TurningWheels

Tuesday, September 23, 2003
  The Case for Israel
 
Alan Dershowitz, in his latest OpEd, writes about the lack of constructive criticism toward Israel. It seems logical to me, but so many people criticize Israel without any context for their criticism. It's high time that the people who jump to the defense of the "beleaguered" Palestinian "president" take a hard look at the situation in its entirety-- historically and currently. There is no equating Israel with her Arab neighbors. Period.
[Of the Or Commission] No other country in the Middle East, and few countries in the world, would permit this kind of public self-criticism of its actions. Israel is a vibrant democracy with freedom of the press and a long tradition of self-criticism. Indeed, most of the books published by Israeli writers are deeply critical of Israeli policies and actions. That is why I decided to write The Case for Israel, since few Israelis ever bother to make the case for the embattled democracy. Most Israelis take for granted the basic arguments justifying Israel's right to exist and to defend its population against terrorist attack. But outside of Israel -- particularly in Europe, Canada, Asia and even on some U.S. university campuses -- this case is being increasingly challenged. One-sided critics of Israel see only the bad and not the good.

They see that Israeli-Arabs are often treated as second-class Israeli citizens, without also seeing that the average Israeli-Arab is treated far better by the Israeli government than the average non-Israeli-Arab is treated by Arab and Islamic government. Israeli-Arabs have the longest life expectancy, the best health care, the lowest infant mortality, the most freedom of expression, the best educational opportunities and the most freedom of religion of any Arabs or Muslims in the Middle East. The only court in the entire Middle East from which an Arab can expect justice is the Supreme Court of Israel, which frequently rules against the Israeli government and military in lawsuits brought by aggrieved Arabs.

Israeli-Arabs suffer by comparison only with Israeli Jews. That is not good enough for a democracy, committed to equality of all citizens, as the Or Commission correctly concluded. But nor can the comparisons with other countries be ignored by outside critics of Israel. Inside critics are always entitled to demand more of their own government and need not look to other countries for comparison, but outside critics may not properly impose a non-comparative double standard on one country without comparative criticism of others.

In making comparative criticism, it must also be remembered why Israel has more than a million Arab citizens, while Jordan does not have a single Jewish citizen, and Egypt, Iraq and other Arab nations which had large Jewish populations for millennia, now are essentially Judenrein. The majority of Arabs who lived in what became Israel after the UN partition of 1947 remained in Israel, where they were accorded citizenship, whereas Jordan enacted a law expressly prohibiting Jews from becoming citizens; and Iraq, Egypt and other Arab states essentially expelled their Jewish populations. Moreover, during the massive Arab attack that greeted the establishment of Israel, Arab and Palestinian armed forces systematically murdered the Jewish residents of captured towns after they had surrendered. The object of the war was genocide, not the creation of Jewish refugees or a Jewish minority in a Palestinian state against the Jewish residents of Israel. Even if Israel can be faulted for contributing to the Palestinian refugee problem, it is far better to be a live Palestinian refugee than a dead Israeli prisoner. Even today, the Palestinian Authority contemplates an eventual Palestinian state with no Jewish citizens or residents and an established Islamic religion.

I would say the same about those who incessantly criticize the United States, with no acknowledgement of the good done by this great country. Criticism is vital in a true democracy, no doubt. It would be nice if people would just be a little more thoughtful in their criticism. Jimmy "Israel-is-the-root-cause" Carter would do well to heed this advice. [Links to Jimmy Carter's latest WaPo OpEd where he makes his case that all will be well when Israel make the choice to pull out completely from the disputed territories, including total dismantling of the settlements. While I think the settlements are a bad idea, I wholly believe that this action by Israelis will not solve the problem. It's all or nothing. When will people start to realized this?]




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