Ah, life's sweet contradictions. Brendan Goldman scolds me for suggesting that another letter-writer blamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Palestinian anti-Semitism. Then he blames the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Palestinian anti-Semitism (indeed, all-Arab anti-Semitism.) The original letter-writer (Alan Peres) scolds me in similar fashion, and also concludes that Muslims are blinded by, of course, anti-Semitism. He cuts Muslims some slack, though, blaming their anti-Semitism on Christians.
But are they correct? Is the Palestinian struggle rooted in anti-Semitism? Or are Palestinians responding to the implacable colonization of their homeland, defending themselves when threatened, like any other people?
In 1923, Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky (a Benjamin Netanyahu hero) observed: "Every indigenous people will resist alien settlers as long as they see any hope of ridding themselves of the danger of foreign settlement. This is how the Arabs will behave and go on behaving so long as they possess a gleam of hope that they can prevent 'Palestine' from becoming the Land of Israel."
Similarly, David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, explained in 1938: "The country is theirs because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country, while we are still outside."
And from Israel's memorable field general, Moshe Dayan, in 1956: "For eight years now, [Palestinian Arabs] sit in their refugee camps in Gaza, and before their eyes we turn into our homestead the land and villages in which they and their forefathers lived."
Love or hate Zionism, but its principal leaders saw their foes as rational and real, not as stereotyped villains. They knew why the Palestinians resisted them. Ben-Gurion again (in 1919): "We want the country to be ours. The Arabs want the country to be theirs." In turn, the Palestinians understood that attaining a Jewish majority would necessitate Arab expulsion — 750,000 Arabs were driven from Palestine during 1947-1949. By 1973, Moshe Dayan declared: "There is no more Palestine. Finished."
As for Palestinian anti-Semitism, Mr. Goldman's only cited evidence is a purported remark by a "pretty Moroccan college girl." But let's agree there are haters in every society. Take Israel. Take the 42% of Israelis who (in 2012) didn't want an Arab child in their school, take the West Bank settlers who stone Palestinian school children and dump garbage on their homes in Hebron, take the testimony of the courageously honest Israeli soldiers from Breaking the Silence and Combatants for Peace (both Israeli organizations), take the "Death to Arabs" chant at Beitar Jerusalem soccer matches. And so on.
Finally, Mr. Goldman accuses me of employing "factual inaccuracies" and "de-contextualized statistics." He supports these accusations with … nothing. No facts, no context, zilch. We're supposed to take his word for it.
Or readers might open Google and reach their own conclusions. I'd welcome that.
Answer Book 2016
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