Was Israel hurt by Ahmadinejad at Columbia?In this morning's Haaretz - of all places - Shmuel Rosner argues that Israel was the loser in yesterday's appearance by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University:
In his speech, Ahmadinejad took aim at Israel. If he managed to convince one person of his views on Israel and Zionism, then he has already gained. If he managed to persuade 50, then he has gained even more.If you follow the link and scroll down to the comments, you will see that Rosner is being lambasted by Haaretz's leftist readership. They continue to fool themselves that in the world's eyes, Ahmadinejad looks like a joker or a clown. They are wrong. Rosner is right - Israel was the loser yesterday. But not because Ahmadinejad succeeded in convincing anyone that the only country with a problem over Iran's nuclear weapons is Israel. Israel was the loser yesterday because Ahmadinejad framed the 'Palestinian' issue in terms that might resonate with some people in the world. And in that respect, yesterday's big winner was not Iran but the 'Palestinians.'
For months, Israel worked fervently to prevent what happened on the podium Monday. For the duration of his speech, Ahmadinejad produced a televised illusion: It is not Iran versus the world, but Iran versus Israel.
If he manages to convince enough people of this, the mirage could become reality and Israel would be isolated, and that is exactly what Ahmadinejad is trying to accomplish.
To be believable, any big lie has to start with a grain of truth. Ahmadinejad's claims that the Holocaust never happened are a big lie. But his appeal that the 'Palestinians' should not be the ones to suffer the consequences will resonate in certain quarters of the world:
He denied he had questioned the existence of the Holocaust, and defended the rights of scholars to continue to "investigate everything."The reason that argument works is that the State of Israel itself uses the Holocaust as one of the justifications for its existence.
"I'm not saying it didn't happen, but granted this happened, what does it have to do with the Palestinian people?" he asked.
That may not be said explicitly very often. But anyone who has been here on Holocaust Remembrance Day knows that many Israelis regard the State of Israel as an answer to the Holocaust "so that the next time there will be a place to go." "If the State of Israel had existed, there would not have been a Holocaust because the Jews could have escaped." How many times have you heard those arguments? If those arguments are the raison d'etre of the State of Israel, Ahmadinejad is right: Why here? Why do the 'Palestinians' - assuming one accepts their existence as a separate 'people' - have to suffer?
But of course, Ahmadinejad is wrong. Jewish settlement of the land of Israel has existed for thousands of years. Just yesterday, we saw more evidence. From wherever they were exiled, Jews have prayed daily to return to Zion since they left - in some cases more than 2600 years ago. The Jewish connection to the land of Israel is obvious throughout the country. Everywhere you go in this country, there are ruins of Jewish synagogues, there are Jewish graves, there are Jewish ritual objects - many of them ancient - and in Jerusalem there are clear connections to the existence of the Temples, which Ahmadinejad and most Arabs also deny. It's not that the Jews needed a state and some colonial power chose this one - it's that the Jewish people have a specific connection to this land and have since the times of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That's why putting the Jewish state in Uganda could never work.
Ahamdinejad is also wrong because there's no such thing as 'Palestinians.' 'Palestinians' are a fiction that was created by Arab leaders so that they could demand back territory that they lost in aggressive wars that they initiated. The following comes from what is probably the most popular post to date on this blog:
Even Abu Mazen knows it.
The term "Palestina" was invented by the Roman emperor Hadrian. The Romans wanted to rename Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) after the Philistines, the longtime enemy of the Jews. Hadrian believed that by renaming the Jewish homeland after the Jews' archenemy, he would be able to forever break the bond between the Land of Israel and the Jewish people.
(The picture above is of a Roman bas-relief, still extant on an ancient building in Rome, and shows Roman soldiers robbing the menorah and other sacred objects of the Beit HaMikdash HaSheni (the Second Holy Temple))
But even the name of the Philistines, from which the term "Palestine" was adopted, is completely alien to the Land of Israel.
The name Philistines in Hebrew is plishtim, which comes from the Hebrew verb polshim (foreign invaders).Arabs only came to the Land of Israel in large numbers after the Jews returned in the 20th century and started to rebuild the nation, thereby creating economic and employment opportunities for Arab immigrants.
Prior to 1870, when Jews started to return to the Holy Land in large numbers, there were fewer than 100,000 Arabs living in what is today the State of Israel - including Yesha (the Hebrew acronym for Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District).
This small number of nomadic, tribal Arabs who lived in the Holy Land before the modern Jewish return never considered themselves to be a separate people or nation.
The Arabs who lived in the Land of Israel were not "Palestinians" but Arabs - part of a huge Arab people with 22 very large independent nations that control one-ninth of the land mass on the planet Earth.
- The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.
- For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.
Ahmadinejad won yesterday, because official Israel has allowed too many people to think that Israel exists to prevent the next Holocaust and that our right to the land of Israel is only that given to us by the United Nations in 1947. Our right to the land of Israel comes from God and His Torah and more than 3000 years of Jewish presence on this land that were brought about by God and His Torah. We are where we are because of the Jewish connection to this land and not because the world gave us "a land without a people for a people without a land" as the popular refrain goes - even if when there were very few Jews here in the late 19th century, this country might have been termed "a land without a people." If our right to the land of Israel is grounded in the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad is right: Why should the 'Palestinians' suffer? They weren't in Europe during the Holocaust! (Yes, Haj Amin al-Husseini was, but they try to avoid mentioning his connection with the Nazis). Israel doesn't exist because of the Holocaust and the Jewish homeland isn't here because of the Holocaust: Israel exists on this parcel of land because the Jewish people has finally returned to its homeland. If we proudly shout that out, we win. If we try to give the land away and say that we're here to prevent the next Jewish Holocaust, Ahmadinejad wins and we lose.
Unfortunately, Israel was the loser because too many of us let Ahmadinejad win yesterday. It's time that we stand up proudly for our rights and not concede them to others.