Skip to comments.A LETTER FROM ISRAEL
Posted on 04/02/2002 12:49:44 PM PST by Tom Jefferson
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Thank you for your kind wishes on the occasion of our wedding. We had a wonderful time in Australia. It was so special to share the most wonderful day of our lives with friends and family from near and far.
We followed up with a honeymoon in Noosa Heads and Sydney. Two weeks ago we had a beautiful celebration for friends and relatives on Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem. Again it was wonderful to be with good friends. The Maeirsdorf Faculty Club where we held our celebration is a sea of tranquility in our city. It commands majestic views over the Old City. You can look out in the beautiful midday sun over the Temple Mount and the Ancient Western Wall and feel the illusion of peace and tranquility.
We enjoyed it for a few hours and then went back to the reality of the war in which we are currently engaged. I drive a bullet-proof car to work but I cannot go the fastest route because the chances of being shot at solely for the reason that I am Jewish are too great.
I am writing this email as someone who has lived in Jerusalem for the past seven and one-half years, who has worked on a daily basis with Palestinian Arabs in the hospitals here, who has treated Palestinian Arabs as patients in the hospital, and who has worked as a doctor in the West Bank.
Perhaps I may seem biased, but simple facts speak for themselves. The simplest fact being the little old Arab lady who sells olives outside our supermarket in Jewish West Jerusalem. She comes, she goes, she has no need to fear for her safety. She, like thousands of Arabs that work in Israel can freely move around in Israel without any fear of being attacked by an Israeli.
If you are Jewish and you find yourself by accident in an area controlled by the Palestinian Authority the chance of you coming out of there alive is infinitesimal. It doesnt matter if you are left-wing, right-wing, religious, or secular. It doesnt matter if you are from Russia, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco, Europe or South America. It doesnt matter if you have Palestinian friends or not. The fact is if you are a Jew and you make a wrong turn on a street you are unlikely to survive. There are many examples of left-wing ideologues who continue to do business in Area A (the West Bank) who have been taken out and shot by sections of the PA, wether Fatah, Al Aqsa Brigades or Tanzim. If you are mistaken for a Jew, your fate will be the same. There is a Greek Orthodox priest who was gunned down on the road to Jerusalem a few months ago because he was thought to be a Jew by his killers. A few days ago two UN observers were shot by Palestinian Authority gunmen. These people were not people inadvertently caught in cross fire - they were killed because their killers thought they were Jews.
All of my friends here and all of my relatives here are in the army. It is truly a citizens army that includes all strata of Israeli society and includes many brave Druze and Bedouin soldiers who are not required to go into the army, but who volunteer to serve their country.
A debate is going on in this country about how to perform imperative military actions against terrorist targets without harming Palestinian civilians. The debate is a heated one, but all Israelis are in agreement that no Palestinian civilians should be injured. Interestingly, we have not heard similar debates going on in the Palestinian community.
In fact the main target of the Palestinians are innocent civilians. In the past week alone, Palestinians have killed Jews at Passover seder, in cafes, in markets. I have not heard of any Palestinian attacking a base of the IDF.
There can be no hope for peace for at least a generation. The educational programs of the Palestinian schools teaches their children to hate Jews and to kill them when they can. Babies of 5 or 6 are taught to shoot guns and throw grenades. They are taught, despite the reality, that the Jews have to right to be in the Middle East, that they have unlawfully taken property belonging to the Arabs and that they should be killed. They encourage martyrdom and idolize suicide bombers. They are taught that their life on this earth is meaningless unless it is used to kill Jews.
The Palestinian Authority, under the OSLO accords, is supposed to arrest wanted terrorists and hand them over for prosecution. One of the suicide bombers was in PA custody last week. He told them what he wanted to do, and they let him go.
In some ways, we Israelis are to blame for not being more stringent with Arafat at the very beginning. In the name of giving peace a chance, we looked the other way. It gave the wrong message and I am afraid we are now paying the price.
If you look at the last few years you can this about Arafat: Either you cant control your own people, in which case, why are we negotiating with you, or you are controlling your own people in these terrorist attacks, in which case, why are we negotiating with you?
People of little insight claim that there are extremists on both sides. This is true, but is a largely vacuous argument. There have been a small handful of incidents perpetrated by Jews on Palestinians in the past 10 years. The worst was the Baruch Goldstein massacre in Hebron in 1994. These incidents, without exception, have been totally and forcibly condemned by 99% of the Jewish population, left and right-wing alike. Jews who commit crimes against Palestinians are brought to trial and sentenced, and receive loud public condemnation.
When there is Arab terror against Jews there is no public condemnation among the Arabs. Just the opposite. There is cheering and laughing. Of the 100's of transcripts I have read of interviews of parents of suicide bombers I can remember only one case where a parent expressed remorse for the barbaric acts of their child. The overall feeling of parents of suicide bombers is one of brimming pride and satisfaction that their children have killed Jews.
We have heard much in the media about the fact that Palestine was conquered by the Jews who have no right to be here. That seems to be working well in the International arena. What are the facts?
At the end of World War I, in the Treaty of Versailles, Great Britain was awarded the Turkish district of Palestine on a mandate of facilitating the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine. The Declaration was called the Balfour Declaration. Palestine encompassed the historic Jewish homeland where there had been a continuous Jewish presence for several millenia. In the year 70 CE the Romans conquered the land that was then known as Judea (from which the designation Jew comes). They wanted to replace the name with one that didnt refer to Jews so they chose a name from the Philistines who had invaded the area from Greece in about 1200 BCE and who had disappeared around 500 BCE. They changed the name of the area to Philistina (Palestine).
In the early 1920's 77% of Palestine (the area east of the Jordan River) was given by England to the Hashemite Kings of Saudi Arabia. That area came to be known as Trans-Jordan. It was a state of primarily Palestinian Arabs. At that time, all residents of the area, Jews, Christians and Arabs were known as Palestinians. The Palestinian Post (now the Jerusalem Post) and Palestine Radio were Jewish institutions, founded by Jews prior to the formation of the State of Israel. In modern times, Jews have been the largest religious group living in Jerusalem since the 1840's. Only at the end of the British Mandate, prior to the formation of the State of Israel was Palestinian considered to be a term applied to Arabs only. From the formation of the State of Israel in 1948 through the 1973 war the Arabs on the West Bank of the Jordan were considered to be Jordanians not Palestinians.
In 1947 the Jewish population of Palestine agreed to a UN brokered partition of the remaining 23% of the original area of Palestine (the area west of the Jordan River) so that the Jews could have their own state. The agreement was approximately to share the land 50% to the Jews and 50% to the Arabs under Jordanian rule. The Arab League rejected the partition and as soon as the State of Israel was declared they attacked Israel. A war was fought in which the result was a division of the land which was less favorable to the Arabs than the original UN Partition Plan.
In 1967 after years of shooting at Northern Israel from the vantage point of the Golan Heights and sending terrorists into Israel, Syria and Egypt created a joint command, massed large armed forces on Israels border and threatened to annihilate Israel. In a pre-emptive strike Israel defeated both armies and captured the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula to the Suez Canal.
Israel had told Jordan to stay out of the war, keep you borders quiet and we wont bother you. Instead Jordan also attacked Israel. In the war against Jordan Israel defeated them and took control of the Temple Mount and the West Bank. On entering the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel found that the holiest Jewish sites had been gutted and desecrated. Tombstones from ancient Jewish graves on the Mt. of Olives had been used as pathways to Jordanian Army latrines and as stones to line the latrines.
When Israel conquered the West Bank and the Sinai Peninsula in the war of 1967 she offered to return all the properties in exchange for peace. The answer was the famous three nos from the Arab League in the Khartoum Summit. No recognition of Israel, No negotiation with Israel, No peace with Israel.
In 1973 Sadat, the President of Egypt, decided to retake the Sinai Peninsula by force. The Egyptians were soundly defeated in that war. By 1977, because of a struggling economy, and because the United States convinced Sadat that there would be a peace dividend if Egypt made peace with Israel, Sadat offered recognition and peace in exchange for the return of the Sinai desert, despite domestic opposition within Egypt. He flew to Israel and spoke to the Knesset. Israel entered into a peace treaty with Egypt and gave them back the land, notwithstanding the fact that 7,000 Israelis were uprooted from their homes in settlements in the Sinai, some of them forcibly by the IDF. Israel also gave up its only chance to be energy-independent. The Alma oil field in Southern Sinai provided most of the energy for Israel, and projections were that Israel would be totally energy independent if it had kept that oil field.
The Palestinians could have achieved the same. Had they the courage of Sadat, they would have their own state today.
I have lived and worked in Jewish towns in the West Bank. I know the people that live there. Some of the communities I have worked and lived in were Jewish towns before 1948 - before statehood. Some are new towns on the sites of or near the sites of Ancient Jewish towns from 2000 years ago. I cannot speak for every West Bank resident, but I know that a strong majority of them would move voluntarily and make concessions if they felt the result would be a lasting peace.
There seems, unfortunately, to be no reciprocity coming from the Palestinians. For years now Arafat has been talking peace to the press in English, while at the same time inciting war in Arabic to the masses. Palestinian TV bombards the people, including children, daily with hate messages about Israel and Jews. Where will peace come from in the next generation?
In Israel the focus is on peace. We want to achieve it one way or another. There are political groups pressing for outlandish compromises in exchange for peace. Our children are named Shalom (Peace) and it is a frequent theme in our prayers. We have no children named Jihad - and there is no concept of a holy war as a Jewish goal. The non-Jewish population in Israel is not seen as an infidel and they are welcome to share our country with us. The Muslims want only a homogenous Muslim population from the Atlantic to Malaysia without Christians or Jews. The reason they hate us is because we are not Muslims, not because we are occupying their territory.
I have spent many Saturday afternoons with my cousins in Ramot. My 16 year old cousin had friend called Michal. She was always coming over to their house. She was a warm and sweet little girl. Seven months ago she went to get a pizza downtown and was blown up by a suicide bomber. She died with her best friend, another 16 year old girl from Ramot. Within a few days of their killing a museum was set up in the home town of the suicide bomber in Nablus - glorifying the act in every detail. The pizza shop was recreated and the locals could walk through the different rooms of the recreated pizza shop and look at the plastic models of severed limbs of Jewish children. The PA closed down the exhibit only after it started to get bad press overseas.
In July 2000 when Barak sat down with Arafat and offered him 97% of the West Bank - it was the most that Israel could do. Israel amounts to 1/2000 the size of its Arab neighbors - and is only nine miles wide at its center. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab country - it has always been a Jewish capital - yet we offered Arafat part of Jerusalem for his capital. We could do no more. Arafat rejected our offer.
I have not spent any time preparing these words. I speak to you from my gut and my heart as I read the foreign press and watch the BBC and see distorted reporting, bias and half-truths.
I hope that those of you who read this outside of Israel have a greater perspective about what is really going on here than you did before. Unfortunately you did not know those beautiful young innocents who I knew and who touched my life - and who were recently murdered by sick suicide bombers - Michal Raziel, Aish-Kodesh Gilmour and Malchi Roth. Some of you may know my cousin Adi who was shot at while driving to work three weeks ago, but was not hit.
Take a minute and try to feel what it is like after having offered everything we could and we are answered with bombs in our cafes and restaurants, our markets and malls and our Passover Seders. It is clear that the Palestinians do not want us to retreat to the 1967 borders - they want us out of the Middle East. Incidentally, if all the fighting is about our retreating to the 1967 borders - what was all the fighting about prior to 1967?
The recent bombings included many places where Leeba and I would go out to brunch or dinner until recently. Like most Israelis now, we stay home. I go to work. The tennis centre is near a mall that was targeted by so far the tennis centre hasnt been, so I still go there to play tennis. It helps relieve my stress, but it is so weird playing tennis while the country is at war.
Take care and I am sorry about the sorrowful tone of the letter. Please try to understand where we are and what we are going through. We are lucky because we can leave if we need to, but we wont. There are friends of mine who have been in this land for generations and some for hundreds of years. The Zinaati family goes back before the Roman revolt. These people have nowhere else to go. This is their home. So if you see the IDF taking more aggressive action you will know why. We have offered all we can - and we have nowhere else to go.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this letter, we are at war. This is a war which we did not seek and we now pray for peace - however it may come.
If you want on or this ping list let me know!
He tells what is known and freely knowable to all who care to review the history of this conflict. That American news interests continually misstate and ignore these facts should be considered a crime. I believe in freedom of the press, but not in their freedom to lie and prolong the conflict and suffering that Israel must endure.
BTW...hey, King of Ping, how 'bout this one?
The pizza shop was recreated and the locals could walk through the different rooms of the recreated pizza shop and look at the plastic models of severed limbs of Jewish children.
When I read sickening reports like this, "not harming Palestinian civilians" goes way down on my list of priorities.
I'm just a dude in SoCal but I'll keep spreading the truth. It means something.
Instead of suing their a** in the US courts... why not sue them in Canada? I hear that over there, you burden of proof is much lower than the "malice" required in the states? In fact, why not have a class action suit by all the parties hurt by their reprehensible lies??? No way we can get them to stop until we get them where it hurts!