Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Palestinians, badly treated by the Arab world, must turn to Israel to build a lasting future

The Palestinians have no friends in the Arab world - they are to some states pawns, to others parasites and to yet others, the "untouchables" of the arab world - Across the Middle East the so called 'refugees' are denied passports & citizenship by the countries they, their fathers  and grandfathers were born in. The aim, aside from clear racism and lack of basic humanity, seems to remain the same since 1948 - the politicization of the Palestinians: 

"The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it an open sore, as an affront to the UN and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don't give a damn whether the refugees live or die." Ralph Galloway, former Director of UNRWA, August 1958 

Arafat himself said "We refuse to talk about the resettlement of refugees [where they are currently living] because this is a crime….It is the Palestinians' right to return to their homeland." Yasser Arafat, Al-Quds (Palestinian newspaper) September 11, 1999

Arab states treatment of the Palestinians born in these countries - their countries -  is beyond awful - it is deeply racist - in Lebanon they can not own property or study any course of higher education or professional qualification;   Saudi Arabia, during their labor shortage of the 1970s and 80s , chose to employ foreign workers rather than resident unemployed Palestinians.
In fact, it often seems that the only time Arab states even pay lip service to Palestinian concerns is when they are connected to Israel. 

Meanwhile, the Palestinians themselves, kept poverty bound and stateless in their 'refugee camps' (essentially a policy of Nazi era style ghetto-ization) are taught that all their woes are because of "Zionists" who caused this Nakba (calamity). They are taught to hate from kindergarten -" Zionism caused your problems...Zionism is day the Zionist state will fall" say their Arab "brothers" and the Palestinians know no different. They hate the Zionists, believing with great faith, the Pallywood lies of apartheid, genocide and child murder.They see Israel as the perpetrator of the horrors in truth are occurring daily in virtually every other state in the Middle East APART from Israel! They see no irony in Israel being the only country in the Middle East where all its citizens, including Arabs, have the rights 330,000,000 other arabs can only dream of; They probably never hear that israel is the safe haven for minorities persecuted in Palestinian society (gays, Druze, Bahai, christians etc) - they only know that their Arab brothers say everything bad is Israel's fault - look at Twitter: Syria is a zionist plot, riots against Morsi in Egypt - Israel caused that; Hamas persecution & oppression - if Israel wasnt there it wouldnt happen; 9/11 - Mossad - even the Japanese tsunami is widely believed in Arab world to have been caused by Zionism.

The truth however is that for them to have any future, it can only be with Israel. The Arab states hold no solutions for the people against whom they have perpetrated a racist crime against humanity for 65 years, and if & when a Palestinian state is born, they'll offer little more than lip service. More than likely they will expel their Palestinian 'refugees' forcing millions of people to emigrate to the tiny Palestinian state which will be unable to receive them.

A future Palestinian state will need port access, it will need water , gas and oil, food even. That isn't going to come from Lebanon or Syria, and probably not too much from Jordan - only Israel can provide the trade agreements that Palestine will need - without Israel they will be doomed - indeed as I have already said, if the Arab states unload their refugees on this state, it will be doomed anyway and Israel will find itself with a worse situation on its hands than it currently faces.

Further more, the Palestinian position in the Arab world became weaker as Israel recently became a gas producer, and shortly will be the 3rd largest gas and oil exporter in the Middle East. The oil producing Arab states are aware of this and are already signalling a shift in their entrenched positions toward Israel, with some of their smaller allies and proxies trading openly with the Zionist entity. Iran (not an Arab country) is making a power-play for political control and influence within the Arab world, and has chosen Israel as the method of gaining that power - this too makes it worthwhile for those Arab states ranged against Iran, to change their position on Israel. All this does not bode well for the Palestinians, whose policy - sometimes stated, sometimes not - has always been "all or nothing" - they have avoided negotiations on final settlement agreements even when they have had this in their hands, because  they have sold their people the lie that there really is only a one state solution - Palestine - after all, how can they tell the people they are making a deal with the source of all evil? So Arafat started an intifada rather than sign an agreement, and Abbas twists and turns, offering any reason and objection he can find why he can't negotiate. 

There is a glimmer of hope in all this for both Israel & the Palestinians - the possibility, rarely mentioned, of a regional agreement. As Arab states start to need Israel more than they need it gone, they may become more able to pressure the Palestinians to the table, more willing to offer citizenship to 2nd and 3rd generation 'refugees' born in their countries. This offers Israel the security guarantees that it seeks, and opens for the Palestinian state the opportunity for trade and goods to travel through their small country. Its a small window of hope, and if this doesn't come to be, I see no future for the Palestinian people, who history will probably judge as a people who, in the words of Israeli elder statesman, the late Abba Eban  "never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity"

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Lowest Kind of Jew Hatred: Silencing The Holocaust

Over and over we hear the slogan "I'm not antisemitic, I'm anti Zionist" - let me clarify one thing at the start - if you are "anti Israel's policies" then that does not make you antisemitic, but as soon as you say you declare that you are anti the very concept of Jews having a state (antizionist) then, yes, you are almost certainly an antisemite.

In any case, today is Israel's holocaust memorial day, known as Yom HaShoa. Its a day when radio's play no music, flags fly at half mast, and just minutes ago, at 10am here in Israel, sirens sound for two minutes and the entire country stood, heads bowed, on buses, airports, shopping factories, during meetings, in makes no difference, all citizens of the Jewish state share the collective pain of the methodical slaughter of 6,000,000 Jews by the Nazis. The loss of almost half of all the Jews living at that time is still felt today and always will be in this country forged by survivors: Last night six aging survivors lit memorial flames at the national memorial 
ceremony. These six people had settled in Israel after the war and between them had around 12 children, 30 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. How many Jews were never born because of the loss of the 6,000,000? What contributions to Judaism, art, literature, science and world economy would those 60 or 70 million people have made? We mourn this too. It is unfathomable that the Holocaust would not be deeply ingrained into the national psyche of the Jewish people, and of course the Jewish state and beggars belief that anyone should not understand and respect this, or worse could resent it.

Turn then to our enemies, who use holocaust and Nazi imagery to describe so many debates conflicts or clashes they have with Israel and Zionism: Minor's arrested for stone throwing = Fascist Zionists; Israel returns Hamas fire = Nazi genocide; Gaza =  a concentration camp; Bibi is compared with Hitler and so on. If this cheapening of what the holocaust was and stealing its imagery for propaganda against Jews were not enough, yesterday (on the eve of Holocaust day)  we saw Israel's enemies launch a cyber attack on Israel called 'Op Israel' - admittedly this effort was an embarrassing failure for the not so 'anonymous' hackers, but never the less, it is telling that their tagline was "silencing Israel" and their websites did not contain political messages, but extreme Islamic ones. What was sickening is that one of the handful of websites they managed to bring down was an NGO working with children with cancer, and the most extreme effort of the day was against Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial & educational organization. They wanted to bring down the world's most important holocaust site hours before Yom HaShoa - how is that political? How is that about building a Palestinian future? It is an attack not on Israel - it is an attack on the Jewish people, an effort to tell them that 70 years after the holocaust, there are still people out there that want Jews gone, that they want talk of the holocaust silenced. 

Perhaps they fear the images of a people little more than walking skeletons in 1945, beating the combined arab armies 3 years later in Israel? Perhaps the religious Islamists see the hand of G-d in the Jews remarkable survival and subsequent success and they seek to dispel their fear with denial. I don't know, but I do know that stealing the holocaust, using its imagery against the Jewish state and worse seeking to deny it occurred, silencing it's websites - essentially attempt to rip the holocaust away from the Jewish people, I know that this has nothing to do with Israel & The Palestinians, nothing to do with final agreements or settlements - it is hatred of Jews and anything that may give the wider world an understanding of the Jewish people - it  is antisemitism in its purest, Jew hating form.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Some Questions for Ireland's Teachers- Educators No More!

I am incensed by the decision of Ireland's teaching union's call for an academic boycott of Israel. Why has this particular BDS absurdity caused me to put pen to paper (well..finger to keypad anyway) ? Because this is a group of people who are supposed to be ! As Malcolm Forbes (Forbes Magazine) put it "Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one." . So I want to post a few open questions to Irish teachers:

1. Why did the difficult and complex situation in Israel lead you to make a decision to boycott just one side of this issue? The Palestinian Authority are clearly avoiding talks, while Hamas, the other half of Palestinian society, are committed to genocide. Why did you not decided to at LEAST "knock heads together" and boycott both sides until things improve! I might disagree with the moral equivalency but I'd have some respect for this position.

2. When you looked at the oppression of civilians, the various conflicts, rogue states, and state human rights abuses occurring worldwide, why would any reasonable group of people (never mind a union of educators!) single out Israel? I'm not saying Israel is without fault and has not made mistakes in this difficult region in which it exists, but  Israel is a genuine democracy, offering freedoms and rights for 65 years, denied to 330,000,000 Arab citizens in the Middle East (including to Palestinians by their own leaders, as well as by Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and other states). Let me emphasize that Israel's democracy (free elections, media, judiciary etc) extends to the 20% of Israeli's who are not Jewish and was recently on display in elections which saw both Arab & Jews elected to the Knesset! It also included women, who enjoy full rights in Israel, a country that elected  a female prime minister over a decade before Britain did the same ( and something Ireland has never done) , whilst in comparison,Saudi Arabia's women can now ride bicycles (with some major restrictions), but cant drive cars of course.

3. As educators, I must ask you how you can boycott the country that made significant steps to improve Palestinian education over the years prior to the Palestinians own PA taking over? Are you aware that Israel built seven universities & college of higher education in the West Bank after capturing it in a defensive war from Jordan (who did not build a single educational institute for Palestinians prior to 1967). Palestinian illliteracy was at 50% under Jordan, but by 1980 it was at 30% under Israel, and by the time the Palestinian Authority was formed it was at just 15% West Bank adults! In contrast Lebanon's racist anti-Palestinian laws forbid them from higher education or professional training. Has the Irish teachers union considered boycotting that country?

4. Are the members of the union aware of the legislated anti-Palestinian racism of Lebanon, which resembles 1930s anti Jewish laws? I would hate to accuse anyone of rank hypocrisy, but I'll give it a go anyway: If the Irish teachers are so concerned about Palestinians, surely they would be incensed at this ongoing crime against humanity? The fact that they choose to ignore it and focus on Israel, leads me to suspect that this whole "boycott" is about hating Israel rather than helping Palestinians, something I wrote about a year ago.

4. Do you understand that you damage Ireland's educational institutions when you stop working with one of the most important high tech & medical innovators in the world? For one thing, Israel is leading the world in the fight against cancer and Ireland's teachers are opting out of sharing in that vital work! Israel has recently helped cure River Blindness blighting 100,000s africans, its  disaster relief teams are always first on the scene worldwide, and share their expertise with anyone who will listen (so no longer Ireland !), its hi-tech innovations have changed the world: cell phone technology, intel chips, usb drives, even acne cream for spotty teens! 
 When the Irish teachers boycott Israeli academic institutions but continue to make use of the many benefits and advances Israel has provided the world  students are going to see the hypocrisy, apply some critical analysis and their relationship with Ireland's educator's will suffer, which is truly sad. Of course, by then, this boycott will have hurt them, damaging their country;s ability to participate in the innovation's that Israel leads the world in. Bottom line, Who the hell do the Irish teacher's think they are hurting when they decide not to work in cooperation with Israel?

Aristotle wrote that It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it -  Supporting this boycott is not anti Israel - it is anti education! You may say "but  the Palestinians need a resolution; Israel does things i don't like etc" but as I said above, when you look at countries like China, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, various African states, Iran, Pakistan etc, and you decide to that it is Israel, struggling to survive as a democracy in the most unfriendly, antisemitic region in the world, that you will select as the sole state you abhor enough to not share ideas with, you stand exposed as a prejudiced hypocrite not an educator. You have nothing to offer your students - a hater and a closed mind never does.