Friday, November 30, 2007

Letter to the World from Jerusalem

This was sent to me by a childhood friend with the following introduction:

On November 24, 2006, at the age of 92, a man named Stanley Goldfoot passed away. He is remembered by family and friends for his love for and devotion to Israel and the Jewish people. He was born in Johannesburg , South Africa . Subsequent to his hearing a speech about the Zionist vision by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, he headed for Palestine where, at the age of 18, he joined a HaShomer HaTzair kibbutz. After the rebirth of the Jewish State of Israel his main goal, which he eventually realized, was to establish a Zionist English newspaper, 'The Times of Israel .' In the first issue of 'The Times of Israel ', Stanley Goldfoot wrote his famous controversial 'Letter to the World from Jerusalem ', which caused quite a stir. The article is still relevant and it is very definitely a must read!

A Letter to the World from Jerusalem
By Eliezer ben Yisrael (Stanley Goldfoot)

I am not a creature from another planet, as you seem to believe. I am a Jerusalemite-like yourselves, a man of flesh and blood. I am a citizen of my city, an integral part of my people.

I have a few things to get off my chest. Because I am not a diplomat, I do not have to mince words. I do not have to please you or even persuade you. I owe you nothing. You did not build this city, you did not live in it, you did not defend it when they came to destroy it. And we will be damned if we will let you take it away.

There was a Jerusalem before there was a New York . When Berlin , Moscow , London , and Paris were miasmal forest and swamp, there was a thriving Jewish community here. It gave something to the world which you nations have rejected ever since you established yourselves- a humane moral code.

Here the prophets walked, their words flashing like forked lightning. Here a people who wanted nothing more than to be left alone, fought off waves of heathen would-be conquerors, bled and died on the battlements, hurled themselves into the flames of their burning Temple rather than surrender, and when finally overwhelmed by sheer numbers and led away into captivity, swore that before they forgot Jerusalem, they would see their tongues cleave to their palates, their right arms wither.

For two pain-filled millennia, while we were your unwelcome guests, we prayed daily to return to this city. Three times a day we petitioned the Almighty: 'Gather us from the four corners of the world, bring us upright to our land, return in mercy to Jerusalem, Thy city, and swell in it as Thou promised.' On every Yom Kippur and Passover, we fervently voiced the hope that next year would find us in Jerusalem .

Your inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions, the ghettos into which you jammed us, your forced baptisms, your quota systems, your genteel anti-Semitism, and the final unspeakable horror, the holocaust (and worse, your terrifying disinterest in it)- all these have not broken us. They may have sapped what little moral strength you still possessed, but they forged us into steel. Do you think that you can break us now after all we have been through? Do you really believe that after Dachau and Auschwitz we are frightened by your threats of blockades and sanctions? We have been to Hell and back- a Hell of your making. What more could you possibly have in your arsenal that could scare us?

I have watched this city bombarded twice by nations calling themselves civilized. In 1948, while you looked on apathetically, I saw women and children blown to smithereens, after we agreed to your request to internationalize the city. It was a deadly combination that did the job-British officers, Arab gunners, and American-made cannon. And then the savage sacking of the Old City-the willful slaughter, the wanton destruction of every synagogue and religious school, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the sale by a ghoulish government of tombstones for building materials, for poultry runs, army camps, even latrines.

And you never said a word.

You never breathed the slightest protest when the Jordanians shut off the holiest of our places, the Western Wall, in violation of the pledges they had made after the war- a war they waged, incidentally, against the decision of the UN. Not a murmur came from you whenever the legionnaires in their spiked helmets casually opened fire upon our citizens from behind the walls.

Your hearts bled when Berlin came under siege. You rushed your airlift 'to save the gallant Berliners'. But you did not send one ounce of food when Jews starved in besieged Jerusalem . You thundered against the wall which the East Germans ran through the middle of the German capital- but not one peep out of you about that other wall, the one that tore through the heart of Jerusalem .

And when that same thing happened 20 years later, and the Arabs unleashed a savage, unprovoked bombardment of the Holy City again, did any of you do anything?

The only time you came to life was when the city was at last reunited. Then you wrung your hands and spoke loftily of 'justice' and need for the 'Christian' quality of turning the other cheek.

The truth- and you know it deep inside your gut - you would prefer the city to be destroyed rather than have it governed by Jews. No matter how diplomatically you phrase it, the age old prejudices seep out of every word.

If our return to the city has tied your theology in knots, perhaps you had better reexamine your catechisms. After what we have been through, we are not passively going to accommodate ourselves to the twisted idea that we are to suffer eternal homelessness until we accept your savior.

For the first time since the year 70, there is now complete religious freedom for all in Jerusalem . For the first time since the Romans put a torch to the Temple , everyone has equal rights (You prefer to have some more equal than others.) We loathe the sword- but it was you who forced us to take it up. We crave peace, but we are not going back to the peace of 1948 as you would like us to.

We are home. It has a lovely sound for a nation you have willed to wander over the face of the globe. We are not leaving. We are redeeming the pledge made by our forefathers: Jerusalem is being rebuilt. 'Next year' and the year after, and after, and after, until the end of time- 'in Jerusalem '!

Stanley Goldfoot
Founder Editor
The Times of Israel

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Give Me That Old Lyme Hatred

It didn't take long after my commentary about "Showing good faith in the Arab-Israeli conflict" was published November 25 in The Day of New London before the Israel-haters struck back with two hateful letters just three days later.

My commentary concerned the beyond-the-pale bias at annual "Tree of Life" conference held at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. I closed with the plea: "Let us have other groups put forth balanced programs, free of the hate with which the Al Ghad "dance" troupe and the "Tree of Life" conferences have been infused, that do what Shipman rightly asserted was so important, telling "both sides of the story."

This was much too radical an idea for Bill Carey of Old Lyme and Peter B. Viering of Stonington, who typically did not respond to anything I wrote but attacked the idea of my criticizing a biased program and threw in a number of wild punches backed by incorrect information and faulty logic.

Carey falsely referred to Israeli's so-called occupation as being in violation of international law. Israel found itself in control of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) after being attacked by Jordan, which had occupied it after capturing it in the 1948 war. In Security Council Resolution 242, the United Nations recognized Israeli withdrawal would be in conjunction with a negotiated peace agreement, including the determination of borders.

Carey also falsely wrote "The Congregationalists provided a balanced discourse by both sides and the history of the region." Only one side, the anti-Israel side, was presented at the conference.

Viering whined about The Day publishing my commentary after allegedly "keep[ing] its readers in the dark" about the conference. He apparently failed to read the prominent article The Day published in advance of the conference, an article written with the byline of one of the organizers of the conference (Celine Sullivan), who was personally thanked by David Good at the conference. The Day didn't even give any acknowledgement that the article was written by a biased organizer of the conference.

Viering wrote "That Mr. Stein, who shared an information table with local Jewish Federation official Dan Bendor in the church's Fellowship Hall during the conference, is such a prominent advocate for Israel makes his attack all the more reprehensible."

The assertion that I shared an information table is false; I had nothing to do with the table, although I did accommodate Dr. Bender by removing the materials for him at the end of the day. He asked me to do so because he found the event so disgusting he could not bring himself to remain.

I thank Viering for the compliment of considering me a "prominent advocate of Israel," both for prominent and advocate, although my commentary wasn't written as an advocate for Israel but rather as an advocate of responsibility. I am proud to be an advocate for the only true democracy in the Middle East.

Viering also has a problem with the word defamation, falsely accusing me of being interested in defamation whereas that was the main purpose of his letter, to defame me and to defame one of the oldest and most respected civil rights organizations in the world, the Anti-Defamation League. As I've pointed out at other times, Israel-haters do their best to defame the Anti-Defamation League precisely because it is respected.

Contrary to Viering's assertion, I never try to hide my support of the Anti-Defamation League; I'm proud of it. I just don't make a habit of including a list of all the organizations to which I donate either time or money with everything I write.

Viering, incidentally, made no mention of his role with anti-Israel hate organizations, or the fact that, unlike me, he manned one of the misinformation tables at the Tree of Life Conference. You can see Viering in the included photo, which also shows that Viering's problem with Israel doesn't have to do with Israel's actions, but with its existence. The poster to his left refers to an alleged sixty years of occupation; for Viering, the problem isn't the territory of which Israel came into control in 1967, but its territory behind the "Green Line." He's not interested in a peace with Israel; he's interested in a world without Israel. In that, he was totally in sync with the agenda of the "Tree of Life" conference, which is precisely why I found it both distasteful and counterproductive to peace.

Carey's Letter

Mideast Peace Depends On Recognizing Rights

"Rubbish." That's my comment on Alan Stein's op-ed piece titled"Showing good faith in the Arab-Israeli conflict," published Nov. 25.

The problem of Israeli occupation in violation of international laws and conventions is little American discourse. This occupation is of singular interest because U.S. taxes (military-foreign aid, deductible contributions, loan guarantees) pay. The Congregationalists provided a balanced discourse by both sides and the history of the region.

My Ku Klux Klan experience was chilling. My Unitarian experience with the Congregationalists has been enlightening. These are good people and Klan comparisons are sinister. Political Zionists use labels, balance, and revisionist history to prevent open discussion and raise emotions. However, those concerned with "human freedom and dignity" cannot look the other way or stop listening or discussing this factual occupation.

Transfer, expropriation and preferential control cannot solve the problem of people, land and water. The only solution is a humane recognition of the responsibility to share and recognize the rights of the occupied.

Bill Carey
Old Lyme

Viering's Letter

Op-ed Author Seems To Embrace Defamation

The op-ed piece by Alan Stein attacking Christian ministers David Good and Bruce Shipman for their advocacy of equality and freedom for everyone in the Holy Land provides an opportunity for southeastern Connecticut's interfaith community to join together to repudiate and condemn such an intemperate response. ("Showing good faith in the Arab-Israeli conflict," Nov. 25.)

It is curious that The Day would publish the opinion of such a hostile critic of the recent Tree of Life Conference at Old Lyme churches and related cultural events at local schools when it failed to cover the event or any of its programs. Why would The Day deliberately choose to keep its readers in the dark about a local conference with international participants, and subsequently provide a forum to smear and discredit not only the program's sponsors but also its distinguished speakers?

That Mr. Stein, who shared an information table with local Jewish Federation official Dan Bendor in the church's Fellowship Hall during the conference, is such a prominent advocate for Israel makes his attack all the more reprehensible. At the conference, I was surprised when Mr. Stein expressed to me the same hateful rhetoric contained in his column. One can only question Mr. Stein's motivation for attending these conferences, and the reasons why he and Dan Bendor carefully chose not to publicize their connections with Israel lobby groups such as the Anti-defamation League.

It would appear that Alan Stein is more interested in defamation than anti-defamation. Surely this is an occasion for local clergy to support their colleagues' efforts and speak out against this attack.

Peter B. Viering

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

UConn Daily Campus Rejects Offer of Balance

The following is a series of email relating to the rejection by the editors of the University of Connecticut Daily Campus of an offer by a graduate student to write a guest column. The graduate student wished to respond to a highly inflammatory, error-filled commentary by one of the Daily Campus' regular columnists. The rejected column is posted separately.

*** This email is going to many UConn students and faculty (BCC for their privacy - PLEASE FEEL FREE TO FORWARD) as well as local media networks in order to inform them of a growing problem that is concerning many students at UConn's Storrs campus, but is being denied a voice:

A handful of students who serve on the editorial board of The Daily Campus, UConn's Storrs campus newspaper, have been using the paper to further their own biased agendas by printing non-expert opinions on the conflict in the Middle East, and are doing so by running these pieces as columns instead of the editorials that they are. Despite the fact that many students and faculty have attempted to call the authors of these articles out on their blatant bias and lack of research, this practice is becoming common, specifically on this topic. Students and faculty have submitted articles correcting the misstatements and racist propaganda that has been printed, but only a small sample of these can be found in brief letters to the editor, and have not been given the same place of prestige as the articles they refute. Instead of being open-minded and working with students to make sure all points of view are represented by this student newspaper, articles that have not fallen in line with the emerging agenda of these few editors have been cast aside or ignored. In the meantime, articles by students from other universities who share the same viewpoint as these editors have gotten printed immediately.

The refusal of these editors to correct misstatements by their own reporters and their reluctance to print historical facts is not only dangerous, but also completely counter-productive to peace. Suppressing the truth has never resolved any conflict or human rights issue. It also seriously calls into question their compassion towards the millions of victims who have been slaughtered or persecuted by oppressive Islamic regimes for centuries (including citizens of Muslim nations themselves - just look at the recent case of the Saudi Arabian woman who was punished for speaking out against her rape). And yet Israel - where Arabs live freer than any other nation in the Middle East - is the nation that is the recipient of consistent verbal attacks? Such hypocrisy is irresponsible and wrong, especially coming from people in positions of influence. We are in an environment of academia and learning. With such easy access to information and publicly-available historical documents relating to Middle Eastern history, students should be able to easily educate themselves on the history of the conflict. Yet disappointingly, lies continue to be printed as if they were true. Yes, we do notice. And yes, we are speaking out against it. I know that I speak for many, many disappointed students when I say, "This paper has not represented us. We expect better."

As any advocate of human rights knows, just because something may be uncomfortable to discuss, this is not a reason not to discuss it. There were many difficult human rights issues throughout history that were not popular to speak about at the time, but many brave people did so anyway. Many people die from hate crimes and terrorist attacks every day. Covering it up or justifying it clearly has not solved anything. It just disrespects the innocent victims who have died, and sets further precedent for suppression of truth. People and nations who have historically been at the receiving end of such hateful attacks (like many of the Jewish populations in the Middle East) should not be blamed for defending themselves. What person or nation wouldn't defend themselves against attacks meant to "wipe them off the map"? If a media outlet like our campus paper refuses to be a voice for these victims, who will? What will the outcome be? We can only look at history to see the destructive results that come from suppression of truth.

* For an analysis of the original October 11th article in UConn's Daily Campus (the one that prompted my response which the editors of The Daily Campus ignored for a month, then refused to print) please go to: _campus.

* The email correspondence between myself and several of the editors regarding this matter can be found below. Please note how my offers to meet and make potential changes to the article so that it might run as a guest column (as has been done in the past) were consistently ignored.

* I am also attaching my article for your reference.

Sincerely, Laura Gottfried UConn Grad Student, Judaic & Middle Eastern Studies

Original Message

From: Laura Gottfried
Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2007 12:59 AM
To: 'The Opinion Editors'
Subject: RE: article by Laura Gottfried


Actually I was the one who contacted Rob Casapulla when I did not hear back from a single person after trying to contact the paper by email several times. Rob was kind enough to respond, but after I tried to take him up on his offer to go over my article and discuss what I would need to do make it column-ready, I never heard back. For your convenience, I have listed (in chronological order) every email correspondence I have had with an editor or assistant editor at your paper (as I mentioned, the last two to Rob Casapulla went unanswered).

You are correct that I did ask your colleague Aaron Igdalsky (it's spelled with a "g") to inquire about the status of my article. Since I had initiated the submission process on October 18th, it is frustrating that I (as well as many students and faculty) have waited until now for the answer that you are not open to printing my article. As you can see in the correspondences below, I have offered on several occasions to edit the article into two or three sections in order to run it as a guest column (something which your paper has done in the past). I also said I would be more than willing to meet with someone from the paper to make any necessary modifications in order for it to run as a column. And I did, at Mr. Casapulla's suggestion, take all personal names out.

Despite all of this, my request to be a guest columnist has been ignored, with no explanation as to why. Other articles from students from other universities that do not contain nearly the amount of accuracy or historical context have been printed in the Daily Campus in the last month (like the recent one from the student from Brown University). I apologize if I am wrong, but your editors' suspiciously-biased choices seem to show that the Daily Campus is not as open to printing articles that contain historical context and documentation as it is to printing non-expert opinions that lack both.

If we can learn anything from history, it is that suppression of truth for the sake of justifying violence is irresponsible and dangerous. Yet, here in our very own academic setting of UConn, our campus newspaper that claims to represent the students has decided that it will not give equal representation to all viewpoints. While articles replete with verifiable facts wait in the wings for over a month, The Daily Campus has allotted a disproportionate amount of space for articles containing propaganda that only serves to blur the context and derail the peace process even further. Why print so many misstatements? Who benefits from this? Aside from the personal implications such responsibility must inflict on one's conscience, such a biased track record just decreases the credibility of the paper. I know that I speak for many, many disappointed students when I say, "This paper has not represented us. We expect better."

In the hopes of a peace based on truth, I respectfully urge you to give at least the same consideration to historical accuracy as you did to racist propaganda.


Laura Gottfried
Grad Student, Judaic & Middle Eastern Studies

Original Message

From: The Opinion Editors []
Sent: Monday, November 26, 2007 4:41 PM
To: Laura Gottfried
Subject: Re: article by Laura Gottfried


I was under the impression the associate editor contacted you about this piece. Since Aaron Idalsky indicates you are awaiting a reply, we will not be using your submission based on its length, which cannot be easily edited down. Also, the content is based on mainly historical fact, which while forms a basis for strong opinion, left little room for much opinion content and the piece read more like an academic paper than an op-ed submission.

Thank You,

Kyle Thomas Commentary Editor

From: Laura Gottfried
Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2007 4:21 PM
To: ''
Subject: request to be a guest columnist


As I am sure you know, the October 11th article about the Arab-Israeli conflict by George Maynard created quite a stir among many students here on campus. This is not the first time I have witnessed a wide-spread student interest in one of the most pivotal regions of our world. As a second year graduate student of Judaic and Middle Eastern Studies, I have been approached my many students over the past week seeking my opinion, and asking if I would write a corresponding commentary on the subject - which I have done. The problem is, no single article could effectively convey the pages of contextual history and fact that are needed to properly understand the basis of the conflict within this complicated region. (My resulting ten-page compilation of historical documentation is a testament to this.) Rather than cut out numerous relevant facts that I know people with a genuine interest in the region would appreciate, I have a proposition...

I was speaking with my advisor about the ever-increasing interest in the Arab-Israeli conflict here at UConn. Since my goal upon entering the Masters program was to obtain the credentials to make me an effective journalist on the topic, it was suggested that perhaps I could become a guest columnist for The Daily Campus. In this capacity, I would write exclusively on this fascinating topic, for as long as need be. (Perhaps six or seven articles?) My articles would be based on academic research and easily-verifiable sources, which I would list for the readers' convenience, and for which I would receive graduate credit. I also thought it would be interesting to open the column up to student questions on the subject, so I could conform my weekly topic to reflect what is most pertinent to the student body.

This subject has been an academic passion of mine for the past five years, to say the least. I am very excited about the possibility of being able to lend an academic voice to the topic, as well as to enlighten readers to some of the human rights issues in the region. I believe that addressing the growing student interest in this area will increase readership of The Daily Campus, as well as expand discussion on this important subject. I would be elated to have the chance to promote understanding and hope for a region long clouded by the obscurity of conflict.

I look forward to hearing what you think of this proposal. If this is something that is a definite possibility, I already have the first three articles written.

Thank you for providing a campus publication that inspires thought and debate among readers.


Laura Gottfried
Grad Student, Judaic & Middle Eastern Studies

From: Laura Gottfried
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2007 8:39 AM
To: '' Cc: ''
Subject: article by Laura Gottfried


I would like to submit this article for the commentary section. Last Thursday, I had sent an email to, requesting to be a guest columnist on the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Since I never received a response, I was not certain that was the correct email address.

Thank you,

Laura Gottfried
Grad Student, Judaic & Middle Eastern Studies

From: Laura Gottfried
Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2007 12:03 PM
To: ''
Subject: article for daily campus

Hi Rob,

I am a grad student in Judaic & Middle Easter Studies here at UConn, and I recently submitted a response to George Maynard's extremely inaccurate opinion-piece that ran on Oct 11th. The reason I am contacting you is because I saw that you are the Assistant Editor for the Commentary section, and you seem to favor a more fair and balanced style of reporting. (I really enjoyed your article "Liberals Must Learn To Be Polite And Civil") I do not consider myself conservative or liberal, but prefer to simply form my opinion on facts and logic. So I definitely appreciated your (very true) comments about the hysterics of people who would rather hear their own voice than make an effective contribution to an issue. George Maynard is a shining example of someone who chose to reveal his ignorance-based racism to a campus of 30,000 people. He'll never be able to un-do that, and his lack of credibility will shadow him for a long time to come.

As I mentioned, I have sent a response in the form of two separate emails to, as well as one to the editor-in-chief, and have received no response. I was wondering if this lack of professionalism by the DC is consistent across the board, or is only reserved for those who submit responses that contain accurate information about the Middle East and Israel. Many students are asking me why my article has not been printed yet, and I do not know what to tell them. So far, the only responses I saw to Mr. Maynard's article are two very short letters to the editor. I am sincerely hoping that The Daily Campus is as open to printing articles that contain historical context and documentation as they were to printing an a non-expert opinion that lacked both. It would be very embarrassing for the Daily Campus if it became widely known that racist-agendas were being supported while truth and accuracy were (literally) ignored.

Below, is my article, which I have also attached for your review. I'll also forward you the emails I sent last week. Hopefully, you can offer me some insight into what is going on here.

Thanks, and keep up your witty, insightful writing!!


Laura Gottfried
Graduate Student, Judaic & Middle Eastern Studies

From: Rob Casapulla
Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2007 3:37 PM
To: Laura Gottfried
Subject: Re: article for daily campus

Laura, First I would like to thank you for your email. I apologize that no one has gotten back to you from the newspaper, and I will look into why that is so. Part of the blame surely lies on me, as I am partly responsible for checking the opinion email box and responding, that being said there is really no excuse as to why your emails have not been answered in a timely fashion. Your column looks to be great however there is one issue with it - it is far too long. The longest columns that go to print is around 1,000 words. The piece you wrote for us is over 3,000. Normally we could edit things to make them fit word count but I am extremely hesitant to edit out 2/3 of your work. That being said if you would like to revise down your work, I would be happy to print your work. Also if you would like it to be printed as a column there are a few other things to take into account. First it is policy to not refer to other columns/colummnists by name. Therefore you can indirectly refer to things that other columnists have said you cannot call them out by name. This is done simply to prevent the pages from devolving into a bickering match between coumnists. Also if you would like to meet about the column, or think about writing regularly the staff meetings for commentary are every Sunday night at 8 pm in the Daily Campus building (behind Buckley). If you would like I would be more than happy to go over your work with you and maybe make some further suggestions. I hope you find this helpful and again I apologize for the delay in a response from the Daily Campus.

Regards, Rob --- Robert Casapulla Associate Commentary Editor The Daily Campus

From: Laura Gottfried
Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2007 5:11 PM
To: 'Rob Casapulla'
Subject: RE: article for daily campus


Thank you so much for your email. I would be definitely be interested in meeting with you to discuss my article. As you alluded to, it would be very difficult to make the article any shorter. In George Maynard's article, he makes countless misstatements. The problem with that is, it is easy to make a misstatement or repeat a piece of propaganda using only one sentence. It then takes six or seven sentences to amend the original misstatement or explain why the propaganda is inaccurate or just plain false. My original response was ten pages...I edited it for days to get it down to six. This is why I had originally sent in a request to be a guest columnist in which I could present the history of the conflict on several parts.

As far as making it eligible to appear as a column, I am open to any ideas you have, and have no problem taking specific names out. I really appreciate your suggestions and help with this. I am on campus on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Are there specific times that work for you? The only day that is tough time-wise for me is Monday - I have back to back classes from 9-4. Other than that, I can be flexible.

Thank you again, and I look forward to meeting with you.

Best, Laura

From: Laura Gottfried
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2007 6:18 PM
To: 'Rob Casapulla'
Subject: RE: article for daily campus

Hi Rob,

If you have time in the next week, I would love to go over my article with you, and discuss what adjustments I would need to make in order for it to be able to run as a column. I know there have been guest columnists in the past that wrote on a certain subject for a few consecutive issues. I would love to do the same, if possible, so as to prevent taking valuable (and obviously widely-unknown) information out of the article. I am definitely open to your ideas on how I can do this.



I'll Have The Truth-Based Peace Please, Hold The Double-Standards

The following column was submitted to the University of Connecticut Daily Campus, which refused to publish it. Correspondence with the Daily Campus is posted separately.

I'll Have The Truth-Based Peace Please, Hold The Double-Standards

by Laura Gottfried
UConn Grad Student, Judaic & Middle Eastern Studies

It seems that everyone has an opinion about the Arab-Israeli conflict these days, whether they have researched it or not. Fortunately, most people do want peace and are able to recognize the people and actions that continue to prevent it. However, there are times when individuals in influential positions fall prey to propaganda, and use it to try to justify their long-established prejudices. Sadly, such individuals only serve to personify one of the biggest obstacles to peace. This pivotal situation can only be understood through honest research, a thorough understanding of the region's history, and firsthand perspectives. Propaganda and sensationalized sound-bytes with little historical basis really do not help anyone. World citizens who genuinely want peace in the Middle East should educate themselves on the historical context in which the conflict arose. It is also important to develop an agreed-upon set of standards to which both sides will be held, before reviewing the history to see by whom and in which instances these standards were compromised. These are things that any credible journalist or historian should be expected to provide.

First, let's clear two things up. Until 1948, the word "Palestinian" referred to any one of the many ethnic groups who lived within the British Mandate - including Jews and Christians, and where over fifty different languages (Peters 228) were spoken. Somehow the word has come to define only one of these ethnic groups, namely Arabs, the majority of whom are of the Muslim faith. I will discuss the origin of the word Palestine later. Just keep in mind there was never a nation or state by such name. Secondly, "Zionism" is just "Jewish nationalism", a movement to return to their original homeland, and have a Jewish majority - the same way 59 Muslim nations have Muslim majorities, and many Christian nations have Christian majorities. The negative distortion of the name came during a time when anti-Semitism was still rampant. To this point, our state's own Yale University finally had its Jewish quota lifted (that is to keep Jews out, not in) in the 1960's by Dean of Admissions R. Inslee Clark. I cannot think of many other nationalistic movements that have been subjected to such harsh criticism as Zionism. It means Jews want a small piece of their homeland where they can finally feel safe. That's the big bad truth.

Now let's briefly review a history of the land. For the sake of consistency, let's use the classic argument that both sides of the conflict seem to agree on. That is, just because native people have been conquered or kicked off their homeland, this does not negate their claim to it. It is reasonable to assume that any true advocate of human rights would agree, no matter how small a minority group has become due to centuries of persecution.

Considering that practically no other nation on earth consists of a majority population of its land's "original" inhabitants, it is interesting - not to mention extremely ironic - that Israel, of all countries, is subjected to such scrutiny over land rights. But it is important to acknowledge this double-standard, and give those who have so narrowly put a burden of proof on only one nation the evidence they want. The land that encompasses historical Israel (later renamed Palestine) presently houses the nations of Jordan and Israel, as well as the West Bank and Gaza. Archeological and historical evidence clearly show that it is the Jewish people who remain the oldest existing population to maintain a continuous presence on the land up through present day. To be fair, the Canaanites were there first, but had disappeared by the 1st century CE. Ancient Egyptian texts from the reign of Amenhotep II, along with the Merneptah Stele which is housed in the Cairo Museum, confirm the existence of the Habiru (Hebrews) as well as Israel as far back as the 13th century BCE.

Despite many attempts to conquer them, the Jewish people remained the main settled population of the land for over sixteen hundred years. (Gilbert 1) The Romans finally conquered Jerusalem in 63 CE, eventually killing over a million Jews. The Romans then destroyed the Second Jewish Temple in 70 CE. This story is depicted on the Arch of Titus, which can presently be found at The Forum in Rome. Coins that bore the phrase Ivdaea Capta (Judea Captured) were proudly issued throughout the Empire. The most lasting effect of Roman conquest, however, is the brand new name the land received. In the 2nd century CE, in an attempt to wipe out all Judean influence, Emperor Hadrian renamed the Kingdom of Judea Palaestina, from the Hebrew word Pleshtim. This was Hadrian's intentional reference to a long-gone enemy of both the Jews and the Egyptians - the Philistines (Goliath was a Philistine). Modern-day scholars agree that the Philistines hailed from what are now the Greek islands of Crete and Cyprus, and bear no relation to the Arab Palestinians of today. It is a sad irony indeed that the word Palestine itself actually stems from an ancient Hebrew word.

Now let's fast forward much, much later to the arrival of the Arabs - 636 CE to be exact. Muhammad, Islam's Great Prophet, had already lived and died without ever having set foot in Jerusalem. In fact, Jerusalem is not ever mentioned in the Qur'an, although the nation of Israel is. Yet in 685 CE, the Caliph Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock on top of Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall. No Jewish and Christian structures sit atop any Muslim holy sites. (Of course, one cannot even set foot in the modern city of Mecca if they are not Muslim. Thankfully, Israelis do not subscribe to that type of thinking, and all religions are welcome in Jerusalem.) Arab rule was brief, lasting only until about 750 CE when the last Omayyad Caliph was defeated. Numerous outside groups tried to make Palestine (yes, Hadrian's name stuck) part of their empires - the Egyptians, the Persians of Iraq, the Christian Crusaders, the Seljuq Turks, the Mongolians, and even the French. Remarkably, the Jews remained a steadfast presence in their homeland, though their numbers were thinned by persecution and their "dhimmi" status under the Ottomans (who were not Arabs). At the end of WWI, the Jewish homeland came under the final foreign control of the British Mandate government. So...who has been occupying who?

In the years leading up to the British occupation, numerous historical accounts refer to the scarce population of 19th-century Palestine. The 1857 reports by James Finn, the British Consul in Jerusalem, and the book The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain, both provide good firsthand descriptions of the land at that time. The Palestinian Jews tended to reside mainly within "The Holy Four" cities: Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, and Safed. In fact, the first printing press in Asia was established by Jews in Safed in 1563. However, the influx of European Jews to the available desert land resulted in a huge influx of Arab migrant workers from surrounding nations. Jewish settlements like Rishon L'Tzion provided vast improvements to the once barren land. Work on Jewish settlements resulted in "better wages and unparalleled opportunities" (Peters 201) for impoverished Arabs immigrants who had previously been at the mercy of foreign effendis (landlords). During Ottoman rule, these migrant farmers sought to avoid taxes and conscription to the Ottoman army, choosing to be tenants on the land, instead of ever seeking to own it. Jewish immigrants legally purchased land from the foreign landlords (albeit at exorbitant prices).

In order to appease the growing Arab population, the British appointed Haj Amin al-Husseini the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in 1922, despite his recent massacre of Jews in prayer at the Western Wall. Al-Husseini, a close friend and supporter of Adolf Hitler, proudly welcomed the swastika, made Mein Kampf a best-seller in Palestine, and formed the Nazi Scouts for Arab youth. Although Palestinian Jews had been being subjected to massacres for centuries, British officers stationed in Palestine during the 19th and 20th centuries reported an increase in such attacks, especially under Haj Amin al-Husseini. In 1929, al-Husseini passed pamphlets out to his fellow Muslim Arabs urging them to massacre Jews. (Note: he also promoted the murder, persecution, and expulsion of those Muslim Arabs who did not share his sentiments.) On August 23, Arabs conducted a surprise massacre on the native Jewish population of Hebron, killing old men, Yeshiva students, burning and desecrating synagogues, and chasing them out of their ancient city for good. Firsthand British accounts of the slaughter are too graphic to print here. Look up Hebron and see who occupies the ancient Jewish city today. Does the world care?

Sadly similar to today, the Arabs' massacres of Jews ironically gained them support under British rule. This can be seen in several significant, history-shaping decisions - most notably, the thousands of illegal Arab immigrants to Palestine that went unchecked by the British (Peters 226-340). Despite the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the only group ever restricted from immigrating to the historical Jewish homeland were Jews. (See the White Paper of 1939.) Holocaust victims and children were often turned away and sent back to death camps.

The most important concession to the Arabs though, came in 1921 when Britain gave 80% of its Mandate of Palestine to a wealthy Hashemite family to rule, naming it Transjordan (re-named Jordan in 1946). The sole objective of this was the creation of a Palestinian Arab Muslim state. According to the Peel Report of 1937, the huge territory had a population of only 320,000 people. Jews were forbidden from living there, so even the ones whose families had lived on the land for centuries were forced out though legislation or persecution. And the world didn't blink an eye.

In 1947, the UN Partition Plan provided for the establishment of a Jewish state and another Arab state on the remaining 20% of the British Mandate. (See which way Great Britain voted.) After centuries of persecution in the Middle East and in Europe, the Jews gratefully accepted the tiny sliver of their homeland, with the hope that they might finally live in peace. The Arabs immediately rejected it, and voiced their (well-documented) intent to make Palestine empty of Jews. Sadly, this open hatred was just historical repetition, and nothing new. Most importantly, it was not - as many propagandists would have people believe - in response to Zionism.

It was this centuries-old racism towards Jews that motivated Arab nations to start openly preparing for a full-scale attack on Jews, as soon as Israel announced her statehood. Abd al-Rahman Azzam Pasha, the Arab League's Secretary General in 1948 warned, "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre, which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades." (Morris 219) The Arab village of Deir Yassin lent its full support by cutting off the supply route to Jerusalem. Desperate not to face another Holocaust, the Jews of the Irgun and Lehi first asked the village to surrender - which differed greatly from the classic Arab tactic of the surprise massacre. The Jews then attacked in one of the few instances where they retaliated against the centuries of massacres they had been subjected to. Jewish authorities punished members of the Irgun and Lehi anyway. In contrast, the Arabs' frequent (and much more violent) tactics were typically ignored or even rewarded, as previously mentioned. Martin Gilbert, one of Britain's leading historians, estimates that nearly "one per cent of the total Jewish population" (307) in Palestine was wiped out by Arab massacres between 1947 and 1948.

However uncomfortable it may be to discuss, the fact remains that there have been countless instances of Muslim violence against people of other faiths, as well as against fellow Muslims, throughout the centuries. Consider for example, Banu Quraiza, the 7th century Jewish tribal village that was massacred by Arabs who then changed the name to...(ready for this?) Medina - the Second Holiest City in Islam. For more examples, research the following: Jews of Damascus, Marrakesh, Fez, Tlemcen, Oran, Constantine, Tunis, Dajayya, al-Mahdiya, Zliten, Zawiya Gharibya, Great Synagogue of Aleppo, Tripoli, Ethiopian Jews, persecution of Baha'is in Mazandaran and Najafabad where a Baha'i cemetery was bulldozed, Christian persecution in Kosovo, the Philippines and Thailand, persecution of Buddhists in Yala Thailand, "Palestinians Killing Palestinians", Nasr el Din Nasr, Suleiman Bey Toukan, Sheikh Ali Nur Khatib, Shlomo Argov, Monica Lehrer, Tali Hatuel, Hillel Neuer's Banned UN Speech, Qiryat Shemona, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, Emadeddin Baghi, Rabbah al-Quwai'i, Khaled Abu Toameh, Samir Sadagatoglu, Rafik Tagi, Gul Masih, Ayub Masih, and the genocide of 80 million Hindus (the largest in history), just to name a few. If certain people think Israel's retaliations to attacks are "atrocities" then where is their outrage at these events? Do these victims get a voice? Those who skewer Israel without mentioning any of these tragedies belie their own true nature.

It would be difficult to thoroughly re-cap every war that has been launched against Israel. However the historical context of the Six Day War is worth mentioning particularly because the details of it are so often skewed by journalists who grasp at revisionist-style historyin order to confirm their own already-established prejudices. It is well documented that Egypt was planning to attack Israel with the willing help of Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Algeria. Egyptian President [at the time] Nasser stated, "We knew the closing of the Gulf of Aqaba meant war...the objective will be Israel's destruction." It is also well known that The Gaza Strip and West Bank had each been under the military control of Egypt and Jordan respectively (interestingly, with no complaint from Palestinian Arabs). Israel repeatedly stated that it did not want a war with Jordan, and asked King Hussein not to attack. Jordan responded by firing 6,000 shells into Jewish civilian areas. Count how many times Jordan attacked before Israel finally retaliated. Note the number of attacks Jordan waged on Israeli civilians even after a UN cease-fire was brokered, until finally, Israel was left with no choice but to take the land from which they were being constantly shot at (also known as the West Bank). The land was legally acquired by Israel - by the same wartime standards as any other nation that acquired land through defensive wars without being subjected to the hypocritical wrath of other nations over it. It is baffling when nations guilty of land takeovers and conquests criticize the notion of displaced "native" populations. It is blatant hypocrisy when they then condemn Israel, one of the few nations on earth whose native Jewish population has remained and returned to the land, despite unbelievable persecution.

UN Resolution 242 is another element that is essential to understanding not only the conflict, but the opportunities for peace that have been rejected again and again. All too often, this easily-accessible historical Resolution is explained completely incorrectly by journalists who, for their own reasons, choose to repeat propaganda rather than research the history. In reality, UN Resolution 242 is the first time in history that a country has been asked to relinquish land that was legally captured in a defensive war. Once again, not only is this double-standard rarely even mentioned, but the second half of the Resolution is often ignored. It calls for the termination of all claims or states of belligerency. Thus, it is actually the Palestinians who are in violation of Resolution 242. They want the extermination of Jews more than they want their own state. Want proof? Look at the government charter of Hamas, the party that was recently elected by a strong majority in Palestinian elections: "Jihad, the Movement is a universal one . . . Whoever denigrates its worth, or avoids supporting it . . .whether intentionally or not, will wake up to find himself overtaken by events . . . Priority is reserved to the early comers . . . The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!" (translation from It also says the "[Zionist] scheme has been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion . . . Leaving the circle of conflict with Israel is a major act of treason." Sadly, it is clear some people actually support these hateful ideologies.

It is important to acknowledge that the territories of Gaza and the West Bank never actually belonged to the Palestinian Arabs, since they rejected the offers of land in 1937, 1948, and 2000. In fact, Israel has agreed to a Palestinian state more times than the Palestinians have. Therefore, anyone - including members of the UN - who claims Israel is "illegally occupying" land that was legally acquired in a defensive war is either ignoring history, or flat out lying for reasons only they can explain. Assuming Israel were to go along with the double-standard other nations don't even hold themselves to, to whom would Israel "return" the land? Egypt and Jordan don't want it back. And Palestinian Arab leadership has refused every opportunity to have their own state. Perhaps the statement made by PLO Founder Ahmed Shuqeiri to the UN Security Council offers a hint as to why: "It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria."

As the lone democracy and most religiously-tolerant nation in the Middle East, Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid (Egypt is second). But at least Israel has positive, humanitarian and scientific contributions to show for it - more than the rest of the Middle East combined actually, for those who appreciate proportions. The Palestinian territories, on the other hand, clearly do not have much to show for the billions of dollars in foreign aid they have received (GAO-06-1062R) - both from legitimate and not-so-legitimate sources (IMF Report 2006). But, at least the aid was able to buy Suha Arafat two palatial residences in Paris, worth millions. After an international audit in August 2002 caught him skimming millions of dollars from The Palestine Investment Fund, Yasser Arafat ordered all future audits be kept secret.

Obviously, the situation today is not much better than that described by King Hussein of Jordan in an Associated Press interview in January 1960: "Since 1948 Arab leaders . . . have used the Palestine people for selfish political purposes. This is ridiculous and, I could say, even criminal." (Peters, 23) Currently, Islamic governments control over 99.9% of the land in the Middle East and the territories under the Palestinian Authority have become breeding grounds for the hatred that has haunted the Jewish homeland for centuries. Sadly, many Palestinians would sooner send their own children to their death, rather than utilize their potential (and all that foreign aid) to create that state they claim they have always wanted but consistently reject. In order to test the "land for peace" theory, Israel gave Palestinians the Gaza strip - which they now use peacefully to launch rockets onto the Israeli neighborhood of Sderot. And yet, certain people, groups, and nations, for reasons only they can explain, continue to pander to the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic governments that support them - all which have some of the worst human-rights violations on record - even against their own citizens.

The UN is especially guilty of engaging in flagrant favoritism towards wealthy, oil-rich Islamic nations while selectively ignoring the countless human rights abuses of these same nations. The UN went so far as to change the definition of "refugee" to accommodate Palestinian Muslim Arabs who had lived on the land for only two years or more in 1948. And yet - Human Rights advocates take note - the UN has yet to address the 850,000 Jewish refugees that were persecuted and forced from their homelands of Aden, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, and others. These human rights violations need to be openly recognized and acknowledged. It is crucial to support those who uphold human rights, and not inadvertently give credibility to those who do not.

One side has clearly and beyond a doubt been attacking not only Israel, but any person or nation that believes in freedom and respect for all human beings, for centuries. For those that continue to subscribe to the notion that "both sides are equally wrong" are not only harming the peace process with such an unproductive slant, but such propaganda greatly disrespects all the innocent people who have died in the name of hate. To suggest that all the innocent victims throughout the centuries, and from all parts of the world are part of the problem, this only serves to lend insight into the conscience of a person who asserts such ideas. It is worth considering the empirical possibility that one day those that support and justify such violence may inadvertently wind up on the receiving end of it. And if they have already established the precedent that even the victims are seen as wrong, who will be their voice?

Given that so little is known about the Middle East by most people, it is clearly not a popular subject to talk about. But neither were many tough issues in history that desperately needed a voice. No human rights abuse was ever solved by covering it up or ignoring it. The long-dead victims would certainly agree. The propaganda that is being used to justify persecution, oppression, and the taking of innocent lives is shameful. And people who repeat such propaganda without checking the accuracy of what they are repeating play a big role in inhibiting peace. People need to make sure they are not unknowingly supporting the very ideologies they claim to be against. Peaceful world citizens who do not have a problem with one tiny Jewish nation need to be able to express that without fear of persecution. All human beings deserve to live in peace without constant threats of annihilation just for trying to exist.

Suggested further reading: The following books, documents, maps, and other sources contain additional references as well as firsthand accounts from the important Mandate period. (To give you an idea, From Time Immemorial is one of the largest single compilations of research on the subject, with over 1,800 citations, most of which reference British Mandate documents that are freely available to the public.) These historical texts are widely-acknowledged, respected and accepted by Middle East scholars seeking to understand the full picture, and are refuted only by those whose propaganda-driven agendas are negatively impacted by their existence. Additionally, I have selected some autobiographies of people who have lived through conflict in various areas of the Middle East and have shared their tragic yet courageous stories.

The Caged Virgin and Infidel, both by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who also wrote the script of Submission, a film created by Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who was then assassinated by Mohammed Bouyeri. Ms. Ali now lives in hiding.
Exile and Return (1978) and The Routledge Atlas of the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Sir Martin Gilbert (2002) Sir Gilbert is one of Britain's leading historians, and author of seventy-two books.
From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters (1984). Ms. Peters served as a Middle East expert in the Carter Administration and now serves on the National Committee on American Foreign Policy.
Righteous Victims by Israeli historian Benny Morris
A History of the Jews by Paul M. Johnson
Why the Jews by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin
Now They Call Me Infidel by Nonie Darwish
Because They Hate by Brigitte Gabriel
The Case for Israel and The Case for Peace by Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz
Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of 27th Session, 1935.
Peel Commission Report, July 1937
CRS Report for Congress: US Foreign Aid to the [Arab] Palestinians, Order Code RS22370.
Report No. 38207: West Bank and Gaza Public Expenditure Review
International Monetary Fund Mission Statement for West Bank and Gaza, December 17, 2006
Letter from the GAO-06-1062R USAID West Bank and Gaza Antiterrorism Procedures, September 29, 2006
GAO-07-443R West Bank and Gaza Funding
Human Rights Watch -
Committee for Accuracy for Middle East Reporting in America -

Monday, November 26, 2007

Drawing the Wrong Conclusion

The Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO) periodically polls Palestinian Arabs in the disputed territories and Jerusalem. Its latest poll, dated November 25, largely concerned attitudes towards the upcoming Annapolis Conference. The data in the poll demonstrates the not unsurprising fact that the Palestinian Arab public is not prepared for peace, but the founder and director of PCPO, Nabil Kukali, takes the findings and illogically concludes the United States must pressure Israel.

The poll is available at Among the conclusions derived were the following:

• (67.6 %) support to various degrees the participation of the Palestinian leadership in Annapolis Middle East Peace Conference.

• (68.2 %) oppose the waiver of the Right of Return.

• The most significant finding was that only half of the Palestinian Arabs, specifically (51.0 %), support the Palestinian Authority to launch negotiations for permanent peace deal with Israel.

According to Kukali, "the outcome shows, generally, that the Palestinians still stick to their national immovable issues such as the right of return, no relinquishment of any territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the issue of Jerusalem and the holy sites."

His illogical conclusion: "the US administration has to prove its determination of ending the Arab-Israeli conflict by exerting more pressure on the Israeli side to implement the UN resolutions on the issues of the final solution, as well as the Arab Initiative adopted by the Arab League."

Obviously, any solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict requires compromises by both sides, not just Israel, which has already made enormous, unreciprocated concessions. Until the Palestinian Arabs are ready to compromise, additional pressure on Israel is counterproductive, feeding the Arab intransigence which is the driving force behind the conflict.

Regarding the three issues Kukali refers to:

The so-called "right of return" is a non-starter. It is fundamentally incompatible with the concept of a two-state solution; its very inclusion in any agenda demonstrates the unwillingness of the Palestinian Arabs to consider a reasonable resolution of the conflict.

Any solution will require a fair division of the disputed territories, taking into account realities of both Arab and Jewish communities living there as well as the call, under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 for secure and recognized boundaries. This is incompatible with an Arab insistence on there being "no relinquishment of any territories," even ignoring the impossibility of "relinquishing" territory which they don't possess.

When it comes to Jerusalem and the holy sites, any solution must recognize the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and has a centrality to Jews next to which its relatively minor importance to Arabs and Muslims pales; indeed, even Hebron has more importance to Jews than Jerusalem has to Muslims. Any agreement must also recognize the reality that Israel has made holy sites accessible to all (except, unfortunately, sometimes to Jews), while to call the Palestinian Authority's record dismal would be to give it too much credit.

The PCPO confirms the Arab intransigence in these areas, an intransigence that must end before negotiations have any chance of succeeding. Thus, his prescription is precisely the opposite of what is needed.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Showing Good Faith In The Arab-Israeli Conflict

The following op-ed was published by The Day of New London on Sunday, November 25, 2007.

Showing Good Faith In The Arab-Israeli Conflict

By Alan Stein

The Arab-Israeli conflict has always attracted a tremendous amount of attention, to a large degree disproportionate to its true importance as shown in a recent article by Gunnar Hensohn and Daniel Pipes, "Arab-Israeli Fatalities Rank 49th," available online at In it they listed 48 conflicts in the last six decades that have resulted in more casualties. Few of those have attracted anything close to the attention given the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Certainly, the Arab-Israeli conflict has been a center of attention in the New London area, particularly with the Rev. David Good and his First Congregational Church of Old Lyme organizing numerous missions to Israel and the disputed territories, hosting visitors from those areas and running what they call a "Tree of Life Conference" each of the last three years.

Unfortunately, these activities have been counterproductive, presenting a distorted, one-sided picture of the conflict perpetuated by the six-decade-long Arab refusal to accept the existence of Israel.

These unhelpful activities were recently brought by the same people into the schools of Old Lyme and Old Saybrook under the guise of a cultural performance by a dance troupe until school officials, spurred on by parental complaints, appropriately canceled further events. Indeed, even before the complaints, one concerned principal told the troupe members to leave after they told students our government was "evil." Interviewed about the controversy on WTNH-TV, the Rev. Bruce Shipman said "it's very important to understand the issues, you know, to hear both sides of the story."

Shipman is right about the importance of hearing both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict; it's too bad neither he nor his colleague David Good of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme practices what he preaches.

In making his statement, Shipman wasn't really trying to get a hearing for both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict; rather, he was defending bringing that particular program to the schools. He was wrong to defend that political program brought to the schools under false pretenses, a program in which the Al Ghad "dance" troupe also brought an offensive message of hate to the classrooms.

Children in public schools should not be subjected to guests telling them they not only hate Israel but also hate America; children in public schools should not be subjected to guests, under the guise of cultural understanding, telling them our American government is evil.

A teenager whose father was murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists shouldn't be subjected to guests telling him and his classmates that if their fathers went into the disputed territories they'd be killed.

I've been to the misleadingly named "Tree of Life Conference on Israel and Palestine" all three years. Before the first, I saw the terribly unbalanced list of speakers and suggested the inclusion of at least some speakers who might present the Israeli viewpoint, but Good candidly responded that he was not interested in that kind of balance.

That first conference turned out to be so skewed that Mark Rosenbaum felt compelled to point out that when Israelis and Palestinian Arabs come together and agree everything is Israel's fault, that's not "conflict resolution." Rosenbaum is one of the founders of Americans for Peace Now, a group which is nominally Zionist but generally highly critical of the Israeli government. That he felt compelled to protest the bias is itself a strong indictment of the one-sidedness of that first Tree of Life Conference.

Never since has any participant who might contaminate the anti-Israel conference with even a hint of balance or reason been invited. Whatever hopes for reason remained after the 2005 Tree of Life Conference were dispelled by the 2006 and 2007 iterations, which made it clear the agenda isn't peace but is the elimination of the world's only Jewish state.

The theme in 2006 was exemplified by the title of a book written by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, "Original Sins: Reflection of the History of Zionism and Israel." No longer was it just alleged Israeli behavior being unfairly criticized; the very existence of the Jewish state was deemed immoral.

Fast forward to this year. The organizers of this year's conference scrounged around the world and came up with an obscure extremist from Holland named Hajo Meyer to claim Israel was worse than the Nazis. Meyer put forth the proposition, boldly displayed on a slide, "Jews are not a people."

Supporters of Israel have often been unfairly criticized for allegedly not recognizing the existence of a "Palestinian people." Israel's critics have never been shy about falsely accusing Israel and its supporters of that which they themselves are guilty.

It's unfortunate enough the Tree of Life Conference included none of the balanced narrative Bruce Shipman asserted was so important.

As a Jew at the conference, I gained some appreciation of what it would have felt like for an African-American, disguised under a white sheet, sitting through a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan. Not surprisingly, when I told some friends about the conference, one of them said he had images of the Klan floating in his head.

It's not surprising that some students in area schools were unhappy after the same people brought a "dance troupe" into their school under false pretenses, driving one of their victims out of the room, being found banging his head against his locker.

It is certainly the right of the organizers to produce unbalanced programs, even programs full of messages of hate, but they don't have the right to subject our children to them in our public schools.

Even outside public schools, efforts to promote peace are preferable to efforts which impede it; efforts to bring Arabs and Jews together are preferable to efforts which drive them apart; efforts which educate are preferable to efforts which misinform.

Let us have other groups put forth balanced programs, free of the hate with which the Al Ghad "dance" troupe and the "Tree of Life" conferences have been infused, that do what Shipman rightly asserted was so important, telling "both sides of the story."

The writer is president of PRIMER-Connecticut, a statewide, media monitoring organization composed of volunteers devoted to Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hypocrisy in Cornwall

Haters of Israel rarely shy away from being hypocritical, so it's not surprising the haters in Cornwall not only shut down attempts at balance while accusing Jews of making everyone in Congress afraid of criticizing Israel, but doing iti at the same time their cohorts at the opposite end of the state of Connecticut were falsely complaining they were being prevented from making their case.

It only took a few days after I submitted a message responding to a juvenile anti-Israel message posted by Gale Toensing. The wolves quickly came out with dozens of hostile messages, many involving personal attacks in violation of their own ground rule: "No personal attacks, or profanity will be allowed." But I've been kicked of the Cornwall Community Forum hosted by YahooGroups.

The official grounds for booting me off was that I'm not a member of the Cornwall community.

No such requirement is given under their guidelines:

"This Discussion Page is designed to allow a free and open discussion of matters of interest to residents of the Town of Cornwall, CT. Comments are invited from year-round and weekend residents of Cornwall, people who live in the nearby communities in the Northwest Corner and from anyone else who loves and values Cornwall."

Indeed, the forum contains many people who do not live in Cornwall; it contains members who live thousands of miles away from Cornwall.

The real reason, of course, is that the Israel-haters could not countenance messages pointing out their lies and distortions.

Check the thread.

This is the message received kicking me off:

Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 09:42:58 -0500
From: Hendon Chubb
Subject: Cornwall Community Network

Dear Mr. Stein,

Nobody has supported your argument that you are really a member of the Cornwall community and the consensus is that you are not a qualified member. I have banned you from posting on Cornwall Community Network. Please feel free to log onto it at any time to read other people's messages.
Hendon Chubb

This was my reply, which the moderator posted to the forum, although I couldn't read it there since I'd been kicked off:

I can't say I'm surprised. I did go to log in to read the messages of others and found that you not only banned me from posting, but have totally locked me out of the forum so that I am unable to even read anyone's messages.

I might also point out that, according to the description of the forum on its home page, residency in Cornwall or even the surrounding communities is not a requirement for membership in the forum. You have actually used an invalid reason for banning me. Although I have not researched it yet, I suspect you may be in violation of YahooGroups' rules.

To remind you, the following is the description on the forum's web site regarding membership: "This Discussion Page is designed to allow a free and open discussion of matters of interest to residents of the Town of Cornwall, CT. Comments are invited from year-round and weekend residents of Cornwall, people who live in the nearby communities in the Northwest Corner and from anyone else who loves and values Cornwall."

There is a ground rule you do have listed which was clearly violated: "No personal attacks, or profanity will be allowed."

A significant proportion of the messages posted were minimally veiled personal attacks on me; some were blatant personal attacks.. I personally don't really mind them, having some confidence that the fair minded people who are not part of the lynch mob recognize them for what they are, a reflection of the hatred of those making the attacks. They do, however, reflect poorly on both Cornwall and the forum.

The reality is this entire brouhaha has nothing to do with whether or not I'm a "member" of the nebulous Cornwall community; it has to do with people unwilling to participate in an honest and open discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict, people unwilling to have their lies and distortions challenged.

So be it.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another Double Standard

The chief negotiator for the Palestinian Arabs, Saeb Erekat, said Wednesday during an interview on the satellite station Al-Arabia: "Israel can define itself however it sees fit; and if it wishes to call itself a Jewish state, so be it, but the Palestinians will never acknowledge Israel's Jewish identity."

PLO Executive Committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo similarly rejected Israel's insistence the Palestinian Arabs recognize Israel's identity, saying "it is only a Zionist party that deals with Israel as a Jewish state, and we did not request to be a member of the international Zionism movement."

In contrast, the Palestinian Arabs repeatedly insist Israel accept not only their identity, but their skewed narrative.

Consistency has never been a characteristic of Israel's enemies.

Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America

Brigette Gabriel, found of American Congress for Truth spoke today the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven as part of its celebration of Israel's sixtieth birthday. Gabriel is a Lebanese Christian woman whose mother's life was saved by Israel and whose own life was completely changed, and probably also saved, by Israel. Her message is well-worth pondering. The following are some notes taken during her talk. Items in quotes are direct quotes; most other comments paraphrase what Gabriel said. My observations are in italics.

The enemy, radical Islamists, Israel is facing is a world wide enemy. Israel has been facing it since its re-establishment; much of the world does not yet realize it faces the same enemy.

At the time of its independence, "Lebanon used to be the only Christian country in the Middle East." It was a melting pot, with the best universities to which Arabs from all over the Middle East sent their children. It was a democratic country, a republic like the US, making it very different from all the other Arab countries.

All that changed as the demographics changed and, after thirty-four years, Christians became a minority. This, along with the influx of Palestinian Arabs, led to the Lebanese civil war.

The Palestinian Arabs fled to Lebanon after "King Hussein killed more Palestinians in Black September than Israel has killed in all its conflicts" in 1975. When no other Arab country wanted them, Lebanon took them in.

"Yassir Arafat was able to use [our freedoms and our democracy] to topple our democracy" and used Lebanon to establish a base with which to attack Israel.

"The [Lebanese civil] war erupted when Palestinians walked into a church on a Sunday and opened fire."

Gabriel spent considerable time describing the barbarism of the Palestinian Arabs. "We as Westerners need to see the barbarism that is coming our way."

She described the horrible conditions her family and other Christians in southern Lebanon were forced to live under from the outbreak of the civil war until Israel established a security zone with Operation Litani in 1978.

When she was nine or ten, her family's home was burned down and she was in hospital for 2 1/2 months. When she was released, her home was gone and her family "lived underground with no electricity because the Palestinians cut off the electricity to our town."

People are outraged today that Israel is considering temporary power disruptions in Gaza as a defense against Kassam missiles being launched against homes in Sderot, the the world was silent when the Palestinian Arabs cut off electricity for Christian Lebanese for years.

For two years, when she was between the ages of eleven and thirteen, she didn't go to school. They expected to be saved, "but nobody paid attention. the whole world was asleep while we were being killed." They lived in bomb shelters during that period.

Finally, "a few people from our town decided to go to the Jews to ask for help. ... The Jews were supposed to be the enemy, [but] we knew that of the two enemies, the Jews and the Muslims, if we went to the Jews for help, they wouldn't kill us."

Israel agreed to help. They brought supplies for the Christian militia, so it could defend the families, and brought "milk for the children."

When she was thirteen years old, her family was told of a coming attack by the Palestinian Arabs and expected to be killed. She put on her best Easter dress so she'd look pretty when she was dead, knowing nobody would be there to bury her.

That turned out to be the night in 1978 when Israel came physically into Lebanon and set up a security zone. Was it not for that Israeli invasion, she probably would have been killed, along with the rest of her family. Instead, "this was when we began going back to school," often being transported to and from school by the Israelis. "Many days I was driven to school it a big tank."

This was the way her family lived for another five years, until 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon in order to push away the Syrians and Palestinian Arabs away from where they were attacking the Galilee and forcing the Israeli families to live in bomb shelters just as they were forcing the Lebanese Christians to live in them.

One day, as they were leaving their bomb shelter, Brigette's mother was wounded by Palestinian bomb outside their bomb shelter. Her life was saved when she was taken to an Israeli hospital. For Brigette, it was a "life-changing experience" as she went with her mother and got to know Israelis.

She described her experience in the emergency room where her mother was brought. "Doctors were treating everyone (Arabs, Israelis, Lebanese, Palestinians, terrorists) according to their injuries," paying no attention who who they were. Her mother was treated "before they treated the Israeli soldier next to her."

"For the first time in my life I experienced civilization, I experienced compassion. ... I spent 22 days in that hospital; those days changed my life."

"I saw the Israelis has something I didn't have. ... The difference between Israeli culture and Palestinian culture is the difference between civilization and barbarism."

I had heard about Brigette Gabriel and known she was a strong supporter of Israel, but had not understood why. After hearing her story, I understood. It was also interesting to hear about a side of the 1982 Lebanese War that's generally ignored.

She spent most of the rest of her talk discussing the terrorist threat faced not only by Israel, but by the entire civilized world. I had not realized, for example, how far Hamas' stretch reached, naïvely believing its presence in the United States, for example, was primarily for the purpose of raising funds to support terrorist attacks against Israel.

"Hamas has the largest infrastructure in the United States" of any terrorist organization, even more than that of Al Qaeda. "Hamas is America's problem as much as it is Israel's problem. ... They have cells in 40 states in the United States."

She views illegal immigration as a deadly problem, not because of the Mexicans coming here to perform menial jobs. Rather, "we need to shut down the Mexican border because a chemical bomb, a nuclear bomb, is going to come through the Mexican border, nowhere else."

She's also concerned with the indoctrination of our youth. "Saudi Arabia has been able to exploit" the Title VI program, supposed to teach about other cultures. They're setting up Middle East Studies programs and endowed chairs and are appointing professors who are brainwashing our children. "We pump gas; they pump poison into the hearts and minds of our children."

Gabriel emphasized the importance of educating our Jewish children, pointing out it is young Jewish children who are leading the anti-Israel charge for groups like the Palestinian Solidarity Movement.

"So many times in the last 100 years, people have stood by and done nothing" to combat evil.

During a question and answer period, she urged people to take a stand and start monitoring the mosques in which indoctrination takes place. "Tolerance is important, but tolerance of evil is evil. ... Why are we giving Egypt $2 billion per year when they are airing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion" on their televisions? ...People are afraid to call a spade a spade."

Gabriel urged people to go to the web site

Gabriel is highly critical of the media. "You're not going to hear the information I'm giving you from the New York Times or CNN." She's critical of politicians, insisting "we need to look at the terrorism issue as an American issue." It's not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue.

"Radical Islam declared war on America back in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini."

"America has been asleep since 1979."

She believes people should learn more about Islam, asking who had read the Koran. Virtually nobody in the audience had. "A lot of people who don't know what Islam is all about have trouble understanding why the Muslims don't love us." She recommended the web site as a place to learn what the Koran says about various issues. She also noted there are many contradictions, but "when there are two verses that contradict each other in the Koran, it is the latter verse that is to be followed."

She recognizes there are moderate Muslims, estimating that only fifteen to twenty-five percent of Muslims are radicals. Unfortunately, the moderates sit on the sidelines. As an analogy, she noted during the Nazi period, there were plenty of moderate Germans.

Regarding the Iranian nuclear program, she has no doubts. "Ahmedinejad is developing a nuclear bomb. He will use it against Israel."

When it comes to confronting Iran, she also has no doubts. "We will fight Iran. It's not a matter of if; it's a matter of when" and whether it's on their terms or ours.

She had one final recommendation about educating our youth, concerning her book, "Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America." She recommended parents get copies and give them to the teachers and to the library in their children's schools.

Brigette Gabriel's message is a strong one and a frightening one. The notes here do not do justice to the horrors she and other Lebanese Christians lived, and died, through as the Palestinian Arabs ripped Lebanon apart. Her message is a valuable one which should be listened to.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Israel Hatred in Cornwall

Irrational, visceral hatred of Israel can show up in the most unlikely places. I was recently contacted by someone living in Cornwall who was dismayed by the biased, anti-Israel hate messages posted by one member of that community in what was supposed to be a civilized discussion group.

I decided to take a look for myself. A period went by with no messages pertaining to Israel, but one anti-Israel message was posted yesterday. I decided to respond and and suddenly the message board was dominated by attacks on Israel and personal attacks on me. Alan Dershowitz, ADL, AIPAC and Campus Watch were also attacked. I spent Saturday night responding to those attacks.

The discussion group is hosted by Yahoo (it's one of the YahooGroups) and the messages can all be found at You can also read my Saturday night responses here.

The entire thread is available, at least for now, on the PRIMER web site.

Amazing! Part I

It's amazing how one person injecting a little balance after an anti-Israel post can set off a chain reaction. It's a tribute to how irrational some of the Israel-haters are.

I'm going to respond in a separate post to many of the misleading arguments of the lynch mob, but first I'll point out the basic asymmetry both of the Arab-Israeli conflict and of the arguments between supporters of Israel and the Israel-haters.

(It actually took six long posts to deal even superficially with the errors and deceptions in the posts I saw when I started writing this. I apologize for the quantity, but I do hope those who are not fanatically anti-Israel will have an open mind and check out the reality for themselves rather than being misled by the kinds of gross distortions I'm responding to.)

In the Arab-Israeli conflict, the basic goal of Israel is to live in peace. There are disagreements within Israel about how much in the way of concessions peace is worth, or whether any concessions can induce its Arab enemies, including the Palestinian Arabs, to agree to peace, but except for a tiny fringe, everyone wants peace and does not want to have any control over the lives of their Arab neighbors.

In contrast, the goal of Israel's Arab and Muslim enemies (it used to be just Arab enemies, but the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran changed that situation) is the elimination of Israel.

When it comes to the debate here, the supporters of Israel are just that, pro-Israel. We are not anti-Palestinian Arab; indeed, many are also pro-Palestinian. I personally have no problem with the Palestinian Arabs setting up whatever type of entity they want in whatever parts of the unallocated portions of the Palestine Mandate they ultimately gain control of if they ever end their drive to destroy Israel and negotiate a peace agreement.

In contrast, most people on the other side isn't really pro-Palestinian; they're just anti-Israel. If they were really interested in the welfare of the Palestinian Arabs, they'd urge the Palestinian Authority leadership to start adhering to the commitments they made back in 1993 and work towards a reasonable compromise with Israel, rather than continuing their rejectionism and love affair with terrorism that actually harms the Palestinian Arabs far more than it harms Israel.

I'll also mention the irony of the post by Gale Toensing that I originally responded to: The Jews she was referring to are probably on the same side she is, albeit for different reasons. Many of the religious fanatics in Mea Shearim are anti-Zionist and refuse to recognize the legitimacy of their own government, believing Jews do not have the right to re-establish their own state in Eretz Yisrael until the coming of th Messiah.

And if I made the mistake of walking in that area wearing shorts on Shabbat, I'd be lucky if they merely spit on me; more likely, they'd throw stones at me. They're nuts, like most other anti-Zionists.

In other words, Gale, you picked the wrong example.

--Alan Stein
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Amazing! Part II

Now I'll start responding to some of the distortions in various posts. Please forgive me for not responding to all of them, but I only have a finite amount of time and it generally takes more time to respond to distortions and misinformation than to make them up in the first place.

Gale erroneously and in a juvenile manner refers to Alan "Islamo-fascism Awareness Week" and "Torture can be Justified" Dershowitz.

To the best of my knowledge, Dershowitz had nothing to do with Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.

If Gale actually paid attention to what Dershowitz said, she'd know that Dershowitz if fanatically opposed to torture. He recently explained his position against torture at a seminar of the Yale Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism. (Incidentally, to give an example of how much hate Israel-bashers have, they picketed the Yale Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism.)

Dershowitz even opposes torture in ticking bomb situations, on the grounds that if torture is ever allowed it will be abused. Personally, if torturing one terrorist would save hundreds of lives on a plane carrying a bomb, I myself would prefer saving those innocent lives, but Dershowitz disagrees.

What he has argued, which has led Israel-haters to falsely claim he supports torture, is that we're not going to succeed in preventing torture by outlawing it. That being the case, we should force out government to conduct all torture out in the open, ultimately authorized by the president. He believes (and I believe he's correct) any president would be extremely reluctant to publicly authorize torture and this would all but eliminate torture. Certainly, the abuses at Abu Ghraib would never have occurred if our leaders had to publicly authorize them.

Gale is correct that "You can tell a lot about a person by the company he or she keeps or defends." She mentions Alan Dershowitz, Campus Watch and ADL, falsely implying they are all evil. But I do thank Gale for associating me with each of them.

I don't keep company with Alan Dershowitz, although I did go to hear him speak, and he doesn't need anyone to defend him. He's an able lawyer and well able to defend himself.

I personally believe Campus Watch sometimes overreacts, but they are generally responsibly responding to a legitimate problem: not just a lack of balance on many college campuses, but the irresponsible prevention of activities to redress that balance and effectuate the free flow of ideas which is the basic justification of academic freedom.

I do have some personal connections with the Anti-Defamation League and am proud to be connected with that organization, one of the oldest and justifiably most respected civil rights organizations in this country, indeed, in the world. In Connecticut, it is probably the most active and effective organization protecting the civil rights of all our residents.

The fact that some people try to malign ADL is a measure of just how much hate Israel-bashers have. As a civil rights organization, ADL naturally supports the right of the Jewish people to have their own state living in peace, but that is just a small part of its agenda. Still, when ADL talks, people listen precisely because of its well-deserved reputation. It is for this very reason that people who hate Israel try to malign ADL.

--Alan Stein
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Amazing! Part III

John Miller correctly, albeit ungrammatically, wrote "It looks like we have a local (CT) AIPAC with us in the person of Stein."

He is incorrect in writing "These guys will stop at nothing to silence and discredit anyone who has ANY sympathy for the Palestinians or who thinks anything the Israelis do is bad."

I, for one, have plenty of sympathy for the Palestinian Arabs but have no interest in silencing or discrediting myself.

The lot of the Palestinian Arabs is a miserable one and it's impossible for any feeling person to fail to sympathize. That, however, does not change the reality that their plot is primarily a result of their own actions and the actions of their Arab brethren.

I suggest that, rather than bashing Israel, those who actually care about the Palestinian Arabs try to do something to help them.

One start would be pressuring the Palestinian Authority to move them out of refugee camps and into real communities. It's telling that almost all the Palestinian Arabs in the disputed territories, approximately 95 percent of them, live in areas which have been under the administration of the Palestinian Authority for more than a decade. Yet, in all that time, not a single refugee camp has been closed.

The reason is pretty clear: the Palestinian Arab leadership would prefer to have their own people living in squalor than to give up what they recognize as a potent weapon in their drive to destroy Israel.

By the way, I also have no interest in trying to discredit Alan Dershowitz, even though he had some pretty brutal things to say about Israel a few weeks ago when I went to listen to him.

Speaking of Alan Dershowitz, one thing he pointed out, which is ignored by the blind mice following Norman Finkelstein, is that DePaul University is no less than the fifth university at which he's failed to earn tenure. His problem earning tenured isn't because he hates Israel; it's because he's a third rate scholar.

--Alan Stein
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Amazing! Part IV

Jane mentioned "From what John and Gale both say, and I respect their opinions enourmously, there's not much good that can be said for Israel."

That alone should make you suspicious of what they say. In the meantime, I'll mention a few good things that can be said for Israel. (I'll also mention some things that aren't so good about Israel.)

In a tiny country, surrounded by enemies bent on its destruction, the Israelis have built a vigorous democracy. They are the only nation in that area that truly is a democracy. They are the only country in that area that, with one exception, gives equal legal rights to all its citizens, regardless of religion or ethnicity. (The exception is that Arabs aren't forced to serve in the army, an exception that has some negative consequences for them since many of the relationships that lead to successful careers start in the army. On the other hand, they don't get killed fighting terrorists. Some religious Jews are also exempted from army service, for even less acceptable reasons than Arabs.)

Israel is the only country in the world which has ever brought in Africans to freedom. Israel is the only country I know of which won a war and then sued for peace. (Unfortunately, forty years and numerous concessions later, it still hasn't succeeded in inducing its enemies to make peace.)

Israel quietly shares the knowledge it has gained producing farm products in an arid environment with African nations, trying to help them increase production and reduce food shortages.

(You may want to take a look at , a web site which describes many of the non-political aspects of Israel, many of which greatly benefit everyone.)

On the negative side, there is discrimination is Israel. (Not surprising; there's discrimination everywhere.) Arab villages and towns are generally shortchanged when it comes to government services. This is both morally wrong and shortsighted, although not surprising. (Essentially the same thing happens here: can anyone name a poor, minority neighborhood getting the same level of services as a middle class neighborhood?)

There is conflict between religious and secular Jews, with non-Orthodox Jews actually having less control of their religious affairs than Muslims, Christians and others.

The army has attained a status that is unhealthy in a democracy, with almost every retired Chief-of-Staff immediately entering politics. This is natural, given the reality that Israel has been fighting for its existence ever since its re-establishment, but is still unhealthy.

The environment has often been neglected. (A few years ago, during opening ceremonies for the Maccabiah Games, a bridge collapsed and some of the athletes who fell into a river died, not by drowning but from the poisons in the river.)

Jane also wrote "IN the meantime, I'm sorry to have welcomed Mr. Stein to the CCN, sorry he's a deceitor, and sorry I'm so easily taken in. But, I'm glad there's the voice of all of you on CCN to keep me on the straight and narrow path of reason."

I'm sorry Jane incorrectly believes I'm a (I think she means) deceiver. I'm also sorry she's so easily taken in.

I personally worry about people who worry about being kept on "straight and narrow path of reason," particularly when they're implying I'm trying to mislead them, but mostly because most things are complicated and certainly there are all sorts of grey in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

I also find it interesting that charges that supporters of Israel keep making charges of anti-Semitism come up far, far more often than actual charges of anti-Semitism. I personally avoid charging anyone with anti-Semitism unless the charge is undeniable. I just double-checked the messages I'd posted here because I didn't recall even mentioning anti-Semitism and couldn't find any mention. (Obviously, I won't be able to make the same claim in the future.) Yet charges that supporters of Israel keep charging anti-Semitism were made in several messages.

--Alan Stein
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Amazing! Part V

Paul said: "I am not an expert on the subject--but when a group of well financed "others" descend on a country that they say God gave them 4 or 5 thousand years ago--there is going to be a problem--whatever the good intention was the intrusion was not handled well--that is the problem."

That might be a problem if it happened, but it didn't. Few of the early Zionist pioneers were religious; many were atheists.

The Zionist claim to, er, Zion is based on the fact that it has always been the homeland of the Jewish people. There was also recognition that the land needed to be shared, since there were other people there, too. Thus, the Zionists (albeit reluctantly) agreed to every proposal to partition the land, including the severing of Transjordan (now Jordan) from the western portion of Palestine, the Peel Commission's plan and the United Nation's Partition Plan. All the bloodshed of the last six decades would have been avoided had the Arabs joined the Jews in their willingness to compromise and share the land.

--Alan Stein
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Amazing! Part VI

Brian Savin said: "Your assertion of fair business negotiation in the 'sale' of Arab land in Israel at that time and under those circumstances is at best naive and at worst can be attacked as dishonest."

Personally, I don't believe land is "Arab" or "Israeli." Also, at the time I was referring to, the land was not in Israel, although it was in Eretz Yisrael and most of it is now in Israel.

Ironically, you are correct that the negotiations for the sale of land weren't really fair, but for the wrong reasons. They weren't fair because the Jews were desperate and the Arab owners knew it. Thus, Jews wound up paying exorbitant prices, well above fair market value, for marginal lands.

Brian also said: "As a practical matter, in my opinion, your posts can only exacerbate strong negative feelings in a difficultly confused situation. Kill it."

It seems to me that it would be difficult to exacerbate the negative feelings expressed by the fanatical Israel-bashers here. To paraphrase the first President Bush, I seem to be just one lonely guy trying to insert a minimal amount of balance and sanity here. Frankly, I don't expect to have any effect on the irredentist Israel-bashers, but do hope to encourage those without closed-minds to check the facts out for themselves and also encourage other supporters of the only multi-cultural democracy in the Middle East.

And, finally, Brian wrote: "If you want to be persuasive, I suggest you start by reading President Carter's book, and graduate from there to the many works of current Israeli Arab professors."

Funny Brian should mention that. I've read Carter's book and was amazed at how many blatant factual errors he included, errors he could not have been unaware of. There have been volumes written about the errors and bias in his book, which he should be ashamed of.

It's noteworthy that the first executive director of the Carter Institute, a man who previously was a co-author with Carter and an admirer of him, resigned his position as Middle East Fellow at the Carter Institute to protest the bias and inaccuracies in the book. No fewer than fourteen other advisors to the Carter Center resigned, saying they had "been proud to be associated" with the center and its work, but could "no longer in good conscience continue to serve the center as members of the Board of Councilors."

The former director, Kenneth Stein (no relation), described Carter's book as being "replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments." He also wrote "there are recollections cited from meetings where I was the third person in the room, and my notes of those meetings show little similarity to points claimed in the book."

One book I would recommend to those with open minds is "The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control," written by Abe Foxman, the executive director of the Anti-Defamation League. It not only covers a small portion of the errors in Carter's book, but the absurd accusations in the paper and book aby John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.

--Alan Stein
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A Question for Gale and Other Israel-Bashers

Do you believe the Jewish people have the right, like other peoples, to their own state?

If so, what do you think Israel could do differently to induce its Arab enemies, including the Palestinian Arabs, to agree to live in peace? Do you think the Arab states and the Palestinian Arabs should be acting differently in any way?

If not, are you generally against nationalism, and thus, for example, against the existence of the United States of America, Great Britain, the Islamic Republic of Iran and other nation-states, or are you just applying a double standard to the Jewish people?

--Alan Stein
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