Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Case is Clear: Moral People Must Stand With Israel

The following was written after reading an article about Roger Waters participating in the annual anti-Israel program at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme which is sometimes referred to as the "Tree of Hatred Conference." It was submitted to The Day of New London and is being revised after receiving feedback from the editors. If a later version is accepted for publication, that will also be posted here, but since any version acceptable to The Day is likely to be far weaker, this is still being posted.

The Case is Clear: Moral People Must Stand With Israel

By Alan H. Stein

Reading the article, "Taking a stand after Pink Floyd," about Roger Waters participation in the anti-Israel hate-fest at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, misleadingly entitled the "Tree of Life conference," reconfirmed something most people already know: many celebrities are not very intelligent.

On Sunday night, when I came back after playing tennis, ironically at the same time the "Tree of Life conference" was starting in Old Lyme (because my tennis game was in Israel and there's a seven hour time difference), my wife said I'd better call my cousins in Beersheva to check that they were all okay. She had seen on the news that there had been yet another Arab terror attack, one of the bloodiest yet in the current wave, this one at the central bus station in Beersheva. Fortunately for us, our relatives were safe; unfortunately, other families weren't as lucky.

In Israel, it was just another routine day, with dozens of attempted terror attacks.

Israelis have given up on peace, at least for the foreseeable future. They've tried, again and again, and have paid a heavy price. In 2000 and again in 2001, they offered the Palestinian Arabs 95 percent of the disputed territories - territory to which they have historical, legal and moral claims which exceed those of the Palestinian Arabs - only to be met with Yasser Arafat's terror offensive. In 2005, they gave away Gaza, only to be hit with tens of thousands of rockets. In 2008, they trumped their 2000 proposal, offering Mahmoud Abbas the equivalent of all the disputed territory, only to have him walk away from negotiations. For all practical purposes, he's never returned.

On the other hand, Abbas, almost universally but falsely labeled "moderate," has blatantly violated virtually all his commitments under the very Oslo accords to which he owes his office, in which he's now serving his eleventh year of his four year term. He has repeatedly lied, to his own people and to the world. A week ago he went on television and, among other blatant lies, knowingly and inflamingly falsely accused Israel of "executing" an "innocent" Arab boy despite the documented fact that "innocent" boy was very alive and well, being treated in an Israeli hospital after being hit by a car after he had taken a knife and attacked several Israelis, including a young boy, with a knife.

The current upsurge in terrorism should be called the "Mahmoud Abbas Terror Offensive," since it was ignited by Abbas' incendiary and false accusations that Israel was changing the status quo on the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount happens to be, by a large margin, the holiest site on earth for Jews. For Muslims, it's a distant third, leagues behind Mecca and Medinah. Yet, since recovering the Old City, including the Temple Mount, from Jordanian occupation after being attacked in 1967, Israel has given tremendous preferential treatment to Arabs and Muslims. Except when it's forced to curtail access during terror offensives, Israel gives virtually free, 24/7 access to the Temple Mount to Muslims. In sharp contrast, Jews - and Christians - are restricted to a few hours a day, a few days a week, through a single gate. Last year, only 12,000 Jews managed to visit the Temple Mount, in sharp contrast to the approximately 4,000,000 Muslims who freely visited.

That comparison bears repeating: four million Muslims, twelve thousand Jews. That's more than three hundred times as many Muslims as Jews.

Incredibly, Israel also prohibits Jews from praying on the Temple Mount. It does not even allow Jews to bring prayer books to the Temple Mount, for fear of offending Muslims.

Although Israel is very successful at preventing Jews from bringing prayer books, indeed any religious objects, to the Temple Mount, it has not been very successful at preventing Arabs from bringing rocks, firebombs and other weapons into Al Aksa Mosque, effectively turning that holy mosque into a weapons arsenal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, disparagingly described as "right-wing" even more often than Mahmoud Abbas is called "moderate," has repeatedly assured everyone he will maintain that status quo, one which so gravely discriminates against his own people.

None of that kept the "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas from accusing Israel of trying to change that status quo, scream that he would not allow Jews to desecrate their holiest site with their "filthy feet," and proclaim "we bless every drop of blood
that has been spilled for Jerusalem."

For Abbas, Arabs throwing firebombs from Al Aksa Mosque is perfectly holy, but Jews coming near with their "filthy feet" is desecration.

Every drop of blood that has been spilled over the last month is on the head of Abbas.

Although there are some complicated aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the sub-conflict between the Palestinian Arabs and Israelis, and neither side is completely blameless, at its core it's very simple: while Israelis yearn for peace and have demonstrated their eagerness by making enormous, painful, one-sided concessions and offering even greater ones, the Palestinian Arabs are clearly still unwilling to countenance the existence of the world's only Jewish state on any terms.

For those who love peace, value human rights and all the other values America and other liberal, Western democracies cherish, the moral imperative is clear: they must stand with that tiny state of Israel, the one state in the Middle East that not only shares their values but is the world's frontline state in defence of those values.

How ironic that, at the same hour that yet another fanatical Arab terrorist was trying to massacre Israelis at a bus station, on a day when dozens of other terror attacks were thankfully thwarted, at a time when moral people have no choice but to stand with Israel, Roger Waters and the others at the "Tree of Life conference" were gleefully working to boycott that beleaguered democracy.

One thing is clear: no good can come from such celebrations of hatred.

Alan H. Stein, Ph.D., is a former resident of Waterbury, Connecticut who now splits his time between Natick, Massachusetts and Netanya, Israel. He is professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut, former president of the Jewish Federation of Waterbury, president emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel.

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