Saturday, November 10, 2007

Some Inadvertent Truths in Old Lyme

Each year, the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, Connecticut organizes what it calls its "Tree of Life Conference" on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The programs are always heavily biased, even hateful, sometimes crossing the line into blatant anti-Semitism, such as in 2006 when one of the featured guests talked about Jewish control of the media. (Tellingly, the same person was invited back this year and repeated the message somewhat more subtly, this time complaining of censorship.) Another guest this year insisted the Jews were not a "people."

In spite of the best efforts of the church to prevent any criticism of Arab terrorism or intransigence, there have been some inadvertent moments of honesty.

In 2006, during a question-and-answer period, Hanadi Soudah-Younan admitted the Arabs had made a mistake in 1948 when they rejected the United Nation's Partition Plan, explaining "we wanted all of Palestine." She had no apparent regret about the more than sixty thousand lives that would have been saved had the Arabs not rejected compromise; she seemed mostly to regret the reality that they will never gain control over as much real estate as they were offered at that time. Still, it was a startling admission she undoubtedly regretting letting slip.

This year, Maria Khouri, a native of Greece living in Tabiyeh with her Palestinian Arab husband, spent most of her time complaining about a myriad of alleged inconveniences she blamed on Israel, but she did mention that life in the disputed territories was rather ordinary between 1993 and September, 2000. In effect, she was admitting that the original sin out of which all the inconveniences she was blaming on Israel really emanated from the terrorist offensive the Palestinian Arabs launched after their leadership rejected the establishment of a state in virtually all of the disputed territories.

Such moments of unintentional candor were few and far between as the attendees were treated to bias, distortions, lies and outright hatred, to which they responded with enthusiasm. I wonder whether I'd be writing this had there been a noose hanging from the rafters and someone revealing that I was a Jew who was not of the self-hating variety.

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