Jan 27, 2010

The Peace Activist

This letter was written in response to an article written by a self-proclaimed "peace activist".
I suggest reading this individual’s article first at: gilasvirsky.com/godbliss.html to pick up the thread.

Dear Gila,

I stumbled onto your article “God Bliss” through a link from a website that recommended reading your article.
I read the article.

I also read about your commendable commitment, devotion and activities to bring peace into this troubled area. I respect all those who are concerned with making the world a better place and take the time and effort to do so, ultimately contributing to bringing about positive change for our generation and those to follow.

However, your article troubles me deeply, perhaps as deeply as your contempt for those who turn a blind eye to the hardships of the Palestinian populations in Gaza and the West Bank. It troubles me fivefold.

Firstly, unknown to many, there is a media war, a media “intifada” that does as much damage to Israel and the Jews, in Israel and abroad, as does Antisemitism, biased ignorant hate, war and bloodshed. I am certain that you do not intend contributing to the countless hate websites at worst, or anti-Israel sites that feed on disinformation published on the internet to swing public opinion.

We both know that “each small step counts”, and that words are powerful and cause wars. I am thus personally very careful and selective with what I say and convey, no matter what my disposition or the subject.

While I respect open debate and freedom of speech, I take into account the “public opinion” you mention in your article. Yes, you want to make a change in Israeli society and I respect that. Your publicized website article addresses the entire public, which unfortunately addresses many outside of Israeli society. Now, you don’t exactly hang out your dirty washing or publicize your relationship hitches, but rather work on them from within. Since there is no need to convert the converted, this leaves the "floaters" to swing and I dread thinking of the floating Mr. Smith who reads your article. The uncanny ease of hanging out dirty washing with little consideration of the impact and consequences, borders on masochism.

You might like me to qualify some of above, as I will do after each section. I can refer you to a number of online sources with direct links, but will suffice with adding headings for now, pending your response – “The Al-Dura Affair”, “the Jenin Massacre”, “Honestreporting”, “Pallywood”, to provide just a few.

Secondly, you downplay Israel’s “good deeds” by connecting it to “the blockade of Gaza” and the “Separation Barrier”. I fail to see the connection or the point you are trying to make.
Please enlighten me.
For now, I remain very proud that country of 7 million with no diplomatic relations with Haiti, was the only country to arrive there very quickly, the only country to erect a field hospital, the only country to perform complex operations to selflessly save many who were, and probably won’t be of any benefit to Israel, ever.

Yes, it was reported and should be.
You wrote: “it’s hard work transforming international public opinion after the Israeli bombardment of Gaza one year ago, which played out so poorly in the Goldstone Report and European capitals”.
Whose hard work? Yours?
This is also confusing – do you agree or disagree with the Goldstone report?
Goldstone himself admitted that the report was compiled from pure hearsay and none of its contents have any legal implications whatsoever.
Well, yes, it is hard work when people write “bombardment of Gaza”. This is conveys a general indiscriminate encompassing bombardment, something along the lines of the Blitz of Dresden. No, that is not what happened, and should (must) not be conveyed like that. We both know that Israel is capable of bombarding Gaza, Egypt, Jordan as well as a few other countries to smithereens within the hour.
Israel did not.

I am sure you have a figure of around 1,400 hundred killed in Operation Cast Lead, of which XXX (make up a figure) were civilians, right? The PCHR (Palestinian Center for Human Rights) published the list of civilians killed after the operation while Hamas refused to release any information. Lately, Hamas published their list of “martyrs”.
Guess what? Over 70% of the “civilians” killed turn out to be Hamas terrorists...uh...sorry, militants, according to their list. Please note: Israel had nothing to do with these publications.

You write about a “blockade” and “siege”. Blockade and siege are harsh words when compared to reality. There certainly are restrictions on certain materials - those that are used to construct rockets that target Israeli civilians in heavily populated areas.
(If you need official reports on this, let me know).

Yes, there were few local reporters in Gaza during the operation, for two main reasons: (1) There was an ongoing military operation and the safety of our soldiers comes first (sorry!) - reporters during the second Lebanon war revealed crucial detrimental location information of forces active in that area. What exactly did you want them to report, anyway? (2) Their own safety.

Yes, it was a “popular” war, not because of a handful of war-mongering bloodthirsty generals, but because of hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians that were living under the terror of rocket fire from Gaza for eight (8!) years and after exhausting all other channels to stop the rocket fire.

Thirdly, Israel is not Iran with a brutal police force that nonchalantly and brutally attacks peace activists, not in the West Bank and not in Israel. The “peace activists” you refer to, for the most part are provocative, side with Palestinians in the West Bank to physically tear down the “separation barrier”, thereby breaking the law. If it is the law that is wrong, I suggest working to change the law, rather than attacking the army, police force and painting a distorted reality. I strongly condemn unlawful behavior by soldiers and policemen and am proud to boast many court cases in which perpetrators are and have been punished for the crimes committed.

Fourthly, you provide a one-sided biased snapshot of a complex historical problem without providing the unwary reader with any perspective of the chain of events. In my humble opinion, you thereby willingly join the slander network that sports anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic banners based on treacherous and often willful ignorance. The Israel Arab conflict did not begin with the Six day war in 1967, and it was not about occupation. It began before there was an Israel. The Israeli-Arab or Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about the right of Israel to exist, and the right of self-determination of the Jewish people. Everything that you discuss is the fruit of that conflict, and of the determination of the Arabs of Palestine and their political leadership to eliminate Jewish sovereignty anywhere in the land that we call Israel and they call Palestine.

The current demography of Jerusalem does reflect vicious racist policies. You are right about that. "Arab" East Jerusalem became and remained Arab by systematically excluding Jews from most areas, even though Jews constituted a majority in Jerusalem since about 1880.  Before 1948, Jews living in the old city and eastern areas were confined mostly to the Jewish quarter of the old city of Jerusalem. In 1948, Jews were ethnically cleansed from there as well.

Nobody outside Israel objected. In fact, the Jordan Legion was praised for its humanitarian handling of the issue, since the Jews were not massacred.  The Arab objection to Jewish settlement in lawfully purchased homes in Sheikh Jarrakh which you have noted, is based on a convenience. It sounds better to the world if they focus on Sheikh Jarrakh. It has been engineered as a good political point - an "obstacle to peace" supposedly. However, in reality they do not object one wit less to "Judaization" of the Galilee or the Negev. There are campaigns against Jewish settlement there too, are there not? If there is no Jewish "settlement" in Sheikh Jarrakh or the old city of Jerusalem, will the Palestinian Arabs recognize Israel as the national home of the Jewish people?
Will they agree that there should equally be no Arab settlement in Acco or Nazareth? Do you agree? Of course not! Why not? The Jews of the old city were there for hundreds of years, and likewise the Jewish community in Hebron. The logic that prevents Jews from "settling" in Sheikh Jarrakh is equally applicable to Arabs "settlers" in Silwan or in Nazareth. Arabs can buy land under Israeli law anywhere in Israel. If there are limitations, you rightly object. But Palestinian law dictates the death penalty for anyone who sells land to Jews.
You seem to take this monstrous racist discrimination as a matter of course.

The Arabs of Silwan and Sheikh Jarrakh were not there "from time immorial." They are "settlers." Before 1948 there were only Yemenite Jews living in Shiloach
("Silwan") and a hundred years ago there was not much of anything in Sheikh Jarrakh other than the American Colony hotel.

For that matter, Palestinian Arabs object equally to Jews living in Tel Aviv or Ashdod or Sderot. They are opposed to the law of return as "racist" and lobby to limit Jewish immigration to Israel, just as during World War II, Hajj Amin al Husseini lobbied to ensure that Jewish orphans went to death camps and murdered rather than to Palestine. Hamas press releases noted regularly that their rockets fell on the "settlements" of Sderot and Ashqelon.

Fifth. You complain about the lack of reporting and “…no image”.
I’ll give you an image, that is not reported. We have an acquaintance serving in the army, a smart very left wing 20 year old who cringes each time he is sent on a “mission”.
Your snapshot of the mission would be: “Israeli soldiers ransack a Palestinian home in the West Bank”.
Yes, the house was ransacked.
This certainly is terrible.
The full perspective of the reality is that a male family member was arrested and confessed to assembling explosive devices to be used in terror attacks on civilian targets in Israeli cities.
This is terrible too, in my opinion. Our acquaintance did the dirty, unreported work, to keep me, you and yours safe. This is not hearsay, it is very real and unfortunately, for some odd reason, has historically been necessary since 1948, before the “separation barrier”, West Bank issues, Hamas and the likes. This is a reality that is not reported, that is kept quiet amongst the many who have devoted their lives to preventing the re-occurrences of events from the 1929's, 1940’s, 1948’s, 1973’s etc. Do you want this reported too? Do you have an explanation why we are still in this ugly cycle, actually since time in memorial? Perhaps thinking of the number of weekends that you could not spend in Nahariya in your sweet weekend home, might put you on the right track.

Gila, I may be harsh and this may be perceived as a personal attack. It is not. It is a very brief account from the other side of the coin.

You are most welcome to come and drink verbena tea in our home along with some of our Palestinian friends. Yes, we have Palestinian friends who want to get on with their lives just like you and I. They are not Hamas, not Fatah but well meaning individuals. Unfortunately, the simple man in the street has a forced responsibility too, to choose peaceful change and ultimately their leadership. We can argue whether the Hamas takeover of Gaza was democratic or not. If the man in the street is helpless against a gang mob, then that is just the crux of the problem – there is a gang mob running the place. I feel for the man in street but do not accept helplessness as an excuse.

Peace on you,

Laurence Seeff

1 comment:

  1. Kudos Laurence! I totally agree with the points that you made.
    Robin in Israel