9. Moral Distinctions
In assessing the Middle East impasse it is important to pay attention to the moral distinction revealed in the actions of the two combatants. When a deranged Jew goes into an Arab mosque and kills the worshippers (which happened once) he is acting alone and is universally condemned by the Israeli government and the Jews in Israel and everywhere, and he is punished to the full extent of Israeli law. But when a young Arab enters a disco filled with teenagers or a shopping mall or bus crowded with women and children and blows himself and innocent bystanders up (which happens frequently), he is someone who has been trained and sent by a component of the PLO or the Palestine Authority; he is officially praised as a hero by Yasser Arafat; his mother is given money by the Palestine Authority; and his Arab neighbors come to pay honor to the household for having produced a “martyr for Allah.” The Palestinian liberation movement is the first such movement to elevate the killing of children – both the enemy’s and its own – into a religious calling and a strategy of the cause.
It is not only the methods of the Palestine liberation movement that are morally repellent. The Palestinian cause is itself corrupt. The “Palestinian problem” is a problem created by the Arabs, and can only be solved by them. In Jordan, Palestinians already have a state in which they are a majority but which denies them self-determination. Why is Jordan not the object of the Palestinian “liberation” struggle? The only possible answer is because it is not ruled by Jews.
There is a famous “green line” marking the boundary between Israel and its Arab neighbors. That green line is also the bottom line for what is the real problem in the Middle East. It is green because plants are growing in the desert on the Israeli side but not on the Arab side. The Jews got a sliver of land without oil, and created abundant wealth and life in all its rich and diverse forms. The Arabs got nine times the acreage but all they have done with it is to sit on its aridity and nurture the poverty, resentments and hatreds of its inhabitants. Out of these dark elements they have created and perfected the most vile anti-human terrorism the world has ever seen: Suicide bombing of civilians. In fact, the Palestinians are a community of suicide bombers: they want the destruction of Israel more than they want a better life.
If a nation state is all the Palestinians desire, Jordan would be the solution. (So would settling for 95 percent of one’s demands.) But the Palestinians also want to destroy Israel. This is morally hateful. It is the Nazi virus revived. Nonetheless, the Palestinian cause is generally supported by the international community, with the singular exception of the United States (and to a lesser degree Great Britain). It is precisely because the Palestinians want to destroy a state that Jews have created — and because they are killing Jews — that they enjoy international credibility and otherwise inexplicable support.
10. The Jewish Problem Again
It is this international resistance to the cause of Jewish survival, the persistence of global Jew-hatred that, in the end, refutes the Zionist hope of a solution to the “Jewish problem.” The creation of Israel is an awe-inspiring human success story. But the permanent war to destroy it undermines the original Zionist idea.
More than fifty years after the creation of Israel, the Jews are still the most hated ethnic group in the world. Islamic radicals want to destroy Israel, but do so Islamic moderates. For the Jews in the Middle East, the present conflict is a life and death struggle, yet every government in the UN with the exception of the United States and sometimes Britain regularly votes against Israel in the face of a terrorist enemy, who has no respect for the rights or lives of Jews. After the Al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center, the French ambassador to England complained that the whole world was endangered because of “that shitty little country,” Israel. This caused a scandal in England, but nowhere else. All that stands between the Jews of the Middle East and another Holocaust is their own military prowess and the generous, humanitarian support of the United States.
Even in the United States, however, one can now turn the TV to channels like MSNBC and CNN to see Ariel Sharon who is the elected Prime Minister of a democracy equated politically and morally with Yasser Arafat who is a dictator, a terrorist and an enemy of the United States. One can see the same equivalence drawn between Israel’s democracy and the Palestine Authority, which is a terrorist entity and an ally of America’s enemies Al Qaeda and Iraq.
During the Gulf War, Israel was America’s staunch ally while Arafat and the Palestinians openly supported the aggressor, Saddam Hussein. Yet the next two U.S. Governments – Republican and Democrat alike – strove for even-handed “neutrality” in the conflict in the Middle East, and pressured Israel into a suicidal “peace process” with a foe dedicated to its destruction. It is only since September 11 that the United States has been willing to recognize Arafat as an enemy of peace and not a viable negotiating partner.
The Zionists’ efforts created a thriving democracy for the Jews of Israel (and also for the million Arabs who live in Israel), but failed to normalize the Jewish people or make them safe in a world that hates them. From the point of view of the “Jewish problem,” which Herzl and the Zionist founders set out to solve, it is better today to be a Jew in America than a Jew in Israel.
This is one reason why I myself am not a Zionist but an unambivalent, passionate American patriot. America is good for the Jews as it is good for every other minority who embraces its social contract. But this history is also why I am a fierce supporter of Israel’s survival and have no sympathy for the Palestinian side in the conflict in the Middle East. Nor will I have such sympathy until the day comes when I can look into the Palestinians’ eyes and see something other than death desired for Jews like me.