Identity, Politics

"Why doesn't Israel work for peace?"

Silvia Tennenbaum, a writer in East Hampton, New York, is author of the novels “Yesterday’s Streets” and “Rachel, the Rabbi’s Wife.” In an article in New York Newsday, she addresses the conflict in Lebanon and Gaza from the point of view of a Holocaust Survivor:

As a Jew who escaped the Holocaust by moving with my family to America in 1938, I turn on the BBC at night. And what I see are clouds of black smoke, explosions; the dead and the dying – children crying bitterly, cities in ruins. Only yesterday, these piles of rubble in Lebanon were home to thousands. Now, the cars roll out onto the highways, white flags attached to the windshields and doors. More than half a million are homeless.
The Israelis told them to leave, but then strafed one convoy from a helicopter. The military people exert their force without pity. They win their wars proudly. They are the masters of force.

Full article: Why doesn’t Israel work for peace? : Holocaust victims would decry the slaughter of innocent children during attacks on Hezbollah

22 thoughts on “"Why doesn't Israel work for peace?"

  1. I suppose we could get into the banal and circular argument of ‘Why Doesn’t Hizbullah Work for Peace’ but I guess that would defeat the purpose of why you posted it in the first place, eh John Brown? I will not submit to any ‘ad hominem’ attacks here, but suffice it to say that I find it interesting that it you seem to put the onus of responsibility on Israel but let those who attack her (and our people, if indeed you are Jewish as well) without so much as what one could consider critical analysis. To be sure, the death of civilians is deplorable and I recite ‘dayan ha emet’ irrespective of whether one is a Jew or not. But let’s face facts here…Hizbullah ambushed an IDF patrol INSIDE ISRAEL, killing soldiers and abducting others. How did you expect Israel to react? I am continually saddened by the death of Lebanese civilians, but I have to question a government who allows a terrorist organisation to embed themeselves amongst the civilian population putting them at continual risk.
    Consistently presenting one side of an issue doesn’t make one ‘progressive’. It makes one intellectually dishonest.

  2. Matityahu – go berate the 78 year old holocaust survivor who wrote the article, if you think her article is one-sided
    As for your other claims, it’s debatable if Hezbollah captured (and note the proper term for when soldiers are caught on a battle field is captured – not kidnapped or abducted) the IDF soldiers in Lebanon or in Israel. Many of the early reports said they were captured in Lebanon after crossing the border. See for example:
    http://www.forbes.com/business/businesstech/feeds/ap/2006/07/12/ap2873042.html
    Additionally, Hezbollah was willing to do a prisoner swap right at the beginning but it was Israel who refused – multiple times. Meanwhile Olmert’s heavy handed actions have failed to do anything but get 50+ Israelis killed and hundreds and hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians and he *still* doesn’t have the soldiers back. If it’s not obvious by now that Olmert cannot bomb the Hezbollah into giving back the soldiers then I don’t know when it will ever be. The goal of destroying Hezbollah has been abandoned because everyone now realizes it’s basically not possible. So what the hell is he doing, changing goals every couple of days, and getting Israel bogged down into a quagmire ?

  3. JB: I don’t need to berate the 78 year old holocaust survivor who wrote the article, if I think her article is one-sided; she didn’t post it. YOU did. And, I’ve noticed this on-going one sided trend of yours and so decided to finally take exception. One swallow doesn’t make the summer, as they say.
    ‘As for your other claims, it’s debatable if Hezbollah captured (and note the proper term for when soldiers are caught on a battle field is captured – not kidnapped or abducted) the IDF soldiers in Lebanon or in Israel.’
    Really? I didn’t realise that Israel was at war with Hizbullah at the time of the soldiers’ abduction. And here’s something interesting from the Forbes article that I will draw your attention to: “The Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers near the border with occupied Palestine, and the captives have been moved to a safe area,” Hezbollah said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press.
    From where I’m sat, Hizbullah have and always will view Israel as ‘occupied Palestine’. Difficult to negotiate with folks who don’t even acknowledge your right to exist.
    As regards prisoner swaps, et al. I think that Olmert has it right. To negotiate with Hizbullah only gives legitimacy to their ’cause’. They should have been disarmed under resolution 1559, but since the Lebanese (and the UN, for that matter) don’t seem much interested in disarming these terrorists it must fall to the IDF and Israel to protect her citizenry.
    Just my two shekel’s worth.

  4. All of Israel’s security decisions should be made by people who have experienced terrible suffering. That makes a whole lot of sense.

  5. Conflicting reports on which side of the borders everyone was on when killed, or captured (some retired Maj. Gen. even claimed that Cpl. Shalit’s being grabbed could have been aborted. See debka.com and search “Shalit.”).
    With all the carnage, the pissing contest almost becomes irrelevant.
    So, I have some ideas: [1] Immediate cease-fire. [2] Marshall Plan reconstruction per the Tikkun ad. [3] Back to the 67 borders, per the Geneva Accord (see? The tough stuff’s already been figured out).
    Everyone gets a sovereign nation-state, and gets help rebuilding, which will consume so much time, that those who are truly Jew-haters will be too occupied for same.
    And, to round things out, a bit, if there are any DC staffers/Senators/Congress members reading this — time to stand up on your hind legs, and double impeach Halliburton Dick and his idiot-boy.

  6. Miriam:
    ‘With all the carnage, the pissing contest almost becomes irrelevant.’
    Sorry, but I disagree. How convenient it would be for Hizbullah if we swept truth under the carpet for the moment and entertained their ’cause’ and ‘views’ as legitimate. Hizbullah attacked the patrol and abducted two soldiers after killing the rest. If they attacked the IDF patrol within sovereign Israel (as I and many folks believe), it raises the stakes significantly and virtually puts to rest the leftist argument of ‘pull back to the borders and they’ll leave us alone’. No. They. Won’t.
    ‘So, I have some ideas: [1] Immediate cease-fire. [2] Marshall Plan reconstruction per the Tikkun ad. [3] Back to the 67 borders, per the Geneva Accord (see? The tough stuff’s already been figured out).’
    Interesting ideas, but 1) define immediate cease-fire? If by that you mean Hizbullah stops firing rockets and Israel ceases offensive operations whilst retaining defensive capabilities, I’m with you.
    2) Marshall Plan idea is good, but fatally flawed. We had government infrastructures we could work with in the original Marshall Plan to keep us from pissing away good money after bad. Given how corrupt the PA has shown itself to be (nevermind the evidence we have that the PA has used EU funds to purchase terrorist weapons) it would seem to me that a modern day Marshall Plan would quickly be perverted into a slush fund for further terrorism. I would advocate something on the order of the Stormont power sharing arrangements one sees today in Northern Ireland before I would advocate throwing money in.
    ‘3) Back to the 67 borders, per the Geneva Accord (see? The tough stuff’s already been figured out).’
    If current history is anything to go by, the only pullout deemed acceptable by Hizbullah and the terrorists is a full scale pullout from Eretz Israel altogether. I cannot see how a pullback to the 67 borders (which were in dispute in 67, by the way) will accomplish anything.
    We pulled out of Gaza and Lebanon, but still the attacks came.
    No one stopped us from declaring a nation in 1948. No one stopped the Palestinians either, but they decided not to declare a state whilst the Arab armies around them ‘pushed the Jews into the sea’. They’ve been fighting this stalemate ever since.
    No one is stopping the PA from declaring a Palestinian state. I wish they would hurry up and get on with it as asymmetric warfare where Israel has to defend herself from NGOs and irregular troops is a recipe for a continuing public relations disaster. Not that I really care what the world thinks any more, but hey ho.

  7. I think the reports of the soldiers being snatched in Lebanon are probably bogus. if lebanon truly didnt violate Israeli territory, then why arent both hezbollah and the lebanese government harping on that?
    slightly a-propos, see this article in Z: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=107&ItemID=10722
    Israel responded to an unprovoked attack by Hizbullah, right? Wrong
    The assault on Lebanon was premeditated – the soldiers’ capture simply provided the excuse. It was also unnecessary

  8. xisnotx: I wouldn’t mind seeing a double source of the assertions made by the Guardian before I subscribe to a conspiracy theory surrounding the current events.
    Current UK Guardian circulation is 318,000 so you’ll forgive me if I am somewhat cynical if Guardian writers attempt to present their opinions as fact.

  9. Matityahu wrote: “We pulled out of Gaza and Lebanon, but still the attacks came.”
    Except that Gaza is only 10% of the territories and Israel never left the Shebaa farms
    Matityahu wrote: “No one stopped the Palestinians either, but they decided not to declare a state whilst the Arab armies around them ‘pushed the Jews into the sea’. They’ve been fighting this stalemate ever since.”
    As far as I know there was no movement for an Arab separatist state. The only movement for a religious/ethnic separatist state was the Zionist movement, and that was confined to Ashkenazim. No Mizrahis were calling for a Jewish state. They, like the arabs were satisfied with the idea of integration.
    Matityahu continued: “No one is stopping the PA from declaring a Palestinian state. I wish they would hurry up and get on with it as asymmetric warfare where Israel has to defend herself from NGOs and irregular troops is a recipe for a continuing public relations disaster. Not that I really care what the world thinks any more, but hey ho.
    Actually the PA declared a Palestinian state in 1988. “Ninety-four states recognize the State of Palestine, and eleven more grant some form of diplomatic status to a Palestinian delegation, falling short of full diplomatic recognition.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_Palestine
    The thing preventing Palestine from being an autonomous state is the occupation of well over 90% of its land by Israel.

  10. x: The assertions made by George Monbiot. Any other news sources (sorry, but blogs don’t count) reporting that they have proof that recent events were ‘premeditated’ by Israel?

  11. JB:
    ‘Except that Gaza is only 10% of the territories and Israel never left the Shebaa farms.’
    So abducting soldiers and launching rockets indiscriminately at civilian targets is a ‘proportionate response’ to land disputes, in your opinion?
    ‘No Mizrahis were calling for a Jewish state. They, like the arabs were satisfied with the idea of integration.’
    Firstly, ‘no Mizrahis’ is rather too definitive, wouldn’t you say? I personally know several Mizrahis who would vehemently disagree with your assertion. Further, how were the Arabs satisfied with integration? They had been actively working with the British to limit immigration prior to the end of the Mandate and had attacked Jewish communities well prior to the establishment of the State of Israel.
    ‘Actually the PA declared a Palestinian state in 1988.’
    I was under the impression that the original declaration called for a state in ALL of what the PA considers ‘Palestine’, i.e. the disputed territories as well as Eretz Israel. Not really a workable declaration in my mind. I’ve considered declaring my own state in northwest London, but I’m reasonably sure that the Honourable Tony Blair will have something to say about that.
    ‘The thing preventing Palestine from being an autonomous state is the occupation of well over 90% of its land by Israel.’
    We could disagree well into the next millenia on this statement (I think you know already that I take exception to it, and we could enter into what I’m sure would be circular arguments surrounding Rabin, Barak, Arafat, et al and the terroritories continually offered the PA but rejected) but I wish to take you back to my central point:
    Why is it that you continue to post articles seemingly placing the onus of responsibility for recent events on Israel but place no responsibility on Hizbullah, Lebanon, or the PA? Is there a double standard here, or am I missing something?

  12. Matitiyahu consistently and persuasively confronts JB’s assertions and proves them wrong…it seems almost a futile forum, in that people fall into different categories and many times won’t allow themselves to be changed, even if all proof is to the contrary. I too pray for peace and abhor all the deaths, but how long will Israel have to pay in blood for the sake of liberal/world opinion?

  13. I think that most Holocaust survivors realize that Hezbollah’s goal is the destruction of the state of Israel. The entire state of Israel. They do not want Israel to go back to the 1967 borders or even the orginal 1948 borders. They want Israel annihilated.
    When you read the statements of Hezbollah leadership, you realize that Hezbollah is group with a Nazi-like hatred of ALL Jews everywhere. Yes, they want you dead too. Sylvia Tannebaum. They would kill you if they could. Hezbollah’s views are very similar to Ahmadinejad’s views. They deny the existence of the Holocaust. They believe that Jews are fundamentally evil and flawed in a way that nothing can change. You can’t negotiate with a Hilter or with the KKK.

  14. Matityahu wrote: “I was under the impression that the original declaration called for a state in ALL of what the PA considers ‘Palestine’, i.e. the disputed territories as well as Eretz Israel. Not really a workable declaration in my mind.”
    No, their declaration made direct reference to the UN partition plan which means they meant the WB and Gaza.
    Matityahu wrote: “Firstly, ‘no Mizrahis’ [called for a Jewish state] is rather too definitive, wouldn’t you say? I personally know several Mizrahis who would vehemently disagree with your assertion.”
    There might be random exceptions to the rule but it would be disingenuous to claim that the Zionist movement was anything but a European Ashkenazi movement.
    Matityahu continued: “Why is it that you continue to post articles seemingly placing the onus of responsibility for recent events on Israel but place no responsibility on Hizbullah, Lebanon, or the PA?”
    I believe the central problem in the middle east conflict is the Israeli occupation. Once that occupation ends then we can start pointing fingers at rejectionists. I am a firm believer in the maxim “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones”. I’d be fine with UN resolution 1559 being enforced. But we have to realize that UN 242 is not being complied with by Israel. How about we force compliance with all UN resolutions in numeric order beginning with #181 and moving forward.

  15. I agree that ending the occupation is a good thing, but it will change nothing for Hezbollah. They will still want Israel’s destruction. They don’t care about the occupation, they have much broader goals. They want to destroy Israel. They have goals that have nothing to do with Israel or the occupation. They want to be the major force in the Muslim world. The occupation is not the source of all problems.

  16. ‘I believe the central problem in the middle east conflict is the Israeli occupation.’
    Duly noted, and you are very welcome to your opinion. I believe the central problem in the middle east conflict (and this issue seems now to have spread to the world entire) is that we have allowed terrorism to become a legitimate political expression. It is not. It is mass murder, and to believe that Hizbullah as a terrorist organisation has any legitimacy to argue on behalf of the citizens of Lebanon and attack Israel through soldier abduction and the launching of rockets is deplorable.
    What is terribly sad, in my mind, is that the League of Nations began and promptly failed. The UN seems unable (or unwilling) to enforce resolutions across the board and, in my estimation, needs to be reformed or will ultimately fail.
    In any case, I am in no position to tell a Holocaust survivor that her point of view is wrong or irrelevant. I may disagree with her (which I do, as it happens) but I recognise her right to hold such a point of view.
    Equally, I know of Holocaust survivors here in the UK who will tell you in very sad and pointed terms that they continue to hold the Allies responsible for not stopping the Holocaust sooner by bombing Nazi railways or even the camps. And they don’t stop there; they make sure that the Jewish community in the UK remembers that we stood idly by during these events as well.
    So what point am I making? You wish to see a ‘proportionate response’ from Israel. I wish to see ‘proportionate posts’ from Jewschool contributors. I’d be delighted to see us move the term progressive to mean somehting more than just ‘everything to the left of the rightist neocons we don’t agree with’.
    I read Jewschool to be challenged by views counter to my own. It would be nice to see some take this view as well.

  17. I support a two-state solution that would end the occupation. I would ask why the occupation has not ended. I would place the blame squarely at the feet of the Palestinians. Every time Israel tries to work for peace, the response is hatred and violence.
    I repeat that the occupation is not responsible for everything that goes wrong in the Middle East. That is using Israel as a scapegoat for whatever is wrong in the Middle East. The occupation has nothing to do with the most of the problems facing the Arab and Muslim worlds. I suppose you are going to blame the fighting between Sunnis and Shiites on the occupation too.

  18. “No Mizrahis were calling for a Jewish state. They, like the arabs were satisfied with the idea of integration.”
    Yemenite Jews who when they learned that the state of Israel existed decided to get up and go to Israel. Entire villages walked across Yemen and Saudi Arabia to get to Israel. Many Mizrachi Jews lived in ghettoes. They were not exactly integrated.
    Mizrachi Jews were also motivated a desire to live in the Holy Land and/or a Jewish state. It is true that they were not motivated by the sort of secular Zionism of Western Jews, but that did not mean that they were not genuine Zionists..
    Arabs viewed Jews with a kind of low-grade contempt. Jews were not seen as being worth the bother of persecuting. Jews were seen as insignifigant, effeminate, and contemptable. That was why the Arabs believed that they could destroy Israel. The Arabs just could not accept that Jews had beaten them.
    Beginning in the 1930s these older traditional ideas of Jews were replaced by or intermingled with Nazi and Western antisemitism. The Baath party in Iraq and Syria is based on National Socialism. One of the first acts of the Baathist party in Iraq was the “Farhud” when Jews were attacked and murdered and Jewish busninesses were destroyed, the Batthist party’s version of Kristallnacht. Baathists colluded with the Nazis to get the British out of Iraq. Read about it in Edwin Black’s book, Banking on Baghdad.

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