The Jewish Kumbayista and the Wall
On December 3, Richard Silverstein made a post named, “In National Brands Index, Israel Ranks Worst” on his blog, Tikun Olam. I could fill a whole post on my blog commenting on that post itself, but I wish to write about an instructive exchange that went between Silverstein and an Arab (most probably a Muslim, but could be a dhimmi Christian of Azmi Bisharah’s type). On the post itself, suffice it here to say that it is Silverstein’s standard fare of bringing news of woe about Israel’s image in the outside world and blaming it on, what else, Israel’s policies and its “injustices toward the Palestinians” and all that. My answer, as usual, would be to point out the fact that Silverstein bears much of the blame for Israel’s poor image, for his words of constant accusation (kategoria) are eagerly seized upon by our enemies, for they say, “This is what one of your own says about you, then it must be true”. But I have driven that point home quite a few times, so on to the exchange in the comments I now move.
Commenter Amin Nusseibeh, in a textbook example of Muslim turnspeak, wrote:
Why is the branding exercise any surprise? Israel is not an authentic country, but a museum of theft of Palestine. It has no authentic culture, only that copied from other countries, with coarseness added. Why visit a grotesque Disney like place with filth, when one can visit a real country
A “back atcha” to every one of those accusations. But Silverstein still has that pintele Yid (“little Jewish point”) in him—you must know that no Jew is beyond hope—so he did not take kindly to that comment. He replied:
I’m afraid the filth isn’t in Israel, it’s in your own foul & filthy brain. Lord protect & preserve us fr. the true believers on either the Israeli and Arab sides. You’re all worthy of damnation for the death & devastation you advocate toward whichever enemy you happen to hate.
Silverstein had to roll in the comparison of Nusseibeh to “true believers on the Israeli side”, meaning people like Steven Plaut and me, for the sake of being considered unbiased. But I digress, so let us go on with Amin Nusseibeh’s rejoinder, emphasizing the part that is germane to my post:
I would appreciate it if you could answer my critiques without venom. My solution is entirely peaceful. I think Jews should exercise their right of return to whereever they come from so that Palestinians can exercise their right of return. As a man who purportedly supports social justice, I would expect that you could see that this is the only just solution. Nobel Peace Prize winners like Carter and Tutu know that this is the only just solution, but the world climate is such that even these courageous men are afraid to state the obvious
(Emphasis mine —ZY)
By “Jews should exercise their right of return to whereever they come from”, both Silverstein and I understood Nusseibeh to mean that the Jews should return to the countries of the Diaspora where they had originally lived before coming to the Land of Israel from the late 19th century onward. I now quote part of Silverstein’s reply, again with some emphases:
Your “solution” is no solution. It is not practical, not feasible & wholly disingenuous.
No one here (at least not me) denies the suffering & displacement experienced by Palestinian Arabs who were expelled. I truly believe that in the course of time some of them will be able to resettle in Israel should they wish to. But they will never be able to do so in the numbers you envision.
Your vision would be to return to something like the status quo ante of 1947. I’m afraid it’s too late for that. We can’t go backwards. There are too many people on both sides who want to go back to some imagined perfect state of existence. Settlers would like to return to the Biblical period when Israel reigned over territory from the Jordan to the sea. Hamas extremists would like to return to a time when Arabs were the majority in mandatory Palestine, if not earlier. These are all pipe dreams.
(All emphases mine —ZY)
And here it is that Richard Silverstein hit the wall that any Jewish peacenik who has not totally eaten himself to insanity by self-loathing must sometime hit: the issue of the “Palestinian Right of Return”.
That issue is one of the few points of wide concensus among Israeli Jews today. Even the most blatant “Blame Israel Always” land-concessionists know very well that accepting the “Palestinian Right of Return” in full, as the “Palestinians” demand it, would undo the entire Zionist project—that it is contrary not just to religious, Torah-believing Zionism, but to the secular Zionism of Herzl and Pinsker (G-d’s blessings upon them both), for a non-Jewish majority in Israel would bring the Jews of Israel back to the state of the Diaspora, where they were at the mercy of the legislation of the non-Jews (see also my post The Right to Deny the Right of Return, from September 17). It is the one non-negotiable point and, as Silverstein, otherwise quick to “listen to the other side”, shows, a Jew would have to be very, very far gone in his self-hatred to accept the “Palestinian” demand as is.
But this is still not the Wall itself. The Wall is found in the wording, “Hamas extremists would like to return to a time when Arabs were the majority in mandatory Palestine, if not earlier”, with emphasis on “Hamas extremists”. It consists in the error concerning human nature I pointed to in my post about the moderate Muslims (November 19): the thought that extremists, hardliners, warmongers and eliminationists are always, always, always the minority.
But they are not. Every anti-Zionist likes to point out that the Hamas government is a democratically-elected one. They point it out as a reason why Israel should do nothing to them as they build up their jihad army, but I see it as an argument that goes back at them, for if Hamas was elected democratically, that is, by the will of the people, then it follows that the people, and not just a few extremists, identify with its genocidal goals.
And that view is confirmed over and over again for anyone who takes a little time to read the discourse going on in the “Palestinian Authority” (nice oxymoron, by the way). Or have you not noticed that a Jew has only to advocate settling in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in order to be called an extremist, while a “Palestinian” need only voice flexibility on the Right of Return in order to be considered moderate? And when he does so, he has to exercise extreme caution not to make it unequivocal, or else he will be found a few days afterward with a hole in his head.
Indeed, the stance of the “Palestinians” on the goal of destroying the state of Israel (G-d forbid) mirrors the issue of the moderate Muslims at large: those who say the Zionist state should be allowed to continue its existence are a minority, they can have a change of mind any moment, many of them are speaking sweet words for Western media consumption, and those few of them who are sincere and stable are in constant threat from the extremist majority and are hard pressed to make a convincing case in front of them. For the average man in their street, you can safely assume that he dreams of the day when the Zionist state should be no more (G-d forbid), and in his drawers he keeps keys “proving” he has the right to occupy houses now inhabited by Israeli Jews within the 1949 armistice lines.
The real pipe dream is Silverstein’s one that the issue of the “Palestine Right of Return” could be moved out of the way of the so-called Peace Process. Silverstein and his type would call for conceding Gaza (already done; the people of Sderot are enjoying the peace gained from it, in the form of Kassam rockets), Judea, Samaria, even Jerusalem, G-d’s city, the eternal capital of His people, known as Zion (so that there would be Zionism without Zion—might as well move to Uganda, as Herzl once suggested), all for the sake of peace, but when, after that, the “Palestinians” would demand the Right of Return of all refugees of the Israeli Independence War, they would refuse. And then what? The same thing that has always happened when we ever refused their demands: declaration of armed resistance, of war, of jihad. It would be the same as without conceding any inch of land, only in a much worse strategic situation. Pointless. Totally pointless.
In summary: unless Silverstein and all other concessionists can make a convincing case (to the point of “I know” rather than Condoleezza Rice’s “I think I know”) that the other side would be willing to lay down its weapons and cease all hostilities (that includes fixing their education system) upon Israel’s retreat from and evacuation of all the territories taken in 1967, they should hold their silence; if they cannot guarantee that a Zionist refusal to the demand of the “Palestinian Right of Return” would not lead to yet another Intifada, let them stop blaming the current one on the policies of Israel. Let them put up or shut up; we are already paying high enough a price for the failure of the entire Oslo conception, and the further concessions we make with the other side, who has done its utmost to inform us of its desire to wipe out our state, if not us ourselves, G-d forbid, the more dire our straits will be when we wake up again to the reality of the failure of our selling of our G-d-given lands to gain us even a decade of peace.
The existence of a wall between us and the other side, a wall of uncompromising hatred and not the physical anti-terrorist fence the “pure souls” on the Left scream about, is an undeniable fact. The question is how far we are going to stand from it, because being pinned to the wall is not a very strategic position to be fighting in.