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Mary L. Wentworth: Make Israel pay with loss of U.S. foreign aid

To the editor:

The first step in negotiating a solution to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is to find a new mediator. For at least three decades, the United States has assumed this obligation. But no solution to this crisis can be found when the mediator is biased in favor of one of the parties.

We just heard yet another U.S. president announce that “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Congress passed the same declaration in near unanimity. Nothing was said about the Palestinians’ rights as an occupied territory. It is past time to assign this task to an unbiased mediator.

The main issue is justice. Israel will not agree to a just resolution because it would then have to abandon its long-term objective of driving the Palestinians from Gaza so that this strip of land can become part of Israel.

The Israeli state has made this objective abundantly clear in the words that have accompanied the present onslaught. The Palestinians appropriately will not accept a treaty that gives them nothing less than the justice for which they have suffered over decades and for which so many have died.

South Africans offered an action which other nationalities might emulate — they sent their Israeli ambassador home. The BDS movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel needs to spread. Pressure must be put on our Congress to stop sending billions to Israel in foreign aid.

Mary L. Wentworth

Amherst

Comments
Legacy Comments10

This post feels to me as if filled with hatred of Jews. Not because of a difference of opinion, but because of the use of lies and misrepresentations to make a point. "Israel will not agree to a just resolution because it would then have to abandon its long-term objective of driving the Palestinians from Gaza so that this strip of land can become part of Israel." Which Israelis have you been speaking to? You are falling prey to the anti-semitic media. "The Palestinians appropriately will not accept a treaty that gives them nothing less than the justice for which they have suffered over decades" Hunh? Which Palestinians have you been talking to? You are regurgitating Hamas propaganda. I think the vast majority of Palestinians would take one of the many peace plans that their leaders have rejected. Hamas is not the Palestinians. Have you read Al Jazeera lately? When even the Arab media puts the blame on Hamas, I can only see one reason behind the writing of a letter such as this.

Theodor Herzl wrote in 1895, “We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country… expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly" Joseph Weitz was the director of the Jewish National Fund’s Lands Department. He wrote in 1940, “There is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries, and to transfer all of them, save perhaps for (the Arabs of) Bethlehem, Nazareth and Old Jerusalem. Not one village must be left, not one (Bedouin) tribe. And only after this transfer will the country be able to absorb millions of our brothers and the Jewish problem will cease to exist. There is no other solution.” Plan Dalet, or Plan D, (Hebrew: תוכנית ד'‎, Tokhnit dalet) was a plan worked out by the Haganah in Mandatory Palestine in March 1948. It reads in part, "Mounting operations against enemy population centers located inside or near our defensive system in order to prevent them from being used as bases by an active armed force. These operations can be divided into the following categories: Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris), especially those population centers which are difficult to control continuously. Mounting search and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the village and conducting a search inside it. In the event of resistance, the armed force must be destroyed and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state. The villages which are emptied in the manner described above must be included in the fixed defensive system and must be fortified as necessary". Moshe Dyan said in 1969, "We came here to a country that was populated by Arabs and we are building here a Hebrew, a Jewish state; instead of the Arab villages, Jewish villages were established. You even do not know the names of those villages, and I do not blame you because these villages no longer exist. There is not a single Jewish settlement that was not established in the place of a former Arab Village." ­ Scholarly books have footnotes. They tell you where they are getting their information. Fox news does not. AIPAC talking points do not. People do not criticize Israel because they are anti-Semitic; people criticize Israel because of its 70 year record of continuous human rights abuses. You cannot defend the 47 year occupation of the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza. You cannot defend the administrative detentions, the home demolitions, the land confiscations, the settlement building, and the siege of Gaza. Israel has eroded the enormous sympathy that the world had for the Jews in 1945. If you are Israel's friend, you will help them change course.

I've been thinking of how to respond to Ms. Wentworth's letter, one which (like Vijay Prashad's recent column) repeats the canard of Israel's desire for regional domination, a canard with pre-echoes in decades, if not centuries, of anti-Semitic literature. One notorious example, of course, is the "Protocols of the Elders Zion," a disgusting forgery quoted as if fact in the charter of Hamas. Ms. Wentworth also supports the BDS movement, one which goes beyond justifiable criticism of Israel to a single-minded, continual, narrow and harsh condemnation of only the Jewish nation of all nations, and thus should be regarded as anti-Semitic. And, she demands that the US drop support of the only democratic, pluralistic, non-misogynist nation of the region, not to mention the only one surrounded by hostile forces bent on its destruction. In the end, however, someone far better than I has formulated a braver, more forthright response, one which contains more moral righteousness in a single syllable than Ms. Wentworth does in her entire letter. Please read this recent interview with Israeli novelist and longtime peacenik Amos Oz: http://bit.ly/1leV96o. Then imagine, if Ms. Wentworth and Mr. Oz were to debate the matter, whose side you would be on, and whose true colors would be revealed.

P.S. Ah yes, South Africa, homeland of Richard Goldstone, lead author and then lead critic of the foul 2009 UNHRC report on Israel and Gaza. Then again, considering the reams and reams of UN papers condemning Israel, far more than any other nation, it's easy to overlook any one example.

John Montanari, I would never comment on classical music. I would especially never contradict someone who has made a lifelong study of classical music. You, on the other hand, should stick to classical music. When I was 19, in 1967, I was as much an Israeli sympathizer as you are now. I cried when the 1967 war broke out. But then I read about it. This is what you should do. Read books by scholars not jingoists, if you can tell the difference. Read the writings and speeches of Theodor Herzl, David Ben Gurion, Ariel Sharon, and Benjamin Netanyahu. They are quite open about their intention to expel or exterminate the Palestinians. Sorry to burst your bubble. Read books by Benny Morris, Ilan Pappé, Avi Shlaim and Noam Chomsky, and Norman Finkelstein. It will be a difficult experience finding out that your closely held beliefs are based on faith, myths and a constant drumbeat of propaganda. But it will be liberating. Who can continue to claim victimization for a nation that has been occupying its neighbors for the past 47 years. What if there really is a God and you go to hell for continuing to support the bombing of a defenseless, occupied people? What if you continue to experience conflict for continuing to repeat things that no thinking adult could believe?

I should "stick to classical music?" Like Noam Chomsky should "stick to linguistics," I suppose. What an odd thing to say. But as a citizen of the world, I have interests beyond music (and beyond Middle Eastern politics, for that matter), and plan to express my opinions on them. As you should on classical music, despite any supposed disparity in knowledge. On the other hand, you seem to done considerable study of the most dark, negative, anti-Israel, anti-America, misanthropic authors to address the ongoing crisis. Whatever humanitarian solution emerges, as I hope it does, it will not emerge from their ugly vision.

The anti-Jewish hatred of many people over this issue astounds me. In my Catholic Church this morning they prayed for the "resolution of the conflict between Israel and Hamas." Why don't we pray for resolution of the conflict between the Mexican drug lords and the residents of Arizona... or the Mafia and Italy... or the Muslim Brotherhood and the Christians in Egypt? As with Hamas, the Mexican drug lords, Mafia and the Muslim Brotherhood are all terrorists. But to people who hate Jews like the priest that runs my Church or this opinion writer, Hamas is a group looking for "justice for what they have suffered for decades."

Israel is not sitting on "occupied territory. Israel is Israel. Why is Israel not having the same issues with the West Bank?

Israel is responsible for controlling the people of Gaza who do not have freedom of movement and cannot have a working economy since Israel decides what can be imported or exported. Gaza is not a state with a government that makes decisions in the interests of its people. It is not allowed an army or air force. Israel controls life inside what is basically an open-air prison. An occupier, which is what Israel is according to international law, has the responsibility to provide a decent life for the people in the occupied territory. The peole in the West Bank have other problems. Israel routinely bulldozes the homes of people in the West Bank so that Israeli settlers can build homes on those plots of land. The people in the West Bank have to go through check points in order to go to school, to work or to buy groceries,etc., etc.

The West Bank has plenty of problems from Israel. The Palestinians who live there are not free - they, too, live under occupation and apartheid. Their children are brutalized daily from IDF and the settlers. See stories on Breaking the Silence (IDF soldiers) and Jews for Peace for the real story.

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