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Monday, April 20, 2009

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't trying to kill you

I really did plan to go to sleep for the night. But I made the mistake of first reading my comments. And there was NormanF pointing out the fact that Roger Cohen's article in Monday's New York Times is already online. It's difficult to bottle up the visceral anger I feel at nearly every one of Cohen's articles. So I'm staying up even later to respond. I'm going to limit myself to answering three specific points in Cohen's latest screed.
How frightened should an Israeli teenager really be, how inhabited by the old existential terror, the perennial victimhood, the Holocaust fear and vulnerability from which Israel was supposed to provide deliverance?

Yes, Israel is small — all the land between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea is scarcely bigger than Maryland — and its environment hostile. This, as former President Jimmy Carter notes in a fine new book, makes it vulnerable. But as Carter also writes in “We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land,” Israel has a “military force that is modern, highly trained and superior to the combined forces of all its potential adversaries.”

Not only that, Israel has a formidable nuclear arsenal; it has made peace with Egypt and Jordan; it has a cast-iron security guarantee from the United States; it has walled, fenced, blockaded and road-blocked the roughly 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza into a pitiful archipelago of helplessness; its enemies, Hezbollah and Hamas, only declared victory in recent wars by preventing their own destruction.
Cohen asks how frightened 'should' an Israeli teenager be? Israeli teenagers have more to be frightened from than their state's endangered existence. An Israeli teenager always keeps a watchful eye on who gets on the bus with him to make sure that they're not a suicide bomber. I can remember one of my children - then aged 10 - at the height of a series of suicide bombings building massive city scenes with his Lego and then destroying them in a sudden thrust of activity. He called it playing "pigua." Pigua is the Hebrew word for a terror attack. To that child, now a young adult, what Cohen calls 'perennial victimhood' (I would call it an existential fear) is not two generations old. It's here and now. To the 75% of children in Sderot who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, it's not 'perennial victimhood' - it's here and now. To the boys like Mrs. Carl's nephews who study in Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav (one of whom lost several classmates in last year's terror attack), who were present when a terrorist burst into their yeshiva building and opened fire, it's here and now. To the teenager who becomes a combat soldier a year or two later (and by the time they are 16 or so, most Israeli kids know whether they are heading in that direction), it's not a question of being a victim, but of fighting for one's life and for one's country's existence. Cohen, who has apparently spent more time in Germany and Iran than he has in Israel, cannot see that. He believes that the Holocaust is what drives this country, but it's not. Too many of our kids know very little about the Holocaust unless and until they go on a trip to Poland in 11th or 12th grades. But everyone here knows someone who - God save us - has a terror victim in their family.

All the military force in the world, all the weaponry in the world and all the security guarantees in the world cannot and do not lead one to lose the fear of death in an inherently dangerous area. The reminders of our vulnerability are a daily occurrence: the bag check at the mall, the guard who searches your car before you enter a parking garage, the endless memorials to others who died because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, the random clusters of police officers at different points in the city from one day to the next and yes, the security fence (95% of which is a fence and not a wall), are all constant reminders that we cannot let our guard down even for a moment, because we face a bloodthirsty enemy that is all-too-eager to murder us. I suspect that Roger Cohen would not be quite so pompous and condescending if he had to live with our reality for a while. Especially during violent periods (like 2000-2003) this country is a pressure cooker, and its citizens enjoy a palpable sense of relief when they get off an airplane someplace else.
A core contradiction inhabits Israeli policy. While talking about a two-state solution — at least until Netanyahu redux — Israel has gone on building the West Bank settlements that render a peace agreement impossible by atomizing the 23 percent of the land theoretically destined for Palestine.
This is one of the biggest libels about our current situation. Nearly all of the 'building West Bank settlements' that has gone on since 1993 - and all such building that has been done with government approval - has happened in areas where Israel believes that even in the event that it reaches a 'settlement' with the 'Palestinians' it will retain the territory. In other words, nearly all of the building that has gone on beyond the 'green line' that represents the 1949 armistice line has gone on in the 'settlement blocs' that Israel believes - and that President Bush intimated in his April 14, 2004 letter to Ariel Sharon - would be retained by Israel under any permanent agreement with the 'Palestinians.' It is not the 'building West Bank settlements' that has rendered a peace agreement impossible - it is the continued unwillingness of the 'Palestinians' to fight terror, and the continued unwillingness of the 'Palestinians' to negotiate on any issue, as if holding out will mean that the World imposes the 'Palestinians' terms on Israel. Unfortunately, the World (including the United States in recent months) has given the 'Palestinians' reason to believe that the 'Palestinians' terms will be imposed upon Israel.

As an aside, I have observed that when my posts are quoted on other blogs - especially those to the left of mine - people object to my putting the term 'Palestinians' in scare quotes. I thought I had highlighted the issue enough times, but for those who still cannot understand why I do so, it's because there is no such thing as a distinct 'Palestinian' people that is separate and unique from the other Arabs. I discussed that issue at great length here.
The population of Arabs in the Holy Land, at about 5.4 million, will one day overtake the number of Jews. So a two-state solution is essential to Israel’s survival as a Jewish state. Persisting in the 42-year-old occupation and the building of settlements gnaws at the very foundations of the Zionist dream.
Sorry Roger, but that's also a myth. I discussed it at length here, but for those who won't click on links, here are a few highlights.
1. The assumption that Jews are doomed to become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean has been based on grossly erroneous assumptions, including projected heavy net-immigration, over-projected Arab fertility rate and under-projected Jewish fertility rate. A 67% robust Jewish majority over 98.5% of the land west of the Jordan River (without Gaza) is a long-term documented phenomenon, benefiting from a demographic momentum.

2. According to Israel’s largest daily, “Yedioth Achronot” (April 8, 2007), and largely based on findings by the American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG, www.aidrg.com ):

* 38% of Palestinians wish to emigrate, according to a February 2007 survey conducted by A-Najah University in Nablus and a survey conducted by Nabil Kukali’s research center in Beit Sakhur. A September 2006 study, by Bir Zeit University, indicated that 44% of the 20-30 age group, and 32% of the total Palestinian population, want to emigrate.

*45,000 emigration requests were submitted to foreign Consulates during the second half of 2006.

* Yoram Ettinger, of AIDRG: until 2000 most emigrants were Christians, but since then most have been Moslems, bureaucrats, intellectuals and businessmen. Palestinian net-emigration has been a regional phenomenon since 1950.

* Palestinian annual average net-emigration has exceeded 10,000, reaching 16,000 in 2005, and a higher level in 2006, as a result of the January 2006 Hamas ascension to power. Emigration has increased substantially, while the PA has become the highest recipient of foreign aid per capita.

* Palestinian emigration increased during the oil price boom of the 1970s and declined during the oil price slump of the 1980s. The expulsion of 300,000 Palestinians from Kuwait, and the Oslo Accord, produced a rare brief net-immigration, but substantially lower than assumed (about 25,000 each). Unprecedented Palestinian terrorism – since Oslo and especially since 2000 – triggered higher net-emigration. The Norwegian institute for social research, FAFO, contended that net-emigration amounted to 100,000 during September 2000 and November 2002 [much higher than documented by AIDRG].


3. According to Israel’s daily, Ha’aretz (April 12, 2007):

*The Jewish-Arab fertility gap has been reduced to one-child [down from a 6 children gap in the 1960s]!

*The 2006 “Green Line” Arab fertility rate is 3.6 children per woman (trending downward), compared with a 2.7 Jewish fertility rate (trending upward).
The picture at the top of this post is of one of the murdered students from the terror attack at Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav in March 2008. He is lying on the floor of his school's library in a puddle of his own blood. It's an image that Roger Cohen should be forced to look at many times before he writes his next anti-Israel article.

And with that, I will go get my few hours of sleep. Layla tov (good night) everyone.


At 3:29 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Thanks, Carl. When you wake up, if you want to know who is paranoid, its Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. "The Zionists Control The World."

From the Fars News Agency:

Ahmedinejad Terms Zionism Pioneer Of Terrorism If Roger Cohen wants to talk about paranoia, he's looking in the wrong place.


At 11:15 PM, Blogger Vietnam Veteran said...

All the rationalization and propaganda does not come close to justifying the massacre of civilians in the Warsaw Ghetto; oops, I mean in the Gaza Strip!!!

At 11:01 AM, Blogger Nhazzaroth said...

Sure, Carl, that's pretty good right wing Israeli propaganda there. Unfortunately for you, it's that kind of thinking that keeps Israel in this state of perpetual war. When, one of these days, the Israeli right wing is willing to admit that both sides have to do their parts for the peace process to work. The persecution card can only be played so long before it's played out. There's no reason for those settlements to be in the West Bank at all (unless you're one of those ultra-Orthodox who insists the land was given to the Jews by God). You want peace, you're going to have to give up that land to the Palestinians, plain and simple.

As for the Iranians, if they're really such a threat and not merely talking tough, then why hasn't Netanyahu called for a bombing run yet? He is as hawkish as they get.

Nobody with any sense seriously questions the Israelis anger at the Palestinians, but you're going to have to let it go eventually because they're going to be your next door neighbors into the foreseeable future.

There never was a Palestinian people? Funny how they point out the same thing about the mass influx of European Zionists to make the State of Israel what it is today. Oh, but I'm forgetting, right? God gave you that land personally.

At 9:07 PM, Blogger Vietnam Veteran said...

Nhazzaroth, Well said!! Israel has to learn a lesson from the Vietnam War: an Army can defeat other armies, but it can't defeat a people!!!

At 10:35 PM, Blogger summacumlatte said...

Mohammed himself admitted that God gave the land to the Jews. It's in the Qur'an, "Night Journey," chapter 17:100-104.


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