BY MARCY NEWMAN – Idaho Statesman
Edition Date: 12/06/07
Dan Fink’s “Liberal Israel-bashing sounds like 21st century anti-Semitism” (Nov. 10) resorts to the same tactics that Zionists adhere to, especially in the United States. Fearful that the logical, moral claims put forward in John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s “The Israel Lobby” and Jimmy Carter’s “Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid” may begin to sway Americans away from the quotidian Zionist propaganda fed by the media, Fink depends upon his libelous claim that anti-Semitism is at the root of the problem. What is in fact the core of the issue is Zionists historically and currently using the label of anti-Semitism to silence rational, critical debate about Israel’s apartheid policies towards Palestinians in all of what constitutes historical Palestine.
I read his column after arriving back in Palestine after having been gone for one year. Even on my initial travels through Jerusalem and Bethlehem the apartheid stranglehold on Palestinians has grown exponentially. The 25-foot-high, 400-mile-long apartheid wall, built inside the West Bank on Palestinian land, separating Palestinians from their agricultural land and from family members is but one visible reminder of the prison in which Palestinians reside. Both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, upon traveling through Palestine, not only stated unequivocally that apartheid exists here, but also that it is worse than it was in South Africa. While not as visible as inside the West Bank, the 1.2 million Palestinians living inside Israel make up a marginalized minority who are oppressed because they are not Jews. What sort of democracy, may I ask, requires citizens be of a particular faith in order to receive equal rights?
To be sure, I write this as a Jew, who has lived in many parts of the Arab world, including Palestine, and can attest to the fact that the situation of Palestinians under this brutal apartheid regime is dire. Unfortunately, we do not get to hear about this in the media because whenever a courageous scholar or public figure attempts to get at the truth of the matter Zionists like Fink invert the argument making Jews the never-ending victims when in fact they are the victimizers. I write this, too, as a Jew to say that Fink does not speak for all of us; I have witnessed the devastation of Palestinian life on every level: economic, educational, societal, cultural, familial, and I refuse to support a state that would have me as a citizen today because of my religion while my friends, who are Palestinian refugees, are not allowed to return to their homes, which they are entitled to under U.N. Resolution 194.
Speaking about Palestinian rights – most especially their right of return – may be speaking against the Jewish state. But I believe that a Palestine where all its citizens are free to live where they choose in an actual democracy of, by and for all the people is what real democracy looks like. Over the centuries Palestine has been a refuge for Bosnians, Ethiopians, and Armenians to name a few examples. Had Jews come in as true refugees and not settler colonialists who ethnically cleansed the land of its indigenous Palestinian inhabitants, we would not be looking at a situation as we are today. The Palestine of the past was, and I would hope the Palestine of the future will be, one where all the people prevail, not just the minority brutally occupying and destroying the majority.
Interesting to see the responses I’m getting. For once I’m not inundated with hate mail from the start. Some of these are online and others are coming directly to me via email:
Thank you so much for your Speaker’s Corner in today’s paper. I thanked you a couple of years ago on one as well. We do need more balanced views!
I’m one of those gentiles who knows what the Talmud says about gentiles and the “Chosenness” which so many of this Culture has. I use the word culture rather than race or religion purposely. I do not hate anyone for how they are born, (how can babies or blood be blamed?) And I know that 50% of Jews are not Zionists.
The more that you and other humanitarians speak, the less future consequences that non-Zionists (and America!) will receive because of Zionist/Talmudic racism.
Dear Professor Newman,
Thank you for your excellent opinion piece in today’s Statesman.
I greatly appreciated your guest editorial in today’s Statesman. Likewise, I was distressed to see Dan Fink’s recent piece. I feel deeply about religious freedom, self-determination, and peace. It’s disturbing when criticism of Israel is considered off limits, or proof that anti-Semitism is the motive. I have not yet read Carter’s book, or that of Mearsheimer and Walt (although I’ve seen the latter authors interviewed and have read reviews of both books). However, I have long believed that the United States needs to be more even-handed in the Middle East, and should recognize and take smart and forceful diplomatic action in response to the deplorable conditions the Palestinians have suffered for nearly fifty years. I also deplore what the Palestinians have done and continue to do, but it seems to me unsupportable for Israel to continue to settle occupied territories and carry out the other divisive actions you describe. Such death spirals stop only when people are willing, or are compelled, to make tough compromises. That particular conflict is part of the reason our own country is in turmoil and increasingly threatened by extremists. If for no other reason than realpolitik, the United States should use the leverage it has to stop these increasingly deadly cycles. We could assert more leverage over Israel, which in turn would give us more influence with the Palestinians and other parts of the Islamic world. As things sit, we seemingly have denied ourselves influence in both realms.
Our country has missed so many opportunities since 9/11. Among several other blunders, we failed to turn our attention directly and immediately to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and use every diplomatic and economic tool we have to create a real process leading to real peace. Instead, we of course ignored what Israel is doing and otherwise made things much worse in all of these countries (and in other Islamic nations) by invading Iraq.
It takes little insight to recognize that at least two things should have been considered mandatory after 9/11: Go after Bin Laden and his supporters in Afghanistan (and do so with much more rigor that we did), and simultaneously turn to Israel and insist that they stop feeding a primary breeding grounds for conflict. I recognize that, as Mearsheimer and Walt point out, our Congress is extremely cautious about taking any action seen as tough on Israel. I believe they make a good point about the Israel lobby, and I hope for more wisdom in the future. Your editorial is a good example of a step in the right direction.
Ultimately, I believe theocracy in all its permutations is a bad idea for humankind. But evidently we are going to have it for many generations to come. In the meantime, we should find ways to be tolerant and work for peace.
Dear Prof. Newman,
Thank you for your excellent op ed piece in response to Dan Fink’s earlier op ed. You have expressed the situation very well, and you are to be commended for speaking out. I have spent about five months working in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and I have seen the horrendous abuses of the Palestinians first-hand. When I tell people about it, they are generally surprised, because the story just doesn’t make it through the MSM.
You are eloquent, persuasive, and compassionate. I have spoken with several people today who have said your piece has brought some peace to them. You have spoken for many whose voices no one is willing to hear.
Dr. Newman, you’ve made my heroine list.
Member, Boise Peace Quilt Project(BPQP)
Letters to the Editor in response to this op-ed:
– Idaho Statesman
Edition Date: 12/08/07
Anti-Semitism canbe easily defined
The three individuals responding to Rabbi Fink’s column made an impassioned plea not to mistake anti-Zionism for anti-Semitism. It is easy to define anti-Semitism; just look it up in a dictionary. There is no question but that it means hostility toward or prejudice against Jews or Judaism.
Now as to distinguishing anti-Zionist from anti-Semite: If you accuse Israel of human rights and humanitarian violations and ignore the systemic Palestinian violations of these human rights, you are an anti-Semite. If you decry burdens placed on the Palestinians, but deny Israelis the right to self-defense against invasion and terror, you are an anti-Semite. If you single out Israel for failure to attain moral and ethical standards above and beyond those expected of other nations, you are an anti-Semite. If you blame the flight of Christians from the Holy Land on Israeli actions, but place no responsibility on Palestinian leaders or their actions, you are an anti-Semite. If you claim that Americans and their elected representatives are not in control of their foreign policy, but have succumbed to Jewish pressure groups, you are an anti-Semite.
THEODORE H. CENTURY, Boise
Jewish people havesole claim to Israel
Why do Muslims believe they own Israel, rather than the Jews? If you examine history, you will see that the Jewish people are the only ones who have claim to Israel. Sura 5:20-21 in the Quran says: “Call to mind when Moses said unto his people, O my people, remember the favor of God towards you, since he hath appointed prophets among you, and constituted you kings, and bestowed on you what he hath given to ‘no’ other nation in the world.”
“O my people, enter the holy land, which God hath decreed you, and turn not your backs, lest ye be subverted and perish.”
CHRISTOPHER J. MAGGART, Boise
In this conflict, good guys are easy to spot
While I often disagree with Rabbi Dan Fink on matters of public policy, I stand shoulder to shoulder with him in his latest clash with liberals who bash Israel. I would take such a stand if his rebuke were aimed at conservative bashers as well. I believe that most Evangelical Christians feel exactly as I do.
You don’t have to be a Christian to see who the “good guys” are in the Arab-Israeli conflict. You just have to be an intellectually honest student of Middle East history.
Such a student knows that the Jewish state occupies so-called Palestinian territory because of Israel’s having won the Six-Day War in 1967: a defensive war during which surrounding Arab countries wished to establish another Muslim state in place of Israel.
Israel has always been willing to accept a law-abiding, adjacent Palestinian state: from the two states, U.N.-sponsored proposal of 1948, up until the peace deal rejected by Arafat at the end of the Clinton administration.
As long as Palestinians seem more intent on promoting suicide bombers rather than entrepreneurs, Israeli check points, fences, and other security measures will, unfortunately, prove necessary. Right on, Rabbi Fink.
ROBERT FORREY, Nampa
Fink shows couragein rebuking liberals
In a recent “Religion” column, Rabbi Dan Fink has shown courage in rebuking his fellow liberals who bash Israel – far more courage than former President Jimmy Carter, who refuses to publicly debate the merits of his book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”
For example, Carter has repeatedly played hide and seek with fellow liberal Alan Dershowitz to avoid debating the noted Harvard law professor, himself an author of books on Israel.
And why, exactly, is Carter both so preoccupied with and antagonistic toward Israel?
Answers can be found in an excellent booklet titled “Bearing False Witness,” authored by CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
CAMERA’s research expands upon former President Bill Clinton’s characterization of Carter’s book (e.g., “It’s not factually correct and it’s not fair.”) with extensive documentation of falsehoods.
“Bearing False Witness” also contains letters of resignation from 14 of the ex-President’s own Carter Center advisers, who accuse Carter of “malicious advocacy.”
Finally, this book clarifies Carter’s ties to Arab oil money – tens of millions that the Carter Center has accepted – which may explain why Carter praises despotic countries (e.g., Saudi Arabia), fanatical groups (e.g., Hamas), and terrorists (e.g., Yasser Arafat).
ALLEN GORIN, director, Idahoans United for Israel, Eagle
On taunting, the tree,and Black Friday …
I appreciated Bill Reed’s letter and agree that a BSU receiver was unsportsmanlike in taunting an opponent with the ball after a touchdown. It was at that point that I had a feeling the Broncos might not win at Hawaii.
When the lights go on on the tree that is on top of the US Bank building Downtown before Thanksgiving, the tree loses its meaning.
It is a relief that any of the people who went to the mall at 1 a.m. on Black Friday may never return to the mall because they were disappointed. We should not need police for crowd control. People should control themselves. Those who brought their children to the mall at 1 a.m. should be cited for child abuse.
NANCY KOIS, Boise