Tuesday, July 13, 2021

It's time to stop demonizing Israel

This was published in the Connecticut Mirror on July 13, 2021. It may be found on the Connecticut Mirror website at https://ctmirror.org/category/ct-viewpoints/its-time-to-stop-demonizing-israel/.

 Connecticut Mirror

CT VIEWPOINTS -- opinions from around Connecticut

It's time to stop demonizing Israel


Debris from a Hamas rocket fell in Winter Pond Park in Netanya where Stein, one of the writers of this piece, was prevented by the Israel Defense Forces from riding his bike around the pond because it was deemed too dangerous.

Alan Stein and Mark Fishman

The immoral drumbeats of the BDS movement keep getting shriller. A highly misleading screed by Haddiyyah Ali appeared in CT Viewpoints July 2. Readers deserve the truth, so we will respond to Ali and shed light on the true nature and aims of the BDS movement as well as the Arab-Israeli conflict. We will also take some of what Ali wrote and provide an honest, truthful version.

BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. It claims it seeks justice for the Palestinian Arabs, but its true goal, as made clear by the founders and leaders of the movement, is quite different and quite unjust.

Omar Barghouti, the most prominent of the founders and leaders of the BDS movement, said the following: "Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell out Palestinian, would ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine."

In other words, as admitted in a rare moment of honesty by Norman Finkelstein, who goes around America maligning Israel, "There's no Israel. That's what it's [BDS] really about."

That is the true, evil goal for which the BDS movement was created; its strategy is to abuse the language of justice to demonize and delegitimize Israel and perversely tar Israel with the label of apartheid. The misuse of that term is an insult to those who actually suffered from apartheid in South Africa.

While Ali writes "It is time for State Treasurer Shawn Wooden to divest from Israel once and for all," she knows that's not going to happen, since Wooden is a responsible public servant, but that's not what she's after. Her purpose is to make use of that core BDS strategy of demonization and delegitimization.

A handful of inconvenient (for the BDSers) truths about Israel:

Israel is a liberal democracy, the only real democracy in the Middle East. This is a truly amazing achievement given that it was recreated predominately by people who fled from countries with no history of democracy and has not been able to enjoy a single day of peace since being invaded by regular armies from five established Arab states the day after declaring its independence.

Today, the majority of Israeli Jews would be called people of color if they lived in the United States. Their families were forced from homes in Arab countries.

Israel is the only country in the world which ever brought Blacks from Africa to freedom rather than chains. They were welcomed with singing and dancing and many of those Ethiopian Jews kissed the soil when they were brought home to Zion.

Ali uses the words "On May 10, Israel began an 11-day assault on the Gaza strip after Palestinians protested Israeli settlers attempting to seize their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan" to begin her misrepresentations regarding the recent war Hamas started. During that war, Hamas targeted Israeli civilians with 4,300 rockets in just 11 days; nothing can justify such an onslaught on a civilian population.

Prior to 1948, Shimon HaTzadik/Sheikh Jarrah was a Jewish neighborhood. It was captured by Jordan in the 1948 war and, as was the case with all the territory captured by Jordan, all its Jewish residents were expelled. In some cases Jordan transferred ownership in its records when it took over the homes of Jews; this was not done in Shimon HaTzadik/Sheikh Jarrah.

In 1967, when Israel recaptured territory Jordan had captured in 1948, it made a decision to accept Jordan's land records, even regarding property that had been taken from Jews without compensation. The Jordanian records for Shimon HaTzadik/Sheikh Jarrah still recorded the property as owned by Jews. Still, Israel compassionately decided to confer "protected tenant" status on the Arabs living on that Jewish-owned property, while stipulating that the owners were entitled to receive some rent from those tenants. Many of those Arab tenants agreed to pay the rent, which was below market because of their status as protected tenants.

The current case involves tenants who have refused to pay rent. It is now in the courts. Only in Jerusalem does it become an international incident when property owners go to court over tenants who have refused to pay rent for 50 years, but both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have been using this as a vehicle for increasing their popularity by trying to show they are more radical than the other.

They encouraged violent demonstrations in Shimon HaTzadik/Sheikh Jarrah. Next came the stockpiling of rocks and firebombs in the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount, attacking Israeli police with them and then falsely accusing the police of "storming" the mosque they themselves had desecrated.

This was followed by rockets fired on Jerusalem from Gaza as Israelis were celebrating the 1967 reunification of their capital, at which point Israel finally targeted some of the rockets, rocket launchers and other terror facilities in Gaza.

During an 11-day period, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fatah and other terror groups launched 4,300 rockets targeting Israeli civilians. Roughly 15% of those either misfired or fell short, killing and wounding a significant number of people in Gaza.

Unlike Hamas, Israel puts tremendous resources into defensive measures, particularly the very expensive Iron Dome missile defense system and the bomb shelters in every residential building and, since the SCUD attacks during the first Gulf War, in every new apartment and house. This has saved many lives. Those 4,300 rockets probably killed far more Arabs in Gaza than Jews in Israel!

Of course, not a single person, Arab or Jew, civilian or soldier or terrorist, would have been killed if the Gaza terrorists had not started their onslaught of rockets and kept them going for 11 days.

Ali closes with the mantra "there is no justice without a free Palestine."

The injustice of more than seven decades of Arab war, terrorism and attempted genocide can never be rectified, but we can see from Hamas-governed Gaza and the PA-governed Areas A and B of Judea and Samaria what a "free Palestine" would look like. There are no Jews living in either place and one demand of the "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas is that any additional territory handed over to the Palestinian Arabs be ethnically cleansed of their Jews.

Horrendous as was the discrimination practiced in Apartheid South Africa, even that rogue country didn't force out the Blacks living there!

Ali's mantra really should be "Free the Palestinian Arabs from Hamas and Fatah."

Mark Fishman is President and Alan Stein is President Emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut. (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting)

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Bruins must voice opposition to human rights violations targeting Israelis

This was submitted to the Daily Bruin (opinion@dailybruin.com) after reading a piece of anti-Israel propaganda they published. That piece may be found at https://dailybruin.com/2021/06/28/op-ed-bruins-must-voice-opposition-to-israeli-human-rights-violations.

Bruins must voice opposition to human rights violations targeting Israelis

Alan Stein

It's ironic that Farhana El Taha's op-ed, absurdly entitled "Bruins must voice opposition to Israeli human rights violations," asserts "it is also very important to note that when false narratives which can reach millions are propagated on social media platforms, it is something that not just negatively affects anyone who is pro-Palestine, but also anyone who stands against any kinds of injustice across the world" and asks "where does this misinformation stop?"

After all, her op-ed is predominately a compendium of false narratives which negatively affect not only her targets, the only true democracy in the Middle East and its supporters, but also anyone who honestly stands against injustice in this imperfect world. And, as is typical for those who hate that tiny bastion of liberal values and freedom in the Middle East, most of the false accusations she makes against Israel would be justified if she made them against the multitude of terror groups dedicated to its destruction.

Rather than directly point out and analyze even a small portion of her lies, distortions and misrepresentations - an endeavor that would take an enormous amount of space - I'll simply reword some of what she wrote so that the result is accurate.

Every day, Israeli civilians face persecution, including death, at the hands of Palestinian Arab terrorists dedicated to the destruction of their country. These crimes against humanity generally go unnoticed except when the Israeli government takes defensive action against them. For example, since the end of the recent mini-war, during which Gaza-based terrorists launched approximately 4,300 rockets at Israeli cities and towns in just eleven days, dozens of explosive-laden balloons have been launched, including at least four on the day I am writing this, burning significant amounts of land in Israel and killing an unknown number of animals, and several attempts have been made to infiltrate into Israel to directly perpetrate terror attacks, but they have generally gone unreported in the American media except for the time Israel responded by bombing some terror facilities.

For Hamas, a cease fire really means Israel ceases to defend itself while Hamas itself keeps launching attacks.

Mahmoud Abbas, who is now enjoying the 17th year of his four year term as president of the Palestinian Authority and also heads the Fatah and PLO terror groups, has repeatedly rejected the core concept behind the so-called "two-state solution," i.e. two states for two peoples. He rules over almost all the Arabs living in the disputed portions of Judea and Samaria - the area renamed "the West Bank" by Jordan when it captured and subsequently occupied it for nineteen years - but not a single Jew, since one of the first pieces of legislation passed by the Palestinian Authority made it a capital crime to sell property to a Jew.

One of his demands, if he ever again negotiates with Israel - it's been more than five years since his hand-picked foreign minister announced that would never happen - is that all Jews be ethnically cleansed from any territory handed over to the Palestinian Arabs. Technically, that would not constitute Apartheid, but only because at least in South Africa Blacks, although subject to inhumane discrimination, at least were allowed to live in certain areas.

As human beings, we must persistently and firmly resist the current, worse than Apartheid Palestinian Authority and the discriminatory, worse than Apartheid demand that any future Palestinian Arab state be made Judenrein.

With the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty in what has been the Jewish homeland since Biblical times, the Jews in the Land of Israel traded in their identity as Palestinians for their new identity as Israelis. Decades later, that identity of Palestinian was adopted by the Arabs who had left Israel, mostly of their own volition as part of the effort by their leaders and brethren to destroy the reconstituted Jewish state, along with their descendants. Sadly, those hundreds of thousands who left and their descendants, now numbering in the millions, have been used - or should one say abused - as pawns in the continuing drive to destroy Israel and many continue to live as if they were refugees. Their own brethren in neighboring Arab countries have generally refused to allow them to integrate into their societies and become citizens.

An equal or greater number of Jews living in Arab countries were forced from their homes but otherwise were much more fortunate, since they were welcomed to their reconstituted homeland. Their days of living in tents in improvised refugee camps in a poor, besieged country quickly ended, while even many Palestinian Arabs living under their own governments, the Palestinian Authority in Areas A and B of Judea and Samaria and Hamas in Gaza, are still living in refugee camps seven decades after their grandparents and great-grandparents made the mistake of listening to their leaders.

What I've written above corresponds slightly more than the first two paragraphs of El Taha's "narrative," but differs in that it is accurate and truthful. To save space, I won't rewrite any more of El Taha's op-ed but will finish with her own words, with just one critical difference: I mean what she ended with: "But in the end, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to learn and to do. We must all take action for truth."

Alan Stein is Professor Emeritus at The University of Connecticut, founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel and president emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting). During his retirement, he splits his time between Massachusetts and Israel, where a month and a half ago he was barred from riding his bike in his favorite park when it was deemed unsafe by the Israeli army after being the landing spot for debris from a Hamas rocket.