The Daily Bongo
Case For Israel
Who will speak for Israel in the world opinion court? One person who has stepped forth is Alan Dershowitz with the book The Case for Israel. In the book, Mr. Dershowitz takes an analytical and lawyerly look at the case against Israel by defining the accusations and then giving the reality behind each claim. Many statements have been made about Israel from a variety of sources with varying degrees of truth. Israel has no rights to the land on which it sits. Jews only came to Palestine with the first Zionist wave in the late 1800s. Israel is unwilling to share space with the Palestinians and has even victimized them. Israeli aggression is the cause of all the problems in the region. The Israelis have exploited the Holocaust and used it to gain statehood. Israel has an atrocious human rights record. The list goes on. A chapter is devoted to each false claim, and citations are given to validate the points. The material in the book is well researched and is presented in a clinical, non-emotional, formal way. The accusation against Israel is stated. We are then given a chance to hear the claim from the lips of the accusers, find out what the reality is, and read the proof to backup the reality and to disprove the claim that is given. If you would want to be better educated about the Israeli situation, then you should definitely either purchase this book or get it from your local library. Of course, some will claim that the book is biased, but that may be because long held truths may be challenged.
One of the claims that is mentioned in the book that I have heard many times myself is that the Jewish people really don't have a claim to the area. The thought is that the area that is referred to as Palestine was devoid of any Jewish people prior to the Zionist movement at the beginning of the 20th century. Many say that the only reason that the state of Israel was created was to compensate the Jews because of what they experienced at the hands of the Axis forces in World War II. Unfortunately, that statement does not reflect the actual fact that Jews have had a constant presence in the Middle East since Biblical times. The common misperception is that all Jews were driven from the area during the Diaspora in around 70 AD when the Romans drove the Jews from the Middle East that led to the spread of the Jewish religion and culture through Europe, Africa and Asia. The truth is that Jews continued to reside in the area well past 70 AD. Another accusation along a similar line is that the area referred to as Palestine was heavily populated with people of Arab descent. We are led to believe in the modern day that the Jewish people and the founding of the state of Israel forced the Arabs from lands that they owned and lived on. The fact is quite the opposite. Jews have always been a fixture in the Middle East. Their numbers have been small, but Jews have lived all around the Middle East. Jews could be found in modern day Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Jordan. Granted they may now be non-existent in those areas because they were thrown out of the country or killed by the Arab leaders, but that doesn't purge their existence in the past. We have evidence of their existence from the written records of the time. For a picture of what Palestine was like in the mid to late eighteen hundreds, Samuel Clemens' (aka Mark Twain) book Innocents Abroad can be consulted. The book details Clemens journey through the Middle East. Clemens remarks on how desolate the land is with so few people to be seen, and comments on the population of Jerusalem: "The population of Jerusalem is composed of Moslems, Jews, Greeks, Latins, Armenians, Syrians, Copts, Abyssinians, Greek Catholics, and a handful of Protestants." Obviously, there has been a consistent historical Jewish presence in the area. Also, the Jews who did settle in that area bought the land either from those who were living there or from absentee landowners. Since the area was barren, Arabs who might have owned the land didn't live there because it wasn't a very desirable location. The Jews who settled in the area in the first wave of Zionist settlers late in the nineteenth century started cultivating the land, making it a more habitable location.
Another of the issues that is addressed in the book is the anti-Semitic way in which Israel is singled out for censure from the United Nations and various member nations of the international community. As Mr. Dershowitz shows, Israel's record on human rights is no worse than other nations, and is much better than any other country in the Middle East. In the battle against terrorists, Israel has behaved as others who have been subjected to acts of terrorism. And yet only Israel is censured and economic and educational boycotts are only called against Israel. Why? The only thing that makes sense is that one standard is applied to Israel that isn't applied to any other nation in the world. One of the comments that is made is that Israel is considered a Westernized country while the Arab nations aren't. Therefore Israel is held to a different standard. Perhaps the reason for the double standard, however, lies in a degree of anti-Semitism. To make a race out to be worse than it actually is would be considered racism. The state of Israel is frequently attacked because it is considered Jewish. Therefore you have to wonder if the double standard comes about because of either unrecognized or unacknowledged anti-Semitism. That does not mean that Israel and the Jewish people should be held free from criticism or blame for actions that the state takes. It just means that the criticism and blame should be leveled evenly and fairly. A Palestinian terrorist blows up a bus containing innocent civilians, and Israel targets a bomb making facility. Some civilians are killed in the process. Why does the world view the Israeli action as more detestable? Some may say that it is because Israel is picking on the underdog. However, the Arab population in the Middle East outnumbers the Israeli population. Does being the underdog make it right to kill children? Is it unjust to attack bomb making facilities, or is it only unjust for Israel?
In many cases with the Israeli/Palestinian situation, we see evidence that terrorism is rewarded. That confirms the point to terrorists that all you need to do is kill some children and will achieve your goal. For example, in 2000, Yasser Arafat walked away from the peace meetings With Ehud Barak. At the time even President Clinton was angry at Arafat because the deal on the table was Gaza, most of the West Bank, and half of Jerusalem. Arafat walked away though. Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia even commented that Arafat committed a crime against the Palestinian people by turning down such an offer. Why did Arafat turn down the offer? That's probably because the unstated goal has always been not to have a two state solution, but a removal of Israel from the area. Arafat's solution was to resort to terrorism which led to the Second Intifada. Supposedly the cause of the Intifada was Ariel Sharon visiting the Temple Mount, which is also the location of the Western Wall and the location of the Jewish First and Second Temples. Heaven forbid that a Jew should visit a place that is sacred to Jews. Arafat saw his chance to take advantage of the visit. The terrorism campaign was already ready to go, and Sharon's visit was just an excuse for the launch. In this case, as in the past, terrorism won. The world community stopped talking about how Arafat had done a disservice to the Palestinian people, and turned instead to how inhumane the Israelis were for responding to the slaughter of innocent civilians by targeting the location of terrorist organizations. It was okay for the Syrians and Iraqis to pay the parents of suicide bombers $25,000, but it was unjust for the Israelis to knock down the homes of those parents after clearing the property of those living in it.
In the book, Mr. Dershowitz covers these topics and more with scores of statistics and documented evident that show that there are many inaccuracies and outright lies told about Israel. The way to fight the ignorance is to read books and articles that provide information that is documented and can be verified for accuracy. The Case for Israel should be top on that list to begin your education. Make an informed decision based on facts, not on half truths, inaccuracies, and emotional beliefs. The case for Israel still has to be made before the world, and this book will go a long way in helping the world make the right decision.
August 18, 2005