Recently, Gershon Baskin, co-founder of IPCRI, wrote a provocative article in the Jerusalem Post
, focusing on Israel's responsibility for the conflict with the Palestinians and urging a non-military approach to solve the conflict. While I don't deny Israeli responsibility for the ongoing conflict and suffering on both sides (after all, it is the strongest party militarily and it has built over a 100 illegal outposts since the Oslo Accords, most of them with the explicit aim of preventing the creation of a Palestinian state), he goes out of his way more than once. The following is outrageous and plays right into the hands of the worst anti-Semites ('hey, even Baskin the Zionist says so...'):
Oh yes, I forgot, we don't have to observe international law because we already know that they entire world is against us and we are a people [who] "will always dwell alone." "It doesn't matter what the goyim think or do, it only matters what we do."
That is not Israel's policy or view, but Baskin's caricature of it. Contrary to this sort of anti-Zionist sentiment, Israel cares a lot about international ('goyim') opinion and condemnations, especially those of the USA, as explained convincingly here
. If Israel were to serve international law as its enemies explain it, it would have withdrawn from all of the West Bank, it would have evacuated all the neighborhoods ('settlements') of Jerusalem including the Old City and the Hebrew University without any security guarantees in return, it would have taken down the fence, and maybe even admitted millions of Palestinian refugees into Israel. Suicide bombers would make their way into Israel easily, as there are open borders and it is against international law to target them before carrying out their mission. Qassam rockets would be fired on the Knesset and the city center. Jews at the Wailing Wall would be stoned.
It is naÔve to say the least, to think that there would be a prosperous peaceful Palestinian state and the Hamas would be out of power because there would be no occupation anymore. Hamas says time and again that it doesn't want to make peace
, that it considers all of 'Palestine' to be occupied and wants to drive all Jews out of Palestine
. It even said recently that killing Jews is an obligation of Allah and their extermination is good for the world
. And of course, the Hamas charter
says all that quite explicitly. For some reason, in the eyes of many peace activists and European liberals, the latter doesn't count, as it is old and they have changed since and become more mature. If so, then why don't they change it? Why is nobody in Hamas protesting it? Recent statements against peace and Israel (there are that sort of recent statements all the time) are played down because supposedly they are only made by some radicals just to be provocative or 'for internal consumption'. But if so, then why do the more 'reasonable' leaders not dismiss such statements? Was there ANYBODY within (or outside) Hamas who said that it is disgusting to talk about the extermination of the Jews??
Things like that sound frightening to me, and I would think they sound even more frightening to Jews and Zionists. To me, a 'goy,' Zionism is a movement that decided that Jews should not be massacred anymore, and have national rights and the right to defend themselves like other nations have. I argue about this with fellow 'goyim,' some of whom think that Zionism is a colonialist expansionist racist movement that did to the Palestinians what we did to the Jews. They say Israel doesn't care about international law and human rights and misuses the Holocaust to justify its aggression. How nice that they have not only Ahmadinejad, but also Baskin on their side.
History shows that when people say they want to kill the Jews, they might actually mean it. Yet for some reason, stressing the genocidal character of Hamas, worrying about an Iranian atomic bomb and defending Jewish rights in Israel has become a cause of the right, both within and outside of Israel and the Jewish community.
In a recent meeting with people from IPCRI, I had to say more than once that I am not in favor of Netanyahu or Lieberman, and actually do support a two-state solution. They showed a profound mildness towards the Palestinians, asserting that Hamas would accept any outcome of a Palestinian referendum on a peace treaty, Arafat sincerely recognized Israel and Jewish rights, the Palestinians accepted the Geneva Accord and the Roadmap, and the violence would stop as soon as they have their state. On the other hand, Israel was judged harshly and accused of preventing peace and a two-state solution. It is wishful thinking of some sort. It seems to be based on the premise that when your side is at fault, you can do something, you are the powerful one, you can work within your own country for a change. When the Palestinians are at fault, you can only hope that they will change. Not only the right, but also the left overestimates Israel's power.
Israel cares a lot about what the 'goyim' think, but it is also suspicious of them, and not without reason. It was 'goyim' who thought, when Hitler came to power, that it was better to appease him than to oppose him, who didn't believe he would carry out what he said, and it was goyim who DID persecute the Jews throughout history and committed the Holocaust. And it is goyim who neglect the genocidal intentions of Hamas and Hezbollah and pass one anti-Israel resolution after the other in the UN general assembly. A majority of the 'goyim' countries decided in the UN General Assembly that Zionism is racism and reiterated this at the Durban conference on racism, and many UN funded NGO's compare Israel to the Nazis. While we 'goyim' are silent mostly about the occupation of Tibet and the war crimes of the Russian army in Chechnya, hesitate to call what is happening in Darfur a genocide, and don't call for a boycott of these countries, we condemn Israel for every attack in which more than 5 civilians are killed. Sure, Israel does some nasty things in the territories, Palestinians are sometimes beaten up for no reason and their houses demolished or land is confiscated for a new outpost. And yes, it deserves criticism for that. But it needs to be proportionate.
A magnifying glass is placed on everything that Israel does. Except for the USA, there are more foreign journalists in Israel than in any other country. The popular explanation is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the main source of tensions between the West and Islam, that it needs to be solved first in order to get a stable, prosperous and democratic Middle East. It is no wonder that to some Jews this sounds like a nice way to blame them -again- for many of the problems the world faces. Overestimating the power and influence of the Jews is a prominent characteristic of anti-Semitism. And it is no wonder that Israel is sometimes a bit fed-up with all the attention and criticism.
When foreigners criticize the Netherlands, for example because of our drugs or abortion policies, we are quick to say that they don't understand the situation at all. And we are right
. After the murder of film maker Theo van Gogh, after MP Hirsi Ali was deprived of her citizenship, for a moment we had world attention focused on us. And I must say, a lot what was written in the international press wasn't accurate. Just how would we react if we had world attention all the time??
It is time that especially Europe takes a step back in criticizing Israel. It is true that friends can criticize each other, but it doesn't work when one party criticizes the other all the time, especially when that party didn't exactly always behave perfectly towards the one it criticizes. Before we yell 'disproportionate' in reaction to the next Israeli strike in Gaza, we should consider if that term isn't more accurate to describe our behavior than that of Israel. Ratna Pelle
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