“Justice, justice shalt thou pursue” says the Torah (Deuteronomy 16:20). The Progressive-Left anti-Zionists certainly have that mitzvah pegged, in the sense that they use their idea of “justice” in order to pursue the delegitimization and ultimately the demise of the Jews’ national rights. On that note, I am reminded of one of the commentaries on that verse, cited by Rabbi Shmuel Avidor HaCohen, based around the fact that the word “justice” is repeated. As Orthodox Judaism holds the Torah (though not the rest of the Hebrew Bible) to have been verbally dictated by HaShem to Moses, every word is significant, so this repetition is viewed as carrying a lesson instead of being brushed away as a stylistic flourish. The commentary I speak of interprets “justice, justice” to mean “justice that is justice,” and Rabbi HaCohen elaborates: “Make sure that your justice is really justice, so that you will not end up perpetrating injustice through appeals to justice.” Poignant.
Justice is key. The view that the world is “pragmatic” and has no use for ideological arguments has been the bane of Zionism’s PR, ever since the decision to use the enemy narrative (no longer “Arabs” as I always heard it in Israeli news in childhood, but “Palestinians“) was made by the powers that be. Israel’s PR effort has thenceforth been based on showing the goodness, mercy, civility, advanced state and modern achievements of “the Western enclave in the Arab Middle East,” all while the PR onslaught of our enemies has thrust into international consciousness the idea that “a Western enclave” has no business being in the Middle East, and that this “Western enclave” like all others is tainted by the Original Sin™ of dispossessing “the indigenous Palestinians”—a taint that in our PC (politically correct or post-colonial, whichever you choose) world nullifies absolutely any goodness of ours we display to the outside jury.
The anti-Western writer Howard Zinn used to say that there is no such thing as a bare, uninterpreted fact. He was rightly castigated by other, true historians for his denial of objective reality. And yet, behind every Big Lie is a grain of truth to sustain it, and those who think that “Show me the facts. Just the facts” is the foolproof method to gain converts to their way of thinking are rudely awakened when they behold the spectacle of people seeing the same world as they see but interpreting it differently. The bipartite division between fact and opinion is surely lacking; my explanatory solution is not to throw out the rubric of fact as Zinn did, but to augment it with a third division: There is fact, opinion and view. Opinion that is not based on a view can be easily changed by showing someone facts to the contrary; but opinion that is based on a view will not be changed by other facts, for those facts will merely be reinterpreted according to the view. That is exactly what we see when examining the fruitless arguments between the two sides of the Jewish–Arab Conflict.
Here’s an example: We are nearing the Jewish festival of Shavuot, where it is the sweet and beautiful custom of Jewish children to wear wreaths, reminders of the firstfruit offerings when the Temple stood. At the same time, the counterparts of those children in the ACJTs (Arab-Colonized Jewish Territories, the ones reacquired in 1967), as well as in many parts of the Islamic world, have school parades where they are dressed up with suicide-vest mock-ups and sing of “liberating Palestine” with every last drop of their blood. If we ask which of these displays is good and which is evil, we can expect to get a unanimous answer from all over the world, right?
There are people all over the world, many of them posting on public forums, who think the Jewish display is the evil one and the Arab display is good. I remember one troll on CiFWatch who responded to a Tu BiShvat post about planting trees with the request, “I would like to know where this planting is taking place, to know if it isn’t on stolen land.” There you have it: Wearing wreaths and planting trees can be evil because it’s on “stolen land”; a parade celebrating bloodlust and suicide-murder can be good because it’s about “resistance to a colonial oppressor.”
And so the inept, ignorant official spokesmen for Israel drone on about how Arabs in Israel have far more rights than in Arab state—which is true; about Israel’s scientific prowess and life-saving inventions—which is true; about Israel’s humanitarianism (to the point of criminal negligence, IMO) of supplying food, water and electricity to Gaza even during a state of open warfare—true again, to our shame; about freedom of the press in Israel not found anywhere else in the Middle East—for which the international media rewards us with incessant hostile coverage; about same-sex rights and other social liberties absent elsewhere in the region—cue the “-washing” suffix added to any example you could think of. While this march of cluelessness continues, the Arab imperialists score points worldwide by talking about their rights and their just and deserved struggle against their colonial oppressors. I have news for the believers in a world of realpolitik: The present Israeli way of PR is simply no match for the Arab one. We can win, but we must leave the failed strategy behind.
The PC way of PR employed by the Arab imperialists, with quite a lot of help borrowed from the rhetorical thesaurus of their Progressive-Left allies, has entrenched a view by which all facts are interpreted against Zionism. This view is a holding-cell that we must break out of if we are to make our case, because no meaningful defense of Jewish national rights is possible within it. Those are its tenets:
- The Jews have no rights to Palestine. If they ever had in the past, their “lease is expired” after a long hiatus.
- The Arab-speaking people in Palestine are the indigenous Palestinians, and they have an exclusive say as to who can reside in their land. (Strangely, when indigenous Europeans argue as much, Progressive-Leftists call it “racism.”)
- The culpability of Zionism goes all the way back to 1882, when they came uninvited in their first boats; it was fully determined in 1948, when the Zionist settlers ethnically cleansed Palestine of its indigenous, and compounded in 1967 by the conquest of yet more Palestinian lands.
- Evacuating all the Zionist settlers from the post-1967 territories is a start, but there will be no peace until the injustice of 1948 is undone, by implementing the right of the indigenous Palestinians to return to the homes they were expelled from back then.
- Even after the evacuation of the post-1967 territories, the implementation of the ROR and the elimination of all Jewish national particularities of the remaining state so as to apply a binational solution where everybody is equal, it is up to the Palestinians, as the indigenous people, to decide how to extract compensation for the Zionist settlers’ wrongs.
Under those parameters, it is perfectly clear why any show of Israel’s goodness made by our PR officials is doomed to be rejected as “colonialists’ arrogance.” Ehud Barak’s generous offer of 2000 is nothing but “doing our dues,” and only the beginning of it. Any Israeli government programs to help disadvantaged Bedouins, for example, is not taken to be what we view it to be, but as “white man’s burden,” a paternalistic effort on the part of European colonials to “civilize the savages.” Yes, we all have the same facts, but we must be under no delusion as to how those facts are interpreted when viewed through the glasses of the anti-Zionist narrative.
We must change the narrative. We must do this by co-opting their terms, by bringing the terminology back to reflect the truth of the justice of Zionism. We must make every effort to tell the world that we are not invaders, settlers, colonists, land-thieves or any kind of interlopers here, but in fact our Arab enemies are; that we Jews, and only we Jews, are the indigenous people of Palestine, by virtue of having a cultural, objectively real connection to the land that no other nation or nation-part has, and therefore we are the rightful possessors of this land. Consequently of that, we will then be poised to delegitimize anti-Zionism as land-theft, imperialism, colonialist oppression and rank injustice perpetrated against an indigenous people—us Jews, us indigenous of the Land of Israel a.k.a. Palestine.
The view, that which dictates the parameters of the debate, must be changed so as to make all interpretations favorable to us and against the other side. These new parameters must be the goal:
- Only the Jews have a right to Palestine. Since the Jews have never broken their inherent cultural, objectively real connection to Palestine, they retain their rights no matter how long the hiatus.
- The Arab-speaking people in Palestine are part of the Arab nation, which is already in possession of a huge mass of land well beyond its indigenous territory of the Arabian Peninsula. As such, they are in no position to claim dispossession. The only way the Jews would be dispossessing Arabs would be if they built settlements in the Arabian Peninsula. It is the Arabs who are settlers in Palestine.
- The culpability of Arab imperialism goes all the way back to 1891, when they first appealed to the Ottoman authorities to forbid Jewish return; it was fully determined in 1947–9, when both Arab colonists in Palestine and Arab imperialist armies attempted to destroy the fledgling Jewish state, and has been ongoing ever since with both physical and ideological warfare against the rightful Jewish national sovereignty in Palestine.
- The only prospect for a just and viable peace in the Middle East is one where the Arab nation recognizes the right of the Jewish people to unlimited sovereignty on and population of Palestine as the indigenous Palestinians.
- It is up to the Jews, as the indigenous Palestinians, to decide whether they allow another nation to reside in their midst.
In the present state of things, we Jews are begging for clemency, which the world has been conditioned to view as the right of the Arabs as “indigenous Palestinians” to give us as “colonialist invaders.” Our goal must be to rise up from this abject posture and stand tall in a reversed situation, a situation where we have the full and undisputed say on how things will be in the Land of Israel a.k.a. Palestine, our land, the only land that belongs to us and the land that belongs only to us, by virtue of being the only ones with a demonstrably real and not invented connection to it. Zionism is right, Zionism is just—enough apologizing, it is time to stand tall!
Zion, I've been out all day and am only now getting around to reading this. There is a lot here to chew on and discuss and I very much hope that this piece garners the attention that it deserves.ReplyDelete
In terms of my own comments, I want to start with this. You refer to Judea and Samaria as "Arab-Colonized Jewish Territories."
As you know, one of the things that I very much believe we must do is change the terms of discussion so that they better reflect historical reality. "Arab-Colonized Jewish Territories" is accurate from an historical point of view. This is unquestionably the case. The Jews were on that land for thousands of years before the Arab invasion of the 7th century.
In thinking on how best to discuss the local Arab non-citizens of Israel my preferred term has become "Arab residents of Israel" in order to distinguish them from Arab citizens of Israel.
I like that language because, unlike the anti-Zionist language used about the Jews of the Middle East, it does not unnecessarily demonize anyone.
They are, in fact, Arab residents of Israel.
Do you object to such terminology? Naturally, I am not suggesting that you adopt it, but I do wonder what, if any, your objections might be?
" 'Arab-Colonized Jewish Territories' is accurate from an historical point of view."
It's accurate, and it's also the exact Zionist response to the anti-Zionist "Occupied Palestinian Territories"—the term "ACJTs" is my defense by way of a good offense against "OPTs." That ties in to the question you ask me later on.
"The Jews were on that land for thousands of years before the Arab invasion of the 7th century."
Yes, but I try to avoid basing the Jewish claim on longevity, because it inevitably brings up the point about the Jewish hiatus and the "your lease is expired" argument. My argument is that we Jews are the indigenous of Palestine because of our unique cultural connection to this land, a connection no other nation (or part-nation, faux-nation...) is able to show. This argument means we Jews could never lose our rights to the Land of Israel as long as we exist.
"...in order to distinguish them from Arab citizens of Israel."
A distinction in whose significance I no longer believe. For the past 15 years or so, the Arabs wihin pre-1967 have gotten bold and forthright about being one with their brothers on the other side of the Green Line; in addition, as I have said before, should the Israeli government be so foolish as to abandon Judea and Samaria, it will be the pre-1967 Arabs who are at the forefront of the "struggle against Zionist apartheid."
To the big issue you raise:Delete
"...unlike the anti-Zionist language used about the Jews of the Middle East, it does not unnecessarily demonize anyone."
Here we may well differ in our outlook. My limits are set by Jewish Law, which among other things forbids the use of lies to further an agenda—an easy burden to bear because the truth is on our side. Apart from those limits, mine is a "no holds barred" approach, where every action of our enemies is to be countered with an equal and opposite reaction on our part. It is my conviction that, within the limits I mentioned, stooping to your enemy's level is the only way to win, therefore a duty; when charged at with tanks and guns, you do not respond by sending horsemen with lances.
Did you ever see the vicious anti-Zionist cartoons by the execrable Carlos Latuff? Seeing them you get the sense that the artist is doing his darned best to hammer home the equivalence between Zionism and Nazism. My first reaction was the same as any Zionist—any decent person, maybe—reacts to them, but my second reaction was something else: I wished there were a counterpart to Latuff on the Zionist side. If I could draw, I'd be it; I can't, writing is more my thing, so my writings are calculated to be no less caustic than the writings of the anti-Zionists. That's one reason why I read cesspools like Mound o' Scheiss: Not for my health, surely, but to see how to tune my responses.
I'm not big on universal principles. When BDS is castigated for being reminiscent of the 1930s boycotts of Jewish businesses, I agree on the substance of it but I don't want to argue the point. I want to avoid being hoist on my own petard—the situation where our rules are played against us. When I go shopping I often see foodstuffs produced by Barakeh, an Arab-owned company. I boycott them and tell everyone I know to do the same. Now, were I to appeal to universal principles against BDS, those accusations of BDS as neo-Nazism would then apply to me. Therefore, I do not make those appeals. My standard is the single standard of "what's good for the Jewish nation": BDS is evil because it's against us, and boycotting Barakeh is good because it's for us. No need to squirm in my seat that way.
So, in view of how the Jews of post-1967 Israel aren't described, anywhere, as "Jewish residents of the Palestinian territories," but as "settlers" at best and "land-thieving colonists" at worst, I'm not going to leave an imbalance by calling the post-1967 Arabs merely "Arab residents." They'll be "Arab settlers" or "Arab colonists" or anything on that vein, because I believe in being as nice as the other side. Respect due is respect given. Like most Israeli Jews I wish this conflict were not a zero-sum game, but reality is not always what we wish for, and he who acknowledges reality must respond adequately to it, otherwise he will have no chance.
Like you, I'm not asking anyone else to adopt my terminology and way of thinking. But, for myself, I can't have it any other way. Anything less and I feel I'm not putting a fight at all; might as well join the "Look how good and innocent Israel is" crowd then.
A big part of what we are doing here is negotiating the terms of the discussion and this one of the reasons that your material is important.Delete
I do not know of anyone else on-line that is doing this type of work. Do you?
The person who comes closest would be Richard Landes.
"A big part of what we are doing here is negotiating the terms of the discussion..."Delete
That's my hobbyhorse. :) I think it's objectively important, but I can't pretend it's not also my personal, subjective hobbyhorse. I'm grateful for your concurrence with me on that.
"I do not know of anyone else on-line that is doing this type of work. Do you?"
You're right... Frankly I'm quite surprised at this. I always thought a common-sense idea would be taken up by plenty of people.
"The person who comes closest would be Richard Landes."
I must confess, to my shame, that I haven't so far given Landes's writing the attention deserved; after his famed role in uncovering the al-Dura affair, I assumed he was in the investigative, fact-checking mold on the manner of CiFWatch. I need to read more of his stuff.
On another note, would you believe it's raining in my country right now? This is nearly as rare as snow: Tropical-like rain at the end of the spring, with the heat outside near 85 (or "around 30" as we C-users here say).
Though I don't have much to add right now, I figured I'd also concur that this is another excellent post, on a very important issue.ReplyDelete
Keep 'em coming!
I'll soon be somewhat scarce, at least for the early part of this (Northern hemisphere, in consideration of our Australian friends here) summer, due to a voluntary New Job Blogging Hiatus.
Within the next couple of weeks, I'll finally be starting another job which requires using most of my brain again (heh), particularly to obtain the professional license I'll need in order to make more than twice I've ever made in my life, by this time next year. Also, I'm back in my beloved environmental field, after more than half a decade. Life is good again. :)
Anyway, just a note that I'll always be reading, and I'll be back and better than ever by Labor Day!
Glad to have Zion and Trudy on the front page here...
Good for you, Jay!Delete
You mentioned something about good news and I couldn't be happier to hear it.
Drop in as you will, as always.
I value your input very much.
Thanks, Mike. As great as these past couple of weeks have been for me, there still is a slight downside, however - I've got to find a second apartment in New Jersey soon.Delete
Yuck. Haven't I served enough time in that state?! ;P
Heh, but nah. Spending time in Newark again will be nice, and there is much more going on there today, beer- and food-wise, than there was ten years ago. And I'll still be back home here in Philly every weekend, holiday and vacation week, so it's all good... ;)
Thanks, Jay! I'll keep at it if I can. Good luck on your new job.Delete
"another job which requires using most of my brain again (heh),"
Oh no! Those are the absolute worst. I can't imagine working full-time on a job like that. Just kidding, I'm a programmer. :-D
"Glad to have Zion and Trudy on the front page here..."
Thank you, and I appreciate all your comments, including those that are critical of my ideas. Because I'm a passionate writer for the cause, probably a bit too passionate at times, speed bumps that make me check my assumptions are exactly what I need when I'm on a roll.
And I hope I haven't let my peculiarities show here too much. I try as far as possible to keep the "non-partisan" deal mentioned in the blog header, and not to stray beyond the defense of Israel and Zionism into general political controversies, but you never know, sometimes you slip up, writing things out of habit...
No problem, man, and thanks right back at ya!Delete
This actually is big for me, since I'm getting the second chance I wasn't quite sure I'd ever get. Even just a couple months ago.
I spent the past seven years on mindless, low-wage, abusive temp agency grunt work, wandering the country from east to west to other part of west to that original part of west and then back home east again, and I will not mess it up this time.
Play my cards right, use all my smarts again, then I'm 20-and-out (Teamsters early retirement) at 54, owning two North Philadelphia rowhouses (one to live in, one for rental income), with a nice pension and a very pretty savings account.
Mind you, part of my job entails occasionally wading through sewage, but the benefits mentioned above make up for it. ;)
Don't worry about your peculiarities. We all have them. I've never taken offense at anything you've said here, and as probably the furthest politically (American-)left regular here, I guess that probably at least means something...
And whenever the opportunity presents itself, I'll try to throw up a speed bump if I can... ;)Delete
"...part of my job entails occasionally wading through sewage,..."Delete
You have to read DKos and Mondo as part of your job?
Folks, I'm closing shop for Shavuot, and what with Shabbat coming soon after, it's possible I won't make an appearance until next week. Enjoy the silence, as the title of that song by Tippesh Mode went. "That's Depeche Mode!" I know, but in Israel the mispronunciation as tippesh (Hebrew for "stupid") was, jokingly or not, common back in their heyday.
(Firefox spellcheck suggests changing "tippesh" to "hippest." Compensation for badmouthing?)
Happy Shavuot, Zion.Delete
I am not a very religious man, but I do have respect.
That you do, Mike. The respect you show is simply amazing. I'm especially touched by the fact that you see the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel as redemption.Delete
By the way, although religion seems to play an important part in this conflict, I hold that it's a nationalistic conflict even when it's on religious terms. That's to be expanded on in a post I plan to do on how [Orthodox] Judaism relates to Islam and what that relationship means for the conflict—a topic I consider important because most discussions of Islam today are based on how Christianity relates to Islam, while the Jewish point of view is significantly different.
HaShem willing, if I'm able sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Bye for now.
Have a happy holiday, Zion, and everybody else...Delete