February, 2006

 [[[[[[[[[[[[[[This is point counter point discussion on my end only. I don’t remember ever hearing back from this reviewer,Gilles D’Aymery. It’s quite long, but I do answer all charges cogently and with some authority. That might have been why I never heard from him, I don’t know. My comments are in bold type, his are in standard Times Roman font.  If you want to read the entire review without my chopping it up to converse with this reviewer you can click here http://www.swans.com/library/art11/ga201.html]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]   


Sir, In reading your review of “The Case Against Israel” I found myself squirming in my seat on several of the points you were making. I would like to converse with you on this subject and point out several issues you might not be aware of and if you are, perhaps you might see them a different way. I have read neither Dershowitz’s book or the one reviewed here which might work to our advantage because neither author will influence my comments. It is the ideology I detest not the particular person utilizing it. I appreciate the opportunity to express my interpretation of the history. I will answer in a point to point format. My comments will be written in the bold type you see here.  

(Swans – December 19, 2005)  The British essayist and novelist Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970), author of A Room With A View and A Passage To India, wrote in his 1951 collection of essays, Two Cheers for Democracy, “I suspect that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little further down our particular path than we have yet gone ourselves.” Amidst the one hundred-plus books I’ve read on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, none fits Forster’s sentiment better than Michael Neumann’s The Case Against Israel. This is simply the most cogent, reasoned, and lucid argumentation I have ever read in support of a two-state solution to the century-old conflict. Short (220 pages); to the point but not in your face; impeccably researched with 26 pages of references including a list of 28 important works, 188 endnotes, and a full index; there is no stone left unturned and practically no issue left unexplained in this highly condensed, unadulterated, and coherent analysis. > > The book’s title should not mislead readers. Those who follow the horrific tribulations of that small real estate with its strategic and religious confluences will obviously recognize that the title is a play on, or a response to, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel (John Wiley & Sons, August 2003). The argumentation is by and large a refutation of Dershowitz’s case though it is not a point-by-point rebuttal of the 32 questions Dershowitz attempted (poorly) to answer.

Was it? Like I said I never read that one, but from what I heard his arguments were rather sound. Those opinions came from people on the Left by the way.   

In actuality, Dershowitz is only mentioned once in the entire book. Instead of rebutting a lawyerly discourse based on polemical diatribes, crass emotionalism, and the repetitive regurgitation of falsities, Michael Neumann focuses on what has been lost in our recent historical travails: reality-based analysis — historical facts, formal logic, ethics, behavioral rationality, philosophy, morality, and politics (Neumann is a professor of moral and political philosophy at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada). While he does not posit that he’s an expert or historian, history is no stranger to him: his father, Franz Neumann, was the author of Behemoth: the structure and practice of national socialism, 1933-1944, the classic history of Nazi Germany. (And, for what

I don’t have Professor Neumann’s credentials, my father was a truck driver.  In contrast to the professor’s background I am in fact an historian, I am currently working on my Masters thesis at California State University, Northridge. As an older student who returned to school after many years I have made a life study of the Middle East and the problems it has posed to our world.  it’s worth, his stepfather was Herbert Marcuse.) > > Indeed, Neumann convincingly debunks the old canards, myths, and fallacies advanced by Dershowitz and the legions of Israeli apologetics:

It is always interesting to me that for the Left any defense of Israel is an apology, but defense of the Palestinian is a righteous cause. Why can’t we just debate the issues without any sense of name calling or ad hominem attacks?   The Zionist project was about redeeming the land or creating a “homeland” for the Jews, the bible says god gave the land to the Jews;

I disagree. The Zionists did not believe the land was theirs for the taking because of the biblical injunction that “God gave the land to the Jews.” God may have given it to the Jews but he did not give it to the Zionists. The Zionists simply looked around the world for the place that would be the most suitable to build a Jewish homeland.

Although several sites were debated Palestine was the majority favorite. Why? Not because “God gave the land to the Jews” but because Palestine held the biggest connection for the Zionists for the following reasons.  

1) Other than Europe and possibly the United States there were more Jews in Palestine than in any other region on Earth.  

2) The Jews had maintained an unbroken physical existence on the land for the previous three thousand years.  

3) Certainly by 1914 and probably before, Palestine was per capita the most densely populated Jewish presence in the world.  The case for Jerusalem is even stronger: 

4) When the Zionists began their enterprise in the 1890s the population of Palestine was around 100,000 people, total. In Jerusalem the Jews were the majority community between Muslims, Christians and Jews and had maintained that majority since the 1840s.  

5) Several times over the previous millennia Jews held a majority in the city of Jerusalem. Because of several famines, war and several ethnic cleansings the Jews more than once lost that primacy.

However, since they were the only people of the three great religions who maintained a constant flow of migration to Jerusalem from all over the known world since the fall of Rome in 476 CE, after every thinning of the population their numbers increased steadily until they once again became a majority. Consequently, every two or three generations the Jews would return as the majority community in Jerusalem.  

Without engaging in counter history it is formidable to speculate how many Jews might have ended up in Palestine if they had not been continually reduced by the calamitous ages.  

6) Other than Jerusalem significant communities maintained a presence since the fall of the Second Temple (70CE) in Safat, Acre, Hebron, Jaffa and several other historical Palestinian cities.  

The Jews have an aboriginal connection to that area of the world. This can’t be said about any other piece of real estate on Earth. And, they have maintained that connection since the second millennia BCE. No other people can make this claim. Palestine was the Jews and the Jews were Palestine regardless of who else might have inhabited the place.  

the Palestinians did not really exist

Well, there is no reference to Palestinians as a national entity of any kind in any reference before 1967. The fact is that they identified themselves as part of the larger Muslim community in the region. Every newspaper, every book, every collection of essays, at least in English, that I have read before 1967 doesn’t use the term.

They distinguished themselves as Palestinian Arabs because the majority felt a connection to one of the surrounding powers, Jordan, Egypt or Syria. However, the real question here is when did Palestinian Arabs begin to think of themselves as one people? I would argue that only after the Israelis changed the dynamic in 1967 did this happen.

To understand this one must involve himself in Palestinian nationalist history. The evidence shows that the Arabs of Palestine were years behind the Jews in forming a national consciousness. The Jerusalem conference in 1931 was a watershed event for Palestinian history. It marked the first time that Palestinians actually came together to form a cohesive national charter. This puts the Arabs more than thirty years behind the Jews as they had done exactly that in Basle, in 1897.

By the time of the Jerusalem Conference in 1931 the Jews had already established themselves as a nation within a nation in Palestine. They had a complete infrastructure in place, schools, hospitals, roads, civil administration and of course a military arm. The only thing lacking was the British refusal to leave Palestine and let them establish their country.

History has shown that the Arabs have been playing catch-up ever since. Even their appeal to the English speaking world of their claims did not take place until the publication of George Antonious’ The Arab Awakening  in 1938. I would add that even after 1931 the nationalist program in the Arab community failed to incorporate the rank and file of the Arabs of Palestine, whereas Zionism was all inclusive.Something else you might want to look at was the their primary purpose. The Zionist movement was about establishing a country, Arab nationalism was primarily about preventing that, or after 1948 the destruction of it.

The PLO Charter of 1964 (not any of the revised editions but the original) is remarkably devoid of any reference to establishing an Arab state in Gaza or the West Bank of the Jordan River. Its original goals were to destroy the State of Israel entirely. Why? There was no reason to “liberate” the territories since they were still under Arab control in 1964. Only years after its formation did the PLO demand an Arab State in the territories as well as the State of Israel proper. In other words, their nationalist agenda about establishing a country in the territories did not materialize until after the Six Day War.

(they’re only Arabs), their actual state is Jordan;

In 1922 the first official act of the British Mandate was to separate the Jews from the Arabs. They took the Palestinian mandated territory and severed it from the rest of Palestine creating an Arab state east of the Jordan River. Their purpose for doing that , Winston Churchill said, was to create an Arab kingdom out of the Palestine Mandate. The land west of the Jordan was then reserved to create the Jewish portion of the Mandate. The Zionists were furious at the decision but they accepted it because they had no choice.

 they hate the Jews; they want to throw them to the sea;

A lot of people think that the “throw them into the sea” comment was some kind of Zionist propaganda and never happened. (The same way Arab propagandists insist that Arabs left Palestine during the 1948 war as a result of their “own leaders telling them to” was just Zionist drivel to put the blame on the victim.)

The “throw them into the sea” comment” was real and was made in 1948 on the eve of the Arab invasion of Palestine By Azzam Pasha, the secretary general of the Arab League. (Habib Issa, in the daily US-published Lebanese newspaper Al Hoda, June 8 1951, New York). Yes, the Jews had a field day propaganda wise with the comment. But, can you blame them? The ending of the 1948 war was so monumental considering the Arab over confidence in May of 1948 and the huge victory snared by the Zionists by January 1949.

In that six month period the Jews proved to the world that they were a force to be reckoned with. No observer of the Near East at that time gave Israel much of a chance of lasting even two weeks when the Arabs invaded. And, indeed the picture was bleak in that first week of fighting. But, thanks to  backs-up-against-the-wall determination, a little luck, and a highly incompetent set of Arab armies, the Jews turned that around.  They had earned the right to shove it back in their faces a little bit. We had the Nuremberg trials and the Jews had the “throw them into the sea” comment.

Arabs hating Jews is an interesting but complicated question. Historically Arabs did not  hate Jews. But that is a relative statement because they were tolerated according to the laws of the Koran. True, Jews lived in the Islamic world with better results than Jews lived in the Christian world. But, that in no way excuses Muslim persecution of Jews and Christians under their control.

The Jews lived under a set of restrictions called Dhimma. These laws “protected” Jews from a host of offenses, designed to accentuate the secondary nature of the non-Muslim in a Muslim world. However, the Jew in Israel is thought of quite differently than the Jew that was protected by the Koran. Dhimmi laws are out the window. Jews have proven that they can stand erect and meet the Muslim challenge head on. Consequently, Jewish nationalism constitutes a direct threat to the teachings of Mohammad.

Muslims cannot justify Israeli dominance over the Arab world and the protection that Mohammad ordered his followers to practice. In their thinking to accept Jewish sovereignty in their realm would be to call Mohammad a liar. So, after almost sixty years of this the Muslim has now learned to hate the Jews.

It is the Jews’ fault. They are the ones calling Mohammad a liar. (You think Danish cartoons are bad?). The State of Israel is in fact an affront to all of Islam. That is why you might be aware of anti Jewish beliefs coming from all over the Arab world, a phenomenon heretofore non-existent. It wasn’t always there, but it certainly is there now.  The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is almost unheard of in the western world but it does quite well in countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq.  

never did and don’t want to compromise (they are jusqu’au-boutistes); they are terrorists; there is no moral equivalence between Palestinian and Israeli violence (the former is terroristic, the latter sheer self defense); Israel is a “beacon of light”

I see no point engaging in this polemic as it has been debated many times. I will only ask you if the Palestinians were to somehow stop their “resistance” against the Jews of Israel tomorrow, do you think that Israel would continue to perform “terrorism” upon the Palestinians?  Indeed, would Israel have any reason to maintain an occupation any more? 

(of democracy, Western values) judged by a “double standard”; critics of Israel are anti-Semites, etc. > > The last point — opposition to Israel is anti-Semitic — is quickly dismissed by the author.  First, he has already addressed the charge in a brilliant essay, “What Is Anti-Semitism?”, published in The Politics of Anti-Semitism (CounterPunch/AK Press, 2004), also reviewed in these pages. Second, “since not all Jews are Israelis or supporters of Israel, to be against all Israelis or Israel, is not to be against all Jews.” Third, most criticisms are directed against the policies of Israel toward the Palestinians, not the existence of Israel; and lastly, as he states, “[N]o doubt many anti-Semites oppose Israel, and do so for anti-Semitic reasons, and conceal their motives. [But] none of this is relevant to whether or not Israel is in fact in the wrong.” “No doubt,” he concludes, “many people opposed Japanese fascism for racist reasons. It does not follow that such opposition was mistaken.” End of discussion. Michael Neumann shows little patience with irrelevancies and false arguments. >

I find little to disagree with what the author says above. It’s like someone who opposes gay marriage is not necessarily homophobic, or against illegal immigration is not racist against Mexicans. Certainly racists and homophobes would be against those issues but that does not disqualify well meaning, clear thinking people who hold the traditional idea of marriage as sacred and illegal immigration to be undercutting American wages and destroying the middle class. I understand that sentiment completely. However, it should be pointed out that anti-Semitism, although a component of the problem as the author explained, has never been cited as a lynch pin of the argument against Israel from the Zionist side. The Zionists are quite aware of the opposition against them. And, anti-Semitism until very recently was a relatively small part of it.

> Furthermore, he does not make a legal disputation against Israel but confines his attention to a “moral and political argument,” in search of “what ought to occur in Palestine, what solution to the conflict should be adopted,” and he relies on three widely accepted views in political philosophy: That “there is some basic right of self-defense that on occasion permits a violent response”; that “one group can’t normally acquire the power of life and death over another group without their consent”; and that one is responsible for the foreseeable consequences of one’s action whatever the intentions that motivated it. Then he lays out his claim in two parts and dispassionately demonstrates that the Zionists and Israel with their allies du jour have mostly been in the wrong in their dealings with the Palestinians, and that  the end of the conflict necessitates the unilateral end of the occupation and the recognition of the Palestinian people within the sovereign borders of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. His case is not so much against Israel that it is in favor of a Palestinian state.

I think you would find that 80% of the Jews in Israel, indeed of world Jewry agree with this statement. There is no conflict here. You need to summon the Palestinians and hold them accountable the same way you do Israel and then we’ll see if we can get a universal desired result. If you, Professor Neumann and the rest of The Left can do that I think it will happen.

> > “The central fact of the conflict is that Zionists sought sovereignty in Palestine. From this, all else follows: the Arab response and all that came after.” (emphasis in the book) “Israel is the illegitimate child of ethnic nationalism.” These are the two statements that best summarize “Zionism and the Birth of Israel,” the first part of The Case Against Israel. They are reinforced by a methodical, logical, and historical narrative. From the inception of the Zionist project in the late 19th century, Zionism was not about a safe heaven (the “saving Jews” advocacy

Oh but it was exactly about a “safe haven.” Many of the Zionist leaders in the beginning vocalized and wrote about the need to establish a Jewish homeland in response to the rise of political anti-Semitism in Europe.

 1)“The world resounds with outcries against the Jews, and these outcries have awakened a slumbering idea.” (Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State, first published 1896.  New York: Dover publications, 1988, P. 69.)  

2)“Anti-Semitism passed for centuries through history as inseparable companions. Like the Jewish people, the real wandering Jew, Anti-Semitism, too, seems as if it would never die. He must be blind indeed who will assert that the Jews are not the chosen people, the people chosen for universal hatred.” Leon Pinsker, Auto Emancipation, First published 1882 Internet address, http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/6640/zion/pinsker.html.  

3)“The terrible oppressions and frequent migrations , which intensified immeasurably the personal anxiety of every Jew for his own safety…contributed to the enfeebling of the already weakened national sentiment.” Ahad Ha’Am, Nationalism and the Jewish Ethic: Basic writings of Ahad Ha’Am, New York: Herzl Press, 1962, P. 40. 

I could keep going citing example after example of European Jewish leaders who saw anti-Semitism as one of primary reasons to find and establish a separate homeland for the Jewish people, but, you get the point. Anyone who thinks that anti-Semitism did not play a major role in the formation of the modern Zionist movement is badly mistaken.    

line would come much later, in the ashes of the Holocaust, and is not even convincing, as Neumann shows), or having a “homeland,” or redeeming

The pressure of the Holocaust after World War II I would agree hastened the coming of the State of Israel. But, even without the Holocaust I would argue that the Jews would have had their state eventually. It is hard to say when that might have happened. But, it is unmistakable for those of us who study Zionist history to believe that within the next ten, fifteen maybe twenty-five years after WWII the Jews would have fought for and won their state. If true, the influence of the Holocaust on the creation of the State of Israel is a mute point. It wouldn’t have angered the Arabs any less if the Jewish State had been created in 1950, 1960 or 1970. They will never be resigned to accept a Jewish sovereignty it what they consider Muslim land.

ancestors’ territories — all contentions that keep being rehashed to this day. It was about taking sovereignty over a foreign land, a land inhabited by a people who had no interest or reason to be dominated in matters of life and death by Jews. From Theodore Herzl to David Ben Gurion, Zionists were about creating a state in Palestine — a state, with its monopoly on power, of the Jews, by the Jews, and for the Jews.

Well, after a thousand years of persecution everywhere they settled, the Zionist movement demanded that Jews take control of their own destiny.  You might not like that fact but that is what happened. To call it “a state for Jews” is inaccurate and has nasty racist and fascist connotations. Arab proxies in the West have gotten a lot of mileage out of that canard.

To this day Israel’s enemies insist that Israel is “a state for Jews.” They refuse to acknowledge the democratic process that exists there. Almost twenty per cent of the population of Israel is not Jewish. All have representation. And, if you take a survey of all of the non-Jews living in Israel you will find that they are by and large happy to be living there. Even Israeli Arabs apart from their concerns about their people in the territories, have found a descent life living under Jewish rule, and say so in the polls. The Muslims under Jewish rule are treated far better than the Jews were treated in the Muslim world.

It is a running vibrant democracy, which simply has a Jewish majority. The only democratic difference between Israel and the United States, England, France and Germany is that it possesses a Jewish majority where those countries are Christian. This is what the original Zionists worked for. Indeed, the Zionists could consider this part of their desires for a future Jewish State a success.   

It matters not whether the Zionists were enlightened socialists, or idealists, or racists. What matters is that a group of people, foreign to the land, wanted to impose their sovereignty through expropriation — and we now know, through expulsion too — on another group of people that inhabited that land.

I don’t know if those are your words or your interpretation of his but that is definitely a Palestinian way of looking at the history. The Jews were keenly aware of this other people that inhabited the land. As early as 1890 Ahad Ha-Am warned his fellow colleagues about possible abuses against Arab Palestinians in rebuilding the homeland. Many attempts were made to combine the Arabs into their Zionist fabric during the Mandate era but with only a modicum of success.

For example, in the 1920s the Jewish labor unions tried to combine themselves with the Arab workers to form stronger worker demands. First in the railroad industry and then it spread to other industries. “The creation of an organized class force of Jewish and Arab workers in order to improve the workers’ situation and their working condition is a necessary condition of the survival of the cultured worker in these occupations.” “The Jewish worker now works together with the Arab worker in government enterprises, that is in countrywide, general enterprises, on equal terms.” David Ben Gurion, from Zachary Lockman, Comrads and Enemies: Arab and Jewish workers in Palestine 1906-1948, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996, p. 75. 

Lockman’s book is a tour de force in the scholarly treatment of a well hidden fact of history.  As part of their bi-national plan, the Zionists struggled to bring the Arab worker into the labor fabric of Palestine. With only moderate success the struggle was abandoned in 1948 because of the change of facts on the ground. The Arabs resisted this western concept of the Marxist worker unification. Like all other western concepts they viewed it as anti Koran western filth infiltrating into their culture. Lockman’s book was praised by the likes of Rashid Khalidi and Juan Cole, an indication of his entrenchment into the academic left. So, if it is not one of the “one hundred plus books” you have read on this subject you might want to take a look at it.  

This, contends Neumann, was the first mortal threat to the Palestinians — a threat they could not but oppose and resist through violent or non-violent means.

Only the Arabs viewed this as a threat. Let’s be clear, the non violence was practiced by the Zionists at this stage, not the Arabs. Because the Arabs felt so threatened violence against Zionist Palestine began almost upon arrival. By the turn of the century it became unbearable and the Zionists reacted in self defense. In 1903 the first Jewish defense force was developed in order to guard the few agricultural Jewish settlements which were being constantly bombarded by Arab marauders. They used defensive actions in protecting Jewish settlers.  

By 1920 some Jews began to grow tired of not taking an upper hand in the violence perpetrated upon them. It was a small faction led by a man named Ze’ev Jabotinsky who first stood up to the Arab demonstrations and drew the attention of the authorities. Jabotinsky believed that unprovoked violence against Jews should be met with an equal or greater force of violence in response.

As violence became a more common tactic for Arab frustration of Zionist successes in Palestine so did more people begin to think Jabotinsky had a point. However, that school of thought and their descendents never were in the majority in Israel until the 1970s. And, by then they had significantly toned down their advocacy of retribution against Arab violence.  In the meantime that first defense force created back in 1903 grew and eventually included the majority philosophy of self defense in the Zionist movement. Marked by measured responses, the Hagana formed in the early Mandate period. It was by far the largest of Jewish Palestine’s defense organizations. These two philosophies, Jabotinski’s and the Hagana, melded together when Israel became a state and developed the best army, man for man in the world. The threats that Arabs feel is the almost tactically perfect methodology of the Israeli army, an institution that they themselves were responsible for creating.  

It surely began in non-violence with the pleas from Palestinian notables to the European powers to stop the influx of Jews in Palestine, but the pleas were not heeded and blood began to flow as early as the 1920s. It went downhill from then on. > > Neumann notes that at the very moment Europeans were turning their backs on ethnic nationalism that had been so devastating, Zionists were imposing their own ethno-nationalism in Palestine. The establishment of sovereignty by one ethnic group over another has quite logically — and sadly — led to the consequences that we’ve witnessed for so long. For him, > > Zionism always was, despite strategically motivated denials and brief flirtations with other objectives [e.g., bi-nationalism],

No, that’s incorrect. Bi-nationalist Palestine, was anything but brief, at least for the Zionists, was the only avenue for statehood into the 1930s. It was strongly supported by Martin Buber and his students which carried a heavy intellectual wallop inside Jewish Palestine. But the Arabs would have nothing to do with it. About 1935 or so the leaders of the Yishuv abandoned bi-nationalism because of Arab non-compliance to the idea. Along with the arguments in Lockman’s book it was unthinkable that Arabs should give Jews an equal status with their own in any government in the Muslim world. Statehood put a further damper on the bi-national idea but it never died. The descendents of Buber’s students carried the torch right into the present day.  If you do an Internet search I am sure you could locate some of them inside Israel. Understand I am giving a very brief synopsis of a very large part of political Zionist history.  

an attempt to establish Jewish sovereignty over Palestine. This project was illegitimate. Neither history nor religion, nor the sufferings of Jews in the Nazi era, sufficed to justify it. It posed a mortal threat to the Palestinians, and it left no room for meaningful compromise. Given that the Palestinians had no way to overcome Zionism peacefully, it also justified some form of violent resistance.

Is this the author’s way of justifying the wholesale slaughter of innocent people, many of whom have been children under the age of sixteen? I sincerely hope not. I will leave the rest of this to your response.

> By 1948 the Jewish state in Palestine was a fait accompli, and its existence quickly earned international legitimacy. By the early 1970s, following Israel’s wars (1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973) and the military supremacy of the Jewish state, the existence of Israel was assured and secured. But, this fait accompli was not enough for the Zionists. Sovereignty within the 1948 borders was a tactical step in the direction of wider ambitions that went back all the way to early Zionism: Greater Israel. In the next part of his exposé, “The Current Situation,”

The “wider ambitions” that you mention did not go further than Jerusalem. The Zionists did want Jerusalem but were willing to give up everything else except that. However, even with that burning desire to embrace the Jewish Quarter and the holy sites could have all been worked out if the Jews had not been forced into the continuing violence perpetuated on them by the Palestinians.

What Israel sought in those early years was a comprehensive peace from the surrounding belligerent Arab states. Ben Gurion believed it was possible. History has proved him wrong on this point. The three prime ministers of Israel from 1948 until the Six Day War were more than willing to live with the situation “as is” if they could just get access to their holy places. However, the Jordanians reneged on that promise that was guaranteed by the 1949 armistice.

Nevertheless the Jews extended a running offer that to my knowledge was never rescinded until after 1967, that Israel was willing to talk a comprehensive peace with any Arab country which was willing to come to the table without preconditions. The Arabs never took them up on it.  Even the Lausanne Protocol in which Ben Gurion offered to take in 100,000 Palestinian refugees in 1950 yielded no positive response from the Arab states. What the Arabs did do was to put their faith in the gun and worked toward building a significant army to destroy the Jewish State, which is what led to the Six Day War.  

Michael Neumann examines the second mortal threat to the Palestinians — the continuation of the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and, even more threatening to their existence, the settlement of these occupied territories — that has resulted in the predictable, and understandable, violence that continues to this day. >

The Six Day War resulted in further loss of land, with more humiliation from the dhimmi Jew. Instead of admitting defeat and trying to gain back precious losses through negotiation, the Arabs continued and stepped up their task in finding a cure for this Jewish disease.  

> The policies undertaken by the Israeli governments (both Labor and Likud) following the pre-emptive Six-Day War in 1967 — occupation and settlement of the West Bank and Gaza — will quite possibly be recorded by historians as the single most damaging political calculation ever made by this small state.  

Yes but you see what you are doing is exactly what the Palestinians have been doing to themselves. You are giving them a free pass for their culpability in their own situation. Without their intransigence, insistence that Israel be destroyed, and refusal to recognize the Jewish State in any way since the 1950s, regardless of what Israel might be guilty of, the situation might be different today. It is quite possible that the region could have been enjoying a peaceful coexistence for many decades by now. This is not all Israel’s fault, even those that criticize Israeli policies have to acknowledge that.  However, from this review, I see no indication of that.  

Their consequences have now become a threat to its existence; not its physical existence, which is quite secure, but its moral existence — a threat to the moral fabric of Israeli society.

That is an internal issue. And, no matter how much the enemies of Israel try to externalize it the Israelis will deal with it in their own way. That’s part of being a free people I guess. They live in a dangerous part of the world. The surrounding culture would like to see them disappear. They know it and there is a price to pay for that. But, what good is morality if your dead? Some would argue that even in these most trying of circumstances, the escalation of hatred and violence over the decades, and the seemingly unending conflict that lies before them, the Israelis have somehow maintained a degree of moral values, egalitarian thinking, and trust in the future. But, I suspect the good professor is not one of them.

The opprobrium Israel faces in the entire world, with the lonely exception of the United States, to which one could add the Marshall Islands and Micronesia,

This also is not accurate. England, Germany, Italy, Spain, several countries in Africa, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, several more countries in South America and many others have reasonably good relations with the Jewish State. Yes, they have disagreements over the Palestinians and other issues but make no mistake these countries are strongly allied with the State of Israel. Israel has lost relationships with some countries because of the huge oil block the Arab world presents in the United Nations, but other than that Israel enjoys good relations with many of the 120 democracies in the world.  It is hardly alone. 

can only be traced to the implacable continuation of these policies. This young country so endeared and admired in the 1950s and 1960s even though it was born out of the expropriation,

You have now accused Israel several times of expropriating land from the indigenous Arabs of Palestine. All of this needs to be in the context of the time and in relation to how poor Arabs were traditionally treated by their Arab brothers. Several points need to be made here.

1)    The Jews bought land from Arab landlords for exorbitant prices and then exercised their land owning rights and evicted the few peasants that had been living on that land.

2)     It should be noted that the Arab landlords had exploited these peasants for generations.

3)    Unscrupulous landlords living in Beirut and Cairo thought nothing of their fellow Arabs to sell the land from underneath them to the enemy Zionists.

4)     Of the claims to the Mandate authority of Jewish expropriation of peasant land by 1935 there were only thirty five claims made against the Mandate.

Granted not all of the fellahin petitioned the authorities for reimbursement because of ignorance to the system or other issues. But, since these claims resulted from land purchased by the Zionists in the 20s, the British finally closed the issue and the opportunity in 1935. I would submit from these facts that there wasn’t enough of these cases to make a difference. Unlike the claims made in Transjordan where thousands of fellahin petitioned the Mandate for reimbursement only thirty-five in Western Jewish Palestine is a curious differentiation in the numbers. (A. Granovsky, The Land Issue in Palestine, Jerusalem: Keren Keyemet Le Israel Ltd., 1936, p. 39.)  

partial expulsion, and imposition of a foreign sovereignty over the remaining indigenous population, the Palestinians, has become an international pariah. The time has long passed since one could speak of “a land without people, waiting for a people without land,” or, as Golda Meir stated in 1969, “It was not as though there was a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.”

You and the good professor might not like it but Golda’s assertion was true. There was no Palestinian people when the Jewish state was created in 1948. The United Nations tried to create one, but they refused. The Arabs of Palestine had a plethora of political governments to attach themselves to and they did so with great vigor. Palestinian nationalism was one of many political philosophies looking to gain dominance in the late 40s. The nationalist idea was rather elitist in nature and only advocated by the upper echelon of Western educated intellectuals. Being western, Palestinian nationalism naturally drew suspicion from the common Palestinian Arab.

> > It turns out that they did exist, were largely dispossessed, and became the subjects of an alien sovereignty; and they still exist, are still being dispossessed, and remain subjugated to a violent and humiliating occupation.

Ok, if they did exist then what was the purpose of the seven Arab countries taking part in the war against Israel in 1948? Were they there to help the Palestinians gain a homeland while destroying another? If you think that then you better read up on the history a little better. Each country that participated in that war was in it for its own selfish, imperialist interests.  And Palestinian Arabs went right along with it.

The outcome could have been quite different. In the wake of the Six-Day War, the Palestinians hoped for an independent state and regarded the Israeli victory as a means to free themselves from Jordanian rule. This is not a well-known historical fact, but Neumann documents that for a short flimsy period the Palestinians felt that the Israelis were their liberators. The Palestinians let the Israelis know that they were ready to negotiate an immediate settlement to establish their own sovereign state alongside Israel.

That is very interesting. I did not know that. I am ashamed to say that I probably will not be buying the professor’s book any time soon, as I have already mounds of reading to do. But, if you wouldn’t mind I would like to know the source of this story. If it is genuine I would very much like to know why the Israelis did not take them up on it. I know that Israel  was deeply disappointed that the Khartoum conference in August of 1967 came back with “the three no’s,” no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiation with Israel. So, it does not fit with the known history. Anyway, send it to me if you will. I would appreciate it.

Their calls were not answered or, to put it slightly differently, the answer was loud and clear. Israel annexed East Jerusalem and started its settlement policy.

Jerusalem is not and never has been on the table. As soon as the smoke cleared in June of 1967, the country began clamoring its government to at least make Jerusalem whole again. It is the eternal capital of the Jewish people as was even while it was run by the Arabs. Now, knowing that, would the Jews have ever invaded to take it back? That is hard to say. It would depend on how well the Jews were treated in reaching and accessing their holy places. But, given that Jordan would not allow Jews to enter that part of the city even though they were mandated to allow Jews to “The Wall” by the armistice agreement of 1949, I could see where an invasion might have been forth coming. But, who knows?  

It’s worth quoting a citation from a speech by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan: > > This is what used to be called ‘Jew after Jew’… It meant expansion, more Jews, more villages, more settlements. Twenty years ago we were 600,000; today we are near three million. There should be no Jew who says ‘that’s enough,’ no one who says ‘we are nearing the end of the road.’ …It is the same with the land. …there will be complaints against you if you come and say: ‘up to here.’ Your duty is to not stop; it is to keep your sword unsheathed, to have faith, to keep the flag flying. You must not call a halt – heaven forbid – and say ‘that’s all; up there, up to Degania, to Musfallasim, to Nabal Oz!’ For that is not all. > Which brings Michael Neumann to comment on “the comparison with fascist ideologies of ‘blood and soil'”…and leads him to cover the deliberate ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians that has taken place ever since, as well as the inevitable violent resistance from the Palestinians. Their only choice was, and remains, to leave the territories or to resist. What’s so infuriating here, and well documented by the author, is that Israeli leaders have consistently acknowledged — not so much in public, for it is yet another argument used in the propaganda war to appropriate the Occupied Territories — the uselessness of these territories for the strategic defense of Israel. The Palestinians have no alternative but to resist, when Israel has an obvious one, recommended by many Israeli military experts: unilateral withdrawal.

One must be able to put themselves into the enemy’s shoes in order to understand their logic. Even for the nearsighted Left that is a requirement for a debate on the Middle East. Numbers in Israel are an integral part of its defense. Since the world population of Jews is less than one-tenth of one percent and the Arab world by the 1930s was united in preventing the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine, the Zionists mapped out two strategies concerning their population. One, they would increase their numbers any way they could, not for military parity with the Arabs because that was impossible, but for creating a cohesive continuous Jewish unit in the country side to emphasize Jewish ownership of the land. And two, they would not just establish settlements but they would establish settlements strategically so in case of violence they would be able to defend themselves with the greatest force with the fewest number of people. For example, if you study Israeli settlements all over Israel including the occupied territories, many settlements are built on the tops of hills. It is common military strategy that in order to overcome an enemy maintaining the high ground is essential. This is what Dayan is talking about here. The Jewish people struggling to survive in a world that has them outnumbered at least 100 to 1.

> > Yet again, it is the Palestinians that are accused of violent actions and faulted for not resorting to non-violence. But, as Neumann convincingly establishes, “non-violence has never ‘worked’ in any politically relevant sense of the word, and there is no reason it ever will.” His demonstration, using the examples of Gandhi (Indian independence), Martin Luther King (US Civil Rights), and South Africa (the end of Apartheid), may be resisted by the partisans of non-violence but I strongly recommend they read his analysis. A non-violent advocate myself, I must admit that Neumann makes a compelling case. Non-violence can only work when the powers-that-be are on the side of the struggle. Israel, evidently, has not been on the side of the Palestinian struggle for independence! It should also be noted that the Palestinians have gone through periods of substantial calm with little or no violence, to no avail. Suffice it to look at the current Israeli response to the non-violent resistance and demonstrations against the massive wall of separation that Israel is slowly completing. It does not make the news in the U.S. but its harshness is obvious to anyone who cares to look.

I couldn’t disagree more. Calling “Substantial periods of calm” as an experiment in non-violent political action is a joke. I think you are mistaking  these quiet periods with exhaustion on the Palestinian side. They usually use the time to plan more rounds of attacks. The few non violent demonstrations that you do see are promoted by Israeli, American, and European groups. There are only token Palestinians that take part in them.

It is unfair to characterize the Israeli Palestinian dispute the same as Gandhi, King or South Africa. There wasn’t near the level of violence perpetrated by those movements as there is among the Palestinian nation.  The Israelis have been dealing with a constant barrage of this high level of terror for fifty-eight years. From commando style raids in the 50s, to plane hijackings in the 70s to suicide bombings today, all designed to kill as many innocent civilians as possible, Israel has been hard bitten into the realization that it must fight to survive. Nevertheless, like England the United States and White South Africa a majority of Israelis are willing to grant a peace in which two countries can live side by side in relative harmony, all “to no avail.”

> > So, we are left with the old hatred. “They” hate us…always have…always will. How, then, can we have a Palestinian state next door that will forever be Israel’s enemy and never accept its existence? Neumann answers this old hogwash with the precision of a surgeon. Hatred comes from war. Hatred comes from occupation and from being treated worse than dogs. Hatred slowly rescinds with peace. And is not peace with Egypt (and Jordan) proof that the existence of the state of Israel is accepted by its former enemies?

Of this the good professor is correct. That is why, in the absence of any reasonable Palestinian partner, brought about by a nation whose hatred is so deep, the Israelis have decided to separate unilaterally. When the barrier is complete, the Palestinians will be left to make whatever kind of country they want. If they are smart they will move from the conflict and build a society that slowly will begin to take its place among the nations and in time the hatred will begin to slowly melt away or “rescind” as the professor says. It is the only chance for the Palestinians to make in this century what they so dismally failed to do in the last. However, my own opinion is that given the Palestinian “resistence” over the last half century I don’t think they are up to the task. But, I would love to say I am wrong on this point someday.

Even the latest bombastic comments originating in Iran cannot hide the actuality: Israel is a fully secured country whose legitimacy, within its 1948 boundaries, is a fact, fully recognized by the overwhelming majority of the world.

I will remind you that Iran intends to “wipe Israel off the map.” It holds no allegiance to any recognition of a Jewish State created in 1948. It is a bitter reminder to the international Left that Israel is not welcomed into the Middle East, only tolerated because of its military dominance. If any Islamic nation, Arab or otherwise ever thinks it can destroy the State of Israel, it will attempt to do so. Peace agreements in that part of the world will only hold as long as Israel maintains military superiority, extreme military superiority.

 > > Neumann then turns his attention to terror and terrorism, which he dissects in both practical and moral terms. He also examines how Israel became an ally of the USA (“a child of the Cold War”) and the role of US Evangelical Christians in the support of Greater Israel; why the alliance should end, for the benefit of all — Israelis, Jews, Americans, Palestinians…

This is absolutely the worst idea the Left has ever come up with concerning the Middle East conflict. To cut off Israel’s lifeline, the military superiority it gets from primarily the United States, would bring the Middle East to the brink, and possibly a nuclear confrontation. As I said in my previous comments if the Muslims believe that Israel is in a weakened state, they will try to destroy it. I will stop here because I shudder to think of what would be the ramifications of this scenario. It frightens me so much I can’t even write about it.

— and whether Israel is judged by a double standard, or “higher standard,” as well it should be since, as the narrative goes, the country is deemed by its proselytizers a Great Beacon of Light. > > But I can’t get into his rationale further; this review is already too long.

Thank you.

I must confess that having a natural contrariant propensity, I was humbled by Michael Neumann as I could find nothing to object to in the case he makes. Perhaps he could have covered the importance of the West Bank aquifers in Israel’s decision to hold tight to the Occupied Territories and colonize them; but I suspect he would dismiss this point as yet another irrelevancy that besieges this sorry state of affairs…and, darn, he would be correct. > > To close: I very much appreciate the even-handedness of Neumann’s precise, thought through, and well-documented rationale. Very few people have the capability and the character to be intellectually relevant and to address this divisive subject so objectively. Yet, I sensed a subterraneous emotional thread in his faultless, short, yet exhaustive, dissertation: A call for justice. People from all backgrounds, Jews and non-Jews alike, are clamoring with quiet certitude: Enough is enough. A growing number of Israeli and Jewish people all over the world, including the U.S., are courageously raising their voices in favor of the end of the occupation. Michael Neumann is one of these voices. He deserves to be heard and widely disseminated. Please buy the book, read it, and if you feel like it, prove me wrong. >

I don’t know how even-handed his book is since I did not read it. However, I know many Jews who feel like Professor Neumann, I’ve debated them on a number of occasions and I can tell you that while the rest of The Left feels they are even-handed, the rest of world believes that what they are is extremely naïve. The Left would like to abandon Israel to what ever comes in the future. That is a future I care not to experience. Most of the Jews in Israel would die and those that are left would return to the second class nature that they  experienced in the Muslim world for the previous 1500 years. We as a world community have passed that stage in history. The Jews have returned to their ancient homeland, no more persecutions, no more pogroms, no more holocausts, no more diasporas, and no more asking the gentile for permission…There is only freedom to look forward to.  Larry Hart


Jewish community examiner

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field