Saturday, January 24, 2009

Double Standard at The Waterbury Observer, Part I

On May 1, 2008, I was an invited speaker at Hartford, Connecticut's annual Holocaust commemoration. I submitted the notes I used to the Waterbury Observer, a monthly newspaper.

The publisher, John Murray <> rejected it with the explanation:
"Hi Alan Thanks for sending me your notes from your speech May 1st for consideration in the Observer. I'm going to pass on publishing them because you have already strongly expressed these opinions in the Observer several times before and I'm not inclined to re-ignite the he said-she said-he said dialogue between Marilyn Aligata, Mr. Hajjar and yourself about Israel and the Palestinians. The Observer is not the forum to solve the dispute.

Thanks for thinking of the Observer.

peace, John."

Seven months later, the same John Murray published a hateful, error-filled anti-Israel screed which will be included in the following post to this blog.

Once again, a double standard is applied when it comes to Israel.

We urge letters be sent to both and to raise the probability it will be read … and then undoubtedly ignored.

The following is the commentary that was rejected.

The War Against Israel Is Attempted Genocide

Alan H. Stein, Ph.D.

President, PRIMER-Connecticut

It's one of the tragic coincidences of history that at the same time Jews were being burned in ovens Jews in Palestine were preparing the foundation for the reestablishment of Israel. We can only speculate how different history would be, how many millions might have been saved, had there been a Jewish state just a few years sooner.

And then the war ended. And survivors had to rebuild their lives.

Where to go? America. Palestine.

Under the terms of the League of Nations Mandate, Great Britain was obligated to facilitate Jewish immigration in Palestine. No such luck for us. But enough survivors made it, despite British efforts, and wanted to help build and defend Eretz Yisrael so they made up 40 to 50 percent of the security forces of the Yishuv.

And then, just a few years after the end of the war, just a few years after liberation, those survivors found themselves in another genocidal war, as six Arab armies invaded Israel on The Yom Ha'Atzma'ut, the very day David Ben-Gurion announced the reestablishment of Israel, the official independence of the modern state of Israel.

Survivors played important roles in that war, and in the wars that have followed, as well as the blossoming of that tiny, state into today's prosperous, but still besieged, Israel.

Exact figures are unavailable, but it's estimated about a third of the casualties of the War of Independence were survivors.

The combined Arab attack on Israel was, and continues to be, an attempted genocide, as they are not just trying to defeat an enemy to exact some economic or political gain, but to destroy the Jewish state because it is not Muslim - although Muslims have equal rights - and because it is not Arab - although Arabs have equal rights -- They are trying to destroy it because it is a Jewish state.

They also use Nazi propaganda techniques, the technique of the Big Lie, repeating the same lies again and again until the gullible believe them.

They are particular fond of falsely accusing Israel of crimes from which they themselves are guilty. They falsely accuse Israel of trying to destroy the Palestinian Arab people, a people who have come into existence only in reaction to the Zionist dream.

They use blasphemous language, like Judeo-Nazi, and simultaneously deny the Holocaust, try to complete Hitler's work, and accuse Israel of attempted genocide.

That it is effective, that people continue to fall prey to such lies, to distortion, to obvious hatred and maliciousness, is testament to the battle we still face.

The PLO, and Fatah, and the Palestinian Authority - or, at least, the portion of the Palestinian Authority governing the eastern portion of the disputed territories - are led by a man, a very intelligent man, a man whose doctoral thesis denied the Holocaust.

And this man, this Holocaust denier, is considered a moderate.

Sadly, in the spectrum of Palestinian Arab society, he is a moderate.

Speaking recently at Georgetown University, Arif Safieh, the PLO Ambassador to the United States -- what other terrorist organization has ambassadors to the United States? -- referred to the displacement of Arabs resulting from their drive to destroy Israel in 1948, which they call the "nakba," or catastrophe, as the greatest catastrophe in human history.

Safieh, a self-styled "pragmatist," whatever that means in the spectrum of Israel's enemies, tries to blame the self-inflicted problems of the Palestinian Arabs on the Holocaust.

Referring to the Palestinian Arabs, he said "They were the victims of the victims of Europe."

As if the Arabs paid the price, in the establshment of the modern state of Israel, for the guilt of Europeans for the Holocaust.

That, of course, is nonsense.

If anything, some Europeans are assuaging their guilt over the Holocaust by falsely accusing Israel of crimes which exist only in their own imaginations.

One effect of the Shoah was to temporarily make explicit anti- Semitism unfashionable in respectable circles. The existence of Israel, and the genocidal war against Israel, has provided a socially acceptable substitute, anti-Semitism disguised as anti- Zionism, with the pretense that anti-Zionism is not a form of anti- Semitism.

The height of absurdity was reached November 10, 1975, when the United Nations reached its personal nadir and passed the infamous "Zionism is Racism" resolution. The UN was actually just four letters off, since it is anti-Zionism which is effectively racism, although technically non-racism since Zionism has nothing to do with race, but anti-Zionism is certain bigotry and anti-Semitism.

I received an email just a few days ago, on April 20. It read:

"Your organization is so full of ****. Now I can understand why good people of Europe let the Nazis slaughter the Jews, just like the IDF is slaughtering the Arabs. It is propaganda devices like you which try to change facts and history."

[Note: **** refers just to what one suspects; I just don't feel comfortable writing it out.]

The email, of course, was not signed.

The battle changes, but the battle remains the same.

In Israel and the disputed territories, the battle is tangible, with Jews being murdered for the crime of being Jewish. And castigated by the world for the crime of defending themselves. But parents have the basic human right to be able to send their children to a kindergarten without having, as do the parents living in Sderot, that their children wlll be hit by a Kassam missile launched from nearby Gaza ... or should we call it Hamastan.?

Teenagers should be able to go pizzerias without their parents having to worry about anything other than whether they will stain their clothes with pizza sauce.

Sometimes, the physical battle reaches us in the diaspora, as when Iranian agents blew up the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1992, or a gunman went into the Jewish Federation in Seattle a couple of years ago to murder some Jews.

But for the most part, our battle in the diaspora is a battle of intangibles, a battle of words and ideas.

For that, we need to keep ourselves aware, as we battle lies with truth, as we battle hatred with hope.

We need to know the truth to battle the lies, which can be difficult because those who hate are very adept at making up new lies.

Just yesterday, my wife heard from a friend who had just returned from Ireland, where she was a guest at a home which had just hosted a Palestinian Arab who had talked about Israelis murdering a woman and child in their home in Gaza. They did not know what really happened, that terrorists were carrying explosives, planning to murder innocent Israeli civilians, when they were engaged by Israeli troops and it was the terrorists' explosives blowing up, in Gaza rather than as planned in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, that destroyed that family and home.

We need to be constantly aware to be able to counter lies with truth, in a battle to keep Israel's enemies from succeeding in completing Hitler's plan.

That's the cautionary side of the coin.

There's the other side.

Despite the threats, the terrorism, the lack of a single day of peace, the Israelis have built an amazing society we should be proud of.

They have built a thriving democracy, the only one in that neighborhood of the world. They have a crazy parliamentary system that in many ways is dysfunctional and in tremendous need of reform, but which has worked and in which the people's representatives and the parties have fought each other bitterly but been united when demanded by the interests of the nation.

They have brought in and settled more than three million immigrants. With problems, to be sure, but overall with an amazing record and amazing success. They are the only people who have ever brought Black Africans to freedom rather than servitude.

They have created an amazingly diverse culture, with Jews, and others, from all over the world, both assimilating and diversifying.

They have a technologically advanced society, with the highest concentration of startup companies in the world outside Silicon Valley. Many of the innovations considered essential to today's society were invented in Israel, although some, like text message, may not be on everyone's top ten list of favorite inventions.

They have developed tremendous resilience. The are able to live and be happy in the most trying of times. I cannot help but smile thinking of the family Bar Mitzvah I went to in Beersheva in the spring of 2002, near the height of Arafat's terror offensive. Never have I seen so much joy at a Bar Mitzvah - even as, during the party, one of the guests, a relative from the other side of the family who was part of a security agency, had to leave after receiving a phone call about a planned terror attack somewhere in Israel.

And just last summer, at a family wedding, we watched the bride and groom dance joyfully, and their young friends sharing their happiness, even as we thought of how at any moment they could be called up for the next round of the war in the north, or with Hamastan.

Today, 63 years after liberation, we remember those who were murdered, in the death camps and in the wars, and we celebrate the six decades of independence of modern Israel, linked but separate.

For those six decades, Israel has tried and tried and tried to get its neighbors to live in peace, so its children can live normal lives, so its teenagers don't have go into the army as soon as they finish high school.

And we, here, have to do what we can and must.

Please, remember and do.



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