Correcting rightwing misinformation about Israel and Palestine

January 18, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

By J. Zel Lurie
DELRAY BEACH, Florida–I am not diplomatic when I  discuss Israel and Palestine with rightist American Jews who support the settlements. The facts that they pick up from rightist propaganda  are usually totally wrong. Nothing I say penetrates their one-track minds. They don’t believe my facts even though I present chapter and verse.
So it’s usually a complete waste of time and I try to avoid it.
However there is one rightist whom I can’t discourage from writing me long vituperative missives. I sometimes answer him curtly, not politely. But back comes  another long message.
He means well. He loves Israel but most of Israel’s history is terra incognita.  He says he supports a Palestine State, but he is confused because it would conflict with the settlements.
He solidified  his ideas about Israel and its enemies around 1975. Nothing will change them. He believes that my recounting the vicious attack by Jewish settlers on an Arab village was part of the Arab propaganda machine. Did the New York Times also join the Arab machine when it featured a similar attack a few days later. The Times article was accompanied by the usual denunciations of the settlers by Israel’s leaders but little action against them.
He doesn’t understand that the world has changed, that the real enemy is Iran and that Israel and the Palestine Authority are actually on the same side against Iran and Hamas
Despite the chasm that divides them on Jerusalem and the final borders, Israel and the Palestine Authority have joined the U.S.- led coalition of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Jordan, Palestine and Israel against Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah.
Egypt has taken the lead against Hamas by constructing an underground steel wall that will end the era of the tunnels which has kept the Gaza economy alive. It will die in a few months when the wall is finished.
Had I told my rightist  correspondent that the Palestinian President Mohammed Abbas has a brand new police force which has taken over the Palestinian streets from the gunmen and terrorists and that this force was trained by an American general and received its   supply of arms and jeeps from the Israel Army, he would have replied, “You’re funny!”
Let me quote one paragraph from a recent message from my rightist correspondent. Believe me I did not make up his confusion over his desire for peace nor his blaming historic events on the bent back of President Jimmy Carter, the man who is most responsible for peace between Egypt, the leading Arab country, and Israel.
Here is the paragraph:
“I hope there will be a Palestinian sate. I accept that concept wholeheartedly. However, I am also aware  that it was Jimmy Carter who named the Arabs “Palestinians” in 1967 and also renamed the West Bank from Judea and Samaria. These facts are basic to understand the attempt to disenfranchise the rights of the Jews.”
I don’t know what rightist brochure he has read which demonizes Jimmy Carter and reverses history. The West Bank was a section of Palestine until 1948 when it was conquered by the Jordanian Arab Legion and became the West Bank of Jordan. The name continued during the first years of the Israel occupation. I took a photo of an ambulance on the West Bank in 1975. It was inscribed in three languages, Hebrew, Arabic and English in the side. Hebrew was on top. It read “Hageda Hamaaravit” the West Bank.
The first Orthodox Jewish settlers, members of Gush Eminim, began to use the inaccurate phrase Judea and Samaria in 197 5. It is  inaccurate because much of Biblical Judea, from Gezer to Jerusalem, is part of Israel and not the West Bank. Later the government made it official. Jimmy Carter had nothing to do with it.
West Bank Arabs began calling themselves Palestinians soon after the Jordanian conquest. Yassir Arafat made it official with the founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the early 1960s. Jimmy Carter may have used the term but the first American president to use it officially was George W. Bush.
More important than his basic facts being totally wrong is that his last sentence on Jewish rights to the land contradicts his first sentence on his hope for a Palestine state. Where does he hope the Palestine state will rise?  In New Zealand, perhaps?,
The real basic fact is that two peoples both have rights to the land. The Peel Commision way back  in 1937 said the land should be divided between them.  Neither the British Mandatory Government, nor the World Zionist Organization, nor the Arab Higher committee accepted the judgment of the British Royal Commission, headed by Lord Peel.
Until 1947 when the United Nations ruled that the land should be divided fifty fifty with Jerusalem internationalized.  The Jews celebrated that after 2000 years there would be a Jewish state.

The Arabs attacked. The war ended with the Jews occupying 78 percent of the land leaving the Palestinians with 22 percent in the West Bank and Gaza. The borders were drawn in green on the armistice maps which gave rise to “the Green Line.”
The Jewish settlers invaded the Green Line, 300,000 strong. They have placed their settlements to try to make a contiguous viable Palestine state impossible.
That is the situation today.
 When this column appears I will be on a 7-day cruise with 20 other couples from my breakfast club which bills itself as “The Intellectual Crossroads of Southern Florida.”
The subject that we intellectuals will be discussing as we sit around the pool is how to make peace in the Middle East. If any innovative ideas emerge I will report them. And I promise to be diplomatic.
Lurie is a freelance writer based in Delray Beach, Florida

  1. carol ann goldstein
    January 20, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    I agree with J. Zel Lurie. I enjoy reading his articles.

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