Thanks for the compliments from you and Medhat.
Trying to be as polite as possible, I would like to discuss three major flaws in Medhat's presentation:
1. Silence is consent. He adroitly sidesteps denying that he agrees with the oft-stated assertions of Arab leaders and extremists that Israel has no right to exist. Given that fundamental premise, how can anyone expect any sort of meaningful negotiations and compromise? I will grant that the question may have had relevance 50 years ago, but subsequent bloodshed and Israeli military victories have sealed the outcome -- Israel is here to stay (unless, of course, Saddam succeeds in creating his atomic and biological weapons). Indeed, even if we were to agree that the Jews have no right to historical Palestine, where exactly are they supposed to go? Back to Poland -- or to Germany? Or are they supposed to forget about their functioning democratic institutions and submit to the tyrannical yoke of one or another of the Arab autocrats?
2. Medhat also fails to address the issue that the Jews of Israel, because they live in a free society, express deeply divided opinions on how to treat the Arabs. I cannot accept a simplistic belief that the only difference between Barak's constituency and Sharon's is that the latter are not hypocrites. The rational Palestinian strategy, as a defeated people, should be to take advantage of this real split to obtain as many concessions as politically possible. Yet Arafat and the Arab extremists, perhaps as part of their own internal power plays, fan a suicidal violence that merely serves to unite their opponents into a Government of National Emergency. Significantly, he refers to the 19th century Zionist literature to label their leaders as insincere. I am amazed that he does not realize that these tracts were propaganda, vividly illustrating the chasm between the educated modern Europeanized Jew and the medieval Jew of the shetl? The Bible approach was a rather transparent attempt to add a spiritual motivation to the, at that time, unpopular Zionist intellectual cause. Who wanted to go to a hot, water-starved desert to slave under the corrupt and ineffective rule of the Ottoman Empire? Both kinds of Jew wanted to stay in Europe, which had been their home for centuries. When the Russians began making life miserable at the turn of the century, the vast majority of Jewish emigrants went, not to Palestine, but to America. It was only when the prescience of the original Zionist thinkers (that Europe was really not safe for the Jews) came true under Hitler that Zionism was taken seriously by the survivors.
3. Finally, his silence about the Shadow War is devastating. If he does
not wish to admit a USA moral obligation to defend an outpost of modern
Western democracy, then let's talk Realpolitik. How, under pressure of
fanatical suicidal kamikaze can the USA, the prime World Power,
possibly back down and abandon its client state? (USA mistaken support
for certain dictators is no reason for further folly.) For his campaign
on behalf of legitimate Arab civil rights to be taken seriously, he really
needs to distance himself clearly away from approving such military attacks
against our nation, maybe our very streets. I reject categorically the
argument an Arab, just because he considers himself oppressed, is thereby
entitled to use violence against anyone and everyone.
It is about time that the USA government finds out exactly who is behind the bombing of the USS Cole, etc. and exact massive punishment against their persons and property.
* * *
Paragraph 1: Silent is consent has already been taken care of in my second installment.
Paragraph 2: I am not quite clear about what Bob is referring to when he mentioned the Jews of Israel living in a free society since, as far as I can tell, this issue is no where to be found in his Oct. 28 e-mail. As for characterizing Zionist literature as propaganda tract, I beg to differ. By Zionist literature I meant the scholarly works done by prominent Zionists like Walter Laqueur, Arthur Hertzberg, Bernard Avisahai and many more. If I am reading Bob correctly, we basically agree that the Zionist secular project needed a religious dimension (what he called the Bible approach) to trick the European Jews to come to Palestine. This is not something to be proud of, especially that this project could not have been accomplished without having an innocent people pay the price. The whole Zionist enterprise is a racist one that must be condemned. Anyone who makes an effort to read with an open mind the Zionist literature itself, not the propaganda tracts, will come to this conclusion. I find it disheartening to see Bob caring so much about a fake democracy and ignoring the plight of a people oppressed by a state that calls itself a Jewish state and resisting an ugly occupation.
Paragraph 3: is about the Shadow War. I have already dealt with the “moral obligation” issue in the first installment and the deceptive idea of Israel being a “Western democracy” in the second installment, which makes his statement about not wishing “to admit a USA moral obligation to defend an outpost of modern Western democracy” meaningless.
As for the “fanatical suicidal kamikaze” against, as he puts it, “the prime World Power” he is inviting me “to distance himself clearly away from approving such military attack against our nation.” I checked what I have written I haven’t found any approval on my part. If he found such an approval I would like him to quote me verbatim. I remember, however, that I have previously written to him that I condemn any act of violence from whatever source. I remember also having said that condemning all acts of violence should not prevent us from seeking and understanding the reasons behind such acts. People who are ready to sacrifice themselves for their cause should make us think twice about their willingness to die for their beliefs even if we don’t agree with them. Calling them terrorists, as the US media does, is simplistic. We should rather ask ourselves what is it that “the prime World Power” is doing that generates such anger and hatred to the point of having people making the ultimate sacrifice.
Richard, your reference to Irish nationalism and to the fact that “our nation was born in violence.” is very much relevant to this discussion. Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular don’t seem to have a monopoly on violence. The "only democracy in the Middle East" could not have been born without violence.