By Chananya Weissman
July 20, 2005
As a Jew who cares very deeply about Israel even though he does not yet reside there, I wish to raise several important questions regarding the situation there as I perceive it from the relative stability of New York City. A great many things that seem to be taken for granted strike me as so absurd that no rational person could possibly accept them, let alone take them for granted.
I would like to believe that the political and military leaders in Israel have given great thought to these fundamental questions, especially considering the overwhelmingly high stakes involved, and that they could enlighten the many genuine supporters of Israel who are baffled by what is going on. Surely it is in the best interests of the Israeli establishment to clarify things for us, to educate us, to assure us that our fears and concerns are unfounded. Israel is so concerned with hasbara when it comes to the non-Jewish world, but we Jews with great loyalty and devotion to the land and its people request the same consideration.
I ask these questions in no particular order.
Question 1: Why does Israel continue to make “painful concessions”? In fact, why has Israel made even a single “painful concession”?
To the best of my knowledge, never before in history did the winner of a war permit the loser to set the terms of a peace agreement, let alone make concessions, painful or otherwise. If one were to study only the negotiations between Israel and the Arabs without any knowledge of the wars in the Middle East, he would assume that Israel had been sorely defeated in every military engagement with the Arabs, when the reverse is true.
Question 2: Irrespective of whatever the answer might be to the previous question, why does Israel continue to negotiate with and make “gestures of goodwill” to proven liars? Further, why does Israel assume that those who have no qualms about murdering people in cold blood can be trusted to keep their word? Is lying so much more of a crime than murder that we should assume that one who murders will not tell a lie?
To this uninformed Jew in New York, it seems that those who negotiate with Arab terrorists are the greatest suckers in history. How many times would a farmer plant thorn bushes and still hope a blooming orchard would grow instead? Surely the Israeli government has some strong evidence that its negotiating partners can be trusted, despite the many broken agreements (assuming any agreement has been kept to date). Surely the Israeli government sees evidence of humanity, morality, compassion, and genuine goodwill in its negotiating partners to continue this “process” with such determination. Surely this evidence is so powerful that it transcends the mound of evidence to the contrary: the countless bombings, lynchings, beheadings, and creatively ruthless forms of murder that have been invented and fostered by our peace partners.
Please share this evidence.
Question 3: If there is a Jewish soldier with a gun and an Arab with a rock, the Jewish soldier is afraid of the Arab and the Arab is not afraid of the Jew. How can this be? I must be missing something here.
Question 4: This being the case, why has Israel given guns and military training to the Arabs? Did anyone seriously believe these guns would be used to bring peace to Israel?
Question 5: Why has Israel protected Christian and Muslim religious sites more urgently than Jewish holy sites? In particular, the Tomb of Joseph was destroyed, and the holiest Jewish site of all, the Temple Mount, is permitted to be desecrated without the feeblest of response. Conversely, when in 2002 known terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands sought refuge in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Israeli military did not pursue them, and ultimately let them evade capture.
Question 6: Why does Israel ever let a murderer escape due to ancillary considerations? It should be noted that the Torah commands that a murderer should find no sanctuary in a holy place, and is even to be taken from the place of the altar itself to be put to death. Judaism recognizes that there is no greater defilement of a holy place than for it to provide refuge for a murderer. Judaism also recognizes that mercy and compassion for murderers is in fact a perverse cruelty. Why does the Jewish state believe otherwise, and what peace has it enjoyed from its adherence to a more “compassionate” position? And why does Israel even want peace with murderers of its people, and not vengeance?
Question 7: Why does Israel not always retaliate when attacked, and why does it limit its retaliation against the norms of military procedure?
Dozens of Iraqi missiles rained down on Israel during the first Gulf War, and Israel submitted to pressure from other nations not to defend itself. In the entire history of the world, has another nation ever allowed itself to be repeatedly attacked without defending itself, regardless of promises, assurances, and pressure from other nations? Did any other nation make this non-response or limited response standard operating procedure?
Question 8: Why does Israel allow other countries to dictate to it where it may build homes for its people, or erect fences to protect its people? Why does Israel even feel a need to give an accounting of this and similar matters? Who has ever heard of such a thing? May Israel in return cry foul over the exorbitant living expenses in New York?
Question 9: Why does Israel celebrate Independence Day every year? In what way is Israel independent?
Question 10: Why has Israel freed terrorists by the hundreds, often in exchange for nothing? Further, why is this magnanimity not extended to its own patriotic citizens, who now find themselves jailed and treated without compassion for far lesser crimes? Could anything be more absurd?
Question 11: How can a country that declares itself democratic jail its own citizens without even accusing them of a crime, let alone granting them a fair trial? In Israel this is known as “administrative detention.”
Question 12: Why does Israel value the lives of Arab “civilians” more than the lives of its own soldiers?
In its rare offensive actions against terrorist strongholds, Israel has repeatedly sent ground soldiers into extremely deadly situations rather than risk casualties to “civilians.” Dozens of Israeli soldiers have needlessly lost their lives as a result. For what?
Question 13: Why does Israel feel the need to apologize for the occasional loss of “civilian” life in the course of necessary military procedures conducted with the greatest of care? Why does Israel not apologize to its own people for needless loss of Jewish civilian life?
Question 14: If an Arab were accused of a serious crime, would he prefer to be tried by an Israeli court or by a court of his own brethren? If he acknowledges that he would receive a fairer trial by an Israeli court, why would he sacrifice so much to wage war against Israel, yet take no decisive action to rehabilitate his own people?
Question 15: It seems to this uninformed New Yorker that Israel is devoting more military planning and resources (not to mention money) to uproot thousands of loyal citizens from their homes, and destroy their cities and synagogues, than it has devoted to any military operation during the current Intifada. Can this really be?
Question 16: Why has Israel tried everything under the sun to achieve peace, except for seeking a return to its God and its religion? If Israel is willing to arm its enemies, to free terrorists by the hundreds, to give away its own land, to uproot its own people, and to flagellate itself before the world, why is it unwilling to try a spiritual revival, just in case? Why is Israel unwilling to make a small sacrifice, a relatively painless concession, just to see if there really is a God and if that God is more trustworthy than Arab terrorists and more protective than foreign nations? Isn`t it worth a shot after all this? Would it be too much to ask for all of Israel to observe a single Shabbos, to spend a single day praying and soul-searching?
Question 17: If Israel could turn back the clock in all these negotiations, agreements, and concessions, would it change anything? And if Israel has any regrets about the “peace process,” why does it continue on the same bloody, melancholy, aimless path?
I ask these questions with the best of intentions and greatest of sincerity. I respectfully ask those in a position of knowledge and leadership to enlighten me.