Friday, May 16, 2008

Comment & Analysis: Palestinian Suffering Dampens Israel Celebration

The Hartford Courant published a highly biased and misleading commentary, entitled "Palestinian Suffering Dampens Israel Celebration," on Friday, May 16. The following "Comment & Analysis" quotes comments from the op-ed and then analyzes them.

The full text of the op-ed is on The Hartford Courant web site and may be viewed by clicking here.

Action to take: Write to The Courant at and send a copy to Bessy Reyna at

More action to take: Go to the article and leave your feedback.

Comment: Palestinian Suffering Dampens Israel Celebration

Analysis: Even the headline is misleading, having nothing to do with the commentary.

Comment: Israel was built over the debris of 400 destroyed villages and the sorrows of 750,000 people.

Analysis: This misleading assertion was printed prominently underneath the headline.

When six Arab armies invaded Israel upon that nation's declaration of independence, hundreds of thousand of Arabs abandoned their homes. As the Arab states refused to make peace, it became clear those who had left, whether to assist in the war against Israel or simply because of the violence in that war, were not coming back. The villages they abandoned joined thousands of other villages that had been abandoned over thousands of years in Israel.

Comment: Early this month, I attended a panel dealing with the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It was organized by the group "We Refuse To Be Enemies," composed of Jews, Muslims and Christians. This group's main goal is the promotion of a peaceful and just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Analysis: Israel-haters are very inventive when it comes to making up misleading names. They would more appropriately call themselves "We Insist on Being Enemies."

After sixty years, it is impossible to undo the injustices of the Arab war against Israel.

Comment: In light of Israel's 60th anniversary, and the lack of progress in resolving the conflict, this is an ever more urgent issue.

Analysis: Unfortunately, until the Arabs reconcile themselves to living peacefully with Israel, real progress remains impossible.

Comment: Among the speakers at this meeting at the Hartford Seminary was Susanne Hoder, founder of the Interfaith Peace Initiative and member of the United Methodist New England Annual (regional) Conference Task Force on Selective Divestment. Hoder, who has traveled to the Middle East several times, is involved with a group of church members who are seeking divestment of their pension benefits and other funds from companies that provide products or services aiding Israel in the occupation of Palestinian lands.

Analysis: In other words, Hoder is a founder of a group interested in harming Israel, not in bringing about reconciliation and peace.

The so-called "occupation" effectively ended over a decade ago, when the Palestinian Authority took over administration of the territory in which approximately ninety-five percent of the Arabs reside.

The disposition of the disputed territory awaits the willingness of the Arabs to compromise. Until their status is determined, it is incorrect to refer to any of the disputed territory as "Palestinian lands."

Comment: Many of those companies are doing business in illegal settlements, while others are supplying military and other technologies in support of the occupation.

Analysis: Some "settlements" are illegal simply because they have not been authorized by the Israeli government; in other words, whether a given development is legal or not is essentially an internal Israeli affair.

Re the reference to "occupation," see above.

Comment: At the seminary, I bought a copy of the book "Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories" by Anna Baltzer, a Columbia graduate and Fulbright scholar who is the granddaughter of survivors of the Holocaust.

Analysis: Being the granddaughter of survivors does not excuse her.

Comment: Baltzer, a volunteer with the international group Women's Peace Service, has been visiting the West Bank since 2003. She documents the lives of Palestinians under the occupation: arbitrary seizure of land, destruction of farms, denial of emergency medical assistance, hours waiting at checkpoints.

Analysis: Re "occupation," see above.

Were it not for Arab terrorism, there would be no checkpoints.

Israel provides a substantial amount of medical assistance to Palestinian Arabs, even from Gaza/Hamastan. Arab terrorists have taken advantage of the willingness of Israel to help by using ambulances to transfer both terrorists and weapons, and have even used people getting medical treatment in Israel to perpetrate terrorist attacks on the very people trying to save their lives.

Comment: Her book is an indictment of the conditions under which Palestinians are forced to live, particularly those in the areas divided by the "security wall."

Analysis: The conditions under which the Palestinian Arabs live are a result of their rejection of peace and continued love affair with terrorism.

Comment: The wall continues to be erected by Israel despite condemnation by the World Court in The Hague in 2004.

Analysis: The use of the term "wall" is inaccurate and misleading. Roughly ninety to ninety-five percent of the barrier is simply fencing material.

The barrier is being constructed reluctantly by the Israeli government for just one purpose: to save lives. It was made necessary by Arab terrorism and can be dismantled if the Arabs abandon terrorism.

Comment: In the U.S., we tend to have a one-sided view of what is happening in that region.

Analysis: The writer certainly has a one-sided view of what is happening in that region.

Comment: However, many of us have been attempting to understand the differences that have kept Israelis and Palestinians apart, and also to find the commonalities between them. We feel that Israel's anniversary should be a time of celebration tempered by reflection.

Analysis: And it is, as Israel's quest for peace continues to be stymied by the Arab drive to destroy it.

Comment: A letter published in The Guardian newspaper in England on April 30, signed by 100 British Jews, including Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter, expressed why they could not unconditionally celebrate the anniversary.

"We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land.

Analysis: The false implication is that Israel was founded on such actions. It wasn't. Indeed, it's a typical example of Israel-bashers accusing Israel of sins of its enemies.

Comment: We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations."

Analysis: The Arab war against Israel is effectively an attempt at ethnic cleansing. A prime demand of the Palestinian Arabs is that the currently disputed territories be ethnically cleansed of all Jews.

Gaza is under the administration of Hamas; Israel left three years ago and is in no position to inflict "collective punishment."

It is the Arabs themselves who continue to deny the Palestinian Arabs their alleged "national aspirations."

Comment: Israel was built over the debris of 400 destroyed villages and the sorrows of 750,000 people, both Christians and Muslims, expelled from their land.

Analysis: The overwhelming majority of Arabs who left did so because of the violence of the war they started, often at the behest of their brethren, and were not expelled by Israel. Had the Arabs accepted the United Nations Partition Plan and not started a war of annihilation against Israel, not a single Arab would have lost his home and not a single village would have been abandoned.

Comment: How much longer will the U.S. government unconditionally support and celebrate the accomplishments of Israel without confronting the horrible conditions imposed on people who have become pariahs in their own land?

Analysis: American support for Israel has been far from unconditional. Indeed, the American government has continually exerted far more pressure on Israel than it has on the Palestinian Arabs.

Comment: The British letter stated: "We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East." So should we.

Analysis: Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Arab and Jew live as equals. By the writers' own standards, they should be celebrating Israel's anniversary while condemning every single Arab country as well as the Palestinian Authority.

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