Business Day in a recent editorial adopted the more-or-less standard narrative line in “progressive” and “enlightened” Western media. My reply follows below (submitted to Business Day):
“I have no doubt that the editorial (“Israel cannot shun Kerry’s warning”, Business Day 2 May) means well. But it fails to address the most significant elements in the sadly predictable outcome of the Peace Initiative and ends by drawing a misleading analogy with the South African experience.
Zionism was a response to the 2 millennia-long Jewish experience of exile and permanent minority status, exclusion, physical insecurity, humiliation and repeated episodes of murderous violence culminating in the most horrific genocide in Man’s long history of brutality. The choice of Palestine to resurrect the Jewish nation was dictated by the continued presence of Jews there ever since their origin 3000 years ago and its centrality in Jewish religious and historical memory.
In the break-up of the Ottoman empire and colonial retreat from the Middle East and North Africa the Arabs received over 99.8 % of the territory (partly reflecting similar but less extreme disproportion in population numbers) with less than 0.2 % going to the Jews at the time of partition in 1947. The Palestinians were not seen by the Arab community at the time even as a future national entity. Following the rejection of partition by surrounding Arab states and the ensuing 1947/48 war, Jordan annexed the West Bank and declared her sovereignty over it. A Palestinian state has never existed either in the West Bank, or indeed anywhere else, and was subsequently only mooted to serve as the sharp edge of Arab rejectionism shortly prior to the 1967 war and conquest of the West Bank by Israel.
Since then Arab-Palestinian rejectionism has continued unabated and has been pursued by military and political means. However, the entire Arab-Islamic region, with Israel at its epicentre, is in a state of convulsive turmoil due to the rise of extremist political-religious movements, the persistence of traditional tyrannical governments, denial of basic human and political rights, technological and economic backwardness, ecological pressures and gross anti-Semitism.
The upshot is a horrific death toll and instability of the whole region with Israel serving as the scapegoat and rejection of the Jewish state as the sole unifying principle in a region riven by violent internal factionalism.
There is little doubt that almost all Israelis are deeply troubled by the situation in the West Bank and want it resolved. A strong majority, until recently, were strongly supportive of a 2 state solution. But to demand that tiny and vastly outnumbered Israel should compromise without the basic acknowledgement of its status as the sole Jewish homeland, understanding of its historical and contextual anxieties accompanied by the necessary security arrangements defies both reason and common humanity.
The Palestinians continue with systematic rejection of all Jewish claims, ongoing open incitement and glorification of terrorism under the aegis of resistance. Failure to acknowledge this undermines your apparent attempt at evenhandedness in the editorial.”
Mr Alon Ben Meir, however, a leftwing, self-identified pro-Zionist, feels differently. In a recent post he attributes the collapse of Kerry’s peace initiative to Netanyahu: “He (Netanyahu) falsely links the country’s national security to his insatiable thirst for more Palestinian land. He remains marred (sic) in illusions and grandiose dreams, blindly crawling through dark alleys, dragging Israel ever steadily to the abyss, foolishly misleading a county and a people he is entrusted to lead.”
Furthermore, according to Mr Ben Meir: ” Though the Palestinians are not innocent bystanders, Israel and Israel alone must now bear the burden because it is the undisputed power that can change the course of events and prevent the looming disaster.” When I rather vigorously begged to differ Ben Meir wrote to me as follows: “…given your attitude and inability to see the light, you and people like yourself are will be (sic) the culprits that will cause an existential danger to Israel and thus do not deserve to be enlightened. Be my guest and continue to wallow in pipe dreams so removed from reality that makes me feel rather sorry for you and all those who share your sense of what the future holds for Israel.”
In my view with friends like Mr Ben Meir Israel does not need enemies. But I’m no oracle, so tell me what you think.