Friday, February 20, 2015

Israel and U.S. beacons of civilization

Israel and U.S. beacons of civilization

Published as an op-ed in the Connecticut Post.

Andy Piascik's "logic" ("Getting serious about terrorism," Feb. 19) may appeal to those who agree with him that America is the source of all evil in the world. Fortunately, most people have more sense and realize that, for all their faults, both the United States and Israel, its only true friend in the Middle East, are beacons of sanity, civilization, democracy and hope in the world.

With respect to what Piascik incorrectly calls "occupied Palestine," it's interesting to contrast its situation today with its situation between 1948 and 1967.

During that period, Gaza was occupied by Egypt while Judea and Samaria were occupied by Jordan, which had renamed it the "West Bank." There was no movement of goods or people between those territories and Israel, because the Arabs refused to allow any. The exceptions which proved the rule were the terror attacks launched from those territories against Israelis.

Today, Gaza is totally controlled by its own government, run by the terror group Hamas, which has launched thousands upon thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians. Despite this, and despite the continuing Arab boycott, Israel transfers massive amounts of humanitarian goods to the people in Gaza and routinely brings Gazans to Israeli hospitals for medical care.

In Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian Authority has for two decades governed approximately 95 percent of the Arabs in those areas, but has several times turned down offers to establish an independent state in almost all that territory, along with all of Gaza.

Thanks to Israel, many of the Arabs living there have well-paying jobs either in Israel and in businesses within Jewish communities in the disputed territories.

In both Gaza and Judea and Samaria, the Arabs are taking advantage of many colleges, universities and hospitals which didn't exist in 1967 but were built during the period Israel administered the territory.

One important aspect which hasn't changed is the existence of "refugee camps."

I use quotes because very few of their residents are refugees; rather, the overwhelming majority are descendants - children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren - of refugees.

They have been forced to remain in these camps simply to be used as pawns, as human weapons in the genocidal campaign against the world's only Jewish state. When Israel administered the territory, it made an attempt to improve the lives of the people living in those camps; it tried to move them from the camps to real homes in real cities and towns but pulled back from those plans in the face of irrational but massive criticism.

One of the first steps we need to take if we are really serious about fighting terrorism is to insist the United Nations disband UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which has done so much to expand the "refugee" population, and start closing those "refugee camps," which would more accurately be called "terrorist training camps."

It's almost beyond comprehension that the Palestinian Authority has governed so much of the disputed territories for two decades yet has not allowed a single one of those camps under its jurisdiction to be closed.

Beyond comprehension, but telling: the agenda of the Palestinian Authority, whether first under the leadership of Yasser Arafat - the godfather of modern terrorism - or as currently under the leadership of the so-called "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas, has never been about improving the welfare of the Palestinian Arabs or about establishing a Palestinian state; rather, it is about disestablishing of the one functioning democracy in the Middle East, Israel.

Alan Stein
Netanya, Israel
The writer is founder of the Massachusetts chapter of Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting (PRIMER) and president emeritus of the Connecticut chapter.

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