Friday, June 21, 2013

I Believe In Human Rights, In Peace and In Equality

Social media brings you into contact with all sorts of people. My own Zionism, my Israeli and Jewish heritage, and my passion for defending Israel has put me in contact with many Israelis and Zionists around the globe and it's been a wonderful experience. I'm using Hebrew more, gaining language skills I thought I'd never gain until I made aliya, and meeting some fantastic people in the process. (My Hebrew is still awful, just not as awful.) I have plans to turn some online friendships into real life ones as part of a group trip to Israel in 2014 if everything works out as I hope. For the most part, it's all good.

Over the years, as the peace process has failed and it became increasingly obvious to me that the current Palestinian leadership has no interest in peace at all my politics have drifted to the right somewhat when it comes to Israel. One thing interacting on Facebook has taught me is that I may now be more of a centrist than a leftist, but I still can't support the Israeli right or right wing Jews who are often, as Alan Dershowitz put it in his book "The Case For Peace," more Israeli than the Israelis.

Those who hate Israel and the Jewish people try to portray us as racist monsters who hate the Arabs. In my experience there are such people, but they are a truly tiny minority of Jewish and Israeli voices. Most Jews, Zionists, Israelis I know are tolerant people who simply want the right to live in peace in our homeland.

This is my response to a right-wing person who identified as a Sephardic Jew who, as it happens, isn't Israeli. Her views include the idea that Arabs don't belong in Israel or the territories and that Palestinians "don't exist" as a people. I've edited several of my posts from a discussion together, removed names, and reordered it a bit to make a coherent whole.

Call them Arabs instead of Palestinians and they do belong. 80% of the Arab population in 1948 was first generation. They arrived in the first half of the last century. Some of the other 20% had been in what is now Israel (including Judea and Samaria) for centuries. You are correct that they didn't have a national identity and saw themselves as Syrian, but Israel was part of Southern Syria under the Ottoman Empire. Those people have every bit as much right to their homes, which they've now lived in for generations, as we do.

Second, human rights apply to all human beings, even despicable ones. I don't have to respect terrorists. I do have to respect the rights of all people, even those I don't like. Israel is a democracy and a state for all it's people. Last I checked Arabs have equal rights under Israeli law. If you annex all of Judea and Samaria those rights will apply to the Palestinian Arabs there, who will suddenly be a huge voting bloc. For me the prime consideration is Israel's security but that has to be balanced against maintaining Israel as a Jewish democracy which respects the rights of all of its citizens.

I have a cousin who is Dati and lives in Samaria. [The last time I visited him] he lamented for his Palestinian friends who he no longer sees. Some were murdered during the first Intifada for being too friendly with Israelis. Those who still live are, in his words, "people just like us. All they want is to live in peace." If a Palestinian expresses that desire in the PA controlled territories their life may be forfeit. Please remember that.

You've denied that the Arabs have any rights in Israel including Judea and Samaria. You've denied that they belong in Israel at all. You've denied that the Palestinians exist as a people. Yes, their national identity was created as a weapon against Israel, but now two generations of people have grown up with that identity and it is real to them.

You disagreed with me when I said all people, even Arabs, have human rights. That really does qualify as hate speech. You generalized about every Arab on the planet in a way that really can be construed as hate speech. Yes, the anti-Semitism in the Arab world is horrendous. However, the only way we will ever change any of that is if we are open to talk to the ones who don't hate. You know there are a growing number of Arab and Muslim voices supporting Israel. Yes, I know they are a small minority, but it's a start and an important one.

Palestinian mythology attempts to delegitimize Israel. Posting things that delegitimize Arabs and championing denying them the same rights we demand for ourselves isn't helpful at all to our cause. It also doesn't represent majority opinion among Jews or Israelis.

Regarding ceding territory, you know, considering the historical and religious importance of Judea and Samaria I would love to see them annexed to Israel. How do we do that while preserving the Jewish nature of the State of Israel, preserving democracy, and preserving basic Jewish and Israeli values which include human rights and equality for everyone in Israel? My friends on the right have never been able to answer that question. Until they can I have to support some sort of divorce from the Palestinians even if it comes without a peace treaty.

Shabbat Shalom from east Texas.


rotaryhand said...

You can only have what you can hold. This is true of Jews or Arabs.
“If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti - Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault ? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?”
David Ben-Gurion

Caitlyn Martin said...

Ben Gurion was wrong in this. The country was not stolen. The Arabs did agree that 22% of what the British called Palestine, meaning everything west of the Jordan River, should be Jewish. This was covered in the Feisal-Weizmann Agreement, the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, the San Remo Agreement, and Article 80 of the United Nations Charter. Further, both Jordan and Egypt have signed treaties with Israel.

Israel's right to exist has nothing to do with "what you can hold". Nothing was stolen; no country was taken. Similarly, human rights don't have anything to do with political boundaries.

Sorry, your attempt to deligitimize Israel plays into the hands of the far right and those who would deny basic human rights.

rotaryhand said...

I am extremely pro-Israel for two reasons. A German Jew doctor, with a tattooed number, saved my life, and I pull for the underdog.
Israel is the Alamo of the Middle East and lot of brave folks have fought with their backs to the sea.
They will hold their land against all comers.

Caitlyn Martin said...

I'm glad to read that. It's an odd quote for a supporter of Israel. That's one the BDS and Palliwood people try to use to deligitimize Israel despite all evidence to the contrary.

rotaryhand said...

I don't support my own country blindly.
Ben Gurion could have said the same thing about it. My Cherokee ancestors would agree with Ben Gurion if he had been speaking of the U.S..
As all beliefs must be observed from at least three sides, an open mind has a much better chance of capturing the truth.
Beyond all discussion, God did give Israel to his Chosen People. They had to take it and hold it.
"There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."
Will Rogers

Caitlyn Martin said...

...and we will control all of the promised land when Messiah comes, not before. It is not our place to take it now. It is certainly not our place to go on with endless wars to try and take or hold land currently inhabited by millions of hostile Arabs. That can only end very badly for Israel.