The Mennonite Central Committee and Israel

Recently I wrote about the Mennonite Central Committee [MCC] co-hosting a dinner for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the occasion of his recent vist to the UN. Several readers were kind enough to send links to the MCC’s press releases concerning their motivation, which is explained as being grounded only in a desire to promote peace, in accordance with Christian principles.

From my point of view, of course, having dinner today with Ahmadinejad is little different from doing it with Hitler in 1938, insofar as Ahmadinejad — in addition to developing atomic weapons — is presently working full-tilt to prepare his Syrian satellite and his proxy armies in Lebanon and the occupied territories to make war on Israel (the first round was fought with Hezbollah in 2006). And like Hitler, he is quite pleased to express his anti-Semitic reasons for doing so.

Therefore I see isolation of Iran along with sanctions strong enough to bring about regime change as the only peaceful way to prevent the massive conflict that will certainly be the outcome of his plans. And if there is no peaceful solution, then there must be a non-peaceful one, or there won’t be a Jewish state.

The MCC, for its part, also seems to be opposed to the Jewish state, although unlike Ahmadinejad they seem to think that it can be made to disappear quietly. The following quotations are from “Peacebuilding in Palestine/Israel: A Discussion Paper” attributed to “MCC staff working on Middle East issues”.

First, let’s see how the MCC views the 60 years of Israel’s independence, punctuated as it has been by wars — sometimes genocidal in intent — and murderous terrorism:

Since the Nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948 uprooted between 700,000 to 900,000 Palestinians from their homes, Palestinian history has been a story of dispossession. Refugees and internally displaced persons have been prevented from returning home. Tens of thousands more Palestinians became homeless again during the 1967 war. Since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip (hereafter the Occupied Palestinian Territories, or OPT) in 1967, Palestinians have faced multiple types of dispossession, from house demolitions to the uprooting of trees, from confiscation of land for the construction of illegal Israeli settlements to the expropriation of water resources, from checkpoints and roadblocks to a permit system that places increasingly tight restrictions on Palestinian movement…

Neither Palestinians nor Israelis, meanwhile, have enjoyed physical security, as both peoples have turned toward violent means in the hopes that security might be obtained through violent force.

While the MCC wishes to appear neutral, desiring only peace, a more pro-Arab point of view could not be imagined. Let me rewrite the above a little more accurately:

Since the war of Independence — in which Israel was attacked by Palestinian Arabs and invaded by armies of five Arab nations — resulted in the displacement of about 650,000 Palestinian Arabs and 800,000 Jews from Arab countries, the Arab nations have created a dispossessed people. After the war they refused to talk to Israel or even acknowledge her existence, and they forced the Arab refugees into camps where they became wards of international charity (Jewish refugees were resettled, mostly in Israel).

In 1967 Israel again repelled a genocidal threat by the Arab nations, and occupied the West Bank and the Gaza strip, which had been illegally held by Jordan and Egypt since 1948. Although Israel wished to exchange the territories for peace agreements with the Arab nations, the Arabs refused and tried to retake them in yet another major war in 1973.

Finally, Israel agreed to negotiate a two-state solution with archenemy Yasser Arafat. But Arafat preferred  continued ‘armed struggle’ to a final agreement which would give up  the Palestinian claim on all of the land from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. Since 1948 and especially since 2000 Israel has been subject to multiple forms of terrorism, which has made roadblocks, checkpoints and  the security barrier necessary.

Now let’s look at the MCC’s solution to the conflict:

  1. A complete end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, based on a full withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 lines, and the evacuation of all Israeli settlements, save for equitable arrangements mutually agreed upon by the negotiating parties.
  2. A just solution for the Palestinian refugee problem, in accordance with international legality, the relevant UN resolutions, and the basic principle of refuge choice.
  3. A shared Jerusalem open to all faiths.

I’ll discuss these points one at a time.

1. Remember, these territories were not ‘Palestinian’ before 1967 — they were occupied by Jordan and Egypt, and before that the British, and before that the Ottoman Turks. The pre-1967 boundaries are no more than cease-fire lines established at the end of the 1948 war. A rational two-state solution — if such a thing were even possible — would allow Israel to keep areas of Jewish population, while Palestine would include areas with Arab majorities, even some which are inside present-day Israel. The Palestinians reject any ‘swaps’, however, because Israeli Arabs are happy with the economic benefits of living in Israel and because it suits them to have a politically active minority in Israel.

Even if Israel did withdraw fully to the 1967 lines, displacing more than 200,000 Jews — most of whom live in settlements close to the 1967 border or in Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem — does anyone think that Arab demands on Israel would end?

2. The relevant UN resolutions — at least 194 and 242 –  have always been interpreted by the Arabs as calling for the ‘return’ of any of the nearly five million descendants of the original refugees who wish to do so to Israel. In my view and that of many experts in international law, this interpretation is not correct. But reference to “UN resolutions” in this context has become ‘code’ for ‘right of return’, and the MCC must be understood to be advocating this.

No Israeli government has ever considered this acceptable as part of a peace agreement, and for good reason. For one thing, it would immediately make Israel an Arab majority state. There are no Arab states which treat Jews decently, and some — including ‘Palestine’ — do not permit Jews to live in them at all. For another, a large number of the ‘refugees’ are members of one of the terrorist militias that adhere to genocidal anti-Semitic principles, such as Hamas. There is no doubt that if such a ‘return’ were implemented, it would be the beginning of a violent civil war. It’s hard to see how the MCC can say that this ‘solution’ will “ensure that both Palestinians and Israelis might live securely under vine and fig tree”.

3. Jerusalem today is open to all faiths, as opposed to the period between 1948 and 1967 when Jews did not have access to their holy places.

The MCC displays its bias in other ways. Just using the phrase “Occupied Palestinian Territories” for all areas outside the 1967 boundary implies that these areas were originally ‘Palestinian’. But in fact they were part of the British Mandate no more or less than the part inside the lines, and were illegally occupied in 1948 by Arab states. In fact, some places — like parts of East Jerusalem and Gush Etzion — had Jewish populations before 1948, populations which were eliminated by force and murder by the Jordanians.

The MCC website contains numerous articles and papers about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The overall position is that the founding of Israel represented a ‘taking’ of the land from the ‘indigenous’ Palestinians — something which is historically false — and that since then Israeli policy has been designed to obtain and keep the maximum amount of land possible without granting political rights to the Arabs. Even an article about MCC-supported irrigation projects contains accusations of Israeli ‘expropriation’ and other oppressive policies.

The continuous violent Arab struggle against any Jewish presence in the land, which has been going on for at least 100 years is ignored or minimized, as are the various failed attempts at partition, coexistence, and peace  — failed because the Arabs have never agreed to accept less than all of the land.

The MCC presents Israel as massively powerful, oppressing the weak Palestinians, while ignoring the coordinated assault by the Arab nations and Iran, with their petrodollar resources, to put an end to the Jewish state.

The MCC even tries to whitewash the genocidal Ahmadinejad:

…we believe that the president’s public comments have moderated somewhat over the past two years. When challenged regarding his comments about “wiping Israel off the map,” Ahmadinejad has said to us in previous meetings and, at last, in interviews with both CNN and the Los Angeles Times in late September, that he is not talking about a military solution. Rather, he supports the “one-state” solution, a political resolution in which Israelis and Palestinians elect a single government to represent both peoples.

As I said above, it’s simply impossible to believe that there could be such a ‘single [Arab] government’ that would permit the Jews to live in peace. But we must also ask, if this is what Ahmadinejad wants, why has he introduced literally thousands of missiles into Lebanon and Syria, some with chemical and biological warheads, all aimed at Israel? Why has he financed and trained Hezbollah’s massive militia? Why is he creating an army for the murderous Hamas?

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3 Responses to “The Mennonite Central Committee and Israel”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    The source of Mennonite hostility to Israel is not clear to me. True they are a group who at the time of the American Revolution opposed resisting the British- true also that they have the ethnic background with a pronounced Germanic element which may have something to do with their resentment of Israel and Jews- Very possibly their pacificism is repelled at Israel which they may wrongly think of as ‘militaristic’. But why would they support a radical Muslim Mahdi-st like Ahmadinejad? Why would they try to moderate and distort his statements?
    I do not know the answer.
    I do know that in acting this way they have made a joke of their own Christian pacificistic principles , and made themselves seem like hypocritical fools.

  2. Vic Rosenthal says:

    I believe that it was in Michael Oren’s book “Power, faith and Fantasy” (which I can’t seem to find right now) that the history of American Protestant missionaries in the Middle East was discussed. They got along better with the Arabs, who — while they didn’t convert to Christianity very much — at least accepted the ministrations of the missionaries, went to their schools, etc. The Jews, of course, were as stiff-necked as ever.

  3. ME says:

    What are Mennonites?

    Did you have dinner with Ahmadinejad this today or do you mean today in the sense of the age of now?

    The president of Iran is not really the issue, the issue is the enite Ayatollah foundation in Iran that is driving the primary bobble head of that Nation into negotiations.

    It seems like the premise of your contentions with a particular group, or in the recent past, Columbia University’s reception and speaking engagement with Ahmadinejad, is targeting the underlying foundations of standard negotiations.

    Isolating a central figure as cause for the bubonic plague that is Islamic fundamentalism is akin to some attacks by the American public against President Bush during his administration. Who by the way, was re-elected for a second term. amidst his second lowest approval rating during office.

    “Extremists negotiating with extremists” sounds like it should be the title of this article, if that is what you are getting at. A complete bio on the persons conducting interaction with Iran is really comparable to black listing and assessing guilt by association.

    So the ones using the foundation to engage in communication with Iran are less significant than the occurrence of the discourse or is it the other way around?

    Please note: This comment is in response to the main article and not the subsidiary comments.