Friday, December 2, 2022

The Latest UN Anti-Israel Resolution is Damaging and Disappointing, but not Surprising

The UN has passed a resolution formally recognizing "Nakba Day," an event that characterizes the creation of Israel as a disaster. Think of all of the countries in the world that have committed or are committing various atrocities against their citizens, their neighbors, or both--but the UN has not passed any resolutions characterizing the creation or existence of those countries as a disaster. Only Israel--the lone democracy in the Mideast--is singled out for such "special" treatment. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the UN has acted in such a despicable manner; in 1975, the UN passed a resolution declaring that Zionism--the national self-determination movement of the Jewish people--"is a form of racism and racial discrimination." The UN revoked that shameful resolution in 1991, but the UN's endorsement of that antisemitic and anti-Zionist slur persists. The Jewish people's historical ties to the Land of Israel are well-documented, despite what you might read in The New York Times, yet the Jewish people are the only national group in the world that has to "prove" its right to exist as a nation in its ancestral homeland.

To be clear, criticizing a specific Israeli policy is not necessarily antisemitic or anti-Zionist. What is antisemitic and anti-Zionist is to assert that Israel has no right to exist. This is not difficult to understand, but the same people who do not understand that antisemitism means hostility toward Jews (and not hostility toward "Semites") also pretend that there is some kind of vast conspiracy to silence any criticism of Israeli policies. Israelis do not agree about what their country's policies should be, just like citizens of most democratic countries do not agree about every policy decision--but there is a huge and obvious difference between disagreeing with a policy versus labeling a country as an "apartheid state" or an "imperialist, colonialist state." Speaking of policy disagreements, it is fascinating to watch self-proclaimed "progressives" apply false, negative labels to Israel--the only state in the Mideast which has free speech, free elections, and protection of minority rights (including women's rights and homosexual rights)--while remaining conspicuously silent about the lack of free speech, free elections, and protection of minority rights in the countries that are sworn enemies of Israel. I cannot fathom the cognitive dissonance that is required to be a self-proclaimed "progressive" who simultaneously (1) justifies terrorist attacks against Jews, (2) criticizes Israel for acting in self-defense after terrorist attacks, and (3) ignores the horrific human rights violations in the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, and Turkey.

It is a complete inversion of historical truth to label Israel an "apartheid state" or to talk about an Arab Nakba when the reality is that after the creation of the modern State of Israel the Arab/Islamic countries expelled almost 1,000,000 Jews

The expulsion of Jews from Arab/Islamic countries is both well-documented and seldom discussed (duplicative or broken links have been removed from the quoted text):

In 1945, roughly 1 million Jews lived peacefully in the various Arab states of the Middle East, many of them in communities that had existed for thousands of years. After the Arabs rejected the United Nations decision to partition Palestine and create a Jewish state, however, the Jews of the Arab lands became targets of their own governments' anti-Zionist fervor. As Egypt's delegate to the UN in 1947 chillingly told the General Assembly: "The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries will be jeopardized by partition." The dire warning quickly became the brutal reality.

Throughout 1947 and 1948, Jews in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Syria, and Yemen (Aden) were persecuted, their property and belongings were confiscated, and they were subjected to severe anti-Jewish riots instigated by the governments. In Iraq, Zionism was made a capital crime. In Syria, anti-Jewish pogroms erupted in Aleppo and the government froze all Jewish bank accounts. In Egypt, bombs were detonated in the Jewish quarter, killing dozens. In Algeria, anti-Jewish decrees were swiftly instituted and in Yemen, bloody pogroms led to the death of nearly 100 Jews.

In January 1948, the president of the World Jewish Congress, Dr. Stephen Wise, appealed to U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall: "Between 800,000 and a million Jews in the Middle East and North Africa, exclusive of Palestine, are in 'the greatest danger of destruction' at the hands of Moslems being incited to holy war over the Partition of Palestine...Acts of violence already perpetrated, together with those contemplated, being clearly aimed at the total destruction of the Jews, constitute genocide, which under the resolutions of the General Assembly is a crime against humanity." In May 1948, the New York Times echoed Wise's appeal, and ran an article headlined, "Jews in Grave Danger in all Muslim Lands: Nine Hundred Thousand in Africa and Asia face wrath of their foes."

...Overall, the number of Jews fleeing Arab countries for Israel in the years following Israel's independence was nearly double the number of Arabs leaving Palestine. The contrast between the Jewish refugees and the Palestinian refugees grows even starker considering the difference in cultural and geographic dislocation--most of the Jewish refugees traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to a tiny country whose inhabitants spoke a different language and lived with a vastly different culture. Most Palestinian refugees traveled but a few miles to the other side of the 1949 armistice lines while remaining inside a linguistically, culturally and ethnically similar society...

To date, more than 100 UN resolutions have been passed referring explicitly to the fate of the Palestinian refugees. Not one has specifically addressed Jewish refugees. Additionally, the United Nations created an organization, UNRWA, to solely handle Palestinian refugees while all other refugees are handled collectively by UNHRC. The UN even defines Palestinian refugees differently than every other refugee population, setting distinctions that have allowed their numbers to grow exponentially so that nearly 5 million are now considered refugees despite the fact that the number estimated to have fled their homes is only approximately 400-700,000.

The UN's latest anti-Israel resolution is the culmination of a propaganda campaign emanating primarily from Leftist sources, an effort that gained traction after Israel repulsed Arab/Islamic attackers to win the Six Day War in 1967; until that point, Israel's Arab/Islamic enemies clung to the hope that Israel was a temporary "interloper" that could be annihilated purely through military means--but Israel's decisive triumph made it clear that Israel would not likely be defeated on the battlefield.

The "Free Palestine" slogan is quite popular among self-proclaimed "progressives." What exactly are they proposing to "free"? There has never been a nation named Palestine; it does not exist on any map, or in any history book. The term Palestine derives from the Latin word that the Romans used to rename Judea after they conquered Judea and put down multiple Jewish rebellions nearly two millennia ago. As a modern geographic term, Palestine encompasses Jordan, Israel, and Judea/Samaria*. An Arab state already exists in Jordan, and most of Jordan's citizens are Palestinian Arabs. As a result of various treaties and agreements, Palestinian Arabs living in large portions of Judea/Samaria and Gaza enjoy political autonomy.

What "Free Palestine" really means is "Destroy Israel, expel (or kill) all of the Jews, and create yet another Arab/Muslim dictatorship in the Mideast"--but that phrase does not fit on a bumper sticker, and it is not yet socially acceptable to say that phrase in Western society (but wait just a few years, because we are moving in a direction where such a statement will be socially acceptable).

I would like to "Free the Arab/Islamic World" from both secular dictatorships and religious dictatorships. I would like to free Arab/Islamic children from being indoctrinated in antisemitic beliefs and from being taught that the most honorable thing that they can do is blow themselves up to kill Jews. I would like to free the Arab/Islamic world from squandering its resources on trying to destroy Israel and kill Jews instead of improving the lives of their people. 

I would like to see real progress, not the "progress" that self-proclaimed "progressives" talk about.

Being a Zionist does not mean opposing Arab/Islamic nationalism; I wish that the Arab/Islamic states were free and peace-loving as opposed to being dictatorships that, like most dictatorships, survive by being at war with real and imagined enemies. The Arab/Islamic world is dysfunctional, and anyone who truly cares about Arabs/Muslims would focus on curing that dysfunction, not on bashing Israel. The Iranian theocracy incites hatred against America and Israel because it has nothing positive to offer to its people, and thus fomenting hatred is the only way for the Iranian leaders to stay in power. This is the same historical patterns of behavior that we saw with Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and other oppressive regimes (including China and North Korea now): dictators cling to power by creating scapegoats and going to war. 

I am not sure who is more foolish--the Jewish self-proclaimed "progressives" who seem to think that their attacks against Israel in the media and in political organizations such as the UN will insulate them from antisemitism, or the Black self-proclaimed "progressives" who seem to think that chanting "Free Palestine" will ultimately benefit either the Palestinian Arabs or themselves. Most of the Palestinian Arab terrorist groups are funded by Iran. If Iran succeeds in "freeing Palestine," do Black self-proclaimed "progressives" believe that Iran will then start funding "Black Lives Matter"? The decline in the quality of Black leadership from the 1960s to the present is sad to watch, but it is infuriating when the self-proclaimed heirs to Dr. Martin Luther King diverge from failing to help their own communities to attacking the Jewish community and blaming Jews for problems that were not created by Jews and would not be solved if Israel and every Jewish person disappeared from the face of the Earth. Dr. King understood the inextricable connection between the Jewish people, Zionism, and the Land of Israel, and he once declared, "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism."

I watched a recent podcast featuring retired NBA players/self-styled activists Etan Thomas, Craig Hodges, and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, and it is difficult to imagine assembling a trio of people who have less understanding of these issues, or less awareness of how they have become sidetracked from addressing the problems in the Black community that they claim matter to them.

Thomas is outraged that Kyrie Irving was suspended by the Brooklyn Nets for using his social media platforms--which have more followers than the total Jewish population of the world--to promote a film filled with antisemitic tropes and then refusing to apologize for his antisemitism. Thomas asserted that no topic should be off limits for discussion, and that if anyone questions the veracity of what was depicted in the film that Irving promoted then evidence should be provided to refute the film's assertions. 

I ask Thomas the same question that I would ask any NBA player who suggests that Irving has been punished too harshly: "You have been critical of Kyrie Irving's suspension. If an NBA player used his social media platform to promote a film that declares that the trans-Atlantic slave trade never happened, that Black people are responsible for the suffering of white people, and that many prominent Black people worship Satan, what would you suggest the appropriate suspension or disciplinary action would be?" Somehow, I doubt that Thomas' response would be that such social media promotion is OK, dialogue is the best response, and evidence must be produced to refute the film's claims--but if that is his response, I will be interested to see if he invites white supremacists to be guests on his podcast so that he can evaluate the alleged intellectual merits of their ideology.

The film that Irving promoted and that Thomas believes raises important questions is not the educational documentary that it purports to be; it is filled with well-worn and refuted antisemitic tropes that any educated person knows to be false. The widespread dissemination of this material does not represent a quest for truth, but is irresponsible behavior that puts Jewish lives at risk:

Radical Hebrew Israelites often refer to Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Mizrahi Jews as "Fake Jews" or "Edomites," a derogatory term for white people, all of whom the Radical Hebrew Israelites believe are the descendants of the Biblical character Esau, or of the devil.

Such rhetoric can have deadly consequences. On December 10, 2019, a man and a woman reportedly affiliated with a radical sect of the Hebrew Israelites killed a police officer, then stormed a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, killing the owner, an employee, and a customer.

No sensible person disputes that all humans are descended from a common African ancestor--but sensible people also understand that from a scientific standpoint race is a myth, so the notion that modern Jews have "stolen" the identity of "original" Black Jews is nonsensical gibberish. Further, the assertion that modern Jews are "imposters" is refuted by genetic evidence that a large number of modern Jews are descended from four women who lived in Europe about 1000 years ago and whose genetic origins can be traced back over 3400 years ago to the Mideast. War, migrations, and other factors have intermixed many different communities throughout human history, but there is no scientific or historical foundation for asserting that modern Jews "stole" the identity of Black people; to argue otherwise makes about as much sense as declaring that the Earth is flat, which is another piece of "wisdom" offered by Kyrie Irving a few years ago.

Thomas, Hodges, and Abdul-Rauf asserted that Jewish people only speak out about antisemitism but are silent about racism and about the suffering of Black people. Apparently, they have never heard of Michael Goodman and Andrew Schwerner, two Jewish civil rights advocates who were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan, nor do they acknowledge the extent of active Jewish participation in the Civil Rights Movement.

Side note: Hodges' complaints about allegedly being blackballed by the NBA do not withstand a basic examination of the facts: in his final NBA season, the 6-2 Hodges averaged 4.3 ppg and 1.0 apg while shooting a career-low .384 from the field, and then in the playoffs he averaged just 2.5 ppg and .3 apg with a .390 field goal percentage. He has spent the past 30 years whining that his sincerely-held beliefs cost him his NBA career, but does anyone believe that there is a market for an undersized shooting specialist who could no longer shoot? I don't think that a grand conspiracy is necessary to explain why Hodges was not a hot commodity by that point in his career. Similarly, Abdul-Rauf plays the martyr role regarding the end of his NBA career, but in his final NBA season he averaged 6.5 ppg; he pretends that his NBA career ended solely because he refused to stand for the playing of the National Anthem, leaving out the part where he trafficked in debunked conspiracy theories, including his declaration that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an "inside job" perpetrated by Israel. Hodges and Abdul-Rauf have the right to believe what they want to believe, and employers have the right to not hire declining performers, let alone declining performers who spew hatred.

A few years ago, Thomas tweeted that the U.S. provides $3 billion to Israel but not a penny to Detroit. Does Thomas really believe that federal, state, and local authorities have not spent any money in Detroit? It is not difficult to ascertain that billions of dollars have been spent attempting to revitalize urban America since the inception of Lydon Johnson's Great Society. It might be worth examining who spent that money and how it was spent, but the aid provided to Israel--most of which is then spent purchasing American products and creating American jobs--is hardly the cause of whatever is ailing Detroit specifically or urban America in general. The reality is that Jews made the desert bloom in Israel long before America provided any financial assistance, and the financial assistance that America later provided has been repaid with interest by Israel in a variety of ways.

Why has Israel become so successful economically, technologically, and militarily while the so-called "Third World" countries surrounding her remain backward in all three areas? Money cannot be the answer, because over the past several decades many countries and organizations have poured billions of dollars into the "Third World" countries. The difference is that Israel has a free and open society, and that is the missing element in the rest of the region; it is difficult for a country run by despots to develop economically, technologically, and militarily. Instead of bashing Israel, the self-proclaimed "progressives" would be well-advised to visit Israel and try to learn from her success--but that would require intelligence, humility, and a commitment to hard work. 

It is much easier to just spend 90 minutes on a podcast speaking off of the top of your head without any knowledge about historical, socio-economic, and political issues than to become informed and to work on solving problems. Sadly, that kind of lazy and biased approach is prevalent not just on podcasts featuring former NBA players but also in major media outlets and in organizations like the UN that were founded for noble reasons but have been hijacked by dictatorships that have vile, malignant agendas. 


* Judea and Samaria are part of the heartland of the original Jewish State, as indicated in the Bible, as mentioned in any reputable history book, and as proven based on the archaeological evidence. Many people prefer to label Judea and Samaria as "The West Bank," which makes about as much sense as calling Missouri the west bank of the Mississippi River when the west bank of that river covers a much larger territory. Anti-Israel propaganda (including the renaming of ancient Jewish land) enjoys great success because most people are unfamiliar with the history and geography of the Mideast. The west bank of the Jordan River extends from the Sea of Galilee in the north to the Dead Sea in the south; the only reason to label just part of that area as "The West Bank" is to detach that part of the area from Jewish history/the Land of Israel and attempt to graft it onto Arab history/an Arab state.

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