Editor’s note: The following letter is in response to Uri Fishelson’s letter to the editor that ran on Tuesday’s opinion page.
Let me start out by saying I have friends of all types of ethnic and religious backgrounds. Just because I disagree with them on either their political, cultural or religious beliefs does not mean we can’t find common ground on something. This is what makes the world a great place.
That being said, while I don’t condone “calling for the annihilation of people” of any race or creed, I also don’t condone the state of Israel and the policies it has in place. I am currently taking POL 136, the Arab-Israeli conflict. It seems that the Jewish state was created out of fear of assimilation. They collectively decided to distance themselves from others so as to preserve the Jewish heritage.
Any time a group of people does this, they are bound to face criticism. Case and point being the white supremacy or the Nazi party. There really is no difference in the ideals of Judaism and these except that the Nazis resorted to violence to move forward. Then again, so did the Jewish people, with the help of Britain, in the creation of Israel. Maybe not to the same extent, but they did commit to acts of violence nonetheless. The ideas of both the Nazis and the Jewish people are to preserve their race, heritage and ideas.
It is also this problem of “we should never stop telling the horrific story of the Holocaust” that contributes to anti-Semitism. It happened and it was bad. Get over it. This sob story needs to end. There is a problem in the Jewish community with those who continually decide to play the woe is me card.
The Jewish people have undoubtedly seen much persecution, but what group of people hasn’t? I am Sikh, though not a practicing one, and you don’t see me complaining about the impact of the 1984 Sikh genocide. In fact, most people don’t even know what Sikhism is, let alone that there was a genocide.
If the Jewish community could move pass the phase of using the Holocaust as an excuse for everything wrong with Israeli policies, then there would most likely be less people committed to bringing down the state.
Look, I understand if people want to acknowledge those lost in the genocide and practice Judaism. Just don’t call me anti-Semitic because I don’t approve of Israeli policies, the way Israel was formed or the fact Israel receives more aid from the U.S. than any other country. Don’t call me anti-Semitic because I don’t care to hear over and over again about the plight your people once faced. You can choose to believe whatever you wish, but disagreeing does not make me anti-Semitic. It is that exact mindset – the labeling of people as anti-Semitic – that enables such a thing to exist.
I won’t bother debating your historical errors as I see other people are doing such a good job. I just want to propose a hypothetical situation to you.
Do you think, if, let’s say, someone were to brutally murder your entire family before your eyes, ridiculing your grandparents, throwing the babies against the wall (assuming there are any in you family, of course), maybe raping your wife or sister, and then… 60 years pass, and I were to come up to you and ask how you feel about it, would you say “It happened and it was bad. I got over it. This sob story needs to end”?
Hello Mr. Thind. It is a pleasure to engage in dialogue and, thank you for your response. Usually if someone is taking an anti-Israel position purely for the reason that Israel is a Jewish state, then its likely that the issue of racism, â€œanti-semitismâ€ will arise. â€œZionismâ€is just short hand for Jewish nationalism and although modern political Zionism dates to the 1880s (with the fist Aliyah under the Ottoman Empire not under the British in 1917) but Jews have been returning to Israel when possible throughout history. For example, the Magen Avraham Synagogue, was built approximately in the year 1550 in Hebron after it had been purchased by Sephardic Jews that had been ethnically cleansed from Spain.â€Zionâ€ is just another phrase for â€œ Jerusalem.â€
Not only did the British limit Jewish immigration in a vain attempt to appease the Moslems, they did so at the exact time as the Nazi rise to power. The radio broadcasts of the “The Arab High Command instructing their people to clear the battlefields and then that they could return with the victorious Arab armies and share in the plunder and looting of the Jewsâ€™ properties”have been located and verified. This is documented Jewish history in direct contrast to the Palestinian narrative. In addition, I have personally spoken to people that served on all sides of the conflict, Jewish, Jordanian etc, including a British soldier from â€˜46-48. By the way, the British didnâ€™t exactly â€œbackâ€ Israel either. The Jordanian army that ethnically cleansed part of Jerusalem of all Jews, desecrated 56 synagogues and used Jewish headstone to pave street and build latrines were lead by British Officers, including â€œGlubb Pashaâ€ or John Glubb. The British played BOTH sides in order to maintain a conflict so as to have a reason for continuing their mandate presence.
Although Israel is a Jewish state that is quite distinct from being a religious state or a theocracy in the same model as for example an Islamic Republic. In Israel, the law of the land is legislated by elected legislators (including Moslem legislators) , its not run on religious law based on religious principles administered by clerics. People are quite free to practice any religion that they want, or none at all. In addition to Judaism being a religion, the Jewish people are an ancient ethnicity. The identity of â€œPalestinian Arabâ€ was assigned only in 1964 by the Arab League and Egyptâ€™s leader, Nasser along with the PLO. Rather than an ethnic identity (which would be â€œArabâ€) â€œPalestinian â€œ is really a political identity.
My apologies if in my zeal if I offended you but I so often when I read about Israel, its entirely distortions, inaccurate history, political biased articles and the like. So much bias, bigotry and distortion over the years have been spread, that I feel that such things deserves a sharp response.
I watched the video, and the man you mentioned is very much correct. I am pretty much on the same page as him. We can and should have a civil discussion whether we agree or not.
To Arabmuslim, forgive me if I misunderstand you. I am not promoting hate at all. I simply dislike the way in which the country was founded and the policies that Israel enables. I simply wished to express my opinion. If people relate to it that is fine, if they are opposed to it that is fine also. I will take a look at the video you posted when I get a chance. As for Jerusalem being mentioned in the Koran, I could care less. Part of this problem is the emphasis of religious ideals on BOTH sides, which only creates a bigger rift. Rather uniting people as the human race, religious politics seems to prevent us from accomplishing this task.
Mr. Thind and all who agree with his opinion should really watch this video, which begins at the 39 minute mark.
It is the unedited version of the UC Irvine Michael Oren Speech and its aftermath. At the 39 minute mark a man who identifies himself as a Palestinian, raised in Bethelem by Jews, and became a Christian, puts everything into perspective. All people who hate Israel, should listen to him to understand what it is really like to live there (of course I know you guys won’t even bother to watch).
The other question I learned recently and would like all Pro-Palestinians to answer is: Is Jerusalem mentioned in the Koran? If not, why is it such a holy place for Islam?
Very well put contour66. The report below came out yesterday as well. The time to stop name calling and address real issues is now. Unfortunately many have used anti-antisemitism to hide behind the atrocities committed by the Israeli government.
17-02-2010 News release 10/17
West Bank: no respite from hardship for Palestinians
Geneva/Jerusalem (ICRC) â€“ Israeli restrictions, including measures ostensibly designed to protect settlements, continue to have a severe impact on the lives of many Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said today.
While the economy has shown signs of growth and certain restrictions on the movement of Palestinians have been lifted, living a normal life is close to impossible for many people in the West Bank.
“The ICRC has repeatedly called for action to be taken to allow Palestinians to live their lives in dignity,” said BÃ©atrice Megevand-Roggo, the ICRC’s head of operations for the Middle East and North Africa. “We reiterate our call on Israel to do more to protect Palestinians in the West Bank against settler violence, to safeguard their land and crops, to allow families to repair their houses and to ensure that all Palestinians can get to hospital or to school without delay.”
For decades, restrictions linked to the settlements, which are illegal under international humanitarian law, have resulted in Palestinian farmers losing land and income. Despite recent improvements in the economic situation, an estimated 50 per cent of the West Bank population lives in poverty. Particularly hard hit are Palestinians living in areas under full Israeli civil and military control (referred to as Area C) â€“ which represent over 50 percent of the land.
Checkpoints, roadblocks and earth mounds as well as the routing of the West Bank barrier present everyday obstacles for many Palestinians. Some of them are often unable to reach a hospital or visit their relatives. The West Bank barrier, inasmuch as it veers away from the 1949 Armistice Line, or “Green Line,” into occupied territory, is contrary to international humanitarian law. Furthermore, the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the confiscation of land for the purpose of building or expanding settlements.
Harassment or violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers is a regular occurrence, preventing many farmers from cultivating or even setting foot on their own land. Approximately 10,000 olive trees have been chopped down or burnt in the past three years. Furthermore, Palestinians are facing a range of restrictive urban-planning measures implemented by the Israeli authorities. They are often unable to get permission to repair or enlarge their houses, meaning that young people have few options but to leave home or live in cramped conditions with the rest of the family.
“Israel must find the right balance between meeting its legitimate security needs and safeguarding the basic rights of the Palestinian population,” said Ms Megevand-Roggo. Under international humanitarian law, as the occupying power, Israel has an obligation to treat the civilian population humanely at all times. It must allow the West Bank’s economy to grow, and ensure that Palestinians have sufficient access to water and health care. It must not requisition, destroy or damage property belonging to civilians unless absolutely required by military necessity.
For further information, please contact:
Anne Sophie Bonefeld, ICRC Jerusalem, tel: +972 52 601 91 50
Nadia Dibsy, ICRC Jerusalem, tel: +972 52 601 91 48
Ran Goldstein, ICRC Tel Aviv, tel: +972 35 24 52 86 or +972 52 275 75 17
Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18
Moshe, thanks for your response. While you seem to know a great deal about the subject of Arab-Israeli policy, you fail to acknowledge the actual point of the article which is addressing those who oppose Israeli-policy being labled anti-semites. Please tell me where in my argument did I state the creation of Israel was based on European guilt over the Holocaust? You contradict yourself in claiming that it was done over “the real threat of annihilation” which is simply not true. Zionism was the foundation for the creation of Israel and this predates any “threat of annihilation” so to speak. As for my view that the Jewish people have an “imagined” fear of assimilation, it is not a fear but a collective decision by the Jewish people to maintain their cultural and religious values. I incorrectly used the word fear and that is my mistake. While I am not directly opposed to this collective choice it does create conflict, such is the case with the current Muslim population in Europe. You also failed to acknowledge that I did mention British interests, though I did not elaborate on this, in helping to create Israel. Yes, they limited migration, but the Aliyahs of Jewish movements have occured since around 1917. Over the years this ads up. You also claim that my views are bias, but yours are as well, made clear by the sentence “The Arab High Command instructed their people to clear the battlefields and then that they could return with the victorious Arab armies and share in the plunder and looting of the Jewsâ€™ properties”. This is the Jewish narrative and completely disregards the Palestinian narrative. This narrative includes major violence against the Palestinian people by Jewish forces. You can choose to believe the Jewish narrative if you like, I am not sure which I believe, but given that the Jews had the backing of British forces at the time, as evident through the Hussein-McMahon agreement, Balfour Declaration, and Sykes-Picot agreement, I tend to lean toward the Palestinian narrative. My friend I oppose any state that is based on religious principles or excessive force. Because I oppose religion, I am anti-semitic? No, I believe people have the right to practice whatever religion they please so long as it does not interfere with my freedoms or others. If you think I am wrong about those who share the same feelings I do being labled anti-semitic, then you sir are falling prey to “prepared political propaganda”. It would be my suggestion that in your future responses you actually address the topic at hand rather than try to belittle my view through semi-accurate historical evidence. If you wish to discuss this topic further feel free to contact me. Peace
It is disappointing when a university student in international relations like Mr. Thind has such a shallow understanding of such an important political issue as the Arab-Israeli conflict. If our future leaders are so poorly informed, and so very biased, how can we expect them to make decent leadership decisions?
Mr. Thind seems to imagine that the establishment of the modern state of Israel was solely the result of European guilt over the Holocaust which murdered two out of three Jewish people in Europe at the time, as well as numerous other groups). Rather than Mr. Thindâ€™s imagined â€œfear of assimilationâ€, it was rather the real threat of annihilation. The term â€œgenocideâ€ was devised to describe the Holocaust ,as no real word yet existed for a crime of that magnitude. In fact, the British actively interfered with Jewish immigration to pre-state Israel. This was done by the British, in a vain attempt to appease the Arabs after oil was discovered, in order to hold both sides of the Suez Canal , the British path to India and so as not to inflame the Moslems in India. Had the British not blockaded Jewish immigration to pre-state Israel, unknown numbers could have had a place of refuge and been saved. The British held these Jewish immigrants behind barbed wire in Cyprus until 1948, after the War of Independence, as the British were concerned that if freed, these Jewish immigrants might tip the war against the armies of the five Arab nations that had made war on the newly declared state of Israel.
When Moslem intolerance of others compelled the partition of India, huge numbers of Hindus and Sikhs moved from Pakistan to India and huge numbers of Moslems moved to Pakistan with many, many being slaughtered in the process. When partition was proposed between Jews and Moslems in 1947, the Moslem Arab spokesman at the time said, â€œthere will be a slaughter like none seen since the time of the Mongols and the Crusades.â€ It seems that the Arabs were quite confident in an easy victory, as there were backed by the armies of five Arab states, and superior numbers. The Arab High Command instructed their people to clear the battlefields and then that they could return with the victorious Arab armies and share in the plunder and looting of the Jewsâ€™ properties. Much to every onesâ€™ surprise, Israel won. The Arabs now feared that the Israelis would do to them exactly what the Arab leaders had promised to do to the Jews, and many more left. This was essentially what Mr. Abbas described as his familyâ€™s reason for leaving Safed. The vast majority of the ancestors of todayâ€™s Palestinians left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.
So Mr. Thind, I highly doubt that anyone would call you â€œAnti-Semiticâ€ because you don’t approve of Israeli policies, the way Israel was formed or the fact Israel receives more aid from the U.S. than any other countryâ€ but do expect to be called â€œAnti-Semiticâ€ if you oppose the existence of the state of Israel for the sole reason that it is a Jewish state. It would be my suggestion that before you chose to pontificate on something that it seems you know very little about, perhaps you should learn more, think independently and not accept someoneâ€™s carefully prepared political propaganda as â€œfact.â€
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