“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!