Know the history
I usually admire Ellie Kinnaird’s political opinions, but like some others I have been disappointed that she repeats the politically correct myths about the Israelis and Palestinians, which omit historical context.
Jews in Europe were mostly not given full citizenship, nor allowed to own land or enter the trade guilds. So many Jews turned to money-changing and loans. In the 19th century, Jews like Theodor Herzl decided the only path to Jewish acceptance was to have a country of their own, self-determination. These Jews moved into British-held Palestine and worked the land, built institutions.
After WWI, by 1917 the British Balfour Declaration supported establishment of a national home for the Jewish people. In 1923 The League of Nations granted the British Mandate officially, with British rule of Palestine to be turned into a Jewish National Home. Then after WWII the UN passed the Partition Plan for Palestine, a plan for separate Jewish and Arab states. The British left in 1948, and Israel declared itself a State, but the Palestinian Arabs refused their larger state area without the sliver of the State of Israel.
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While the British were running the Palestine area, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem 1921-1948, Haj Amin al Husseini, spent several years in Berlin, coordinating with Hitler’s anti-Jewish lies and extermination goals. It was easy to bring hatred of Jews back because the Arabs resented the British and French dominance in the Middle East. The Arabs backed the Nazis.
Even today the Hamas Charter aims to destroy the State of Israel. Jews, granted self-determination in their ancient homeland, must continue to fight for survival.
Palestinians focus on their dislocation, the Nakba, Catastrophe. But many Jews know Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi, and Iranian Jews who were expelled from their generations-long homes when Israel was established in 1948. Why don’t Palestinians or democratic liberals speak about that?
Israel developed quickly into a modern country partly because education teaches Jewish children to read and discuss. Recent Arab childhood education seems to emphasize memorizing the Quran. Also Jews donate to Israel’s immigration, education, and social institutions, while in their most oil-rich decades Arabs did not share their wealth within their own countries nor with Palestinians. Instead they pay families when a member dies attacking Jews.
My Humanist Judaism book group read “The Lemon Tree” by Sandy Tolan. With disbelief of the liberal lauding that this showed how bad Israelis act, I read a Jewish woman fleeing death-by-Nazis turns her house into a school for young Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinian man whose family lost the house persists in anger and hatred. How many displaced people return to their former homes, even their former countries? This is not particular to the State of Israel.
We also read “Once upon a Country,” by Sari Nusseibeh, a former president of al Quds University in Jerusalem. Nusseibeh documents how Yasir Arafat had to feel he originated every plan to advance Palestinians, and how Israel misunderstood some peaceful academics as terrorists.
Perhaps Americans now living with a Trump administration can begin to understand how self-serving leaders, whether the Mufti, Arafat, Natanyahu, Trump, or others, can create deadly mess on all sides. Politically correct agendas blind themselves to the full context.
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