The Zionist Conspiracy
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Stupid Column(s) of the Week
This week's competition results in a tie between Arthur Hertzberg and Steven Plaut.
Hertzberg's Jewish Week column originally appeared in Haaretz. It was stupid then too, which is why I posted in response to it.
In the last decade, since the supposed agreement in Oslo to end settlements in order to move toward making peace, the Jewish population in the West Bank and Gaza has doubled! By no stretch of imagination can this be ascribed to natural increase; the Israeli birthrate of less than three per family would simply not produce such an increase within ten years.
Natan Sharansky, the minister of Diaspora affairs, has recently been in and out of the United State making speeches attacking Jewish students on campus and Jewish professors for not standing up for Israel. Sharansky attributed this failure to a lack of information on their part and he proposes that this be corrected through better Zionist education. But in what Zionism does he intend to educate these students and faculty members? Does he propose to teach them his own Zionism, in which he went home after a recent tour of some American universities to announce that, contrary to a promise that Israel had made to the American government, he was going to finance the construction of 650 new apartments on the West Bank in order to "thicken" the Jewish presence in some of the settlements?
I have no doubt that Natan Sharansky knows that there are apartments going begging right now in some of those places.
Here's why the above is stupid:
1. Oslo was not an agreement "to end settlements." In fact, Oslo did not even require a settlement freeze, despite Palestinian demands for one.
2. As Hertzberg points out, Sharansky is Minister of Diaspora Affairs. That's why he was in the U.S. speaking on college campuses. Sharansky used to be Housing Minister, but is not anymore, and was not at the time he went on the U.S. speaking tour. So how in the world could he be in a position to "finance the construction of 650 new apartments on the West Bank?" If Hertzberg doesn't like the decision, okay, but what has this particularly got to do with Sharansky?
3. According to Hertzberg, "by no stretch of imagination" can the increase in the settler population "be ascribed to natural increase; the Israeli birthrate of less than three per family would simply not produce such an increase within ten years." I suggest Hertzberg visit the schools in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, such as the ones I've visited in Neve Dekalim and Beit El. Families there are, on average, having a lot more than 3 children.
4. Hertzberg's criticism of the construction of new apartments in Judea and Samaria when "there are apartments going begging right now in some of those places" sounds legitimate, but it's not. The new construction is taking place within Givat Ze'ev, Maaleh Adumin, Ariel, Karnei Shomron and Beitar Illit, all of which are flourishing, and are located in areas most Israelis want and expect to retain. The empty homes are in isolated settlements, mainly in the northern West Bank.
Enough about Hertzberg. Now it's time for a very sharp right turn, to Steven Plaut's column in this week's Jewish Press.
Plaut points out, correctly, that the Israeli Left came up with the idea of a security fence, believing it "would create a de facto separation of Israel from the West Bank and Gaza Strip." The Left then opposed the fence, because as implemented by Prime Minister Sharon, it deviates from the Green Line.
The Left's campaign against the wall has since moved beyond mere political rhetoric. In recent weeks, teams of Israeli leftists, together with anti-Jewish "anarchists" and loony communists from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), have been attacking the fences that comprise parts of the wall and vandalizing them with wire cutters and other tools.
This is followed up by lots of information about the ISM, a group that I abhor no less than Plaut does, and this:
Too many on the Israeli Left take their cues from the Palestinian Authority, much the same way that communists in the late 1930`s and 1940`s took their cues from the Comintern...
For the longest time, a security wall was the preferred recipe for peace endorsed by nearly everyone on the Israeli Left. Today, the wall is labeled a colonial aggression, denounced by all progressive leftists and people for peace - - people so opposed to it that they are willing to risk prison, tear gas, and getting shot in the legs to tear it down or rip holes in it.
Uncle Joe Stalin would be proud.
Plaut is saying that physical attacks and protests against the fence by left-wing Israelis are common, as are the employment of terms such as "colonial aggression." That's absolutely false.
There was one Israeli - Gil Na'amati - who was shot while trying to cut the fence. There have been a handful of extreme leftists who have attended protests against the fence, and probably even fewer who attacked it as colonialist or akin to apartheid.
By and large, however, the fence - even in its extended form - is supported by the overwhelming majority of Israelis, both left-wing and right-wing. Indeed, a poll showed that 64 percent of Israelis want the Samaria city of Ariel to be inside the fence, with only 20 percent opposed. Even among those 20 percent who feel the route should follow the 1967 borders, practically none have ever joined the ISM or other groups to attack and vandalize the fence. Nor is the fence "denounced by all progressive leftists."
Plaut compares the Left with Joseph Stalin, obviously more than insinuating that they are traitors. With a very small number of exceptions, these are people who risk their lives in the IDF, give up a month each year into their 40's to perform reserve duty, and then watch their kids go to the army.
It's fine to criticize the political positions of the Left, as I frequently do. On the issue of the fence, it is indeed disgraceful that much of the Left has expressed opposition to its government's attempt to include some of the large communities in Judea and Samaria, undermining the status of communities most Israelis want to eventually annex. But almost always, such opposition has not come anywhere close to what Plaut suggests. His claim to the contrary is most unfortunate and unnecessary.