Steve Apfel is Director of the School of Management Accounting, Johannesburg. He is the author of the book, 'Hadrian's Echo: The whys and...
- 1.The Jewish Problem - From anti-Judaism to anti-SemitismTue Jul 22, 2014
Wed,Jul 23,2014 25 Tammuz 5774
Let the people go!
A people liberated from slavery. No wonder the Jewish Passover is a time when aficionados of human rights feel drawn to play a modern day Moses. ‘Let my people go!’
Passover, many think, comes around for a melodramatic appeal to the conscience of Israel. Have pity; remember how the Jews were enslaved in Egypt, how they cried out in torment. Hear the cry of people in bondage under you, oh Israel. Let the Palestinians go; let them make unto themselves a nation.
Thus entreats a devotee of Human Rights, one of many thousands that make a good living from devotion. Listen to him carefully. In what he says and in what he believes lie the fatal flaws of the type: Moses in human rights garb. Uri Zaki, once the director for America of an Israeli human rights scheme called B’Tselem (In the image of), made an impassioned Passover appeal. Let the Palestinian people go! What he actually said was:
“Israeli settlements in the West Bank make it practically impossible for the Palestinians to realize their right to self-determination in an independent and viable state of their own.”
What are the fatal flaws?
The fatal flaws in that browned-off appeal lie where? Look for the duty of one party to give and the right of the other party to receive. Defrocked, that’s human rights. What is it but a worldview on Palestinian wants and the duty of Israel to supply them. One is owed, the other owes. There’s no notion of the alms-seeker having to do anything but table maximum demands, then sit back while supporters extort the alms-giver to meet him more than half way. The world absolves Palestinians from adult behaviour.
Abba Eban: Israel surrenders to Arabs after defeating them
The idea of a perennial spoilt kid makes the quip of Israeli ambassador Abba Eban bitter sweet.
“I think it would be the first war in history that on the morrow the victors sued for peace and the vanquished called for unconditional surrender.”
The vanquished want everything, and they want it on their own terms, unconditionally. Possession may be 9/10th of the law, and Israel may have it, but emulators of Moses put Palestinians above the law. They endow rights upon them which other people can only dream of. Morally, diplomatically or politically – the rights of Israelis can’t hold a candle to the rights of Palestinians in ‘bondage.’
That was fatal floor one. Fatal flaw two is to forget that a right to self-determination involves another and equal right: ownership. By all means let a people make unto themselves a nation, but where shall they do that? On what, or on whose land? No land west of the Jordan River belongs to Palestinians. Israel took the West Bank from Jordan, and Palestinians never entered the equation before that happened, or since for that matter. Nor can Jordan demand the land back, considering that it was not the lawful owner at the time Israel snapped it up. No one ever built a case for Jordan as rightful and lawful owner of the West Bank.
So the modern day Moses looks to Israel. At Passover time thoughts on bondage and liberation run riot, but be careful not to go where angels fear to tread. Politics can be the very devil.
“We must allow Palestinians to enjoy the same basic rights to self-government and independence that we, the Jewish State, have been privileged to enjoy since 1948.”
David Newman, Dean of Human Sciences at Ben Gurion University, goes on to write of “fundamental Jewish religious values” as recounted at Passover. It is incumbent upon the Jews of today, he says, to ensure that other peoples are not oppressed, even more when they are under “our own control and for whose wellbeing we have direct responsibility.”
Finally someone has wed ‘Rights’ to ‘Responsibilities’ the natural partner, never mind that Newman immediately divorces the couple, allocating responsibility to Israel and rights to the people it oppresses. And having divorced the couple, the modern day Moses delivers a lesson on ethics.
What is yours is theirs, and what is theirs is theirs. Ownership rights don’t get a moment’s thought. Devotees of human rights expect the people of Israel to part with their land (who else could the West Bank belong to?) so that a self-declared foe may establish one more foothold within range of metropolitan centres. Newman’s ‘fundamental Jewish values’ come with that political sting in the tail.
Diplomacy, having no truck with biblical appeals, comes with the political sting by itself. From American brokered peace talks one forgets who the rightful landowner is and who the supplicant. Israel the owner must dangle carrots in different forms that will entice a privileged coterie to nibble. Israel acts like a supplicant while Palestinian fatcats act like the landowner.
Even the truest ally treats Israel like a supplicant. When the clique of fatcats walked away from peace talks, American Secretary of State John Kerry came down on Israel for not dangling enough juicy carrots. No one stops to remind themselves of natural law: an owner of property needs do nothing until a person with an eye on it brings an offer. Should the latter be unwilling to meet the owner’s terms, the status quo is undisturbed.
Cornered, Zaki the Priest or Newman the Dean would concede that neither law nor treaty gives Palestinians a right to “self-determination in a viable state of their own.” There are only the Oslo Accords which have been trashed many times over, lately when the self-appointed coterie went over Israel the owner’s head with an international bid for statehood. But the accords even in mint condition conferred no privilege of the sort. Moses players, flouting principles of law, scatter rights and responsibilities like confetti. And that is more than odd, considering that the same players are first to insist that Israel abides by international law. How fake is their biblical thunder: responsibility without rights; rights without responsibility. Give Palestinians what they want, for heavens sake.
Well – why not, if only to satisfy some quirky view of fair play. The Jews got their state, why deprive a neighboring people? It might even help Israel’s own security. So say do-gooders toying with real baddies. But look at the way they put their case. Palestinians have no responsibility to accept an Israeli right, one actually written into law. Again John Kerry, the true blue friend, scolds Israel for putting the spoilt kid out of temper by insisting it accepts that Israel is a Jewish country. Other true friends, in Washington and Brussels, throw up their hands. Give the kid what it wants, for heavens sake!
Few know what they really want
Problem is, no one can fathom what it wants. And here we come to fatal flaw three. Three is also for the number of times that Israel offered exactly what pundits and policy makers kept repeating the Palestinians wanted: sovereign peaceful co-existence. Viable swathes of land were dangled – Jewish-owned land. The fatcats drawn to the table by carrots were invited to establish a home that Palestinians could call their own. But they tore up the invitation, three times over. Few thought to listen to what the Palestinian street was being told. Or if they did, few took the people under bondage seriously. Few realized that they are more intent on throwing Zionists into the sea than taking on adult responsibilities involved in statehood.
Ignore the Moses players. Their charges in bondage are not crying for the right to make a nation unto themselves. They cry for something entirely different.
“Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”
Thus spake Zahir Muhsein, one-time member of the fatcat PLO coterie.
“Since we cannot defeat Israel in war, we do it in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish sovereignty there, and we use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel.”
Thus spake Yasser Arafat on September 13, 1993 – the day the alms-seeker signed off on Oslo Accords and shook hands with the alms-giver’s agent.
What of Gaza? Palestinians were in bondage there once, before they got self-determination. Gaza was given to them, lock stock and barrel. All they had to do was begin making unto themselves a nation. Moses players are happy with that – yes? No.
“In 2005 Israel withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip, which increased Palestinians' control over their lives…However, Israel continues to hold decisive control over major aspects of people's lives.”
Thus spake Zaki the Priest, prodding Pharaoh, as ever, to let the people go. Meanwhile what did the people do with their newfound rights, bestowed unencumbered by responsibilities? They elected Hamas to govern them. They liked the timbre of a charter to crush the people that had set them free, that had given them a start with gifts of great value. They voted for leaders sworn to wipe out the people of Israel, not forgetting to look behind rocks and trees for the odd survivor. These leaders, to give them credit, proved faithful to their electoral mandate. For starters they fired tens of thousands of rockets into Israeli towns.
But remember, some are owed while others owe. For Moses players it is not for Gaza’s elect to uplift the lives of their own people. That is for Israel to do.
Will Zaki the Priest and Newman the Dean really fall in the trap? Are devotees of human rights really blind as well as dumb? Hopefully not. None of the five senses are their problem. Their problem is with a sixth sense. Devotees on the Left cannot come to terms with empowered Jews. The very idea feels profane. Jews in power over another people seem counter-intuitive, making it incumbent on Jews to level down.
Now we comprehend why Jewish “victors sued for peace” and allowed “the vanquished to call for unconditional surrender.” Now we grasp why Jews have to take responsibility for another people “under their control and for whose wellbeing (Jews) have direct responsibility.” And now we see why the Left feels a compulsion to give away their birthright land, even to a bitter foe.
The enemies of Israel, observes law professor Talia Einhorn,
“Understand much better than we do that the second we give into the lie that parts of Israel belong to others, we’ll be left with Zionism without Zion. Take away all parts in dispute – the Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Hevron – we’ll actually turn into colonialists. After all, what ancient historical connection do we have to Tel Aviv?”
A sensitivity to human rights at Passover time draws Jews to think of Moses as a template devotee. ‘Let my people go!’ That's all well and good. But they ought to have their own people above any other in mind. Just because they’re in the driving seat, Jews don’t lose their rights; nor their responsibilities for that matter. They’ve a duty to meet the enemy with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, so that never again will they suffer the terrible fate of being a powerless and footloose people.