Ã‚Â In his NY Times column on November 13, Thomas Friedman advocated the development of greater diplomatic relations between Saudi and Israel. He cited that, in light of the political and economic insecurity of the Saud family and, for fear of the recent resurgence of Anti-Semitism in Europe and the Arab world, these two nations are at an historical point in which there would be unprecedented advantage in their mutual cooperation and collaboration in developing a more peaceful atmosphere in the middle east and, particularly, in Israel/Palestine.
A confirmed dove, I am always in support of healthier relations between nations, but I think that Friedman presumes an artificial innocence on the part of Israel in his article. According to Friedman, a recent European Union poll has found that 59% of EU residents find Israel to be the greatest threat to peace in the global scene. He refers also to the general Muslim rage which fuels the intensifying anti-Semitic sentiment in the Arab world.
Reading this article cold, one is prompted to wonder why the poor
Israelis are the targets of so much hatred in the world. Even half a century after the holocaust, and the consequent realization of a Jewish state, anti-Semitism is finding its way into popular global culture again? How much hatred and blame will the Israelis have to face? Well, at least as much as they dish out, for starters.
Let’s be honest, here. Israel is not a saintly nation, by any means. I was in the West Bank for two months this summer, and I have witnessed firsthand what a violent and racially exclusive culture the state of Israel has developed. I have a number of Jewish and Israeli friends who fear for the soul of their faith and nation, in light of the
heavy-handed justice favored by Israel– a system of provocation, victimization and vindication which has opened up historical space for the suicide bombings in the battered and desperately flailing organism that is Palestine. I celebrate all faiths, all cultures, but I do not feel bad about calling an oppressor an oppressor. I do not fear the label of Anti-Semite in my criticisms of Israel.
Wait a minute, aren’t the Arabs actually Semites, too? Hey, that’s
right! Not that I’m religious, but wasn’t there a point in the Old Testament where Jacob (Israel) stole his fathers blessing from his brother, Esau, the son who was in line to receive it? Doesn’t the Old Testament celebrate the victor and devalue the other? What happened to the line of Esau? Don’t they deserve an equal claim to the land? It’s a small country, but even today there’s plenty of room for everyone — especially with 1.1 million Palestinian refugees crammed and fenced into the handful of square miles that is the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip is the most densely populated region on earth, and Israel is demolishing more and more Palestinian homes there daily.
Be honest with us, Mr. Friedman. Israel– the nation– is the target
of animosity– is the threat perceived by over half of the citizans polled in the EU — is the root of contention for so many Arab nationals, including Syrians, Lebanese, and Palestinians, among others. Not Judaism. Not the Jews. It is a political issue, not racial or spiritual. Quite the contrary– It is Israel, itself, which has a record racially-based and spiritually-justified violence and social exclusivity.
It is a well known fact that the Jews were welcome in Palestine before the creation of Israel. How are relations between the Israelis and the original caretakers of the land today? In the only Democracy, as it were, in the Middle East? The Palestinians have no rights, no citizenship, no security, no army, and no international support, as most everyone in the world has been afraid to make any criticisms of Israel, for fear of being labeled anti-Semite, and being grouped along with haters and madmen of history such as Adolf Hitler.
Modeled loosely after the injustices suffered by Native- and African-
Americans by the noble forefathers of these United States, it is the
Israeli government’s injustices against Palestinians (from 1948 on),
and related moral disregard and inhumane abuse of other Arab nations that has earned the nation its reputation of menace in such a considerable faction of the international scene.
Sam TsohonisOlympia, WA firstname.lastname@example.org