Friday, February 5, 2010

Some more preachin'

Some more preaching to the Choir…

I attended a “talk” at UCLA, the last of a series regarding Israel. This talk was given by a resident of one of the larger communities in the Shomron, , no stranger to the effort and cause of resettling our homeland, and regarded with esteem in many circles, both in Israel and among the “Choir” outside. The audience was not large, but made varied in religion, religious observance and political views.

My heart was warmed by her talk regarding our world in Yehuda and Shomron, as I know and live in the same world as she does. The talk ended and it was time for questions - the honeymoon was over. Obviously there were the questions from the “choir” which were answered with love and caring, but then came the questions by those whose views had already been hijacked by the “haters” among us. This is where ignorance and arrogance reigned - on both sides.

Many of our “representatives” who speak outside of the country are simply residents, “machers”, activists - they speak with the zeal and love of a land and people that continues to be the flames in our hearts. They represent strength and dedication and they are responsible for having set in motion the wonderful path we are on today in our country.

What many of them do not know is the other side. How do the Arabs think? How does the Left think and why? And the problem which I immediately saw – what do the young non-observant or non-affiliated Jews of the US think?

Simple questions were raised regarding “Palestinian” rights to land, treatment at roadblocks, polarization in Israeli society (raised by an Israeli), and of course the “A” word- apartheid.

Each question raised or each critique of Israel posed to the speaker could have been easily answered with just a bit of knowledge regarding Arab history and a bit of knowledge regarding the present “PA” authority.

Instead I heard how “well we and the Arabs got along”, “how the Arabs really want us there”, and comparisons to pre-Oslo/post-Oslo conditions.

Many speakers from Israel, and for that matter our own PR from the foreign ministry often dismiss our enemy’s rhetoric, and say, “who cares what they say, we know the truth”. Well, they and everybody who speaks, better start caring what they say because our ignoring of this subject has lead us down a path that is quite difficult today. Time to learn what the other side says and give it right back to them, with both barrels!

I will not write an article defending each of the issues, mostly because of a lack of writing ability and I, too need to learn more.

I would like to mention a few points - every place in the world has its problems and citizens ALL throughout the world have issues with security and or police policies. We are no worse than anywhere else – in fact, we are better, much better in Israel than most. Yes, basic human rights do get violated at roadblocks, not always, but it does happen and you know what, thank G-d. That is the way terror is prevented. We have to ask ourselves, or ask those that critique us, how far they would go to protect there families, what would they do to protect their children from harm? Would they infringe on someone else’s rights, yes they would and in a big way. I would suggest these “critics” check out their own local police station or US armed forces before they yell at Israel.

It bothers me that those who critique and enjoy a safe and secure life take no part in the effort nor understand the sacrifices being made so that they can enjoy their “latte” in the morning.

Regarding how well we get along - well we really do not get along very well anymore. In the past, we did but today is a totally different story. One of the true crimes of Oslo is simply that we were on our way to and increasing peaceful existence with the Arabs of Judea and Samaria. These are not my words or thoughts, the Arab leadership in Judea and Samaria at the time warned the Israeli government of the mistake of “dealing” with Arafat. Where as this is known amongst the negotiators of the time, my own source for this statement was discussions with the village leadership from my own region of Shilo. I still remember the “fire-fights” between the Arafat factions and the local leadership of the area. Israel made sure that Arafat would be victorious, after all, since we allowed them to bring their weapons with them and when that wasn’t enough, Shimon Peres made sure they had more.

Last, but not least, the “A” word. I agree with those that say there is Apartheid in Israel for as long as Jews cannot live in Hevron, Nablus or anywhere in the Land of Israel based on religious discrimination, there is Apartheid. Sorry if I offended any of you who think different. Israel is a Jewish country so, therefore, Jews should be able to live wherever they like.

The point is that no one is perfect, not even Israel, and not even we who live in Judea and Samaria. But we are doing a damn good job - better than EVERYONE who might find themselves in the same position that we have been since our re-birth as a country.

So my advice to any of our speakers who go overseas to speak - learn a little more about what is going on around you; learn about both sides and you will be much prouder than ever and you will be able to disarm our enemies and defend our people more than ever.


  1. The best asset of Jews living in Shomron and Yehudah is their daily experience of life there. American Jews view their brethren in Yesha, and the rest of Israel, largely through the media frame of conflict and war. There are no agriculture or technology stories from Yesha getting NYTimes or WaPo coverage; only outbreaks of violence or political wrangling over the settlements' status or future make news here.

    Understanding that most American Jews, especially younger ones, view the settlement issue through the frame of controversy, politics, legality, morality and violence, it is critical to be able to address these issues, and to understand how the Arabs frame their own narrative. It is vital to be able to address these issues, to understand the sensitivities of the audience, and perhaps even more importantly, to do so honestly. Forget the hasbara; there is no need to be clever or sophisticated. Just tell your story as it is, as you see it.

    If you are asked a question about the Arabs, don't worry about national politics or political platforms. Talk about your own, personal experiences and interactions with local Arabs in your area.

    Marc, you hit the nail on the head regarding the "they want us there" remark. It is repeated so often by representatives of Yesha. Really? They want you so badly that they shoot at you? Such a statement appears utterly self-serving and dishonest. Do the Arabs "want us there", or do they want the development and infrastructure and innovation and drive to make things that Jews tend to bring with them? If they could kill you all and still have access to a modern irrigation system, they probably would.

    Life is complicated. Be honest. Be specific. Present complexity.

  2. "Do the Arabs 'want us there,' or do they want the development and infrastructure and innovation and drive to make things that Jews tend to bring with them? If they could kill you all and still have access to a modern irrigation system, they probably would."

    I beg to differ. The way the Arabs handled the "gifts" of greenhouses and agricultural equipment left for them in Gush Katif probably gives a better picture of what they really want -- i.e., Jews dead and any benefits brought by Jews destroyed. They would rather live in squalor as long as there are no Jews than vice versa.