Friday, March 23, 2007

A contrast between Israelis and Palestinians

Today's New York Times contains two articles that unintentionally show a vivid contrast in the psyche, social mores, and attachment to democracy between the Palestinians and Israel, which the world at large simplistically views as an oppressor victimizing the Palestinians.

One article reports that still another Palestinian has been killed in the continuing warfare between the Fatah and Hamas factions in the Gaza Strip. Since the Israeli withdrawal from the territory, hundreds of Palestinian militia members and innocent civilians have died as the two groups battle each other for control.

Prior to that incident, the Times article notes, Palestinian gunmen forced the driver out of a UN refugee agency car and made off with his vehicle. A UN spokesman later announced that agency cars would temporarily stay off Gaza's roads.

Yet this is the very agency into which the U.S. and Western European countries have poured billions of dollars to feed and house Palestinian refugees over the past five decades. No other refugee population in the world--e.g., the hundreds of thousands of Jews driven out of Muslim countries--has ever received such massive foreign assistance.

The so-called Palestinian unity government, composed of both Fatah and Hamas, is the party with which Israel is expected to negotiate. How much confidence can the Israelis have that a durable settlement can be reached with a regime that cannot live in peace with itself and a society that refuses to renounce violence, that is unwilling to make serious compromises, and that scorns coexistence with Israel?

The second Times article is headlined: "Israeli Soldiers Stand Firm, but Duty Wears on the Soul." The article tells how some Israeli soldiers are troubled by their own harsh treatment of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Manning security check points, they control the movement of Palestinians to prevent suicide bombers and other terrorists from infiltrating into Israeli communities.

In the process, some soldiers acknowledge that they seriously inconvenience and often intimidate innocent Palestinians. Their duty, the article states, "wears on the soul and turns young men callous."

A left-wing group has collected the testimony of nearly 400 Israeli soldiers who are disturbed by their own behavior while on duty. These men are frustrated by the Israeli need to live by the sword. "We are so few and they [the Arabs] are so many," one soldier says sadly.

By no means do these troubled soldiers represent a majority of those in the Israeli armed forces. But I am impressed by their empathy, and I wonder whether such sensitivity would ever be displayed by soldiers in the armies of the Arab countries that surround Israel.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Morton cousin Dave Fox--

I would like to share this letter from someone in Israel. Perhaps it will offer some insight into the Middle East problem:

> > The Coming Armageddon
> > By Solly Ganor
> >
> >
> > Five years ago I sent you a letter which I called
> > "Conversation on the Beach". In my letter I described my
> > conversation with a young Palestinian student who in short
> > precise terms explained how Islam will defeat the West. The
> > conversation opened my eyes to a much larger picture in
> > which Israel plays only a minor role in the Islamic game of
> > conquest. Since then I tried to speak to some Arabs who come
> > to pray at the Mosque, but they were not as outspoken as the
> > student.
> > Last week I had another conversation with an Israeli
> > Arab construction boss by the unlikely name of Francis who
> > was in charge of building a villa near our house in
> > Herzelia. He told me that his family was Christian and his
> > name was given to him in honor of the Franciscan monks. Our
> > conversation was as interesting as the first conversation I
> > had with the Arab student five years ago and I would like to
> > share it with you.
> > Francis frequently parked his car near our house and
> > we would exchange polite greetings.
> > About a week ago the water was shut off for repairs
> > in the house he was building and Francis asked me if I could
> > give him some hot water for his coffee.
> > He was a tall man of about forty, with reddish hair
> > and blue eyes. He spoke a perfect Hebrew and I, naturally
> > became curious about him. I felt that he may the right
> > person to exchange some views with. By his looks I assumed
> > that he was either a Druze or from the Syrian region. He
> > looked more like a teacher than a construction worker and as
> > I later found out, he was actually a teacher by profession.
> > Since my conversation with the student five years ago I was
> > always curious to hear their side of the story, therefore I
> > decided to invite him for a cup of coffee to our house. I
> > saw him hesitate for a moment then he smiled and thanked me
> > for my hospitality.
> > While we drank our coffee he told me that he was
> > from a small village in the Galilee called Jish, near the
> > present Kibbutz Sassa. I remembered the village very well
> > as I was one of the soldiers who captured the village while
> > serving in the 7th Armored brigade during the war of
> > Independence in 1948. I decided not to tell him about it
> > because at the time we encountered some stiff resistance at
> > that village and quite a few of the inhabitants were killed.
> >
> > While I was preparing the coffee he told me a little
> > about himself.
> > " For a while I was a teacher and I loved teaching,
> > but I couldn't make a living at it and I decided to join my
> > father in law who is in the construction business."
> > Judging by the large Honda he was driving I figured
> > that he didn't do too badly changing his profession.
> > Our conversation soon turned to the present
> > situation in the Middle East , about Hamas winning the
> > elections, the situation of the Israeli Arabs, and the last
> > Lebanese war against Hezbolla.
> > " As Christians we are in a difficult situation here
> > in Israel . Unfortunately, the Moslems and especially the
> > extreme Islamist section, are giving the tone here. My
> > family who lived in Bethlehem probably since the Crusaders,
> > had to flee for their life. The Moslems have been forcing us
> > out, by threats and even murder. Bethlehem that was once
> > predominantly Christian is now predominantly Moslem. Very
> > little is written about it even in the Israeli press."
> > He sipped his coffee and gave me a long look. He
> > seemed like someone who wasn't quite sure whether to say
> > what he was about to say. I gave him an encouraging nod.
> > " I have to tell you something which very few of you
> > seem to comprehend." He continued.
> > "Your bungling war against a few thousand Hezbolla
> > fighters which you should have crushed no matter what,
> > considering the importance of the outcome, has created a
> > completely new situation, not only for this area, but
> > globally. Your inept leadership totally misunderstood the
> > importance of winning this war.
> > As a matter of fact, the whole Moslem world, not
> > only the Arabs, simply couldn't believe that the mighty
> > Israeli Army that defeated the combined Arab forces in six
> > days in 1967, and almost captured Cairo and Damascus in
> > 1973, couldn't defeat a small army of Hezbolla men. As usual
> > the Moslems see things the way they want to see things. Most
> > think that the present generation of Israelis have gone soft
> > and can be defeated .
> > The American bungling of the war in Iraq only added
> > to their conviction that victory not only over Israel but
> > also over the West in not only possible, but certain.
> > The ramifications of these two bungling wars may
> > bring an Islamic bloody Tsunami all over the West, not only
> > in Israel . The sharks smell blood and this two wars gave
> > them the green light to attack sooner than they had in mind.
> >
> > Your problem is that you are on the defensive and
> > they have the option to choose the time and the places when
> > and where to attack and there is nothing much you can do
> > about it.
> > When will you Westerners realize that half measures
> > don't work with people who are willing to die by the
> > thousands for Allah to achieve their goal? In their eyes the
> > Western World is simply an abomination on earth that has to
> > be wiped out."
> > He spoke quietly and I could just picture him in the
> > school giving his students a lecture.
> > I poured him another cup of coffee and encouraged
> > him to continue.
> > " The Americans, the Europeans, and even you
> > Israelis really don't really know what it is all about, do
> > you? During the last generation hundreds of thousands of
> > children have been taught all over the Moslem world in
> > Madrass schools to become martyrs for Allah in order to kill
> > the infidels. These youngsters are not only are ready to do
> > it, but are actually in the process of doing it. Bombs are
> > going off all over the world killing and maiming thousands
> > of people, not on 9/11 in the US , in London Madrid and Bali
> > , but Africa , India , Bengla Dash , Egypt , Saudi Arabia
> > and countless other places.
> > The first signs of the Islamic Tsunami is already
> > here, but the West doesn't understand, or doesn't want to
> > understand what is coming.
> > The Americans, instead of realizing that this is as
> > bad as World War Two, or even worse, are going to pull out
> > of Iraq , handing it over to Iran on a silver platter. Next
> > may come the Saudis and the rest of the Gulf states. When
> > dirty bombs will go off all over the Western towns who is
> > going to stop the Iranians?
> > Now is the time to stop them, not only because they
> > are developing nuclear bombs, but because Iran has become
> > the base for all Islamic terrorist. They supply, money, men
> > and weapons to Islamic terrorist around the world, quite
> > often trough their diplomatic mail. Billions of petro-
> > dollars that are pouring into Iran are being funneled into
> > terrorist organizations world-wide. They believe, and
> > perhaps rightly so, that the West will do nothing to stop
> > them in achieving their goals. Is history repeating itself?
> > Are the Iranians making the same mistake that Hitler made
> > when he attacked Poland ? Is the situation similar?
> > As a history teacher who studied the subject
> > thoroughly I can tell you that Western victory in World War
> > Two was not all certain. Hitler could have won the war if he
> > would have gone ahead with the atomic bomb development
> > before the Americans. The Germans began working on it in the
> > thirties, and it was Hitler's decision to prefer building
> > more conventional arms, as he considered atomic weapons
> > sheer fantasy.
> > Hitler made the wrong decision, but had he made the
> > right decision the world would have been a different type of
> > world today, wouldn't it? The West won the war against
> > Hitler by sheer chance. Very few people seem to realize
> > that."
> > I must say that his last words shook me up quite a
> > bit. Had Hitler made a different decision, I would have died
> > in Dachau , there wouldn't have been a Jewish state called
> > Israel , and most likely there wouldn't have been any Jews
> > left in the world. The idea that the Western democracies in
> > general and the fate of the Jewish people in particular
> > could have hinged on Hitler's one decision, is a scenario of
> > the worst night mare.
> > He notices that his last words had an effect on me
> > and he smiled. " I see that my words are not wasted on you,"
> > He said dryly. I nodded and he continued with his lecture.
> >
> > "Coming back to our time, the Iranians rely on the
> > West doing nothing about their development of nuclear bombs.
> > They also rely on their secret weapon: An inexhaustible
> > supply of Islamic 'Suicide Bombers', some of them who are
> > already planted all over the Western World. Besides the
> > Islamic countries that supply these suicide bombers, a
> > second front has been opened, and that is the internet with
> > more than five thousand Islamic web sites, brain washing and
> > urging young Moslems to become martyrs for Allah. They
> > especially target young Moslems who live in Europe and the
> > West in general. The Western intelligence authorities
> > consider these web sites a bigger threat than the Iranian
> > atomic bomb. El Kaida recently issued a television broadcast
> > that promised a devastating attack against its enemies this
> > spring. As we all know, El Kaida doesn't make empty threats.
> >
> > "Actually, I don't understand why the Iranians
> > bother to develop atom bombs and bring the whole world down
> > on them. Every suicide bomber is a potential atom bomb, or a
> > biological, chemical or dirty bomb that can be no less
> > devastating than an atom bomb. The Americans and Europeans
> > have no defense against this type of war."
> > "What can we do against this type warfare?" I asked
> > him. "Well, you Israelis, should better prepare yourself for
> > another round against Hezbolla. It will be not long in
> > coming . It depends on the Iranians to give the word. This
> > time you will have to destroy Hezbolla no matter what the
> > cost may be.
> > "Of course, your next round against Hezbolla may
> > involve the Syrians and the Iranians against you. The
> > Iranians declared that they will not allow Hezbolla to be
> > defeated no matter what and may launch their missiles
> > against you. So will the Syrians. What will Israel do? It is
> > unlikely that Israel will accept its destruction and may use
> > their nuclear arsenal if the West will not come to their
> > help. Perhaps our Book of Revelations is not so wrong in
> > describing that the end of the world would start at
> > Armageddon, which we know as Har-Megiddo in Israel . The
> > Book of Revelations describes the last battle would be
> > fought at Armageddon between the 'Forces of good and the
> > forces of evil.'"
> > "And who would you call the forces of good ' Israel
> > or Islam?'"I asked, looking him straight in the eyes.
> > He gave me a startled look. "If I were a Moslem, I
> > would have no problem to name the forces of good and it
> > wouldn't be Israel . As a Christian, I would probably name
> > Israel , but as a Christian Arab I would prefer not to
> > answer."
> > We looked at each other. His answer made it clear
> > where the Israeli Arabs stood, whether they were Moslems or
> > Christians. And why should I be surprised? After all The
> > Israeli Arabs call the establishment of the State of Israel
> > their Nakbah. (Their disaster). (This goes along with what
> > I've said - - Arab Christians will always line up with the
> > Arabs, not the Jews)
> > "Is there a way to avoid the 'Armageddon'?"
> > "I think there are two ways to avoid it. One can be
> > a major war which the West can win . As in World War Two,
> > had the West attacked the Germans in 1936 the war would have
> > lasted not more than a month with very few casualties. Their
> > procrastination resulted in World War II with all its
> > consequences.
> > Eventually, the West will have to tackle the
> > Iranians , it is better that they do it now to avert a world
> > catastrophe later. With Iran defeated the Islamic onslaught
> > will lose its base, and it may be the turning point in
> > history to defeat the menace of extreme Islam. The majority
> > of the Moslems don't want this confrontation anyway."
> > "You are painting a rather dark picture. When do you
> > think we will have the next round against Hezzbola?" I
> > asked.
> > "I think they will attack again as soon as they are
> > fully re-equipped and I think it will be during the summer,
> > while Israel is still in a military and political turmoil."
> >
> > For a while we sat in silence. He finished his
> > second cup of coffee and got up. "I know what I am going to
> > do. I am going to Canada to join my brother. This country is
> > becoming much too dangerous for Christians as well." he
> > said. He thanked me for the coffee and we shook hands.
> > "You said there are two ways to avoid 'Armageddon,'"
> > I remembered to ask him.
> > "Sure, all the West has to do is follow Putin's
> > ways. He assassinates his enemies without blinking an eye.
> > Assassinate the four or five Mullahs who run the show,
> > Achmenijad, and a few more Iranian fanatics, and the War can
> > be avoided. It may be difficult to do, but not impossible.
> > With today's hi- tech technology I am sure that new weapons
> > against individuals are being prepared right now. I think it
> > would be a better way of handling the matter than an all out
> > war against Islam."
> > The conversation with Francis was not more
> > encouraging than the one I had with the Palestinian student
> > five years ago. It was becoming clear that Israel may be on
> > the forefront for the coming war of the West against Islam,
> > unless we follow Francis' suggestion to assassinate the
> > heads of the snake, rather than going to war with Islam.
> > Solly Ganor
> > Herzelia Pituach,
> > March 10, 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 6:07:00 PM  

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