A couple weeks ago I received an email from a dear friend and supporter, Rob Cox in Richmond, VA. He had been reading that morning’s Sunday paper and was alarmed at an extremely anti-Israel opinion piece from anti-Israel activist Alice Rothchild. He encouraged me to respond. Being long winded, I couldn’t simply write a letter to the editor of 100 words, so I wrote a full article and asked them to print it as an article. And they did!
Recently the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the newspaper I grew up reading, printed a troubling article in its Commentary section from physician, author and filmmaker Alice Rothchild. In a nutshell, as a Jew she can no longer support Israel because of Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians. What was troubling was there were no facts — no examples — of this mistreatment.
So let me begin with one glaring fact: Dr. Rothchild resides in Boston. I live in Israel. I gather from her article she spent a few weeks in Israel as a teen. I have lived here for more than 12 years.
Most visitors to Israel have no idea what it is like to run from a Kassam Rocket or Grad Missile sent by Islamic fundamentalists who want to kill you.
Day after day, week after week, year after year, many Israelis have 15 seconds to find cover before the rockets hit. If you have not lived through this, you no clue regarding the trauma that children experience from waking up several times a night — and having to run for cover.
Visitors have no idea what it is like to live in an area surrounded by dozens of nations sworn to your destruction. And, of course, that doesn’t even include ISIS, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood. To boil the argument down to a conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and leave out the billion other Arabs and Muslims in the region, is simply unrealistic and extremely dangerous.
Dr. Rothchild did recount some history, but she left out some very important facts that change everything:
The 1917 Balfour Declaration promised to make a Jewish Homeland in Historic Palestine. The word Palestine was given to the region not by Arabs but by the Romans in 135 CE to rid the land of its Jewish context. Palestine has never been the name of any Arab nation.
In 1922 Great Britain took 80 percent of the land promised to the Jews and created a brand new country called Jordan. All of the Arabs, and Jews for that matter, who lived in the region that now makes up Israel and Jordan were called Palestinians. Palestine was a region — never a state. Overnight those Palestinians living on the eastern side of the Jordan River became “Jordanians.”
In 1947, the United Nations offered to take the remaining 20 percent of land on the western side of the Jordan and create two more states. One would be a second state for Palestinian Arabs and the other a state for Palestinian Jews. The Jews wholeheartedly agreed, even though historic Jerusalem would go to the Arabs. The Arabs rejected it outright because they would never allow for a Jewish state, no matter how small. So, the Palestinians not only rejected the idea of their own state, but the very next day started a war with Israel.
After Israel declared independence a few months later, those Arab fighters were joined by Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and that wonderful bastion of freedom, Syria, in an effort to kill every Jew.
The next chance for peace came not much later. Israel miraculously won its War of Independence and offered to make peace with the surrounding Arab nations, including the Palestinians. They rejected it.
There could be peace today if the Arabs had accepted the UN plan to make two states or even if they had accepted the offer of peace after the war. Both of those deals would have left the Arabs with 90 percent of historic Palestine. They chose war and aggression instead.
Israel, surrounded by her mortal enemies, has somehow survived several wars aimed at its complete destruction and many waves of terror. My own cousin, Daniel Cantor Wultz (also the cousin of former Majority Leader Eric Cantor), had his guts blown through his own body by a suicide bomber on the day before Passover in 2006 while visiting Israel. Maybe Dr. Rothchild should have visited with some of the parents whose children have been blown up by suicide bombers before carelessly, heartlessly proclaiming that she cannot support Israel, from the comfort of her home in Boston.
I could not help but notice that the article was accompanied by a picture of the so-called “separation barrier.” Does anyone honestly think Israel builds fences to separate people? The fence was built after the deadliest wave of suicide bombings our country has known was unleashed upon us — after Palestinians blew up restaurants, hotels, weddings and buses full of Israelis. The security fence, as it is correctly called, stopped these attacks dead in their tracks. Suicide bombings fell by 90 percent overnight. People are alive today because of that precious fence.
It is intellectually irresponsible to make damning claims without facts to back them up.
Photo by Reuters