The Zionist Conspiracy
Monday, April 26, 2004
Happy Independence Day
Israelis are celebrating Yom Ha'atzmaut, their Independence Day.
Nine years ago The Jerusalem Post published an excellent piece about Israel's achievements, written by Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, who today is the leader of the anti-religious Shinui party. While I'm no fan of Lapid, his 1995 article was superb - I was in Israel that summer and saved the article - so I'm posting it here.
TO MY CANDID, ENVIOUS FRIEND
by YOSEF LAPID
THE Independence Day edition of Tel Aviv's local Ha'ir weekly ran an article by the Palestinian-Israeli writer Anton Shamas, penned with his usual fluency.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he wrote, "the time has come, on this festive day, to admit with complete candor, without shame or downcast eyes, that the whole business has turned out badly. The Zionist adventure has been a total failure."
It's a good thing Shamas came out and said it. Because an article like this, by an authoritative Arab intellectual, is a fine opportunity to express a few truths one hesitates to voice without a suitable pretext.
Shamas, my friend: Zionism is the greatest success story of the 20th century. Fifty years after the defeat of Hitler and the mufti of Jerusalem, Zionism is thriving in the heart of the Middle East, in a state of 4.5 million Jews - Jews whose survival was, for a moment, in doubt.
The Hebrew language (one of Zionism's wonders) has bonded sabras and refugees from the camps, Sephardim and Oriental Jews. Within half a century, the Zionists, starting with almost nothing, have forged a state which launches its own space satellites and provides the US Navy with pilotless drones. It exports sophisticated computer programs and teaches Latin Americans how to grow melons.
Every month this state exports goods worth a billion dollars and more to Western Europe, the US and even Japan; it has an exemplary democracy, one in which cabinet ministers fear the state comptroller, and judges fear only God.
This state has produced an army deemed one of the world's best; there is little violent crime, and many fine concerts. People of all religions enjoy freedom of worship, and non-believers are welcome too.
Ten percent of the country's citizens are new immigrants; and 89 percent think that, despite all the hardships - and the Jewish Agency - it's a good place to live in.
This is a state in which an Anton Shamas is free, on a national holiday, to publish a virulent attack on everything that the Jews living in the state hold dear.
Shamas might be able to forgive us for all this, perhaps. But what he cannot bear is the fact that, held up in the light of Zionism's achievements, the Arabs' failure appears so humiliating and depressing.
HOW MANY Palestinians are there, my friend? One million - two, three? And how many Arab states are there around you? Twenty? Twenty countries of kings and dictators, of terror and bloodshed. There isn't a single Arab democracy, one with freedom of expression and civil rights.
You talk about the failure of the State of Israel. Compared to what? Algeria? Egypt? Iraq?
How many Arabs live between the Atlantic Ocean and the Persian Gulf? A hundred million? Two hundred million? And how many Moslems are there? A billion?
All of them pray to the same Allah, in the name of the same prophet, Mohammed. And all of them together can't solve Gaza's sewage problem.
For 47 years you've been preparing for Palestinian independence, and yet you're still not collecting the garbage in Jericho.
With all the oil in the world, you can't muster the Arab brotherhood needed to build a hospital in Deir el-Balah. And all the gold faucets in Saudi Arabia and all the jacuzzis in Kuwait aren't enough to provide clean drinking water for Jabalya.
When all's said and done, my friend, you know very well that if almost a million Jews lived in Gaza, surrounded by 20 Jewish states, Jewish Gaza would be paradise on earth. Palestinian laborers would be lining up at the Erez Junction facing the other way to get work in Gaza.
If there were a billion believing Jews in the world, Gaza's Jews wouldn't need handouts from the UN; the world's Jews would have taken care of Gaza's Jews, and they would long since have converted Gaza into the pearl of the Mediterranean.
You know all this, Anton Shamas, and that's what's eating you. Envy has led you into irrationality.
Thus the time has come, with complete candor, without shame or downcast eyes, to conclude: It hasn't worked out, this whole business: The Palestinian adventure has been a total failure.