What apartheid state?
By BRENDA KATTEN, JPOST
Students will be marking occasion with call for boycott, divestment, sanctions.
Today marks the beginning of the Sixth Annual Israel Apartheid Week taking place in more than 40 cities worldwide. Students will be marking this occasion with a strong call for the boycott, divestment and sanctions against the one Jewish state. The week is said to be from March 1 to 14. One can only imagine that the organizers’ definition of the “week” is as incorrect as their definition of “apartheid “when applied to the State of Israel.
My first visit to South Africa was in 1987, when I was invited by WIZO South Africa to address various groups throughout the country. I will never forget the horror I felt when in Durban seeing large notices saying “black only beach,” “white only beach.” This was just the beginning of coming face-to-face with a regime that separated every aspect of life for its citizens. Separate transport, separate health clinics, separate schooling – it went on and on.
Today, I live in Herzliya Pituah, close to the marina. We often wander down to there to enjoy the wonderful view of boats as well as to enjoy all the facilities of a seaside resort. There is never an occasion when we do not see a cross section of what makes up Israel’s multifaceted population. Whether the haredi section of the community or the Muslim and Christian Arab sector – all are enjoying what this seashore city has to offer and doing so together. This is something of which we can be exceedingly proud.
Last year my husband was admitted to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba. The doctor who admitted him was an Arab, the nurse who attended him was a Muslim and the guy who was cleaning the floors sported a kippa. My husband’s hospitalization took place in August. The gardens of the hospital were full of both Jewish and Arab patients and their families sitting together on the lawns. Is this “apartheid”?
Israel has given refuge to thousands of Africans – many of whom have made their way across the Egyptian border to find a home here. A number have escaped the horrors of Darfur to find both homes and jobs here – these were the lucky ones to have escaped being shot by the Egyptian border guards as they strove to find shelter in our little country.
SADLY, OUR Jewish students on campus throughout the world will be facing a two-pronged attack in these coming weeks, for it is not only the Palestinian students who will be leading the campaign but also some of Israel’s own academics and politicians. In London, for example, as this newspaper has already reported, Adi Ophir, an associate professor at Tel Aviv University, will be opening “Israel Apartheid Week” at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the London School of Economics and University College London. At Oxford University, Israeli-born academics Ilan Pappe and Avi Shlaim together with Knesset member Jamal Zahalka, chairman of the Balad party, will be addressing students on “Israel’s apartheid regime.”
If ever there was a contradiction in terms this has to be it – the freedom accorded current salaried members of an Israeli university together with a member of Israel’s parliament having the freedom to travel abroad in order to ask that the world boycott, divest and take out sanctions against the country that has both educated them and continues to provide many of them with a livelihood.
Having come from the UK and as a former chair of the Hillel Foundation working closely with the Union of Jewish Students, I am particularly familiar with the challenges confronting our Jewish students on campus.
What is especially disturbing is the increasing number of Jewish students who are taking on board the overwhelming anti-Israel rhetoric with which they are being confronted. They simply do not have the tools or the knowledge to cope with this situation. When the chair of the Israel Society at Cambridge University sees fit to cancel a visit of Israeli historian Benny Morris for fear of upsetting the Islamic Society, the time has come to recognize the seriousness of the challenge.
It is the students at universities today that will provide the leadership of tomorrow in their respective countries. Surely it is beholden upon Jewish communities worldwide together with the State of Israel to accord priority to ensuring the younger generation is given the facts rather than the fiction to which they are being subjected on a daily basis. Better still, let us bring many more here so that they can see for themselves the reality that is Israel.
The writer is co-chair of Europeans for Israel Public Relations and chairs World WIZO.
How to inflame the conflict
By DANIEL DORON, JPOST
By not helping Palestinian Arabs see that much of their misery is because of the PA, liberal Israeli Jews are only adding fuel to the fire.
There is merit to the claim that certain Israeli public figures, and not only most of their Arab counterparts, are inflaming the conflict between the two nations.
True, Israeli bureaucracies, together with our monopolies, that generally exploit Israeli consumers do not spare our Arab citizens, to put it mildly. Making everyone’s effort to make a living a misery, they exacerbate the conflict.
But economic oppression of both Jews and Arabs is not the only obstacle to peace. Well-intentioned Israelis (or so they claim) actually harm their Arab partners by diverting most of their energies to sterile ideological protests that inflame the conflict between the two nations, instead of encouraging and helping them to engage in constructive activities and do the many practical things that are possible even under the admittedly difficult circumstances of the conflict. Improving the Palestinian Arabs’ lives would be a far more effective way of helping them rehabilitate their economy and society that were despoiled and destroyed by Arafat and his ilk after Oslo, with the complicity of the Israeli peace camp.
The way the plight of the Palestinian Arabs is being exploited by “the sane” “peace camp” (similar to the political exploitation of the Israeli poor by the welfare lobby) was demonstrated in a recent conclave at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. This institute, very well-endowed by Dutch billionaires, specializes in ultra-“liberal” causes. Its scholars and activities are generally anti-capitalist and often espouse a return to socialism (recently an American guest professor averred that American corporations murder people in South America in order to extract their fat for use in cosmetic products!). Van Leer is not, however, liberal enough to permit in its seminars and conclaves more than token opposition to its prevailing dogma.
SO IT was not surprising that a panel “Economic Peace: Foundation or Distraction” organized by Hebrew University Business School professor Bernard Avishai included five prominent Arab businesspersons who represented only the “distraction” party. They devoted all their time to a litany of complains about “occupation” as the sole source of all evil, attacking Binyamin Netanyahu’s economic peace ideas as a dastardly plot.
Prof. Avishai, an eloquent advocate of granting statehood to the Palestinian Authority and a passionate liberal, does not seem bothered by the fact that under the Authority Palestinian Arabs lost even the minimal civil rights and rule of law that they enjoyed under Israeli occupation; or that they are brutally oppressed by a police state; or that unemployment skyrocketed while their standard of living plummeted, making them destitute and miserable. It seems that nationalism, which Avishai and his like detest when it is embraced by Jews, is a great blessing, even in its most jingoistic form, when it is foisted on the Palestinian Arabs by their rapacious and corrupt elites. It apparently also does not matter that they are subjected to totalitarian brainwashing that redirects their rage against Israel.
Thus one Arab woman on the panel blamed the occupation for creating miserable conditions for women under the PA. She was asked whether the reason the inferior status of women in all Arab states – which she admitted was deplorable – was also due to Israeli occupation, but thought it was a joke.
When someone asserted that while occupation was unfortunate, it did not come out of nowhere, as all the speakers insisted (“you just came, took over our land and oppress us”) but had resulted from an attack on Israel and an intent to destroy it; and that the closures and roadblocks (some counterproductive) were the result of Israel’s reluctance to take more stern and effective measures against terrorism (not mentioned once by any of the speakers), he was booed by the audience.
The same person asserted that while the occupation indeed imposes hardships, it is not true that it necessarily arrests economic development. The most extensive and brutal occupation in history, the Arab conquest of more than half the ancient world, which was exploited and ruled with an iron fist, resulted in five centuries of immense economic growth simply by imposing “a common market” and the rule of law.
Later, when Arab autocracies, the only form of rule known in Islam, strangled their own economies with brutal controls and taxes, it was colonial conquest and rule that (temporarily) reversed this decline. And finally, as much as those who blame everything on occupation will resent it, the fact is that Israeli occupation of the economically backward West Bank and Gaza stimulated exceptional growth. It not only quintupled the Arab standard of living but created many beneficial social changes, better health and education and especially a phenomenal rise in the status of women, children and the lowliest workers.
This created a storm of protest in the audience, and a few Women-in-Black types tried to remove the heretic from the hall by force. Neither chairman Avishai nor any of the panel members came to the defense of free speech.
Two Hebrew University professors, both partisans of Palestinian independence and involved with its economic affairs, tried lamely to ask the panelists why the Palestinians failed to take measures that would benefit their economy, like developing the rule of law and property rights, especially in real estate. “It’s the occupation” was the expected answer.
Expected because you cannot become a prominent businessperson (or even live in peace and poverty) under the Palestinian Authority by daring to criticize its corrupt system; indeed you probably must be part of it and always blame Israel for everything, including global warming probably. Like terrorism, the word corruption, arguably a chief cause of economic retardation in the PA, was also not mentioned.
So the Palestinian Arabs will continue living miserably in the morass of their perverse nationalism, and their liberal Jewish friends will facilitate their being held in bondage by blaming all their troubles on Israel.
The writer is director of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress (ICSEP).
Bash Israel (and your brain)
By AMNON RUBENSTEIN, JPOST
In recent years, prestigious university presses have waived all academic criteria in order to publish any book - no matter what its academic merits are - which knocks Israel.
The latest product in the flourishing bash-Israel literature is Iranophobia. The book debunks Israeli and Western anxieties about the Iranian dangers. The author, Prof. Haggai Ram of Ben-Gurion University, argues that Israeli anti-Iran phobias are largely projections of perceived domestic threats to the prevailing Israeli ethnocratic order. In plain language, he holds that Israel has to demonize Iran so as to identify the Islamic Republic with its suppressed minorities in Israel: the Mizrahi and the haredi communities. Iran, on this theory, is the hated "role model" with which these suppressed minorities can be associated: "the production of Iran as a radical external other in Israeli imagination is to be understood in relation to the emergence of ("Iran-like") ethnic and religious internal others that violated the Jewish state's self-image as 'the West.'"
And these internal others are, of course the haredi and the Mizrahi communities.
As is common in bash-Israel literature, the author adduces no real evidence for these allegations. He relies heavily - surprise, surprise! - on Yossi Sarid and other spokesmen of the Zionist Left who attack the settlers in the occupied territories by comparing them to the Khomeini phenomenon. He also relies on attacks against Shas as supporting his claim that Israel invented Iranophobia in order to respond to its "contamination" by the "haredi-Mizrahi values of Shas."
The launching of this book was accompanied by a longish interview with the author on a CBS coast-to-coast newscast, in which he pooh-poohed the Iranian danger and stated that the real danger in the Middle East stems from the "neighborhood bully." And guess who that bully is.
But the most significant aspect of this book is the fact that it is published by Stanford University Press.
INDEED, IN recent years, prestigious university presses have waived all academic criteria in order to publish any book - no matter what its academic merits are - which bashes Israel. A good example is Princeton University Press which published Jacqueline Rose's book The Question of Zion, (which is invoked in Ram's Iranophobia as supporting the claim that Zionism and Khomeinism are birds of a feather).
Rose, a psychoanalyst who teaches English at Queen Mary, University of London, is famous for her anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli campaigns. She wrote lovingly about the "unbearable intimacy shared in their final moments by the suicide bomber and his or her victims" and claimed that suicide bombing "might be the closest Israelis and Palestinians can get."
Her book is full of allegations against Zionism, comparing it to mental illness. Her evidence is typical: its founders were mentally sick. She describes Herzl as "manic," but he is not alone: she quotes Weizmann's doctor, who described his patient as suffering from neurasthenia, overfatigue, overexcitement and weakness of the respiratory organs (I suppress a cough while writing this).
But all these jabberings pale besides her proof that Zionism and Nazism are similar. She says that not only Herzl but also Hitler attended the 1895 performance of Wagner's Tannhauser in Paris (about which Herzl writes in his diaries). Prof. Rose tells a story, according to which both personalities "were present on the same evening that inspired Herzl to write Der Judenstaat, and Hitler Mein Kampf."
The learned academic, as well as the Princeton editors, did not realize that on the date of that performance Hitler was six years old and to assume that his parents traveled from their poor Austrian village with the infant Adolf to hear a French version of a German opera is a bit too much even by the sub-zero standards of bash-Israel propaganda.
She, as well as the distinguished editors from Princeton, overlooked another fact. Tannhauser is neither Germanic nor chauvinistic; it is a beautiful opera about universal love, and was played at the opening of the Second Zionist Congress.
Somebody must have divulged these two "inaccuracies" in this story about the infant Adolf at the opera in Paris and that part was omitted from the third edition of the book.
Here, too, the significant part is not the concoction of imaginary facts and accusations by the author but the fact that Princeton published it. Indeed, when it comes to Israel-bashing, anything goes.
But after all is said and done, the gods are just; anybody who reads these and similar books must come to the conclusion that bashing Israel does something bad to the author's intellectual powers - if not to his "respiratory organs." They bash Israel with a bashed brain.
The writer is a professor of law at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, a former minister of education and Knesset member, as well as the recipient of the 2006 Israel Prize in Law. www.amnonrubinstein.org.
A Nation Of Self-Flagellators
Jason Maoz, Senior Editor, Jewish Press
Posted Feb 17 2010
Avi Shlaim, one of the Israeli "New Historians" who in the 1980s and '90s helped popularize the precepts of what came to be called "post-Zionism," is out with a new book, a collection of essays titled Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations.
More interesting than the book itself was the evisceration of its contents by Benny Morris in a lengthy review in The New Republic (read it at www.tnr.com/articles/books-and-arts/derisionist-history). Morris, one of the original New Historians, has in recent years moved somewhat to the right and is now a critic of the views and methodology favored by his former ideological compadres.
Reading Morris's review and then skimming Shlaim's book served to remind the Monitor of the incalculable damage done to Israel by a relatively small group of academics whose take on Middle East history is catnip for Israel-bashers and anti-Semites of all stripes.
Think about it: Why should the average person with no dog in the fight and no predisposition to favor one side over the other not view Israel in a negative light when Israeli post-Zionists have embraced nearly every slander voiced for decades by Israel's worst enemies?
Consider, for example, the canard that the Jews - as a matter of predetermined, officially sanctioned policy - kicked Palestine's indigenous Arab residents out of the country. The charge was long characterized by mainstream Israeli historians as at best a serious distortion of events that inevitably transpire in a furious fight for survival, but the New Historians have popularized the notion that the Palestinians were expelled en masse by a combination of clever subterfuge and brute force.
Or take the claim by post-Zionists that the Jews who fought for Israeli independence, far from having been the rag-tag, poorly supplied bunch portrayed in conventional histories of the conflict, constituted in reality a finely-honed military corps that actually outnumbered and outgunned Arab forces in many early confrontations.
Never mind that for years Israelis across the political spectrum loudly denounced such a proposition, when voiced by Arab propagandists, as a preposterous lie. At some point in the late 1980s it became the trendy view among Tel Aviv's intellectuals, and those who presume to be, that Israel's victory in 1948 was nothing more than the logical result of a balance of forces that from the beginning tilted in Israel's favor.
To a certain type of Jewish mind, Israel, even in retrospect, can do no right. It only follows, then, that a cash-starved, resource-poor militarily thin new nation has come to be portrayed by revisionist historians as something resembling a colonialist behemoth - one that trampled centuries-old pastoral Arab villages into dust and uprooted untold numbers of gentle Palestinian philosopher-farmers who wanted nothing more than to be left alone to smoke their water pipes and contemplate their sheep in peace and tranquility.
And then there's the notion that it was the mean old Labor governments of David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett that during the first decade of Israel's existence spurned repeated pleas for love and friendship from the peace-craving dictator across the Sinai and the sainted Hashemite mini-monarch next door.
In the revisionist's funhouse-mirror perception of history, Israeli leaders from the state's earliest days were intent on pursuing a might-makes-right policy that would earn Israel its deserved and enduring reputation as a regional bully.
(The charge looks especially ludicrous when viewed against the harsh realities of the time, which included waves of immigrants whose destitute condition taxed the infant nation's sparse resources and an American arms embargo that forced Israeli representatives to scrounge the world for scraps of mostly outdated military hardware.)
It wasn't all that long ago that any Israeli outside the confines of an insane asylum or the hard left (but we repeat ourselves) would have given such an aberrant rewriting of history the scorn it deserved. Not anymore. The post-Zionist mindset, championed by much of the Israeli media, spread rapidly in the 1990s from the highbrow to the hoi polloi, and it still reigns supreme in the country's newsrooms and on its campuses.
It is no coincidence that the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords, and their continued championing by Israeli officials through waves of suicide bombings and years of Yasir Arafat's increasingly transparent duplicity, occurred at the very time post-Zionism was taking such a hold on the Israeli imagination. A country weary of endless conflict, and desiring more than anything else to be accepted if not loved by its neighbors, was ripe for the self-flagellation peddled by the New Historians.
Academic acolytes of post-Zionism can talk all they want about how a confident, mature nation deals openly with the alleged dark elements of its past, but the truth is that in their eagerness to demonize their country they represent the very apotheosis of confidence and maturity.
Indeed, they resemble nothing so much as the Galus Yid so fiercely scorned by Israelis of an earlier vintage. It is the Galus Yid, after all, who according to classic Zionist ideology is forever condemned to an existence of supplication and self-denigration, slavishly agreeing with and appeasing his enemies, even to the point of internalizing all the worst stereotypes and epithets they hurl his way.
Given the ease with which post-Zionism infected Israel's body politic, one is forced to conclude that the era of muscular and unapologetic Zionism was but a brief interregnum in the long history of Jewish weakness and insecurity - and it becomes easier to comprehend how the majority consensus in Israel shifted rather quickly from flat denial of the historicity of a "Palestinian Arab" nation (a notion Arab leaders themselves vigorously opposed in the years leading up to and immediately following the creation of Israel) to mute acceptance as indisputable truth all claims of Palestinian nationhood.
And yet that particular shift in Israeli public opinion, swift though it was, rates as positively sluggish when compared with the breakneck pace of Israel's resuscitation of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which in 1991 appeared ready to breath its last.
Vilified in the West for its enthusiastic support of Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War; strapped for cash thanks to the demise of one sugar daddy (the Soviet Union) and the disgust of another (Saudi Arabia); and increasingly viewed by rank and file Palestinians as hopelessly venal and self-serving, the PLO was on the brink of long-deserved oblivion.
Hardly had the hearse backed up to the grave, however, when the funeral was abruptly canceled - unbelievably enough by Israel itself, which almost single-handedly brought Yasir Arafat back to political and diplomatic life, buffed his image, and convinced the international community to open its coffers and replenish his bank accounts.
By 1993 the transformation was complete. In a matter of months Arafat had gone from being scorned as the planet's most infamous terrorist to being feted as a Nobel-caliber statesman, all under the auspices of an Israeli government that, in a display craven enough to make even the most hopeless Galus Yid proud, pleaded on bended knee for no one to take seriously Arafat's continued penchant for anti-Semitic rhetoric and graphic calls for Israel's destruction.
And so it came to pass that even when Arafat was videotaped issuing fiery calls in Arabic for jihad and the shedding of Jewish blood, Shimon Peres stood in the Knesset and told the world the tapes must somehow have been doctored by the enemies of peace.
There really is no parallel to the phenomenon witnessed by the world in those years: A small country, surrounded by enemies who given the chance would tear it to pieces like a pack of ravenous wolves, rehabilitating as its "peace partners" the most ruthless killers of its women and children while flagellating itself for every lie ever told by those who pined for its destruction.
Against the backdrop of such boundless naiveté and relentless self-criticism did the New Jew of Zionist ideology metamorphose into the Galus Yid of Zionist mythology. The wide-eyed wonder of young Israeli soldiers at the Western Wall in 1967, captured for eternity in David Rubinger's iconic photograph, suddenly seemed hopelessly passé, as did the emotional reference in Hatikvah to "a free nation in our land."
It took forty-plus years of statehood, but the old Zionist spirit of moral certainty and national pride had, by the mid-1990s, given way to a new ethos, one of cringing embarrassment and deepening doubt.
And while post-Zionists and Israeli leftists in general were mortified by Arafat's rejection of the sweeping concessions offered by Ehud Barak at Camp David and Taba, and even more so by Arafat's launching of a second intifada, the harping on Israeli culpability, instigation and oppression have continued to this day, nowhere more shrilly and adamantly than in the opinion-shaping precincts of Israeli media and academia.