By Vic Rosenthal
Recently I wrote about the controversy surrounding a campus organization called the Union of Progressive Zionists (UPZ) which is sponsoring a college tour by “Breaking the Silence” (BTS) — former members of the IDF who ‘testify’ to cruelties and even alleged ‘war crimes’ committed by the IDF in the territories.
I agreed with those who felt that the UPZ did not belong in an umbrella group of pro-Israel organizations. I said that even if the ‘testimony’ is correct, there is no context provided, such as the shootings and bombings that require checkpoints, roadblocks and a security fence. There is no comparison of IDF behavior compared to other armies in similar circumstances. There is no ‘testimony’ about cases in which Israeli soldiers have taken risks to help Palestinians. And there is no mention that Israel has unsuccessfully tried to end the occupation by means of a peace agreement with the Palestinians. The lack of context makes the enterprise of UPZ and BTS nothing more than anti-Israel propaganda.
One of UPZ’s main sponsors is Meretz USA, a left-wing organization loosely associated with the Meretz political party in Israel. Meretz USA says they espouse a “liberal humanistic Zionism that strongly seeks peace and encourages human and civil rights”. But much like BTS, they seem to see only one side of events — the Palestinian side.
Here is a “Weekly News Update” from their web site (I am not giving a link because there doesn’t seem to be a permanent one available) dated 5 January 2007. I’ve indicated where I’ve left out small portions. As you read this, ask yourself if it could not have appeared, for example, on Al-Jazeera:
The New Year is a time for resolutions; a time for transformation. Yet, the first week of 2007 did not bring any change whatsoever. Instead it prompted feelings of déjà vu.
The year started off with the continuation of a deadly trend. According to B’Tselem’s annual report, 2006 was lethal for the Palestinians. In total, Israel was responsible for the deaths of 660 individuals – more than three times the number from 2005. These numbers included 322 civilians and 141 minors. Israeli security forces also demolished 292 homes, housing 1,769 people.
Note that numerous Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists in 2006, but these are not mentioned. The fact that the IDF was in Gaza to try to find kidnapped Gilad Shalit, the fact that the IDF was responding to a continuing Kassam barrage — not mentioned. And although I know it’s separate from the Palestinians, how many Israeli homes were destroyed by Hezbollah’s Katyushas in 2006?
Although Israel continued to uphold its ceasefire in the Gaza strip during the first week of the year, it conducted raids into the West Bank. On Thursday, undercover Israel forces went into Ramallah and attempted to arrest Rabia Hamad, a militant of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade. In the process, they killed four civilians, wounded 20 others, and damaged cars and shops. As in the past, Prime Minister Olmert apologized for the civilian casualties but showed little guilt. He claimed that the incursion was necessary for Israel’s defense, and, on Friday, the IDF conducted yet another raid into the town Tul Karm, looking for an Islamic Jihad militant.
Actually, the 4 ‘civilians’ that were killed turned out to be armed Fatah guerrillas. And perhaps ‘yet another’ raid prevented yet another suicide bombing by Islamic Jihad terrorists (not ‘militants’). The word ‘guilt’ is strange, implying that Olmert should indicate that he committed a crime or sin by approving actions that directly protect Israelis.
According to several journalists, including the New York Time’s Steven Erlanger, these raids “overshadowed” what could have been significant talks between Olmert and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to discuss plans for a prisoner release. But it’s unclear how productive these talks would have been – even without the embarrassment of civilian deaths.
Here I’ve omitted two paragraphs which pointed out that there has been no progress in negotiations to release Gilad Shalit, and that Hamas and Fatah have accelerated the process of killing each other.
With this stagnation and with the prospects for the future looking bleak, it’s no wonder that analysts are bemoaning inaction and a lack of leadership on the part of Israel. A recent Dahaf Institute poll showed that the majority of Israelis believe that Olmert has given a poor performance as Prime Minister and that he lacks decision-making capabilities and the ability to function well under pressure. And Akiva Eldar writes about the ambiguity of Israel’s policies, which “is eating away at every good part of the army, politics and all branches of the establishment.” [My emphasis].
Others, such as Dr. Menachem Klein, lament the fact that Israeli officials, unlike others in the Middle East, seem to have no plan for the future. Indeed, this week, Egypt, which has long been a leader in Middle East peace efforts, put forth a proposal for a “four-way” summit with Egypt, and Jordan to help break the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians. [My emphasis]
Israel has no plan for the future, but ‘others’, like the Egyptian enablers of arms smuggling, do have a plan. I suppose Hezbollah has a plan too!
Perhaps this inaction, this lack of planning, has to do with what Rami G. Khouri sees as Israel’s dominance “going in slow reversal.” Following the summer war with Hezbollah and Israel’s inability to return Gilad Shalit to his family or to stop rockets from falling on the south, Israel’s power could be waning.
Which why the US needs to get involved. Currently, America is providing financial support to Abu Mazen’s security forces in an effort to bolster Palestinian President’s. [sic] But it needs use its influence to actively end the conflict. According to the Forward’s Nathan Guttman, Secretary of State Condolezza Rice has plans to visit the region in the middle of this month. Nevetheless, she is not expected to press for much needed change. As Olmert has said time and again, America is Israel’s greatest ally; as such, the US needs to push Israel to take concrete steps towards a peaceful resolution. [My emphasis]
Meretz argues that because Israel is weak, now is the time for the US to force her to make concessions to the Palestinians (and Syria, probably)! Why not try to force the Palestinians to return Shalit and stop the Kassams?
It’s true that things look bleak at the moment. But as we saw around this time last year when Prime Minister Sharon succumbed to a stroke, things can change in an instant.
I really don’t know how to take this last part. Was Sharon’s stroke a good thing?
The ‘news summary’ does not mention who-knows-how-many Kassams that fell in the above period. No mention of various bombings and shootings that were narrowly averted by the activities of Israeli security forces, explosives discovered, etc. No mention of weapons smuggling in Gaza, Hezbollah rearming in Lebanon. It is an unrelieved placing of all of the blame for the situation squarely on the shoulders of Israel.
With Jews like these, who needs Arabs?