An Inaugural Tirade - The War of Words in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Welcome to my Blog about life in Israel, with comments and analysis from a personal perspective.

Having set it up, I realized I have to post something to launch the thing; yet with my daughter's Bat Mitzvah around the corner and pressing work issues pending, there's little time to compose. So for a first posting, I'm sharing a note I sent the other day to a pro-Palestinian friend. I invite you to peek; I've changed the names and affiliations to protect the guilty. :-)

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Dear ----:

In light of and following our meeting and conversations, I’m glad to be on your email list and to read your reflections. A mild reproach, permit me, on this latest one calling for prosecution of Arnon Sofer for "incitement" in an interview where he talked about killing Palestinians:

Sofer (irrespective of whether I agree with his analysis) writes, in the context of a prediction regarding what may or will happen following disengagement from Gaza, that there will be a “terrible war”. He states, therefore, that “if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill….” It’s a prediction, not a call for murder akin to the “Kill Jews wherever you find them” real incitement to murder from Muslim Imams. Moreover, it’s a lament, as is clear from the next sentence – asking how will the boys “be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings.”

There IS some incitement among Israelis, and this must be fought with all legal and political means; but this isn’t an example, and it confuses real incitement to violence and murder with analysis and qualms about the violence.

I would welcome, on other issues, an opportunity to better understand your perspective, as two of your postings have raised my eyebrows recently. Though of course intelligent people can disagree on the best avenues towards peace between Israelis and Palestinians, I must say I was greatly surprised by your choice of language (as we both know, this conflict is as much a battle of words as it is anything else).

You call for a cessation of violence, for instance, from territories Israel withdraws from, in another of your postings. This explicitly condones the murder of Jews and Israelis from territories Israel does not withdraw from, which even the most passionate supporters of Palestinian independence cannot advocate if they condemn terrorism and violence against citizens. (I am not making an argument for or against attacks against Israeli soldiers, another discussion.) There may be other issues you and I would argue vehemently over, but this single one cries out for disavowal, or it seems to me you stand to lose your credibility in the eyes of those who truly seek the welfare of both the Palestinians and the Israelis, rather than the former over the latter.

Since I’m writing, I’ll mention the other issue - your use of the words “cycle of violence” is a second example, from a different posting. I believe we’d agree that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority and community in general share responsibility for the difficulties between us. Yet the international media use the term “cycle of violence” to imply that the current war which began in September 2000 is “just a continuation” of some mutual animosity which has plagued the Arabs and Jews since the nineteenth century. I believe you and I would also agree that this is a warped view of this conflict – not that I or you absolve Israel of all responsibility, not in the least; merely that we are aware of the historical fact that the Arabs have rejected Israel by word and deed, and initiated violence, in a way and to an extent entirely different than anything Israel has done.

Thus “cycle of violence” is a keyword for shared culpability, leading to no need to hold the PA accountable to its own people (or Israel, or the international community backing the PA) for its support/encouragement of – and even carrying out, via Fatah’s Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade and the Tanzin – terror attacks.

Well – at the outset here I wrote that I’d like to hear your perspective; didn’t intend to pound you over the head with mine or to write at such length. But here I’ve given you a few issues to ponder and to respond to :-).

Truly, the “cessation of violence from territories relinquished by Israel” is the central issue; if you’d like to share my thoughts with your list, please feel free, together with your reply.

I look forward to speaking or writing further with you on these and many other issues.

Warmest regards –

Aryeh

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