Posted by Lilly from ? (188.8.131.52) on Tuesday, November 05, 2002 at 6:19PM :
Meet Mr Whatever It Takes
By David Langsam
April 11 2002
What is a Jew with a moral conscience meant to do in these dark
days of "Arik" Sharon's Palestinian putsch?
Last week my three-year-old son melted my heart by singing the Ma
Nishtana for our Passover meal. The song's four questions call for
an explanation of the celebration of our escape from slavery in
Egypt. The rest of the evening is spent answering those questions,
including the analogy of the four sons: the wise, the wicked, the
simple and the one who did not even know to ask.
Should I remain silent - as Pastor Neimoller said he did - as we
watch the climbing toll of Israeli and Palestinian civilians,
journalists and peace activists?
Do I keep my mouth shut as we witness the amazingly
disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defence Forces
against what are essentially the wrong targets?
Does anyone want to know - or would they care - that more Israelis
have died in Sharon's 15 months as prime minister than all his
predecessors combined back to 1982, when he, again, was
responsible for a very large number of Israeli deaths?
Is it "breaking ranks" to be Jewish and to criticise Israel's
terrible government now that Israel has unilaterally declared war
on the Palestinian Authority? Or is standing up for what is right
still seen as a positive attribute?
I know that by this paragraph, somewhere a pro-Israel lobbyist
will be reaching for his or her keyboard to accuse me of being an
anti-Semite, or a self-hating Jew, or a traitor. Some will reach
for their telephones to deliver hate messages to my 85-year-old
father - that's always an easy way to respond.
Am I to be intimidated by the pro-Israeli extreme right just
because Israel is wrong?
While Sharon spends much of his nation's resources fighting the
Palestinian Authority, the facts are that most of the terrorist
suicide bombings have been by Hamas and/or the smaller Islamic
Jihad. And just as George Bush's Taliban and al Qaeda were funded
by his father, the fledgling Hamas was funded during the first
intifada by the Israeli security service Shin Bet, under the
guidance of prime minister Yitzhak Shamir and defence minister
Yitzhak Rabin, with the aim of dividing Palestinians and creating
an alternative to the PLO. Some alternative.
So every time the religious fundamentalists kill a score of
Israelis, Israel responds by attacking Hamas's secular rivals. It
is, indeed, a bizarre policy.
To claim that Arafat is in control when he is holed up in the
Ramallah ghetto is ludicrous.
How is he meant to exert control when every Palestinian town is
under siege and the death toll is mounting?
What right does Sharon have to declare Ramallah a "closed military
area" and prevent the world's media from documenting his abuse of
what was once a respected army and is again being used for
occupation, subjugation and ethnic cleansing, shooting live
ammunition at peace activists? Ramallah is not meant to be under
Israeli control at all.
Not that I have much sympathy for Arafat. His complete stupidity
in rejecting the December 2000 Taba offer was hard to believe.
Arafat should not have walked away from that deal. He is wholly to
blame for that mistake, which - among other factors - led to
Israel's loss of faith in prime minister Ehud Barak, paving the
way for Israel to elect Sharon the Bulldozer.
What is happening today was entirely predictable.
When you elect a general known as "The Bulldozer", who has always
acted like a bulldozer, there is a very good chance he will
continue to act with all the sensitivity of a bulldozer.
What else can one say about Sharon's relentless provocation,
starting with his preelection march on the Temple Mount?
Every time we see Sharon on television claiming he is fighting
terrorism, it is worth asking: why he is attacking the secular
Palestinian Authority when the terrorists are primarily the
Islamic fundamentalists of Hamas? The truth is that Sharon
believes in Greater Israel. I have not heard him renounce this
concept of Israel's borders spanning not just from the
Mediterranean to the Jordan River, but onward to include all of
Jordan as well. The dogma of his Likud party that "Jordan is
Palestine" contradicts this concept, but Likud has never been much
concerned with contradiction.
The revisionist descendants of Ze'ev Jabotinksi have a bottom line
of "whatever it takes". They do not see parallels between their
behaviour and that of other oppressors, and they scream the
loudest when the words genocide and ethnic cleansing are applied
to their policies, particularly when it is true.
There is a solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Actually,
there are two.
The first is to build a 10-metre-high concrete wall, crowned with
three coils of razor wire, around Gaza and the West Bank, with a
connecting highway and surrounded by a dust road, an electrified
fence and Israeli sentry posts every kilometre. Any Israeli
settlers who wish to remain inside this perimeter would be welcome
to do so, but would have to pay taxes to the Palestinian
The second is to obliterate Palestine once and for all.
But I probably do not have the right to ask these questions or
consider these options. I had better keep my mouth shut and let
the world believe that all Jews support Israeli atrocities, right
or wrong. Loyalty before honesty. Or is honesty still the best
Who will pen the first hate letter? Who will make the first
abusive phone call?
David Langsam is a Melbourne journalist.
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