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Those That Want Peace Live in Peace: Stop Teaching Hate

George Rooks challenges the veracity of arguments against Israel printed in several Enterprise editorials written by Mikos Fabersunne of the Davis Peace Coalition (5/3/2010).

Those That Want Peace Live in Peace:

Stop Teaching Hate

By George Rooks

The recent Mideast op-ed by a member of the Davis Peace Coalition, Mikos Fabersuune,  and his previous op-ed in January are wonderful examples of the strategy that if you repeatedly repeat something that is false, people may begin to think that it is true. The problem with answering Fabersunne is simply that he uses so many mischaracterizations and inaccuracies in describing the Israeli-Palestinian problem that there is not enough space in this forum to respond to but a few of the most egregious ones.


1. Fabersunne writes that the “conflict…originally arose between the Arabs living in the region bounded by the Jordan River and the Mediterranean and the European Jewish immigrants who settled there in response to the late 19th-century call from the leaders of the Zionist movement.”


This statement is founded upon the absurd Palestinian myth that underpins all of the Davis Peace Coalition’s op-eds about the Middle East: namely that since time immemorial the indigenous, pastoral, Palestinian people had been living Jewlessly on their land tending their sheep and minding their olive groves until colonialist European Jews suddenly arrived and began expropriating their land, causing a conflict that has now lasted over 80 years.


Of course, what this myth completely ignores is history.  Archaeology informs us that roughly 3300 years ago, the Israelites invaded the land now called Israel from one direction while the warlike Philistines (the supposed precursors of Palestinian Arabs) invaded the land from the sea about two hundred years later. Both groups conquered the indigenous people they found, assimilated them, then fought each other tooth and nail for hundreds of years. If you want detailed accounts, you simply have to read a Bible or any journal of Middle Eastern archaeology.


Since Mr. Fabersunne’s myth only ignores a Jewish presence, it should be noted that for these last 3300 years Jews have inhabited Israel/Judah/Judea/Palestine/Israel continuously. Suffice it to say that even after the Romans laid waste to Judea and carted off hundreds of thousands of Jews into slavery and exile, Jews remained. In the sixth century there were 43 Jewish communities comprising an estimated 250,000 people in Palestine living under Byzantine repression. By the ninth century, Caliph Omar’s Arab occupation of Palestine had led to most of the Jewish land in Palestine being expropriated in the continuing struggle between Jews and Arabs. Zoom forward to the Ottoman census of Jerusalem in 1844; the Muslims recorded the population of Jerusalem as 5,000 Muslims, 3,390 Christians, and 7,120 Jews.


In short Mr. Fabersunne, Jews are not newcomers to the land of Israel. And, as most people know, the conflict between Arabs and Jews is an ancient one.



2.  Mr. Fabersunne then goes on to the heart of his faux argument writing that “these times parallel those preceding the end of white minority rule in South Africa, when the United States and Britain were still in support of the apartheid regime.”


The canard that Israel is practicing apartheid was first advanced in earnest at the 2001 U.N. World Conference against Racism (Durban I) which has been roundly condemned as being anti-Semitic and racist—so much so that President Obama recently withdrew the U.S. delegation from Durban II (in Geneva) because Durban II delegates were going to reaffirm the anti-Semitic apartheid declarations of Durban I (which they did).


Ismail Khaldi, the Arabic Muslim Consul of Israel has written: “I am a proud Israeli - along with many other non-Jewish Israelis such as Druze, Bahai, Bedouin, Christians and Muslims, who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only true democracy in the Middle East. Like American society, Israeli society is far from perfect, but let us deal honestly. By any yardstick you choose - educational opportunity, economic development, women’s and gays’ rights, freedom of speech and assembly, legislative representation - Israel's minorities fare far better than [those in] any other country in the Middle East.”


That Fabersunne and the Davis Peace Coalition steadfastly cling to the apartheid canard is remarkable.


3. Mr. Fabersunne then continues with his usual tired attack on Zionism specifically citing the research of historians such as Benny Morris in support of the allegation that the Zionists “ethnically cleansed” Israel in 1948.


But, let’s examine what Benny Morris, the most noted historian about Israel’s War for Independence in 1948, has actually said when interviewed about this subject:


“Neither Ben-Gurion nor the Zionist movement ‘planned’ the displacement of the 700,000-odd Arabs who moved or were removed from their homes in 1948. . .

But the Palestinian Arabs, joined by invading Arab states’ armies from outside, launched a war whose aim – which they have never denied – was to destroy the nascent state of Israel. . . But – what can you do? – the Arabs were beaten. And in the course of beating them, the Israelis drove out the Palestinians, who were not ‘totally innocent ... peasants’ (a ludicrous phrase). Their villages and towns served as the bases from which their militiamen and armies attacked Jewish communities and convoys.


The ‘innocent’ Palestinians were the aggressors – and dispossession was the price they paid for their aggression. In the circumstances, had the Jews not driven them out, [the] Jewish population would have been slaughtered. . . “


Morris concludes by pointing out that “Israel emerged from the 1948 War with a 160,000-strong Arab minority (alongside 700,000 Jews)— a fact that tends to undermine the charge that there was a blanket policy of ethnic cleansing.”

In sum, Mr. Fabersunne, you would deny Israel the basic right of every society to defend itself, condemning Israel for installing checkpoints and building a security barrier to protect its citizens (Jews and Arabs) from suicide attacks—and for attacking locations from which missiles are launched against its citizens. Isn’t it a deep form of racism to deny an entire society the right to defend itself?  In this context, your enthusiastic embrace of the current spate of anti-Israel boycotts and divestment campaigns is not surprising.



____George Rooks is a member of  the Davis Interfaith Coalition for Peace and Justice in the Middle East  (PJME)





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