Archive for February, 2008
Bash away at their
This heart-wrenching picture of Arab wretchedness appears on a Jewish blogger’s site, which always pins all the blame on Israel and never mentions the Arab violence that leads to their own adversity.
By RALPH DOBRIN
Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”
To order the book click: http://www.amazon.com type: how to avoid Armageddon
I receive regular e-mail newsletters and blogs from people in Israel and abroad – whose aims are to see Israel acquiesce to all Arab demands for Palestinian independence that would include a return to indefensible borders and the return of the Arab refugees to their former places of residence – ideas that would probably spell a quick demise of the Jewish state, not to mention the slaughter of its citizens. As a rule I try to acknowledge every communication.
Israel’s struggle to survive in the midst of implacable rejection, bolstered by limitless sources of funding and heated by religious precepts, is waged on a number of fronts. Apart from the military struggles and campaigns, there is an ongoing quest to weaken Israel economically, politically as well as crush its morale. What feeds all these fronts are opinions, attitudes and beliefs, usually based on half-truths, crass fabrication and popular myths.
A paraphrased example of the popular myth taught to young Arabs: “The Jews stole our Land. Kill Jews and you’ll go to heaven as a martyr and be rewarded with a blissful existence for eternity.” These are compelling words to a person fed on hatred towards the Jews, whose soldiers frequently patrol through his town or village, and whose life lacks the prosperity and glamor of his counterparts in other countries.
PREACHING TO THE CONVERTED
Many people concerned about Israel’s survival, send regular letters to the media; many despatch e-mails and blogs to others on their lists – mainly folks with similar sentiments, many of whom are also writing the same kind of articles. Indeed, I myself have a useful list of marvelous people with whom I engage in this literary swapping. I often get useful ideas from these communications.
But we should also be directing our words at Israel’s adversaries and their sympathizers – Arabs working to weaken or destroy Israel, and all the other sundry bashers of Israel – Christians, Muslims and even Jews. Some are bona fide humanists concerned about the wretched plight of the Palestinians (which because of the one-sided images they see on their TV screens, they believe is the direct result of what they perceive as Israel’s brutal expansionism), as well as dyed-in-wool anti-Semites.
I have found that the bashers most receptive to my communications are those whose motive is based mainly on a concern for their fellow human-beings and whose sentiments are not strongly anti-Jewish. I tell them that I can feel from their words that they want to be honest in their writing, seeking the truth and that I do appreciate their concern for their fellow human beings. But then I mention that not all their assertions are absolutely true. I point out a few generally-held misconceptions, not accusing or scolding. Just in the interests of providing a clear and honest picture.
A method that I use with all bashers – sincere humanists, rabid anti-Semites as well as Arab correspondents is to point out that in any situation — and especially in the Israel-Arab conflict there are lots of little pictures (like the road blocks or attacks by Israeli soldiers on Arabs who happen to be firing rockets at Jewish towns and villages), and that all these little pictures are all part of the big picture – which is the ongoing Arab quest to obliterate a tiny country with fellow human beings.
But I don’t spend much time or effort on the “little pictures” because they tend to divert my thrust from the main issue and invariably lead to a dead end.
A major point that is seldom mentioned is that the conflict has its roots in the Arab refusal to recognize that the Jews have any right to sovereignty in any part of the Middle East, no matter how small, and despite their almost four millennia connection with the Land. I also mention that all the wars were quite unnecessary. The Jews didn’t threaten the lives of Arabs by their presence. On the contrary, they helped bring prosperity to a wretched region. All the Arab invasions on Israel were misconceived, grossly unfair and based on lies.
I mention that Palestine at the start of the British Mandate actually embraced quite a large territory, and that 77% had been summarily lopped off to form an Arab state called Jordan. Half of what remained was to be divided into yet another Arab state next to a few slivers of land that was to constitute the Jewish state and that even to this the Arabs refused and launched a war of annihilation, a mere three years after the end of the Holocaust.
I add that the continuation of their quest to harm and destroy Israel only means more misery for the Arabs, because like any other nation under attack, the Israelis have to defend themselves. I also point out a few startling figures, such as the six million Jews of Israel being outnumbered by 250 million Arabs and the land mass of the Arab states which is 500 times larger than Israel, and which in fact constitutes the second largest national land mass in the world – larger than Canada or the USA.
Invariably the response to these lines is something like: “Oh, I didn’t realize that. I must think about it.” And then they will grasp at something like the wall Israel built to keep out assassins or the bombing of some people who had been shooting at Jews. My response is usually as brief as possible, focussing on the fact that whatever harm is done to the Arabs was a reaction to their aggression. Had there been no attacks on Israel there could have been an independent Arab Palestine and no need for any refugees, roadblocks, walls or dead Arabs.
HOW TO RELATE TO EACH TYPE OF BASHER
To the Jewish bashers of Israel who might be feeling shame at what they perceive as shocking aggression by Israel, we explain that their sources of information are slanted and selective. We should show them examples of slant and distortion, and in polite, friendly tones, suggest that “we’re actually on the same side.” There are many wonderful sources that we can refer them to. Internet linkage is almost instant. At the end of this article I have included a few of my favorite links.
The anti-Semites can be approached in the same manner. We should appeal to the sense of honor of these people and their interest in getting to hear the facts, even if we reckon that they have little sense of honor nor are they really interested in hearing anything that might put Israel in a good light or make the Arabs appear to be responsible in any way for the ongoing conflict.
I am not suggesting being false to our convictions or hypocritical towards our adversaries. I will never use words like “fond,” “friend,” and certainly never “love,” when addressing these people. We should be mindful of the fact that our aim is to modify extreme attitudes towards us, or even change them. Change won’t come immediately, but modification might come after a short exchange of letters, blogs and articles with them.
Our messages should be reaching the Arabs, too, and in a similar tone. Ultimately we are all on the same side and that is on the side of survival – of the human species. We should point out that if the conflict continues there is a chance that in less than a generation we will blow ourselves to smithereens and end life on this planet.
Arabs invariably don’t answer, especially if the correspondent is an Israeli. But I write to them as well. For most religious Muslims Israel’s existence is a cardinal wrong which must be eradicated as soon as possible. Others regard the situation as something that has to be suffered only temporarily. For the moment they resign themselves to Israel’s presence – like their resignation to Spain’s existence as a former Muslim entity.
I usually don’t use many adjectives. I avoid preaching; I don’t call anyone a liar, fool or scoundrel. My tone, I hope, is sincere, and intends to nudge them out of their mindset so that they can eventually understand that the reality of the situation is not as they had believed. I then suggest that they visit our website which deals with integrity and peace in the Middle East
I don’t know how many bashers – Jewish, non-Jewish anti-semitic or Arab – I have influenced. I do know of a few specific cases who had previously been passionately against anything that Israel was doing to defend itself, and who as a result of an exchange of e-mails, began to have a better understanding of the reality and thus adopted a measured stand. One eloquent anti-Semite was so impressed with my mailing to him that he sent out my response to hundreds of people on his mailing list!
I reckon that I have managed to put a germ of an idea in the minds of some of the bashers and haters about the wrongness of a huge part of humanity hell-bent on destroying a tiny, ancient nation, very eager to live in peace, and the wrongness of supporting that diabolical quest. With more people doing the same thing, we can make a difference.
Tiny Israel can never prevail against the titanic Arab nation, especially when it is hamstrung in its military responses by the strictures of a hypocritical world. For two generations the war against Israel has been waged in national economies, the media as well as the battlefield. Religion is a factor on both sides, which makes the issues even more emotional and pragmatically unreasonable.
But it will eventually be won in the minds of humanity. So, all who recognize the issues and who are engaged in writing, should try to address the misinformed, the bashers and of course the Arabs – moderate, militant and rabid. Clearly the war is not just between Israel and the Arabs (including Iran), it is becoming global. The more people who are told about the falsehoods, the fewer lives will ultimately be lost to the madness.
To order “How to avoid Armageddon” click: http://www.amazon.com type: how to avoid Armageddon
What can the individual do?
By Ralph Dobrin
With all the immense challenges and threats to its very existence, there are two things that Israel must have in order to survive: sensible, selfless, courageous leadership able to make the right decisions and execute them promptly; and a society that is hard-working, prudent and imbued with integrity and a belief in itself and its leadership.
Clearly, this is far from being the case today. If this situation continues it is only a matter of time before Israel is overwhelmed by the odds against her: namely 250 million Arabs backed by another billion Muslims, possessing the major energy sources of the world, and further strengthened by repeated Western censure against Israel for whatever it does to defend itself.
So, apart from praying, what can the individual in Israel do? There are three alternatives.
1. Leave Israel, and hope that anti-Jewish sentiments wherever he chooses to live will not be too bothersome or violent in the future.
2. Simply ignore what’s happening around us in the world, forget about the growing power of radical Islam everywhere, and be resigned to the our helplessness in repairing the shortcomings of Israel’s society and leadership. It seems that this is how most people relate to the situation most of the time.
3. Make a personal effort to change things. This is not so way-out as it might seem. There are two areas in which we can make a difference.
At the risk of sounding like preaching, the first requirement is to lead our lives according to the principles of common decency and integrity. This must be done without conceit or self-righteousness and without making a big show of how upstanding or charming we might think we are. Also we must refrain from being habitually negative (this does not preclude constructive criticism when warranted). We must be nice to each other. Such a general bearing has a positive effect on our immediate surroundings and can generate a ripple effect, reaching out to the rest of society.
The second area is an active involvement in the betterment of Israel – to the best of our ability. Try to find an hour or week or more to participate in a social, educational, ecological, political or ideological activity. For example: teach needy kids free of charge, help new immigrants get settled, or demonstrate against unacceptable parliamentary procedures. The scope for involvement is endless. One of the reasons for Israel’s present poor governance is the general public’s tendency to be uninvolved. Many people write letters to the press, and that is good. But it doesn’t make the slightest difference. Vigorous, continuous involvement is imperative. All who realize the situation must make the effort to become personally active in some appropriate sphere, and try to persuade others to join them. Apathy or passiveness is no longer an option.
We must spread the word that it is up to each and every one of us to make the necessary changes – in ourselves and in government. Changing society should not be so difficult a task. It’s a question of changing norms and creating a new trend – like wearing jeans or using the internet to do our shopping. Trends start with a few people; others see something that catches their fancy and join in the trend and that’s how it becomes a fashion. We’re talking about a permanent change of norms.
But changing the level of governance will take more time. This can only take place when we have a society imbued with integrity and common decency. After all politicians and Knesset Members come from society, hence they reflect the norms of society. When the norms change, we can we expect those same norms to reach the Knesset. Meanwhile, the public must use their right to wage demonstrations against every infraction of ethical behaviour. We should also join as active members or fee-paying supporters, an organization like the Movement for Quality Government. http://www.mqg.org.il
Being involved helps us stave off the gloom. Being involved means being part of a new wave – of optimism and joy at being an Israeli. We face collosal challenges, which while scary, also make life exciting, fascinating and satisfying. We should be mindful that we are part of an incredible ongoing historical process. Actually, it is a tremendous privilege is to be living at this time and to be part of this amazing little nation’s modern renaissance, standing up against a line-up of peoples who have been taught to adore death and destruction and who promote their ideals through lies and hatred. There is a global struggle, alluded to by the biblical prophets.
Israel is at the forefront of this global struggle. To a large extent it is a struggle of the mind. We will win if we have the right attitude. But we must recognize that it is up to each and every one concerned about Israel to personally do whatever we can. Especially if you live in Israel. Shake off the disappointments, turn disillusionment into determination, be nice to each other, muster up the energy and get out there and be active – alone or with a group. I must see that the fate of the nation is in my hands and in yours. What could be more sobering … and thrilling than all this?
For more visit: http://www.israelandtruth.org
How can Israel survive?
By Ralph Dobrin
Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”
To order the book click: http://www.amazon.com type: how to avoid Armageddon
Israel is one of the smaller nations in the world. Israel’s six million Jews are about 2% of the Arab populations of the world, a large part of which yearns for Israel’s demise. Israel has never had a single day free from the threat of war. Make no mistake the Arab world has one of the most formidable military line-ups in the world. Apart from superpower USA, or Russia, China, Britain and France, few nations would be able to stand against the military might of countries such as Egypt and pre-2001 Iraq, or a combination of the lesser powerful Arab nations. Gratifyingly Egypt has a peace treaty with Israel. It’s not a friendly peace and a change in regime could catapult Egypt into the forefront of Israel’s immediate threats, which includes non-Arab, Islamic Iran. The same applies to the Kingdom of Jordan which has a peace treaty with Israel.
At the moment those directly militarily active against Israel are the terror groups, Hizbollah and Hamas, which while lacking air power, constitute fierce, fearless warriors with a dedication and a willingness to die for their cause seldom paralleled in the history of warfare. They are supported financially and in training and weapons by Iran and Syria. Also every day they become more adept in battle. Till recently they constituted a tactical threat. Now they are emerging as a strategic threat. Intelligence agencies claim that there is cooperation between them and El Khaida.
Compounding the desperate situation in which Israel finds herself, is the attitude of the international community, which is involved in the Israel-Arab conflict diplomatically and commercially through United Nations decisions and boycotts of Israel’s exports and even academics. Furthermore, Israel’s actions are severely limited through pressure by the USA, which readily indicates withdrawal of her support if Israel strays from what she perceives is in the USA interest. Therefore Israel is unable to adequately unleash her deterrent force against the constant attacks on her territory and people. Israel is often pushed into making agreements that lead to her becoming weakened even further in every way.
IT’S NOT JUST A QUESTION OF TERRITORY
This overall situation is the backdrop to the question: how can Israel survive? The stakes here are not just territory or the adjustment of borders. It is not Palestinian statehood, as everyone assumes. Palestine independence was there to be had in 1948. But the Arabs chose war with the intention of obliterating Israel. They failed and tried again in 1967. Through diplomatic channels Israel tried to start a dialogue that should have led to a solution for Palestine (read Judea and Samaria). In 1993 the Oslo Accords should have led to the creation of independence for Palestine. Negotiations despite the daily suicide bombings led to a stage where Israel was offering the Arabs of the region 97% of Judea and Samaria. Again they opted for war. Their intention is the same as it has always been – the total disappearance of Israel as a political and ethnic entity. Yet Israel is pressured to continue the negotiations, even while a powerful terrorist organization Hamas rules over the whole of the Gaza Strip and prepares to take over the Judea and Samaria.
How then, can Israel survive? Many people suggest that Israel should annex Judea and Samaria, thus creating permanent borders along the Jordan River. If Israel were a state with at least double its present Jewish population that might be viable answer. But with its present limited population, it is only a matter of time before such a development would lead to an Arab majority which, in the most favorable circumstances, would lead to Arab control of the Israeli government which might lead to social and economic discrimination of the Jewish population. It might become yet another Islamic state with all the disadvantages for dhimmi status for non-Muslims. But such a bloodless scenario is probably wishful thinking. With their long record of slaughter of each other over minor differences, if they ever got the upper hand over the Jews, even politically, it would undoubtedly mean genocide.
Another option that has been suggested is population transfer, which has been done dozens of times during the twentieth century. Millions of people have been moved in Europe and Asia. The Muslim-Hindu divide in British-ruled India exploded into widespread, bloody fighting between neighbors and neighborhoods. The solution was the creation of Pakistan and Bangladesh, which, while not leading to mutual friendship like the USA and Canada or Sweden and Norway, has at least enabled India to co-exist with its Muslim neighbors in a spirit of wary alertness, disturbed by occasional border outbreaks and acts of terror. The alternative would probably have been endless massacres of each other. After the Second World War, millions of ethnic Germans were moved out of Cechoslovakia and Poland to new homes in Germany. Their children were hardly aware of their parents previous domicile. But population transfer of Arabs in Judea and Samaria would have no chance of being accepted by the international community, let alone Arab and non-Arab Muslims all over the region. Such a move would probably spark a pan-Arab war with Israel and include massive contingents from other powerful Muslim countries.
SO WHY NOT CREATE PALESTINE?
The creation of an independent state called Palestine in Judea and Samaria is the solution that is sought by most of the international community as well as the present Israel government. About half of the Israeli public supports this development on condition that the future Palestine state is sincere about peace with Israel. This is far from being evident at the moment. Even after Israel totally evacuated the Gaza Strip (making Gaza in effect an independent political entity), Israels towns and villages that are miles from the border are bombarded daily with barrages of mortar and rocket fire – even more than before Israel’s withdrawal. What is the reason for these attacks? The answer: total rejection of Israel’s existence … anywhere in the region!!!
For sixty years since its inception as an independent state, Israel has found itself under siege. The years ahead are clearly going to be fraught with even more dreadful challenges as radical Islam spreads and the introduction of ever more destructive weaponry, and Iran’s emergence as a nuclear power, already making almost daily threats against Israel’s very existence. How will Israel survive? Can six million Jews stand firm against such a monstrous line-up of a billion people? And make no mistake – Israel will probably also have to face nuclear Iran alone. Israel, condemned by the enlightened peoples of the world for defending herself, will probably be the one to save enlightenment by herself. And she’ll be condemned yet again.
Meanwhile, for many people in Israel the future seems impossibly grim and they prefer not to even think about the future, or they simply move to another country. Others take encouragement from biblical prophesy and invoke the God of Israel. Conversely the Arabs intone passages from the Koran and call out that Allah is Great.Meanwhile, from a pragmatic point of view the odds seem clearly in the Arabs’ favor, as has invariably been the case – ever since Israel became an independent state in 1948. At that time the Arabs lost a chance to create a state called Palestine because they tried to obliterate the half of Palestine that became Israel, and they haven’t stopped blaming Israel for their blunder. (The Arab Palestine would have become yet another Arab state among the other 22 existing Arab states!) A large part of the Arab world still hasn’t given up dream of obliterating the Jewish state. But tiny Israel persists in existing, despite all its many serious internal problems, not the least of which is decent leadership.
More than ever before Israel needs wise, honest leadership – which is far from the case. The people in Israel need to believe in their ability to continue overcoming all the immense challenges and threats. Israel must develop a society that is hard-working, honest, willing to give of itself for the common good and the benefit of the country and be physically sturdy as well. It needs to address everyday issues such as growing its own food, which is far from the case today. It needs to ensure it has enough water for all its needs, provide work for every Israeli of working age. It needs to maintain good relationships with the international community, especially with the other Muslim countries and indeed any Arab states willing to conduct dialogue.
Israel needs to hope for the day when, in spite of the present almost illogical, wanton, implacable hatred by a large part of humanity, peace will come – either as a result of yet another wholescale conflagration in the region, ending as in previous wars with Israel’s victory, or preferably through the gradual ascendancy of pragmatic tolerance and acceptance of non-Muslim, peace-seeking Israel from all the surrounding peoples. At the moment, the former seems to be far more likely.
For more on how can Israel survive visit: www.israelandtruth.org
Is it possible without religion?
Despite all the hullabaloo in the world about Israel, only about six million Jews live there. About six million more live outside Israel – most of them assimilated. Throughout living memory a large part of the Pan-Arab nation, which today comes to about 300 million – some fifty times more than the Jews in Israel – has striven for Israel’s destruction. Hundreds of millions of non-Arab Moslems share this gruesome sentiment.
Add to this harrowing equation the fact that Israel has hardly any natural resources, while her adversaries hold most of the world’s oil reserves, one comes to a sobering conclusion: even without the Iranian nuclear threat, that Israel faces desperate existential challenges, as it always has. Also disquieting is the fact that the Jewish population outside Israel is decreasing in numbers and weakening in its commitment to the Jewish people at large and to Israel itself.
However, not in the last three thousand years has the Jewish people had such power in comparison with its adversaries, and yet seldom been such a dire need among the Jews of the world to probe their national identity and consider how to contend with the future! Failure to face these questions now could spell disaster for Israel and the Jewish people. What enabled the survival of Jewish nationhood for thousands of years was its religion. Dietary laws prevented Jews from fraternizing too closely with the gentiles – even in the absence of hostility, which was in itself generally engendered by religious differences.
Also for centuries in most countries, the Jews were not allowed regular social or mercantile contact with the rest of the population. To a large extent because of this, they maintained their communal integrity. Religion is what set them apart from the other citizens and simultaneously what held them together as a nation. But this state of affairs began to change a few generations ago – when Jews were admitted into the schools, universities, work places and gentile neighborhoods.
Soon Jews worked their way into the forefront of business, academia, the arts and the professions as well as socially. But this development led to a gradual weakening of their bond with tradition and with their communities. Two or three generations of growing assimilation has resulted in widespread intermarriage and a decrease in the Jewish population world-wide.
In Israel, however, most non-religious Jews, like their religiously-observant compatriots, still feel strongly about their Jewish identity. Even agnostics and many declared atheists regard themselves as part of the fold. Although many of these people find it easy to contemplate domicile elsewhere.
Clearly, promotion of religious observance is an effective way of combating the decrease of Jewish numbers in the Diaspora and to the strengthening the national identity among secular Israelis.
But it’s only a partial solution – because most people brought up in a religiously non-observant home, find little inspiration in the Bible. They balk at the violence and wholesale killing, often commanded by God himself.
The young, sophisticated college student or professional can’t see much to admire in the Patriarchs, especially Jacob, who is the one from whom the nation gets its name – “Israel.” Also the stern, often seemingly unfair trials and punishments meted out by the Almighty, tend to dismay rather than engender religious devotion, especially when rabbinic apologetics come in the form of folkloristic interpretations and parables, that to the twenty-first century inquirer usually seem lame and unconvincing.
And if, in spite of these reservations, the sincere secular-oriented Jew does try to get into a routine of religious practice, so much of the ritual seems arbitrary, incompatible with current thought (like thanking God for not making you a woman if you’re a man), and the prayers interminably long and repetitive.
Furthermore, for the young person from an assimilated home who is sincerely searching for spiritual direction there is too much emphasis on the separation of meat and milk, while lessons or role models in integrity and spirituality are less in evidence.
So a small percentage – 10 to 15 percent of assimilated college students might come regularly to prayer services and Judaic studies (often mainly to socialize). The rest are on their way out of the Jewish fold. Half will intermarry, and their children are unlikely to have any sense of Jewish identity. Those who don’t intermarry, are unlikely to impart much in the way of Jewish peoplehood to their offspring.
JEWISH IDENTITY IS PUZZLING FOR MANY ISRAELIS
The secular Jews living in Israel have a much stronger sense of peoplehood. After all they speak Hebrew, learn about their past in school, and participate in the defense of the Jewish state. But the lure of a much easier life in another country is often too strong to keep them in Israel. They too represent yet another factor in the Jewish people’s dwindling numbers.
Numbers are crucial for any small nation, especially when that small nation is constantly threatened with destruction by neighbors in a damnably hostile region. To ensure that Israel’s overall numbers do not continue to fall another source of inspiration is needed. Fortunately there is no need to invent anything new. The source is there – in the Jews’ unique past and in the momentous present.
What needs to be emphasized, unchauvinistically, is that being Jewish actually means being part of one of the oldest nations on earth. Unlike the vast majority of other ancient peoples, the Jews never lost their national identity. Hebrew remains more or less the same language – with a few changes and additions – as was spoken two or three thousand years ago. Many of the same customs are still followed.
Furthermore, Jews have always had a powerful emotional and physical bond with the Land of Israel, that goes back over 3,500 years.
Another unique aspect about Jewish peoplehood is the fact that no other nation on earth has survived exile and dispersion – not to mention nineteen hundred years of it — and then become resurrected again in its ancient homeland as an independent state. The uniqueness of this is mind-boggling. Even the agnostic can feel that this might have a bearing on some cosmic plan.
Of overwhelming import is also the fact that at this point in history, Israel and the Jewish people are being thrust into the center of the nascent clash of civilizations. The clash is between two ways of life – between forces of profoundly self-righteous intolerance – squaring off against its antithesis — namely freedom of thought and universal human dignity. Religious worship in the form of enmity, violence and death is challenging the practice of tolerance, personal liberty and the appreciation of life. In a nutshell the conflict seems to be between the proverbial Powers of Darkness and Light!
Those who are determined to destroy Israel are the same forces of intolerance and hatred. They fully recognize that there is a conflict – after all, they instigated it. But among those on the side of freedom and dignity, many are not as clear-sighted about the fact that there is any conflict at all – neither with regard to the global conflict nor with Israel’s pivotal role, nor even with its right to defend itself.
Israel must survive and flourish as a nation – there are a thousand reasons why! For this to be, all Jews must again take their connection with the Jewish people seriously. And clearly there is so much in Jewish peoplehood – apart from ritual – that can inspire involvement in Israel or in one’s Jewish communities – on an active or passive level.
Israel is also special because of the hope for a better world, implicit in its very existence.
Israel is more than just a country. Israel is really an ideal, that signifies a striving for all that is fine and noble in the human spirit. (To many the plight of the Arabs in the region might make this statement ring false. Clarification appears in http://www.israelandtruth.org Also the mundane reality within Israeli society at this time appears to contradict this notion.)
But it must be remembered that Israel is still in an early stage of consolidation as a society, contending with difficult internal problems and external threats.
Whether you put religion into the equation or not, there must be an ongoing emphasis in Israel and among Jews throughout the world, on the vital importance of personal integrity and consideration for others, modesty, kindness and a sense of communal responsibility. These are the ideals that have always been part of the Jewish ethos – beyond the plethora of laws and ritual. More attention to these simple ideals together with a deeper awareness of Israel’s unique renaissance and struggle, and its central role in the clash of civilizations, will excite the imagination of Jews everywhere and draw more and more absconding Israelis back to the country, and more indifferent Diaspora Jews back to the fold.
For more read: www.israelandtruth.org
Truthfulness and global
THE source of most human misery is falsehood. Rogues, tyrants and would-be-saviors feed on the inability of most people to recognize falsehood when it is glibly camouflaged by promises of material reward, national glory or spiritual redemption.
The ability to recognize the lie or the half-truth would have stopped many a demagogue from sewing the seeds of racial discrimination, exploitation, poverty and war. For example, if more Germans had recognized the half-truths and specious blandishments in Hitler’s rantings about German claims against their European neighbors and the Jews, he probably wouldn’t have risen to power and plunged the world into a dreadful war which caused the devastation of much of Europe and his own people.
Life is full of similar examples, where because of human foibles, falsehood is accepted – either as naive belief or because it’s expedient – while the truth is rejected, leading to tragic consequences. The current issues of pollution, global warming, inter-racial hatred, religious fundamentalism and wars in various parts of the world, offer clear examples.
Till now the spread of falsehood and its complementary side, gullibility have merely led to devastation and misery. But because of the intensity of pollution and the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by tyrants and religious fanatics, the consequences could mean the end of life on this planet as we know it within the near future – either through nuclear radiation or at a later date through the irrevocable destruction of the earth’s ecostructure as a result of industrial and vehicular pollution.
THE NEED TO RECOGNIZE FALSEHOOD
So, the dire need of the moment is to heighten our ability to recognize falsehood promoted for political, ideological, religious and commercial interests and oppose it. Granted, this is a very complex expectation. We must learn the difference between really knowing the truth about something and just believing it; we must understand the pernicious comfort lurking in wishful thinking; we must learn to recognize demagoguery and glib propaganda, and to withstand the charm of smooth speakers and pay attention, not only to their appearance and style, but to their actual words; what is really being said, what is omitted, what is inconsistent with previous statements, what is unsubstantiated, what is illogical, what appeals to our sense of wishful thinking? Above all, we must be critically honest with ourselves.
The oft-repeated phrase that everyone has his own truth is one of the biggest cop-outs for serious challenge to time-honored, but questionable beliefs. What everyone has, is his or her own notion of truth, which usually lacks pertinent facts and includes half-truths and manifestations of wishful thinking. Nevertheless, every single thing has its own set of truths, based on reality and facts. A table, for example, is incontrovertibly and truly a table. It possesses certain clearly and easily assessed truths such as size, weight and function.
However, the truth about subjects such as religion, politics, history cannot be ascertained in the same practical and objective way as a table. Indeed, there are many questions which defy ascertainment of the truth.
For example, the Bible says that Moses saw a burning bush in the desert, out of which came the voice of God. Now, I can believe this statement – even with deep emotion, and base my life upon this and all the other statements in the Bible. But in all honesty, the only thing about this statement that I can acknowledge as the truth is that: “the Bible says that Moses saw a burning bush … out of which came the voice of God.” I can only believe that the Bible is the word of God, and in all honesty, all I can really know about God is what other people have written. I might have powerful feelings on the subject, but feelings don’t necessarily reflect the truth. Believing Christians have a powerful feeling that the salvation of one’s soul is only for those who accept Jesus as the Messiah, while two billion believing Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, etc in Asia have never even heard of Jesus. Are all these good souls doomed for perdition (assuming that there is such a thing as a soul and perdition)?
In September 2001 nineteen educated young men had certain powerful beliefs about the Satanic nature of America and hijacked four packed airliners and deliberately crashed them into three strategic buildings, killing thousands of people along with themselves. Imagine the power of their belief! Was it the truth that prompted their actions? Or were they acting as the result of a set of notions based on lies and half-truths which were rationalized into unfathomable dedication which they misinterpreted as the truth?
It has taken humanity a long time to rid itself of ridiculous old beliefs, although, in the process, thousands of innocent people have suffered discrimination, torture or death. Six hundred years ago most people still believed that the earth was flat. But following the enlightenment that the earth was a sphere, people could still find themselves in serious trouble if they questioned whether the earth rotated around the sun. A mere hundred and fifty years ago the microscope and the stethoscope were considered unnecessary by some of the most eminent physicians, who stubbornly blocked the truth, thus postponing the introduction of more effective medical procedures.
Until the beginning of the last century, many people in Europe still believed that Jews killed little Gentile boys to use their blood in matza-making. Today, sadly, this belief, among many other medieval lies about Jews, has moved to the Middle East. All these lies were propagated by people in authority – politicians, members of the royal courts, church leaders – and verbalized in convincing terms to people, who in many cases, wanted to hear these canards. The results invariably led to widespread calamity.
BEING SURE ABOUT SOMETHING
How can I be sure that something is true, or merely an assumption? I can know the truth about my height, for instance. In the same way that I can ascertain the truths regarding the table, as mentioned beforehand, I can readily ascertain my height through measurements which are universally recognized. But I can only believe that Napolean was routed by the Russian winter during his military campaigns in Europe. I can only base my notions on Napoleon by what has been written in the history books. I cannot recognize these writings as absolute truths. The most I can conclude is that the history books quite possibly reflect more or less what happened. It’s not something that’s going to change my life in any way.
But to relate to something that probably does affect my life – I don’t eat certain foodstuffs which are said to be harmful to one’s health. My attitude to this is not based on really knowing my anatomy or understanding much about chemical and biological reactions, but rather based on what I have read or heard from people whom I believe to have a solid understanding of diet and anatomy, but whose knowledge is probably based on assumption.
We cannot limit our actions and opinions only to those which are based on incontrovertible, fully proven truths. Otherwise we would spend our lives doing very little. Our lives are really based on empirically-ascertained probabilities. If I start my car at twenty past seven, I will get to work at five minutes to eight, which means that I will be at my desk exactly on time. This is a probability because I have done this hundreds of times.
Our opinions are also affected by wishful thinking. This is something that most people indulge in. For instance, we use transport that runs on fuel, which causes tremendous air pollution. We maintain a comfortable lifestyle by consuming huge amounts of electricity, which in most parts of the world is generated by coal. Scientists have warned that the greenhouse effect resulting from this, has become a critical issue. I cannot know if this is really true. I believe that it is, and therefore I don’t accept reasurances by commercially or politically involved people.) But, through wishful thinking that things won’t be so bad after all, most people continue their lifestyles unchanged, which might eventually lead to universal disaster in the not-so-distant future. So, the folly continues and the colossal pollution continues unabated, crazily erratic weather patterns and melting, country-sized ice packs notwithstanding.
AND WHAT ABOUT RELIGION
Coming to grips with the meaning of the word “truth” becomes trickier when inter-personal, inter-communal and international issues are debated. It
Many people believe in a certain religious system, not necessarily because they’ve thought about its validity, but because there just has to be a God up there who is looking after us and who will grant us eternal life in the hereafter if we believe in Him.
The pitfalls of belief without the balancing realization that it is merely belief, are evident when people kill other people of a different faith or ideology or opinion. Islamic suicide bombers illustrate this particular pitfall all too vividly. An especially grim, relevant example of the destructive influence of falsehood and its acceptance is illustrated all to clearly in the Israel-Arab conflict.
Two or three generations of Arabs have been told by their leaders that the Jews stole their land in 1948; that the Jews created the refugee problem; that the Jews have compounded these heinous crimes by expanding their usurpation of Arab lands in 1967. These teachings are clearly shown to be untrue in countless documented sources that are neutral to the Israel-Arab conflict, as well as Arab and Jewish sources, available in every decent library, and testifying that the Arabs tried to destroy the Jewish state at its very inception in 1948.
THERE WAS NO NEED FOR ARAB REFUGEES
The Arab refugee problem could have been prevented had the Arabs not began their war against Israel. But the refugee problem, having been created, could have been solved within a short time, using the methods employed in rehabilitating over 60 million refugees in the world since the Second World War (including over 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands). The Israeli occupation of Judea, Samaria (the West Bank) was the result of a second Pan-Arab attempt to destroy Israel in 1967. The international community chides Israel that there could be peace between her and the Arab world if only Israel ended its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights. What few people in the international community care to remember is that most of the areas in Judea, Samaria and Gaza had already been returned to Arab jurisdiction following the Oslo Accords in 1993. But still the terrorist and military attacks on Israel have continued almost unabated since then. When Israel retaliates in order to defend itself, the Arab leaders accuse Israel of killing innocent Arabs, never relating to the rocket attacks on Israel, launched from Arab residential areas and even schools. These are half-truths. They are as bad as lies.
Had the Arab people been exposed to the truth by a free press and democratic governments (which they don’t have) they might have made peace with the idea of a Jewish state after the first war in 1948. And had the international community related with appropriate indignation to the Arab quest to destroy a fellow-state, instead of blaming Israel for defending itself, the big lie about Israel probably wouldn’t have been perpetuated and the Middle East would have been a happier place for all.
AND WHAT ABOUT ISRAEL’S LEVEL OF TRUTHFULNESS?
It seems that in this conflict Israel has employed less deceit and lie than the Arabs. Indeed, many Israelis have demonstrated an amazing capacity to try to understand and even sympathize with the other side. Many Israeli journalists and historians have related to recent history with uniquely harsh self-criticism. Some of them probably in the interests of pure scholarship. But many Israeli journalists and academics seem unduly bound by the constraints of political correctness, emphasizing Arab suffering, while seldom if ever mentioning that it was brought on by themselves – from the very inception of the conflict. There was a time when such an attitude was called disloyalty or betrayal. Unforgivably, much of it is also based on falsehood.
BUT WHAT TRUTHFULNESS IN ISRAEL?
On a personal, domestic level, dealing with internal issues, Israel cannot be complacent about its prevailing standard of truthfulness. Most of Israel’s problems – communal, political, commercial and inter-personal – are caused or aggravated by falsehood (like everywhere else in the world). Government decisions are seldom taken on the basis of what’s good for the country, but rather for political or financial expediency.
Politicians and other public figures frequently say one thing and are then caught out when it becomes clear that they meant something else. Religious political leaders employ half-truths or simply ignore salient facts (which is also a factor in creating falsehood) in order to increase their political influence or garner more monies for their electorate’s interests, while seeming to care little about practical human and financial resources of this beleagured country.
Israel’s law courts are full of cases that were conceived through deceit and lie. The low premium on truth and an understanding that it is all right to lie (if you can get away with it) makes one wonder about the Jewish notion of chosenness. Many believe that it has to do with the role they play in human evolvement – the role that places them as history’s perennial scapegoat and object of other people’s lies. To overcome their present nightmarish predicament an ethos of unconditional integrity will be needed.
To read more visit: http://www.israelandtruth.org
The consequences of a weakened Israel
A return to the Dark Ages
By Ralph Dobrin
Author of the book “How to avoid Armageddon”
Available through Amazon
Click: http://www.amazon.com type: how to avoid armageddon
The above cartoon from the “A-sharek” newspaper gives one a good idea of Arab sentiments
FEW conflicts have been as misunderstood as the Israel-Arab conflict. A little over six million Jews in Israel face the wrath of hundreds of millions of Arabs and non-Arab Muslims all over the world, who are politically and economically supported by a huge array of states and international organizations, not directly connected to the conflict. Logically, this enormous disparity should generate a lot of sympathy and international support for Israel, which since its establishment as a state has not enjoyed a single day free from threats of obliteration. But this is not so. More resolutions of condemnation have been made in the United Nations and in its numerous agencies against Israel than against all the other countries of the world put together. No other country in the world has been so widely boycotted commercially and academically, or pilloried in the international media as harshly as Israel.
Judging by all this condemnation, one can easily imagine that Israel is a gigantic, truly evil entity, that came into being through the theft of another nation’s land, resulting in the expulsion of millions of refugees, while wantonly starving remaining innocent populations and bombing helpless, peace-loving women and children.
Yet the reality couldn’t be more different. Israel’s establishment as a state in 1948 was brought about by a United Nations vote to partition Palestine into two independent states – yet another state for the Arabs and the remaining area for the Jews. Actually Palestine had already been truncated in 1922 by 77% to create the Kingdom of Jordan. The remaining eighth of the original Palestine that the Jews were allocated was to be composed of three separate slivers of land smaller than many nature reserves in other parts of the world. This arrangement should have heralded a new era of peaceful co-existence but the Arabs weren’t willing to accept any Jewish self-rule on any part of the land despite a 3500-year connection. The Arabs promptly went to war, promising massacre and extermination.
But there was no massacre. There were refugees – over a million and a half of them. Between 560,000 to 800,000 local Arabs – fearing that the Jews would do to them what they intended to do to the Jews – fled to neighboring Arab countries (where most have been purposefully kept in a miserable refugee status till the present day), and 900,000 Jewish refugess who fled Arab countries because their lives were in mortal danger, most of whom were summarily absorbed into the fledgling State of Israel. Since that war in 1948 there have been two more Pan-Arab invasions on Israel and numerous military campaigns and terrorist attacks. Each time Israeli repulsed the invaders, occupying the land from which these invasions had taken place. Each time Israel has been vigorously called upon by the international community to return these areas to the aggressor nations – even though never in history has any territory been returned to a neigboring state that retreated as a result of war started by it – let alone a war of extermination. Yet, on at least five occasions Israel has returned lands, only to be subsequently attacked from these same areas.
The generations-old Israel-Arab conflict is a story of Arab leaders who keep up an ongoing campaign of threats, falsehood and hatred against one of the tiniest independent states in the world that has repeatedly called for peace. It is also a miserable record of cowardice and expedient cynicism of leaders of democracies who generally accede with the continuous, multi-pronged Arab quest to eradicate a people that is 1/50th their size in population and 1/500th their size in land mass. International acquiescence with the Arab position together with knee-jerk opprobrium of Israel every time it tries to defend itself against military attacks, encourages the Arabs to continue the campaign to emasculate and destroy Israel. Oil, religion and corruption are factors that determine the stand of each of the parties in the line-up against Israel. Israel has very few backers. Gratifyingly, the USA is one of them, but it has never allowed Israel to win a decisive victory in any of the many wars and it’s support is conditional to State Department and Presidential whims of the moment. Furthermore, USA support for Israel is balanced by enormous military deals with Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia that make Israel’s ability to defend itself in any future Pan-Arab onslaught extremely precarious.
Peace treaties have been signed with Egypt and Jordan. But very few Israeli Jews dare visit Cairo or Amman, due to continuous, ugly, false media reporting, books and movies, depicting Israel and the Jews as totally despicable and deserving annihilation. (With the regime change in Egypt the peace treaty is more fragile than ever before.) While nowadays, most Arab leaders refrain from their once clearly expressed goal to obliterate Israel – couching these intentions in diplomatic euphemism – there are still many who make their intentions absolutely clear. Furthermore, the Arab quest is now spearheaded by a powerful non-Arab Muslim state, Iran, which is poised to acquire nuclear weapons.
People in democracies as well as many Arabs themselves are becoming aware that an apocalyptical stand-off has begun to brew between Radical Islam and the rest of humanity. At this point in history Radical Islam is gaining strength all over the world, while the ability of the democracies and other less radical Muslim populations to resist, seems to be diminishing in every way.
Israel is embroiled in a desperate struggle for its very existence. It is a central focus of Radical Islamic wrath and needs the understanding and support of freedlom-loving peoples everywhere. Yet, in the midst of all the diplomatic double-speak on the Israel-Arab conflict and disingenuously selective media-reporting which fails to adequately relate to Arab culpability for their own plight, many people in democracies, representing personal freedom, think that Israel is actually the cause of Radical Islam and therefore deserves no support whatsoever. They couldn’t be more wrong. Indeed, a weakened or destroyed Israel could possibly mean the end of their own personal freedom.
For more visit: www.israelandtruth.org
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Many people think it is Israel’s
By RALPH DOBRIN
Ralph Dobrin is the author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”
To order the book click: www.amazon.com type: how to avoid Armageddon
“Occupation” is a swear word for many people – especially Israel’s “occupation” of land it conquered during the 1967 war when Egypt, Syria and Jordan massed their armies on the borders with Israel with one clearly declared purpose – to obliterate the Jewish state. Actually it was a Pan-Arab endeavor because forces from other Arab countries, including Iraq, sent large contingents to join in what was to be a slaughter. For the Arabs this was to be a sequel to their 1948 attempt.
The keyword nowadays to peace and prevention of further war – bandied about by everyone, is the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza – areas conquered by Israel in 1967 (together with Syria’s previously held Golan Heights).
What few people care to remember, however, is that at that time, Palestinian independence was absolutely of no consequence to any one of the Arab participants. Judea and Samaria, which should have become independent Palestine in 1948 (together with an independent Israel), had been annexed by Jordan. Few people, including the Arabs living in the annexed areas, talked about Palestinian independence.
It only became a central issue when Israel controlled these areas while staving off national extinction. There is no other incidence in history, whereby a state repulsing an invasion, is expected to return lands from where that invasion was launched. (The lands in question had been used previously in the 1948 Arab quest to destroy Israel.)
From a position of facing extinction Israel achieved an incredible victory that any other nation would have been proud of. (Few nations throughout history faced such a diabolical threat to their existence as Israel did on June 5th.)
In immediate aftermath of the war in Israel there was a feeling of immense relief, followed by euphoria in the air. Not only had the people survived what many predicted would be genocide (coming a mere two decades after the Nazi-inflicted genocide on the Jews of Europe), but suddenly Israel found itself in possession of lands that had once been its main centers – Judea and Samaria.
Immediately after the war, Israel’s leaders talked about returning some of the conquered lands as part of a peace deal. But the Arab response was an immediate, resounding rejection. The shooting resumed almost immediately on all fronts. Meanwhile most of the international community strongly condemned Israel for its “aggression,” and demanded that Israel return all the lands to the hapless Arabs.
Morality and common decency were not primary considerations in any of the self-righteous expressions of condemnation. Arab oil, the Arab boycott and Cold-War schemings between the Western World and those under the Soviet influence, were the motives behind Israel’s isolation in its quest to survive against Arab rage. Soon, even the intellectuals of the world saw Israel as an object of opprobrium. If anyone should know how to analyze any situation surely one would expect the intellectuals of the world to show the way. But the academic tenure of many intellectuals was dependent on discreetly stipended Arab petro-dollars. Also high-brow sentiments to any national assertiveness, even in self-defence, ignored the perils that Israel had faced – once those perils had been thwarted on the battlefield. The intellectuals and the media created a stance that would later be known as “politically-correct,” and which could also be defined as “a rigid opposition to any assertiveness against any supposedly disadvantaged party” – never mind how disagreeable or threatening the disadvantaged party happened to be.
Eventually universities in Britain and America joined and even spear-headed the condemnation against Israel. Then, even in Israel many people began to feel that their country was morally wrong to hold onto the areas it had conquered (even though the war had been defensive), and that furthermore, it should not use force to thwart further attacks on its citizens.
In Israel many people began to say that the source of most of the country’s domestic problems was the victory in 1967. It seems ironic that so many people have turned that glorious national achievement into a moment of shame, especially when it enabled Israel to survive as a nation.
It’s also sad that people emphasize Israel’s “culpability” without fully registering that it is precisely the Arabs’ refusal to acknowledge their genocidal intentions since even before Jewish statehood, and which have never abated. Amazingly many of these people never expect the Arabs to curb their murderous elements.
I am not saying that there are things that everything that Israel does it morally right. Many of Israel’s measures might seem unfair or unduly severe. Roadblocks, body searches at airports and house demolitions undoubtedly cause a lot of inconvenience and suffering to many innocent people. But surely in a permanent terror campaign against a nation it should be entitled to do whatever is necessary to prevent harm to its citizens. If ten thousand people are held up for half an hour at a roadblock in order to prevent a single suicide bomber from slipping through, surely the blame should be directed against those initiating the bombings and not the intended victim.
In the big picture the Arabs have brought their misfortune and suffering upon themselves with their generations-long quest to harm Jews and destroy Israel. There is a laughably easy answer to what the Arabs have to do to in order to stop the road blocks, body searches and demolitions, and in fact to gain independence in Judea and Samaria. (They have independence in Gaza and it’s not a pretty picture – probably an indication of what would be in the rest of the areas of the Palestinian Authority should they be granted full sovereignty there as well.)
All they have to do is stop teaching their children and their people to hate, and to stop shooting. Yes, simply stop shooting and sending suicide bombers into Israeli towns and villages, and making ever-more preparations for war against Israel. (This blog was written in January 2008.)
To illustrate this point, as soon as Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel, albeit taking on a blatantly unfriendly tone, Sinai was fully returned to Egypt (even though it was from these areas that terrible attacks and invasions had been launched against Israel time and again). Even parts of the Golan Heights have been returned to Syria, in the hope that this would lead to a peace agreement with the Assad regime.
In the year 2006 Israel also evacuated Gaza – not just the army but over 20 villages that had already been there for two generations. The response was an immediate daily rocket barrage on Israel’s town’s and villages that have nothing to do with Arab territory.
There is a clear message in these barrages: No matter what Israel does there will be Arabs who will pursue its civilians with the intent to kill. Only when Israel ceases to exist will these attacks against Jews cease. So what is Israel to do? To keep retreating just to appease these thugs and fanatics and the nations of the world who are more concerned with a steady flow of oil than the fate of an ancient nation? Or to stand firm and retaliate, just like any normal sovereign state would be expected to do in similar circumstances? This has been the main political polemic on Israel’s daily agenda since 1967.
Ralph Dobrin is the author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”
To order the book click: www.amazon.com type: how to avoid Armageddon
For more visit: www.israelandtruth.org