Pondering the Wreckage from the Latest Gaza War.
As President Obama proceeds with his courtship of “moderate Arab governments” for active roles in his anti-IS coalition, he is again ringing the changes on the long-disproved notion that a more hostile American posture towards Israel is needed in order to smooth the path towards ultimate peace in the Middle East.
Again, President Obama and his team are screaming that Israel’s government is poisoning the wells of diplomacy by building more housing for all of its citizens — Arabs Jews and others — in areas that the PLO insists have belonged exclusively to Arabs since time immemorial. Once again we are being told that surrender by Israel of its position on this and other disputed matters will win goodwill for Israel – that this goodwill will radiate in all directions, smoothing the way to solution of all the differences between Israel and its neighbours. In due course, as Israel surrenders her narrow Zionist vision in favour of grander possibilities, throughout the Arab world the grievances upon which ISIS feeds will be removed or vastly mitigated in the minds of all clear-thinking denizens of the region and the spirit of accommodation will reign. The lion will lie down with the lamb. (For a particularly egregious sample of this logic see “Kerry Links ISIS Recruiting Success to Israel,” www.investigativeproject.org. IPT News, October 17, 20114.)
To hasten this happy day, the Obama Administration is preparing to abandon the premises of America’s moral alliance with the State of Israel. He is, in short, preparing to turn his back on Zionism and to sign on to the narrative propagated since the 1950s by the PLO – the narrative of Nakva.
Every year, in May, Israelis celebrate the creation of their State. The enemies of Israel concurrently celebrate the Nakva, the “Catastrophe.” According to this narrative, the passage of the Partition Resolution of November 29 1947 was a crime perpetrated by the big imperial powers against the weak nations of the earth. As each year passes, acknowledgement of the Nakva has become a ritual observed by many NGOs, academic institutions, and of course by the mainline-liberal churches (where miracles are an embarrassment.)
Hamas Receives From the World’s Richest Nations its Rewards for Instigation of This Latest Gaza War.
For a while last summer, I had thought that outcome of Gaza war had assisted the public relations situation for Israel. The shameless claim of Hamas’s official press spokesman that Israel had just fought this war for the sake of gathering the blood of Muslims for production of matzohs might, I thought, have assisted the densest of the anti-semites in seeing the irrational core of Hamas’s doctrine and the impossibility of appeasing bloodlust of this kind. As Islamic State carves out its regime — running rampant over the borders that are supposed to separate Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and who-knows-what’s next — proof piles up daily of the demonical character of the Islamists of Hamnas’s sort, flowing from their commitment to Muhammad’s injunction to slay the infidel wherever he can be found. Surely, all of this should have improved Israel’s image as a nation at the forefront of war of the civilized against the decapitators. But this connection is just not being made in the minds of the politicians and the media elites.
As the world’s attention is on the all-consuming world-affairs issue of the hour – the advance of the Islamic State– little attention has been given in our media to an astonishing picture: all the Governments of the West, and all the NGOS, lining up to sign on to pledges of massive new aid to assist the Hamas regime to “rebuild” following the war that war that was caused by Hamas’s declared intention to offer up Gaza’s entire helpless civilian population as a holocaust offering in the cause of liquidation of the Jews. (Khaled abu Toameh, “How the Donors Saved Hamas,” Gatestone Institute October 14, 2014;“Kerry pledges more U.S. aid to rebuild Gaza, “ Washington Post, October 14.) Donations from the Arab oil sheikhdoms are reckoned in hundreds of millions.
At the donors’ conference, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced immediate American assistance of $212 million. The European Union pledged 450 million euros … and so on. As this was going down, EU negotiator Catherine Ashton offered this schoolmarm thought: “This must be the last time in which the international community is called upon to rebuild Gaza;” but she offered no insights into why ”this time” should be different from all the innumerable previous other times that have brought us to this moment of charade.
Whatever the parties are promising, History guarantees that most of this bounty will of course go back into strengthening the hold of the evil Hamas regime on Gaza. It will go back into purchase of more cement (with kickbacks, as before, to the Hamas contractors.)The cement will go to more tunnels. The tunnels will quickly suck in more missiles from abroad. The missiles will be mounted on restored emplacements and will shortly be raining down upon Ashkeleon. The government of Israel will be beset by complaints from the besieged citizens of Southern Israel – and after months of this constant nerve-wracking, another incursion will be needed. Then, pictures of suffering Palestinian innocents will fill the global new shows, and cries will go out to Israel to cease and desist.
Zionism’s Brief Moment of Triumph.
Zionism, the project of Restoration of the Jews to a tiny corner of the Middle East, was among the noblest political projects of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Between its conception and original propagation and its consummation in 1947-1948 the project was championed by the British and French; but then it was abandoned by them on the eve of the Second World War on the misguided premise that a grand gesture of friendliness towards the Muslim people was required by realism. The gesture backfired of course: it threw into the balance on Hitler’s side all the elements in the Arab and Muslim world who hated Britain and Europe and Jews altogether because they were allies in the creation of European Civilization. With the Arab and Muslim populations evidently in hand, Hitler then proceeded to the liquidation of the Jews, while European statesmen and opinion elites looked the other way. He nearly succeeded.
After the War, with the facts of the Holocaust revealed, the newly-founded United Nations rallied to their duty to implement the long-delayed Balfour pledge of “a National Home for the Jewish People.” On November 29, 1947, by a vote of slightly more than two to one, the United Nations General Assembly voted for partition of the Mandate of Palestine into “a Jewish State and an Arab State” — not a Palestinian state, we should note — as the Arab world did not then recognize the existence of “a Palestinian People”. That fiction came later.
In his speech to the General Assembly on behalf of the Zionists on that occasion, Chaim Weizmann, invoked Scripture: “The Lord shall set His hand for the second time to recover the remnants of is people and He shall set up an ensign for the nations and shall assemble the outcast of Israel and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” Isaiah 11:12. This moment, he was saying was the fulfilment of a dream held by the Jewish people for two thousand years.
Weizmann was right. It was and it is a miracle – an unaccountable wonder.
Zionism and Nakvaism.
We cannot go on forever trying to triangulate between this vision of Zionism and the narrative of the nakva. Nakvhaism is everything that Zionism was not and is not. It is based on a counter-historical fantasy. It feeds on resentment over wrongs alleged to have been done by the sons of Abraham four millennia ago. It is profoundly racist, as it is based on denial of the right of one nation – and only that one nation – to live at peace in a state of its own under laws and customs of its own. Logically, it has drawn broad and uncritical support from every resentful spirit of our age. It has rejuvenated all the dark spirits that had had to go away and hide in very remote places following the defeat of the Nazis — all the spirits who recoiled in 1947-1948 from the sight of a Jewish State established by decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
In 1947 and 1948, all ‘realists” foresaw the defeat of the infant State of Israel. The Jews were vastly outnumbered and outgunned. People who came to their Zionism by way of biblical faith, had then – and have now – no hesitation in using the word Miracle for the story of Israel’s triumph. . But I suggest that in 1948 no one foresaw this day — when the Arab side, having repeatedly lost wars against Israel, would be on the way to recovering everything by persuading the world we live in today that bringing the Jewish State into the world was a “catastrophe” —a catastrophe that can only be set right be liquidation of the Jewish State.
“Wonder” or “Catastrophe.”
Many good people flinch from use of such words as “miracle.” But for such people, my point is made sufficiently if we pause to reflect that the sixty five years ago the Zionist vision produced what is still today the only democratic political system in the Middle East – one that, not incidentally, is likewise unique in allowing religious freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly — likewise unique in its world-class leadership in all fields of scholarship and science and all the arts that go into prosperous life – the only one in which someone raised in our own midst could live without drastically lowering his expectations about personal freedom and prosperity.
Everything about the Nakva is spurious. But then, everything about President Abbas and his pretended “government of Palestine” is also spurious. Nakvaism has given the Arab people living in the Palestine Authority the “government” of “President Mahmoud Abbas—who is now going into the eleventh year of a four-year term to which he and his Parliament were elected back when George W. Bush was President of the United States – who has, in short no legal right to be called President of anything. Whatever he calls himself, Abbas’s writ does not extend to Gaza, where Hamas, a gang of politicians, likewise elected a decade ago on a four –year mandate, claims to rule as the real government of all the people.
But the world fawns over Palestine and its rival regimes because Palestinian government reflects the lowest common denominator of the political systems of the majority of the state which have title to the chairs in the General Assembly, and who recognize in the Nakva their own contempt for history, for civilized accomplishment and political decency.
“Who Is My Neigbour?”
The Arab world today must accept its obligation to declare out loud that Israel is a neighbour. But instead, as I write, the major powers of the world are rewarding Hamas, with great gifts of money, for its launching of the war that followed from its declared intention to liquidate Israel.
There is nothing at all noble about the Nakva narrative. No politician in our midst today would get elected to anything if he approached the public with their slogan that some people have no right to exist among us.
A major feature of international life –one that is rarely considered in our part of the world and that is never acknowledged in the Arab world — is that people are not migrating in job-lots from our part of the world into the Arab parts of the world and have not done so for many centuries. At the same time, masses of people are presenting themselves every day of the week at the immigration counters of our airports seeking refuge or at least an opportunity to escape life in the Arab world – a world of failed political institutions, of failed economics, and of failed human communities. There are several inter-connected reasons for this. But the greatest of these is that we welcome as neighbours people who are different and they do not.
Since the Arab nations of the Middle East all drove out their Jews in the immediate wake of the War of Israel’s Independence, the entire Arab has become almost entirely judenfrei. The largest communities of Jews in the Arab lands are in Algeria and Tunisia (about 1,000 each); Yemen has about 400; Egypt and Syria each have about 200; Iraq may have about 100; Lebanon has about 20. Jordan has none. And, of course, under its Basic Law, the present Palestine Authority and the State of Palestine-to-be must be absolutely Jew-free.
The Arab nations have vowed never to accept the Jews as neighbours within their boundaries. By our lights, they do not have this right. But if they imagine that they do, let them live with the consequences of this imagined right —or (not bloody likely!) let them change their ways and accept out loud Jews as neighbours. Until they make this fundamental change of attitude, let us not indulge their resistance to living with Jews as though it were some lofty principle.
The consequence over time of the decision of the Arabs in November 1947 to reject the Partition of the Mandate of Palestine into “a Jewish State and an Arab State” is well covered by the moral logic proposed by C. S. Lewis:
A wrong sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it cannot “develop” into good. Time does not heal it. The spell must be unwound, bit by bit, “with backward mutters of dissevering power” [quoting John Milton] – or else not.