCUSA claims that Jews violated it - and not Arabs.

Wars just somehow break out. Nothing about incessant fedayeen attacks on Israel in the 1950s and 1960s. Nothing about Arab threats to annihilate Israel and throw the Jews into the sea. Nothing about Yasir Arafat's first terror attack in 1965, before "occupation." Nothing about how the original PLO charter specifically excluded the West Bank and Gaza from its goals. Nothing about Israel warning Jordan to stay out of the war, but Jordan attacking anyway - and losing the West Bank. No, we cannot have Jews feeling real fear, can we? 

Also missing: Black September, when Jordan killed and expelled thousands of Palestinians.

In the text of the booklet, PCUSA says "Sadat had taken the initiative by his historic trip to Jerusalem in November 1977. Begin resisted responding to Sadat's peace initiative until public pressure forced his hand." This is a flat-out lie. Israel responded to Sadat's speech in Cairo within hours with an invitation to Jerusalem. Begin had made numerous contacts with his Arab neighbors to negotiate peace between entering office and Sadat's trip to Jerusalem. 

Who massacred the Arabs in Sabra/Shatila? PCUSA implies it is Israel, because they haven't said a word about Lebanese Christians, so who else could it be?

The 1994 entry shows how one can write a completely factual statement and still lie.

The first Arab suicide attack in Israel was in 1989 and it killed 16 people- but it wasn't a bomb

There were two other suicide attacks against Israelis in 1993 - but they were in Judea and Samaria. 

PCUSA mentions the Hebron massacre first to imply that Palestinian Arab terror was in reaction to it. That is clearly not true. But they only publish the facts that make their anti-Israel case. 

There were dozens of terror attacks during the 1990s. Over 150 Israelis were killed in suicide bombings. Not worth mentioning. But PCUSA wants to imply that the second intifada was the result of Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount - in reality is was an excuse, not a cause. 

Israel's peace offers in 2000 and 2001 (and 2007)  that were rejected by the Palestinian Arabs are not mentioned. The unacceptable Arab League proposal which could have destroyed the Jewish state demographically is highlighted, so Israel alone appears rejectionist. 

Notice that Hamas is not mentioned here as a terrorist or even an Islamist group. Hamas rejected the roadmap outright, but that is not worth mentioning either. 

Ah, so Hamas has some militants -but they only attack Fatah militants. They never do anything bad to their oppressor Jews.

Not a single mention of thousands of Hamas rockets being shot at Israeli civilians. Not a mention of who started the war in Gaza (by calling it a war on Gaza PCUSA is purposefully ignoring the Gaza rockets during the war.)

This is only the tip of the iceberg, but the pattern is clear - PCUSA will not write up any history that makes Israeli Jews look like anything but a bloodthirsty aggressors hell bent on dominating and controlling poor, innocent Arabs. (It will not mention that some IDF soldiers, politicians and diplomats are Arab and Druze, because they want to imply that Jewish exceptionalism - a major theme of the booklet - is responsible for all ills.)  If anything contradicts that narrative it must not be mentioned.

People who are not familiar with the real history of the region see a timeline and they assume that it must be an accurate portrayal of history. Yet the lies and omissions are all in the same direction - to demonize Israel and to whitewash Arab threats and terror, which are virtually nonexistent in the 80 pages of the booklet.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how Israel-haters lie with cherry-picked facts.

(h/t Ari)


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