A selection of Letters to the Editor from the March 27th issue of the AJT
Don’t Forget Muslim Hostility
It was interesting to read Michael Jacobs’ discussion of the reaction of some local Jews and Muslims to the documentary series “Jews and Muslims: Intimate Strangers” (“Bound by Our Lost Roots,” March 13). Unfortunately, the series underplays the history of Muslim hostility to Jews and largely shifts blame for that hostility onto European colonialism as well as the creation of Israel.
There were brief periods of enlightenment for Jews under some 1,400 years of Muslim rule, but the dominant experience was one of crushing oppression. The pattern for that was set when Mohammed, the founding prophet of Islam, massacred the Jews of Medina after they refused to convert, while subsequently all Jews were driven from what is now Saudi Arabia.
Periodic pogroms and restrictions that make apartheid look tame are well documented in books such as Sir Martin Gilbert’s “In Ishmael’s House.” No less a figure than Moses Maimonides had to flee Spain because of Muslim, not Christian, persecution. Undoubtedly blood libels imported from Europe did not help, but there were plenty of other pretexts that were used to marginalize Middle Eastern Jewry.
Nor is the record of Muslim colonialism better than that of Europe.
Interfaith dialogue is important, but it should not be at the expense of Israel. Rather than apologies for Israel’s existence, the fact that roughly half of all Israelis are descendants of Jewish refugees from Arab countries should be placed front and center, as should their history. Otherwise, there is the invariable slippage into the false trope that Jews and Muslims lived in harmony before Israel and the consequent delegitimization of Israel.
Doron Lubinsky, Sandy Springs
Israeli Voters Face Reality
I woke up the day after the Israeli election to news that Islamic terrorists had attacked a museum in Tunis, killing 18 tourists, and it dawned on me why the Israelis have given up on peace with the Arabs. They have seen this movie over and over again. After they made a dozen offers of a two-state solution and had them all refused, it is apparent there are no concessions big enough to placate the Arabs.
When Israel signed the Oslo Accords, it was paid back with genocidal suicide terror campaigns against restaurants, synagogues and buses, killing 2,000 civilians, with the enthusiastic support of Palestinian media, the political establishment and clergy. The security barrier is the only thing keeping the peace between the West Bank and Israel.
When Israel gave up Gaza, the first thing the Palestinians did was overwhelmingly vote in Hamas, which ran on a platform of war to the death with Israel — a promise Hamas is keeping. When Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon, it got two wars, and Hezbollah is positioning for another.
The Israelis watch Palestinian television and listen to their media incessantly railing against Jews, Christians and the West. Most Palestinian schools are named after suicide terrorists. Now Israel is watching Islamic State execute non-Muslims by the thousands and sees the 225,000 dead in Syria, much of Iraq in ruins and an implosion in Libya. Israeli media have reported the pronouncements promising to destroy the Zionist entity by the mullahs of Iran, and they take the threat seriously.
The Israelis desperately want peace with their neighbors, but they can’t let their guard down now. That upsets The New York Times, the Obama administration, the academic and political left on either coast of the United States and in Western Europe, and the secular Jewish left. These constituencies never learn the lessons of history and do not face the daily threat of annihilation.
So Israel will continue to have elections, but regardless of whether the government is from the center, left or right, the implacable demands of the Palestinians will remain the same: give up Jerusalem, have no security at the Jordan River, allow 4.5 million hostile Arab “refugees” into pre-1967 Israel, among other demands. I am sad to say I don’t see peace in my lifetime, but if Israelis ever concede their ability to defend themselves, we will see the end of their country.
Jerry Levy, Smyrna
Elections Turned Out Right
March 17 was truly a great day. I celebrated my birthday knowing that the Israeli people spoke decisively about the leadership they want going forward. Facing a myriad of problems domestically and internationally, Israelis decided what is needed is a strong, coherent, inclusive government that is effective.
I am glad that Benjamin Netanyahu faced formidable and credible challenges. He was too negligent about the economy and housing shortages and about tensions within the society. I hope he has been chastened and will pick competent people for his coalition Cabinet who can gain the respect and support of the greater population, including Israeli Arab citizens.
But while it is true that politics is local and Netanyahu was too negligent in this arena, the focus must remain on matters of security. He is a hard-nosed, clear-headed realist. While the strong ties between Israel and the United States need to be repaired because of his personal friction with President Obama, I firmly support the brilliant speech Netanyahu gave to Congress. He alerted the American people to the weaknesses of the deal being negotiated with Iran.
Iran will take note that the Israelis are determined to prevent them from obtaining nuclear weapons. They voted to stand up to this threat.
In the past I have advocated for a two-state solution, but given that past Israeli unilateral withdrawals strengthened Iranian proxies Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, now is not the time to leave the West Bank. Backed by Iran, Hamas would soon take over. They are the strong horse.
Israel and neighboring Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia must work to contain Iran’s quest for regional dominance. The United States is wrong to capitulate to this threat. When, not if, Iran goes nuclear, so will the Sunni Arabs, and war will be upon us. Israel is leading the effort to prevent this. That is why the election turned out as it did. Economic and social issues cannot trump national security. Now is the time to face reality and to be united and strong. Our survival depends on it.
Gail K. Ripans, Sandy Springs