Applying Jim Crow laws to Israel

By Ted Belman

Reuven Koret, the publisher and Editor of IsraelInsider, writes an open letter to Condi Rice that you won’t want to miss.

Madame Secretary,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am an American-born Israel, and since my early childhood I have been sympathetic to the civil rights movement in the US, and human rights movement around the world. My mother was a civil rights activist, a marcher in the Washington demonstrations of the 1960’s, just as she marched for the rights of beleaguered Jews in the USSR to gain their freedom. Among my proudest personal accomplishments has been the co-founding, with black and Jewish colleagues at Harvard University, of the pre-eminent website for Africans and African-descent people, now called AOL Black Voices.

I therefore have been interested to read of your attempts to connect the civil rights movement and the Israeli-Arab conflict. Most recently, you were quoted as telling, in a closed-door meeting at Annapolis, a story from your childhood in Birmingham, using it to show what you thought was empathy for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. You said you did not want to draw historical parallels or be too self-reflective, but you did so anyway, recalling the time when a local church was bombed by white racists, killing four girls, including your classmate.

“Like the Israelis, I know what it is like to go to sleep at night, not knowing if you will be bombed, of being afraid to be in your own neighborhood, of being afraid to go to your church,” you said.

But then you went on to say, that, as a black child in the South, you were told that you could not use certain water fountains or eat in certain restaurants, you also understood the feelings and emotions of the Palestinians. “I know what it is like to hear to that you cannot go on a road or through a checkpoint because you are Palestinian,” she said. “I understand the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness.”

“There is pain on both sides,” Rice concluded. “This has gone on too long.”

Well, we can agree on that, Madame Secretary. But the more I thought about your attempt at a historical parallel, the more it disturbed me. I am writing tell you that you are wrong about much else, and what you trying to do to fix this will lead to results opposite of what you intend.

Then Koret takes her analogy apart.

Dr. Rice, you are wrong about how must Israelis feel. You keep saying that the vast majority of Israelis support leaving most if not all of Judea and Samaria and handing it over to the Palestinians. But poll after poll shows that is simply not true. Most Israelis are pragmatic and we (sometimes) learn from experience. We saw what happened when we withdrew from Lebanon and Gaza, and we are not willing to repeat that mistake and allow Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and our airport to become a target for Palestinian rockets.

You are wrong, too, when you think that all we care about is security. These days we worry less about being bombed, because of the security measures our government took, over Palestinian objections. Those same checkpoints you complain about, and the security barrier that we built which so many others complain about, keep bombers and drive-by shooters out.

But even if security weren’t an issue, you need to understand that when you speak about Judea and Samaria, you speak about the Jewish People’s heartland, not some foreign country. The Bible you read is filled with those places because that is where our faith was formed, that is where our history was lived for many more centuries than the United States has been in existence. And Jerusalem — above all, the Old City and the Temple Mount at its center — has been the spiritual core of our existence since the time of David and Solomon.

For centuries, the Jews were denied even the right to pray at our holiest sites near and on the Temple Mount. There and at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and in many other places throughout Judea and Samaria, the Arabs cruelly allowed us get close, but never to touch, never to enter the place itself.

That didn’t change even in 1948 when we earned our own nation by defeating 6 attacking Arab armies and the local Arab population. But that victory was only partial: we lost the Old City of Jerusalem, Hebron and Gush Etzion, each loss accompanied by massacres by the Arabs.

They burned down our synagogues: 17 out of 18 in the Old City of Jerusalem alone after the Jordanians took control in 1948. The other one they couldn’t find because a decent Arab hid it.

Secretary Rice, I am going to be blunt, in the fashion you are known to be. Because you are doing business with the worst racists and anti-Semites in the world, and their bigotry is turning you into a racist and an anti-Semite, and an advocate for racist and anti-semitic policies.

It’s not like the world doesn’t know who the Saudis are, and what they stand for. Jews can’t even visit, for God’s sake, and blacks are as close to slavery there as in most countries, except of course most of the other Arab non-democracies you invited to your little gathering. You know that, I assume, but you choose to ignore it.

What stunned me was when I read today that you gave in to the demands of the Saudis and agreed that the Israeli delegation would not be allowed to enter the same door as the representatives of the Arab states. The Israelis had to enter through the service entrance. The Israeli delegation agreed not to be photographed in the same pictures as the Saudis and other Arabs lest Muslims be embarrassed by appearing in the same photograph. God forbid that the two religions should mix! And this Saudi nonsense about no handshakes with Israelis. Doesn’t this offend you in the least? Can’t you use your bully pulpit to deal with it?

Shame on you, Secretary Rice. How could you allow this to go down? How could you tolerate this kind of bigotry? If that’s not a modern resurrection of Jim Crow laws, then what is? How dare you! And then to lecture Israel about the morality of its checkpoints?

Let me put it in the bluntest terms I can think of, but no less true for being blunt: in the eyes of the Arabs, Israel is the nigger of the Middle East: not because of our borders but because of being the Jewish State and, to make matters worse, beating the Muslims in every war.

For surviving in a sea of Muslim, we have been constantly insulted, humiliated, discriminated against. We are — because we are Jews, representing the Jewish State — treated as less than human or, as the they continually remind us, “a race of pigs and monkeys.”

As such, Madame Secretary, we have no faith in the possibility of a peace treaty in a year or even in ten years, maybe not in a hundred. Why? Because the Arabs, the Muslims in general, and the Palestinians in particular, are educating their people, their youth, to hate us, to dehumanize us, to demonize us, to deny our basic rights. The Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the militant wings of Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah, defined all as terror groups by your State Department — these are the local version of the Ku Klux Klan you remember from your childhood, with one crucial difference: they don’t just want to keep us down. They want to make us dead.

Theirs is not a non-violent civil rights struggle, but a nationalist struggle to exterminate the people of Israel from the Land of Israel, primarily by violent means and, when necessary, political means using well-meaning people like you.

I need not tell you that our fears are not without justification, with Muslims the world over, and some non-Muslims as well trying to foment the idea of a world without Israel, without a Jewish state.

And, sadly, you have to some extent thrown your lot in with them, by morally equating them and us, by saying that we are equally guilty of terror and incitement as the Palestinians, who invented terrorism and incite against us in their mosques, media and government statements.

The joint understanding you worked so hard to achieve in Annapolis starts wrong, when it refers to the Palestine Liberation Organization as one of the two parties. It’s called that because it intends, has always intended, to liberate Palestine, all of Palestine, including all of what is Israel, expelling or exterminating all of the Jews who live here.

The PLO has never, despite all the conferences and word play, retracted that desire. They continue to pursue their Plan of Stages to replace Israel with Palestine. They want a Jew-Free state of Palestinian and an Israel they will not recognize as Jewish, which they hope gradually turn into an Arab majority, by virtue of a higher birthrate and whatever “right of return” they can negotiate. You did not insist that the Palestinian recognize Israel as the Jewish Homeland, even though President Bush does. You are encouraging them to believe they can have Palestine, and also destroy Israel from within.

And the joint understanding is wrong in its very end, when it sets up the United States as judge of who is and who is not implementing the “road map.”

Secretary Rice, neither you nor your bosses, have the right to judge us, nor do our leaders have the right to let you to do so. You are acting in ways that show us that you are not an honest broker, nor someone who knows very much about our region, and certainly not our country. Only the people of Israel can decide what is in the interests of the people of Israel.

You are aligning yourself with the world’s most racist and anti-semitic autocracies. And if your actions in Annapolis, and in your subsequent maneuver at the UN, are any guide, you are learning from them and following their orders like they were your slavers. You are applying Jim Crow laws to Israel. That should as shameful and humiliating for you as it is for us.

I am sure that, at some level, you know that what I am saying is true, that the Saudis and their ilk are odious, arrogant racists, who look down at you at least as much as they look down at us.

One day you will recognize that the Arab despots, and the US interests they grease, are your masters, exploiting you as a willing slave to do their dirty work, a dhimmi to hew their wood and carry their water. And the job they expect is for you to make Israel, the Mideast nigger, the dirty Jew of the world, pay — pay so dearly and castrate itself to such an extent that it will not be able to defend itself when the killing attack begins.

We Israelis — most of us — know that. We shall overcome the Arabs, and the Persians, and we shall overcome you and your masters, if you insist on forcing us into a situation of existential vulnerability.

We have no desire to rule over another people, but neither do we intend to allow that people or their cousins to destroy the Jewish homeland and exterminate Jewish history, which is their clearly and continuously expressed intention. We want to be free of them, in a way that does not allow them threaten us, or undermine us, or kill us.

May that day come soon.

Reuven Koret

December 3, 2007 | 5 Comments »

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