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On Palestine’s right to exist


Published: 9/24/2019 10:13:59 AM

This letter exposes the myths, over-simplifications, and ignorance of historical facts in Sherrill Hogen’s one sided “My Turn” titled, “Does Palestine have a right to exist.” She states that the land of Israel was stolen by Jewish colonists with no connection to the land. This is not true.

There’s a difference between an indigenous Middle Eastern people returning home from exile after centuries of persecution, expulsions and genocide, and Europeans invading foreign lands.

Every Passover, Jews say, “next year in Jerusalem.” This represents the yearning to come home after prolonged suffering during two thousand years of exile. DNA studies show that modern Jews and the ancient Israelites are the same people. Israel is where Jews originated, the scriptures are set, and have lived continuously.

Jews began returning to Palestine in large numbers in the 19th century, legally purchasing uninhabited wasteland from absentee Ottoman land-owners. They drained malarial swamps, restored ancient irrigation systems, planted trees, and made it productive. Their goal was to live in peace with their neighbors. During 30 years of British rule, Arabs massacred Jews.

The Arabs of Palestine (they didn’t call themselves Palestinians until 1967) could have had their own state in 1937, had they accepted the Peel proposal. Again in 1947, they rejected the UN vote to create a Jewish and an Arab state, and have rejected every offer of compromise. They sided with the Nazis during World War II and in 1948 Arab states invaded fledgling Israel and lost the war, creating refugees.

Jews who lived for decades in Arab lands were also forced to leave their homes, losing all their possessions.

Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria were created countries. Yet their legitimacy’s never questioned.

In 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza leaving greenhouse facilities to start an industry. Had Gaza focused on development and peace, they could now have a state. Gazans live in a prison of their own making. They elected leaders who are bent on Israel’s destruction and the genocide of Jews. Hamas values killing Israelis more than seeing its own people prosper. When the barrages of rockets, firebombs, border riots, terror tunnels, drones , balloons, and sniper attacks end, the blockade will cease to be necessary. (The Egyptian border with Gaza is also controlled to prevent the smuggling of arms and militants into the Sinai.)

Israelis are attacked by Hezbollah in the North, rockets from Damascus in the East, Hamas in the South, daily stabbings, car ramming, murders from the West Bank, and threats from Iran. Between 2000 and 2004, over 8,000 Israelis were murdered or injured by Palestinians. Israel had no choice but to impose a wall and checkpoints, which have reduced terrorism by 90 percent. No other country lives with daily threats to its very existence.

In 2014, I lived with a Palestinian family in Nazareth, a completely Arab town, for two weeks. Although they were critical of the Israeli government and concerned for their brethren in the territories, people I talked to agreed that life in Israel is better than in any Mideast country, which is why they stay. Members of my host family were integrated into Israeli society and were civil engineers, artists, and school principals. The camp I worked at served a free lunch. Kids were happy and well dressed. Teens had cell phones. Affirmative action policies in Israeli colleges help Arab Israelis get better jobs.

I agree with Ms. Hogen that expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank are a disgrace and cause suffering and humiliation, although I understand the religious and security reasons for them.

Ms. Hogen says that Palestinians will not agree to a two-state solution, and advocates for one country. Yearly, dozens of Jews are killed as a result of the ongoing incitement and encouragement by the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians in Israel are not in danger, but an Israeli going into Palestine is warned by signs that she may be killed. The murder of a Jew is widely celebrated in Palestine, while murder of a Palestinian is condemned in Israel. Israelis will not agree to committing suicide by becoming one state with people sworn to their destruction.

I am troubled by many policies of the Israeli government. I grieve for everyone who is suffering, and want safety and prosperity for both peoples. Ms. Hogen’s letter does not lead to understanding, or offer constructive ideas for peace. It denies the very real threat posed to Israel and the actions which led to the current situation. Research history before believing the tsunami of anti-Israel rhetoric.

Rhonda Wainshilbaum is a resident of Leyden.


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