The popular sport of Israel-bashing
My Jan. 14 posting, entitled "The Iranian Madman and Israel," noted that roughly half of Israel's 5-million Jews--including the nation's Iranian-born president and defense minister--are refugees, or the descendants of refugees, from Arab and other Muslim countries.There are at least as many of them as there are Palestinian Arab refugees who have been used as political pawns to demonize Israel for nearly six decades.
I have received two critical comments from readers which reflect the ignorance, mean-spiritedness, and old-fashioned Jew-hatred that have plagued Israel ever since it gained independence in 1948 and have made the tiny nation an international punching-bag.
An anonymous reader asked: "What do I think about Israel occupying land beyond its original borders?" The term "occupying" suggests that Israel's expansion beyond its 1948 borders was the result of an aggressive intent to conquer another nation's land.
But those who are unprejudiced and informed know that Israel acquired territory beyond its 1948 borders only after successfully defending itself against an invasion by its Arab neighbors. Had the Arabs not invaded in 1948, intending to destroy the infant Jewish state, Israel would have remained a puny little land, less than half its present size. The Palestinians now live with the miserable consequences of the Arab refusal to accept Israel's right to exist.
In 1967, Egypt mobilized to invade Israel again, allied with Syria. It imposed a blockade against Israeli shipping in the Straits of Tiran, which was an act of war. In preparing to defend itself against the two Arab countries, Israel warned neighboring Jordan to stay out of the conflict. Instead, the Jordanian king placed his forces under Egyptian control and began to bombard western Jerusalem.
The obvious goal was to exterminate the Jewish state. There was no Egyptian or Syrian territory to be recaptured from Israel. Until the 1967 war, the West Bank, the Golan heights and the Gaza strip were all under Arab rule.
Again, the Israelis successfully defended themselves and, in the process, acquired control of those territories. In demanding the return of the territories lost in 1967, the Arabs remind me of the old joke about the boy who murders his parents and seeks clemency from the judge on the grounds that he is an orphan.
Actually, Israel had originally hoped to use its newly acquired territories as bargaining chips in exchange for Arab recognition of its right to exist in peace and security. Because of demographic and security considerations, Israel recently relinquished control of Gaza and appears ready to abandon portions of the West Bank.
Nevertheless, the process of winning recognition from the Arabs and other Muslim countries remains only partially complete. Iran's latest anti-Israel hysteria and the Hamas political triumph in Gaza and the West Bank are new barriers in the road to peace in the Middle East.
I received another comment on my Jan. 14 posting from a reader that can best be described as obscene. Identifying himself as "Terence," he questioned the significance of the Holocaust and argued: "We'd all be better off without Israel...and most importantly, Jewish people." I have published this obscenity to display the type of maniacal hatred of Jews and Israel that continues to defile civil society.
Left-wing academics in the U.S. and abroad, certain elements of the international media, and sectors of the so-called liberal or mainstream American Protestant churches have piled on, joining the Israel-bashers on a more respectable level. They portray the Palestinian cause as a victim and disregard the Arab atrocities that have made Israel a reluctant "occupying military power."
And then, of course, there are some leaders of the European Union's member countries, many of whose fathers and grandfathers sat in silence--or even collaborated--as 6-million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, who also use Israel as a diplomatic punching bag.
There is an ironic byproduct to the military and diplomatic onslaught that the Israelis have experienced since gaining independence. The Zionist idealists, devoid of a Jewish military tradition since the Biblical era, founded a country based on Jewish spirituality and traditional codes of ethics and morality. Ghetto Jews--and most Jews did live in ghettos until a century ago--disdained physicality and even athletic endeavor.
Until Israel's establishment, the Jewish people were renowned largely for intellectual and mercantile talents. The irony is that Zionists created a tiny country that has strangely earned world respect largely for its military prowess. Israel exemplifies a "muscular" form of Jewishness that was not apparent before. For traditional Jew-haters that may be too hard to stomach.