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I have an older friend, a Russian immigrant, who grew up in a Jewish family that was unobservant almost to the point of atheism, but keenly aware of their Jewishness, mostly due to the anti-Semitism permeating everything around them. As a very young child, my friend learned that Jews were a tiny, insignificant, completely unnecessary bunch of misfits that could be credited with absolutely nothing of value for humankind, while being directly responsible for countless unspecified troubles they had caused.
Television was unavailable in the region where my friend's family lived at the time, but the walls of their tiny apartment were lined with bookshelves densely packed with volumes collected by at least two generations. My friend became a ravenous reader. When he was eight years old, a distant relative who had converted to Christianity gave him a Bible. Recalling his unsupervised attempts to navigate it, he told me how surprised he was to discover that it was all about Jews.
If our civilization still exists 2,000 years from today, Jews will be still around even then, and, obviously, where there are Jews, there are child prodigies. If such a Jewish child prodigy with a knack for ancient history reads about our times, she is bound to experience the same surprise, because today, just as in Biblical times, it is still all about Jews.
Probably no collection of historic evidence makes the exceptional importance of Jews to humankind as obvious as the annals of the United Nations.
Compare, for example, two ancient nations, China and Israel. About a quarter of the world's population are Chinese. China is occupying Tibet and is waiting for an opportunity to gobble up Taiwan. Its systematic, daily human rights violations have by far surpassed the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union combined, which is quite an extraordinary achievement. It is the only country in the world that routinely executes thousands of convicts every year in order to harvest their organs for sale.
Jews, on the other hand, barely amount to one quarter of one percent of the world's population. The number of Jews in Israel is just about one one-thousandth of all people on earth. For more than half of its long history, Israel was banished from its homeland. In the last 2,000 years, it never committed or even contemplated an act of aggression. It never occupied even a square inch of foreign land illegally. Whatever territory it has gained by force was won in defensive wars, which, according to international law, makes the defender legally entitled to keep it - unless the winner is Israel, of course. Abiding by its special status according to this rule, Israel has voluntarily ceded most of its gained territories to its enemies, hoping to assuage their hostility; as we know, that didn't work. Needless to say, Israel has never attempted to force its enemies to compensate it for the terrible losses inflicted on its people by the ongoing Arab aggression.
Nevertheless, UN resolutions depict Israel as the source of all evil on earth, while China looks as innocent of any digression and as disinterested in world domination as the Yanomami Indians of the Amazon rain forest.
China is not the only member of the UN granted blanket immunity from any criticism. Several days ago, the Saudi Arabian police killed four men they said were responsible for the murder of Paul Johnson. Unlike President Bush, I have no close personal ties with the Saudi rulers, so I hope you find my doubts understandable. To the best of my knowledge, the word of the Saudi government is the only indication of the dead men's involvement in the beheading of the American hostage. The Saudis themselves offered at least two different versions of the events that had led to the shootout. So, let me suggest the possibility that by killing four randomly selected people, the Saudis have closed a potentially embarrassing case and demonstrated what unbelievably terrific allies they are in our war on terror. That's how you kill two birds with four bullets.
Having said that, I am sure the victims weren't really picked randomly. Why lose such a brilliant opportunity to eliminate someone who is capable of causing damage, for example, by disclosing ties between the royal family and terrorists? After all, there must be a reason why the FBI has never been allowed to freely interrogate those arrested for the Khobar Towers explosion eight years ago, or, for that matter, any other terrorist suspect in Saudi custody.
In any case, the killing of the four clearly qualifies as extra-judicial. But have you heard anyone refer to it as such? Of course not. The term "extra-judicial" is used exclusively to describe Israel's execution of known (in stark contrast to the Saudi case) terrorists. Evidently, in the eyes of the United Nations and the vast majority of its members, killers of Jews deserve special leniency.
Neither Saudi Arabia, nor other Muslim countries, nor Cuba, nor North Korea, nor most of the other habitual human rights abusers, have been seriously, consistently criticized for their violations. It's perfectly understandable: how can a country violate something that does not exist within its jurisdiction? It's harder to understand why countries like that, that don't even have words in their vocabularies for the concept of human rights, have been sitting on the UN human rights commission. It is obvious that the UN policy is not designed to promote human rights where they are most brazenly oppressed. Instead, it is used to harass those few countries that protect the rights of their citizens without waiting for the UN to show them the way. Luckily, I am a citizen of one of those countries, so I don't need to worry about the UN-sponsored perversions of my rights. There is a problem, however: recently, the UN decided to address the problem of anti-Semitism. It's all about Jews, remember?
Don't get me wrong. I hate anti-Semitism as much as the next Jew. But I know three things if I know anything at all.
First, as surely as death will exist as long as there is life, anti-Semitism will survive on this planet until the day it becomes judenrein. If World War II didn't eliminate it, we have no choice but to conclude that this plague is incurable, and only a truly final solution of the Jewish problem may cleanse humankind of it. As usual, a few Jews are bound to fall through the cracks and survive, but impatient historians, without waiting for them to become extinct, will offer incontrovertible evidence that Jews have never existed, that they were a myth, and, therefore, the genocide was a myth as well. I'm curious, though, whom they will begin to exterminate next. Someone is definitely in for a nasty surprise.
Second, the simplest, most efficient way for the UN to make a substantial dent in anti-Semitism would be to call in all its people - both the staff and foreign representatives, seal all the exits and set the building on fire. Alternatively, Kofi Annan could contact his friends in the Arab world and ask them to slam the next hijacked airliner into the UN headquarters in New York City. I know it sounds cruel and cynical, but not as cruel and cynical as the UN, which, as a universally recognized international body, is in a unique position to effectively discredit and discourage anti-Semitism. Instead, it has been the leading force promoting it, and so, without the UN, Jews could've breathed a bit easier.
Third, it doesn't take a genius to figure out why the UN, famous for its anti-Israeli policy, decided to address the problem of anti-Semitism it helped create. It is pursuing the same two goals as the recent European conference devoted to the same eternal topic. The short-term goal is to be able to respond to accusations of anti-Semitism, "You must be kidding! Haven't we strongly denounced it at our recent conference?" The long-term goal is to redefine anti-Semitism in such a way that it won't include anti-Zionism. That will help them present the destruction of Israel and the new Holocaust that will inevitably accompany it as positive developments.
Not so long ago, plenty of people in the United States refused to consider themselves racists; they had nothing against "niggers" as long as those "niggers" knew their place. Today, most people have nothing against Jews; they hate Zionists instead, because Zionism, according to the UN, is racism, and racism is as bad as Nazism, and Nazis must be exterminated. So, don't be surprised if the UN creates a committee to monitor the progress of anti-Semitism (or anti-anti-Semitism) in the world and, following its own example with human rights, assigns Syrians, Iranians and Ukrainians to run it.
By the way, contrary to what you may have heard, in the Soviet Union, where my immigrant friend was born, there was no anti-Semitism whatsoever. In pleasant unison with the UN stance on universal human rights, its constitution declared all Soviet citizens perfectly equal regardless of their ethnicity, religion, sex, and other petty distinctions that still existed between individuals, despite all the efforts of the Communist Party and Soviet Government. Actually, the Soviet Union went one step further than the UN: its criminal code specifically recognized anti-Semitism as a crime punishable by a labor camp term. Nice, isn't it? Makes you wonder why Jews kept running from the Soviet Union instead of desperately trying to get in. Here's a story that may give you a hint.
When my friend was eight days old, his father, over vigorous objections of his mother and both grandmothers, but with somewhat uncertain support of the only surviving grandfather (the other one was killed in the Great Patriotic War), without inviting anyone, even close relatives and friends, brought home an elderly man in a wrinkled black suit. That man, amidst the general discomfort of all present, performed an abbreviated rite of circumcision (a bris), accepted a meager payment and was escorted to a taxi cab waiting outside. Despite all the conspiratorial precautions, a neighbor reported the incident to the authorities. As a result, my friend met his father again a couple of years after he began perusing the Russian Orthodox Bible, because his father had spent the ten years following the bris on the wrong side of the Ural Mountains cutting trees in the taiga, where the Communist Party had decided to build yet another happy city of the future. His crime? You see, anti-Semitism wasn't the only unusual article in the Soviet criminal code. Zionism was also a crime in the good old USSR. My friend's father was found guilty of Zionism for doing something Jewish, probably for the very first time in his whole life.
Soviet Muslims, who circumcised their sons openly, could do so unmolested.
It's nice to know what serves the UN as a source of its justice and wisdom.
After four years of bloodshed, some in the Israeli media have opened the debate as to the peace credentials of Yasser Arafat.
What self-inflicted masochism is this? In every generation we seem to spawn frustrated Jews obsessed with an urge to denigrate themselves and their people. Whether conscious or subconscious, the motivation stems from a thrust to be absorbed into society at large and to discard Jewish identity. In its radical manifestations, it invariably degenerates into self-hatred.
In the Middle Ages, Jewish converts to Christianity played central roles in campaigns by the Church to promote hatred of the Jews. During the Emancipation, there were Jews who reverted to anti-Semitism in their embrace of universalism. Karl Marx has become a metaphor for some self-hating Jews of his time.
Jewish communists picked up the mantle. Soviet Jewish communist cadres inflicted more cruelty on their kinsmen than their gentile comrades.
In Israel, there was the Marxist Mapam-Hashomer Hatzair group which continued to worship Stalin, even as he proscribed Zionism as an anti-Soviet counter-revolutionary movement. They retained this "schizophrenic" approach even after the arrest of Mordechai Oren, one of their most prominent political leaders, on bogus political charges in Czechoslovakia.
And again in our time there are no shortages of Jews who demonize and delegitimize Israel for what can only be attributed as a syndrome of self-hatred.
We have our own politicians, journalists, academics, and so-called peace activists who seem to relate more with the Palestinian terrorists than with their own people. Until the 1980s they were considered eccentric radicals, usually associated with Matzpen, a Trotskyite fringe group. However, today some occupy important roles in the Labor Party and feature prominently in the op-ed columns of Israel's most important Hebrew newspaper, Haaretz.
These post-Zionist groups achieved the zenith of their power when Oslo was touted as irreversible. They infiltrated the mainstream school curriculum, promoting textbooks that undermined the ethos of Zionism. Some even hinted that the Jewish state was born in sin and was therefore responsible for all the Palestinian suffering since 1948.
The post-Zionist call for the transformation of the Jewish state into "a state of all its citizens" is a prescription for the elimination of the distinct Jewish character of Israel, including the abrogation of the law of return, erasing the Jewish symbols in the flag, and rewriting the national anthem.
With the advent of the current violence and the eruption of global anti-Semitism, most were forced to retreat. Yet in recent months, in the wake of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan, they have begun regrouping.
ON JUNE 11 one of the icons of post-Zionism, Haaretz journalist Akiva Eldar, published an interview with Amos Malka, a former head of military intelligence. Central to Malka's message was that senior members of the Intelligence Corps with an ideological axe to grind had suppressed the truth by accusing Arafat of readying himself for the violence even before the breakdown in negotiations with Ehud Barak.
Malka's claim was that not only was Arafat reconciled to achieving an accommodation with Israel, but he was even willing to give up the Palestinian right of return if Israel would agree to repatriate a token 20-30,000 refugees.
A drum beat of articles in Haaretz promoted this image of a benign Arafat forced into a violent confrontation because of an intransigent Israel.
On June 18, a week following the Eldar article, Haaretz ran a front-page interview with Arafat conducted by Eldar and editor David Landau. The headline quoted Arafat saying, "A Jewish state? Definitely!" The interview portrayed a peace-loving Palestinian leader conveying remorse that a settlement with Israel had not been achieved.
This, of course, was not the first time that Israelis had resurrected a discredited Arafat. They did so in 1993 after the Gulf War. Arafat's standing was then at an all-time low. He was perceived as a clone of Saddam Hussein and despised by everyone, including Arab leaders. But the Oslo architects rehabilitated him. They brought him and his gang out of exile in Tunis to the West Bank, providing them with weapons and opening the White House. Furthermore, after the accords had been signed and Arafat continued making speeches promising armed victory, our leaders buried their heads in the sand and insisted that his words of incitement should not be taken seriously.
Terrorist outrages were glossed over, and we were repeatedly given mind-numbing admonitions that terrorists must not be allowed to derail the irreversible peace process.
Today after the murder of more than 1,000 Israelis, it is surely somewhat obscene for newspapers to recycle the same rubbish we heard during the heyday of Oslo. To do so is to fall into the trap of Arafat's psychological warfare. Nothing has changed since his repeated undertakings in the language of his people that his real objective was an end to Jewish sovereignty through a phased design of incremental dismemberment.
Is not Arafat the ghoul who repeatedly blesses and continues to sanction suicide bombers? Who calls for a million shahids to go to Jerusalem? Who rewards the families of murderers? Who transforms the Palestinians into a truly evil society inculcating children to strive for the highest level of martyrdom by killing themselves in order to murder Jews?
The recently appointed editor of Haaretz is an observant Jew who is striving to promote a better understanding of Judaism through his paper. It is hard to comprehend how in the midst of war, when Israelis continue to be killed daily, he can justify providing Arafat with a respectable platform to repeat his lies.
Are we really so befuddled that we have to ask ourselves whether, after his terrible track record, the man dripping with the blood of the innocent could still be a genuine partner for peace?
What is this effort if not another manifestation of self-inflicted masochism?
The writer, a resident of Jerusalem, is prominent in the international Jewish arena. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Guaranteeing a people’s right to live and work with a degree of freedom and security is an important part of any government’s job. But is it more important than protecting the lives of other people?
According to Israel’s High Court, it is.
The court’s panel of justices ruled this week that Israel must halt construction of a security barrier meant to prevent “Palestinian” terrorists from slaughtering more of Jerusalem’s Jews because it would too greatly inconvenience the Arabs living east of the capital.
That Israel cannot even take this step is characteristic of the leftist liberal attitude towards Jews defending themselves that permeates much of Western society.
So, if Israel is to be condemned regardless of anything it does short of lying down to die, why take the weak, “moderate” way out?
Is the fence going to provide greater security for Israel’s Jews than militarily destroying the Palestinian Arab terror groups? Of course not.
Why would anyone threatened by a foe bent on his demise simply build a wall when he had the ability to eliminate the threat?
The IDF is perfectly capable of wiping out the “Palestinian” terrorist infrastructure, but Jerusalem is far too concerned with what an antipathetic world would think.
Wake up, Israel!
Have you not yet realized that the nations loathe your very existence and will never suffer you to take even the most minimal step to defend yourself?
Take a lesson from America and the Bush administration — ignore the world, tell the international community it is either with you or with the terrorists, and take the battle to enemies of your people.
The security fence is going to bring just about as much security as providing the PLO with thousands of weapons did.
The right answer to Palestinian Arab terror is not to build a wall to hide behind, but to exercise your full right to self-defense and eradicate the terrorist threat plaguing your citizens with death and mutilation.
You have the right, you have the military ability, and you have the duty. Now put Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc out of business. Don’t leave them to drool for Jewish blood just a few kilometers from your children — wall or no wall.
You have the right to defend yourself in any manner you deem fit, regardless of what the US, EU, UN or even your own High Court says. But you must begin making decisions that are best for your people, and not those that you think will result in the least amount of international outrage.
Your true friends will be with you, no matter what.
Written in response to A settler in favor of disengagement by David Margolis.
While writers sometimes refer to colleagues as their "good friends," fellow settler David Margolis and I really are the best of friends. But I feel compelled to respond to his article, A settler in favor of disengagement, because David is totally wrong. Retreat from Gaza is a terrible mistake, and here's why:
1) It undermines the democratic process in Israel. The Israel voter gets only one vote - for a party. This makes the integrity of the party platform critical. If the Prime Minister can wantonly discard his party's platforms, voting becomes a meaningless exercise. Not incidentally, by ignoring the will of party members, Sharon and the ministers who have gone along with him are seriously damaging the Likud party.
2) It rewards Arab terror. Instead of exiling the murderers and terrorists, Sharon plans to give them what they want - a Judenrein Gaza.
3) It sets a precedent that Jews can be uprooted with impunity. Gaza is not a one-shot deal. Sharon is including four Samarian settlements, and the Left has made it clear that, for them, Sharon's plan is only a start toward uprooting all Jewish settlement over the Green Line. So when a future Prime Minister decides to do just that, he'll only be continuing what Likud began. And if European governments later uproot Jews from certain areas as the simple solution to Muslim animus and lawlessness, they can point to the precedent set by the Jewish state. This may sound like a stretch now, but it might not be in the future, as Muslim power increases in Europe.
4) It undermines the Jewish claim to the Land of Israel. Unilateral retreat signals to the Arabs the idea that the Jews had no right to settle in Gaza in the first place. This opens Israel to the same charges regarding Jewish settlement on either side of the Green Line. Israelis need to recognize that the Land belongs to the Jews.
5) Unilateral retreat emboldens Israel's enemy, thus prolonging the war. Israel's retreat from Lebanon emboldened the Arabs to launch the Oslo war. The Arabs are now thoroughly discouraged by this war, but an Israeli retreat from Gaza will reinvigorate them. This can only result in more dead Israelis.
6) Israel's intelligence network in Gaza will be destroyed, putting Israelis at greater risk.
7) By relinquishing control of the northern Gaza strip, Israel will put Ashkelon and other major population centers in greater danger from rocket attacks.
8) There is an inherent ugliness in Jews from one place appropriating the right to ethnically cleanse Jews living somewhere else. If the cost of protecting kibbutzim on the northern border with Lebanon seems too great, should Israel send in the army and pack off those people to the Negev?
9) Uprooting the Jews of Gaza from their homes can precipitate very dangerous splits for the country. It will create a situation in which Jews, G-d forbid, fight Jews and Jewish soldiers find themselves compelled to disobey orders on moral or religious grounds. Retreat from Gaza may even lay the groundwork for a second Jewish state if settlers and supporters refuse to accept Arab sovereignty over parts of the Land of Israel and take it upon themselves, perhaps even as a religious obligation, to reestablish Jewish sovereignty over land relinquished by Israel - even as a separate Jewish state. Again, this might sound like a stretch, but it may prove to be a real danger as the government divests itself of Gaza, Judea and Samaria. Ancient Israel provided a lesson in the dangers of a divided kingdom. The Israeli government must recognize the religious obligations of the Jewish people and not ignore this danger inherent in relinquishing its sovereignty.
10) Only decisive victory will end this war. Israel is at war with an enemy hell-bent on its destruction. Israel must win, and win big. The way to win this war is by remaining in Gaza and destroying the terrorist infrastructure, not unilateral retreating.
The above arguments for remaining in Gaza also address most of David's points. But two arguments he cites in favor of withdrawal require further response.
First is the demographic issue, which is the only reason he cites that has any validity. I believe G-d is handling the demographic problem (as evidenced by the insane, even supernatural, Palestinian drive toward self-destruction). But even if you do not hold that belief, demographics are a "final status" issue. Right now, since the Arabs in Gaza don't vote in Israeli elections, they present no electoral threat. But as a physical threat to Israel, they are far more dangerous living in a terrorist "autonomy" than under Israeli domination.
The second of David's arguments requiring direct response is "Improve Israel's international position." It's a fact that any Israeli concession intended to boost Israel's international position brings but fleeting praise before it is forgotten and followed by demands for new concessions. David should more realistically have labeled this "Improve Israel's international position for 45 minutes" - a losing proposition. And the ugliness I cited above regarding Jews ethnically cleansing other Jews applies all the more so when there is a professed motivation for international approval.
David, come to your senses!
ICJ fence ruling - ResponsesInt'l Court rules Israel must pull down `illegal' fence, compensate Palestinians - July 9, 2004
White House spokesman Scott McClellan: "We do not believe that that's (ICJ) the appropriate forum to resolve what is a political issue. This is an issue that should be resolved through the process that has been put in place, specifically the road map." (Reuters)
Arafat hails World Court opinion on West Bank fence as victory for Palestinian people (Reuters)
Israel: ICJ ruling completely ignores root of problem, and the reason the wall was erected - Palestinan terror. Solution to Mideast conflict won`t be found in Hague, Manhattan, but in Ramallah, Gaza, where terror originates (Haaretz)
PA Minister of Negotiations Saeb Erekat: "The Palestinians intend to fully respect the ICJ's ruling on the legality of the wall. This is a historic day for the Palestinian cause. The PA will appeal to each of the 189 member-countries of the United Nations to state clearly whether it respects international law or whether it is against it." (CNN)
Israel Justice Minister Yosef Lapid: "There are now restrictions on the security fence imposed by our own High Court. We will respect the decisions of our High Court, and not those of the ICJ, which is made up of European Union countries who cannot be accused of being overly supportive of Israel." (The Jerusalem Post)
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei: “There will be no peace at all as long as this wall exists; it must collapse like the Berlin wall. It has nothing to do with security. It is built to grab land.”
Israel Foreign Ministry legal adviser Alan Baker: "Countries that care about the functioning of the United Nations should say, 'Enough is enough, there is a diplomatic process, enough with these games.'"
European Commission Spokesman Jean Christophe Filori: "...the European Union continues to call on Israel to remove the barrier from inside the occupied Palestinian territories, including in and around East Jerusalem."
National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abe Foxman: "We though for a moment the court would rise above prejudice, but as it turns out, it didn't."
Chief aid to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Nabil Abu Rudeina: "The decision of the court is a victory for the rights of Palestinians and for international legitimacy. It is a victory for international law and a real blow for Israel. This decision will lead to the isolation of Israel, and the international community should impose sanctions against Israel, for it is violating the law and international relations." (AFP)
New York senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer announced that they will deliver statements against the International Court's decision in front of the United Nations building in New York City.
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