Saturday, June 10, 2017

True liberals have never stopped supporting Israel

An abridged version of this letter was published in the Jewish Advocate on June 9, 2017. After the original text, I'm including links to the op-ed to which it responded along with the version of my letter that was published.

True liberals have never stopped supporting Israel

I find the op-ed by Shifra Freewoman, "To regain liberals' support, Israel must make peace," to demonstrate mindless hostility to Israel and incredible ignorance, even as she claims she is "not misinformed."

Just one example of many: Freewoman indignantly insists Israel must stop "building new settlements."

The Israeli government hasn't built a new settlement in approximately a quarter century!

As an Israeli citizen, I can assure Freewoman we want peace far more than she does. We're the ones who have to send our children into the army. We're the ones getting shot at, stabbed, bombed.

We've tried virtually everything short of national suicide. We've frozen building in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. We've released terrorists, including mass murderers. We've given away land and repeatedly offered the Palestinian Arabs virtually all the disputed territory, the heartland of Eretz Yisrael. We've been met not only with rejection, but with terrorism, bus bombings and rockets and thousands of us have died.

Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas have managed to turn most of even the most dovish Israelis into realists. We're all critical of the Israeli government, but the most extreme but sane peaceniks, when asked point blank, will acknowledge that nothing Israel could have done would have made a significant difference, that Yasser Arafat was never going to make peace and that Mahmoud Abbas doesn't want to make peace and/or is incapable of making peace. Yet we continue to dream and to try.

I'm reminded of the way Senator Lloyd Bentsen, during a 1988 vice presidential debate with Dan Quayle, said "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

Israel has developed a free, democratic, liberal society despite being under constant attack since its re-establishment. Palestinian Arab society, unfortunately, is virtually a polar opposite. It represses gays. It demands a Judenrein state. It encourages terrorism and glorifies terrorists. It rejects peace.

I've served liberal causes all my life. I know liberalism. And I know Israel doesn't have to do anything to "regain liberals' support" because no true liberal has abandoned Israel.

To bluntly paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen: Shifra Freewoman, you're no liberal. 

By Alan Stein
Natick, Massachusetts and Netanya, Israel

The op-ed to which this letter responded was entitled "To regain liberals' support, Israel must make peace" and may be found at http://jewishadvocate.our-hometown.com/news/2017-06-02/Editorials/To_regain_liberals_support_Israel_must_make_peace.html.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

It's not Israel who's oppressing the Palestinian Arabs

I wrote this in response to a misguided letter, written by an obviously ignorant woman, which was published in the New Haven Register and Middletown Press:

Thanks to the seven hour time difference, I read Susan Klein's letter, "Why I support BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions)" shortly after the start of one of the saddest days of the year here in Israel, Yom HaZikaron or Memorial Day. On this day, we remember those who have been killed during all the wars that have been forced on us, along with those who have been murdered in the countless Arab terror attacks we have suffered. To read a letter from a Jewish woman who is obviously so grossly misinformed added to the sadness of the day.

Contrary to what Ms. Klein wrote, although many of those who recently started calling themselves Palestinians are being oppressed, Israel is not one of their oppressors.

The Arabs living in Israel have the same legal rights as all other Israeli citizens. There is really only one significant difference under the law: Arabs aren't forced to risk their lives by serving in the army. That hardly constitutes "oppression."

Of the Arabs living in the disputed territories:

The Arabs in Gaza are governed by Hamas. We send them food, fuel, electric power, water, medical supplies and building materials. Our hospitals treat many of their patients. They send us their rockets.

Of the Arabs in what Jordan renamed the "West Bank" after capturing it in 1948, approximately 95 percent live under their own government, the Palestinian Authority. Only a relative handful, perhaps 150,000, live in territory administered by Israel. Tellingly, the Arab population in the territory administered by Israel has skyrocketed during the nearly quarter century since the Palestinian Authority was established, strongly implying the Arabs know life under Israeli administration is far better than life under their own government.

No, we Israelis aren't oppressing the Palestinian Arabs; we have no interest in oppressing them. We would be perfectly happy had they not spurned the many opportunities given them to establish there own state, including 1937, 1947, 1967, 2000, 2001 and 2008, or during the period from 1948-1967 when all the currently disputed territory was ruled by Egypt and Jordan.

As I write this letter the evening of May 1, the solemnity of Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day, has been transformed into the joy of Yom Ha'atzma'ut, Independence Day. We would like nothing better if neither we nor the Palestinian Arabs had more lost lives to mourn on future Memorial Days. Unfortunately, the choice isn't ours; it's theirs.

Theodore Herzl, the prophet of modern Zionism, the national liberation movement of our Jewish people, said "if you will it, it's not a dream."

When the Palestinian Arabs stop trying to destroy our dream, and finally will it, they too can celebrate their own Independence Day.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Plight of refugees now spans 5 generations

The following is a response to the Associated Press article by Karin Laub which completely misses the point regarding the generations of descendants of Arab refugees.

One cannot help but empathize with the plight of the Arabs still living like refugees nearly seven decades after their families left their homes during the war six Arab armies initiated the day after Israel was re-established in 1948. Unfortunately, the long article "Plight of refugees now spans 5 generations" fails to deal with the question of why these people, who have since started calling themselves "Palestinians," are still living as if they are refugees and the solution given is best described by the Hebrew word "hifuch." The closest English translation is "upside down."

All other groups who became refugees in the aftermath of World War II, tens of millions of people, including 800,000 Jews forced out of their homes in Arab countries, integrated into their new countries. Uniquely, the Arab refugees were not permitted to integrate, even though almost all went to Arab countries sharing their culture and language.

The primary reason: the Arab countries wanted to use them as pawns in their continuing war of extermination against the world's only Jewish state. Shamefully, the United Nations has been complicit in this. It created a separate agency for the Palestinian Arab refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which even created a unique definition of refugees applying only to Palestinian Arabs. In its definition, a descendant of a refugee is still called a refugee. Whereas the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) successfully resettled all other refugees, the UNRWA deliberately didn't resettle the Palestinian Arab refugees.

The United Nations even censured Israel when it tried to provide modern homes for people in areas it recaptured in 1967, forcing Israel to move those people back into refugee camps! And after governing 95 percent of the Arabs in the disputed territories for nearly a quarter century, the Palestinian Authority itself hasn't closed a single refugee camp.

It is thus obvious why the statement in the article that "a solution would likely require setting up a state of Palestine" is hifuch, upside down.

The solution is to start treating the Palestinian Arabs the way other displaced people have been treated and integrating them into the countries in which they have been residing for generations, in many cases far longer than their families lived in Palestine.

Stop oppressing them. Stop using them as pawns in the war against Israel. Treat them with dignity rather than as children. Let them start to live normal lives.

A side benefit: this might also pave the way for peace.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Demolishing the Libelous Accusation that Israel is an Apartheid State

The following brilliant letter was sent by Todd Sone to the Toronto Star in response to what euphemistically might be called a misguided column by Azeekha Kanji.

From: Todd Sone
Sent: Tuesday, March 28, 2017
To: lettertoed@thestar.ca
Subject: Letter to the Editor

Dear Ms. Kanji & Toronto Star Editors:

I am writing in response to your article "Canadians Know Palestinians Deserve Justice' published in the Toronto Star last week.  In the article you label (and libel) Israel with practicing apartheid  "The idea that Israel is, or is rapidly becoming, an apartheid state is not new;".  To accuse a country of practicing apartheid is a very serious charge...so let's see if this is what, in fact, occurs in Israel.  I will ask you a series of relevant questions dealing with issues of systemic racial/religious discrimination that will hopefully shed some light on the charge:

1. If Israel practiced apartheid would it tolerate an Arab on its Supreme Court, the country's highest judicial authority? https://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Salim_ Joubran

2. If Israel practiced apartheid would it tolerate the #2 police official in the country being an Arab? http://www.haaretz.com/ israel-news/1.714313

3. If Israel practiced apartheid would it tolerate that the head of Golani, one its most esteemed military units, be a Druze? http://www. timesofisrael.com/in-first- druze-officer-to-lead-golani- brigade/

4  If Israel practiced apartheid would the society nominate an Arab to be Miss Israel? https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Rana_Raslan

5. If Israel practiced apartheid would it make sense that 13 Arabs are sitting elected parliamentarians in Knesset (the 3rd largest party) including Arabs in cabinet? https://www. knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mkindex_ current_eng.asp?view=1

6. if Israel practiced apartheid would it make sense that the gov't has appointed Arab ambassadors to other countries? https://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Yahya

7. If Israel practiced apartheid would it maintain Arabic as one of its two official languages? https://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_ of_Israel

8. If Israel practiced apartheid would it be acceptable to award the Israeli Oscars to Arab-made movies? http://variety.com/ 2016/film/awards/israel-oscar- best-foreign-film-sand-storm- 1201868901/

9. If Israel practiced apartheid would it be the only country in the Mideast where the Christian population (mostly Christian Arabs) is actually growing and prospering? http://www.jpost. com/National-News/CBS-report- Christian-population-in- Israel-growing

10. If Israel practiced apartheid would 20% of the student's at the Technion, Israel's equivalent to MIT be Arab and would the system encourage even more to attend?  http://www.timesofisrael.com/ israels-mit-uses-education- not-affirmative-action-to- triple-arab-enrollment/.

11. If Israel practiced apartheid would it have made incitement to racism illegal?

12. If Israel practiced apartheid would we see integrated amenities/ public services for all religious or racial segment in Israel? (e.g. buses, beaches, parks, restaurants, places of worship and business, universities)

13. If Israel practiced apartheid would Arabs, just like any other segment of society, be able to seek redress through the independent judiciary?

14. If Israel followed policies of apartheid would it make sense that Israel's Declaration of Independence state: "The State of Israel... will be based on the precepts of liberty, justice, and peace taught by the Hebrew Prophets; will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex...."

15. And then there is this which has something interesting to say about how the vast majority of Israeli Arabs feel https://www.hks.harvard. edu/news-events/news/press- releases/coexistence-in- israel-study

Hmmmm....So ask yourself....would a country that does these sorts of things....exhibits these sorts of traits and takes these sorts of actions....does a country like this act in a manner consistent with one that promotes or practices systemic racial or religious discrimination or apartheid? Or perhaps, just perhaps there is something else going on here that could explain the long-standing terrible conflict with the Palestinians. Could it be that Israel was forced to fight (and continues to fight) a defensive war which it won, gained territory, and then, being the only victor in the history of warfare, sued for peace and was rejected countless times by the vanquished? Could it be that there exists a Palestinian population some of whom want peace, but whose leaders refuse to recognize the right of the one and only Jewish State to live in peace and security surrounded by a sea of hostile countries that is the primary source of the conflict? Is it reasonable to assert that Israel, a country that represents 0.2% of the landmass and <1 a="" and="" be="" big="" labelled="" mideast="" much="" of="" p="" population="" problems="" region="" s="" so="" source="" the="" with="">
I urge you to come to visit Israel and spend a day in the life.... Come spend an hour visiting an Israeli hospital and see Arab doctors and nurses treating Jews and see Jewish doctors and nurses treating Arabs every minute of every day.  Come shop in my local supermarket where Arab cashiers work alongside Jewish stockboys.  Come ride the bus with me where Jews and Arabs sit side by side with both Jewish and Arab drivers.  We will take that bus to go and visit a university dorm that I attended or the campus of any major university in Israel that I have visited on many occasions and see Arabs and Jews living in the same buildings and studying in the same classes together. Arab professors teaching Jews and vica versa. We can then go visit a pharmacy to see that more than 50% of pharmacists and a large % of skilled healthcare workers are Arabs.  Come visit Israel, where last week I met the person entrusted with operating the newest most expensive piece of equipment at my local hospital who is an Arab who trained in both Israel and Jordan and then opted to return to Israel to join the workforce.

Is Israel a perfect society? Absolutely Not. No society is...especially one that is <70 ...we="" against="" and="" apartheid="" arab="" areas="" be="" been="" bring="" but...="" but="" canada="" certainly="" challenges="" close.="" countries.="" countries="" democracies="" development="" different="" done="" equality="" even="" face="" fight="" first="" for="" forced="" france="" grown="" hand="" has="" have="" having="" hostile="" human="" in="" including="" integrate="" is="" israel="" it="" limited="" lived="" makes="" many="" minorities="" minority="" mistakes="" more="" much="" multiple="" my="" needs="" no="" not="" numerous="" of="" old="" other="" p="" populations....sometimes="" provide="" records="" rights="" sector.="" seen="" society="" some="" studied="" survival="" than="" that="" the="" there="" these="" to="" up="" usa="" wars="" way.="" wife="" work="" world.="" worst="" years="">
Let's look at the real places with systemic racial and religious discrimination.  Do women have equal rights in Saudi Arabia? Do Christians have freedom of religion in Afghanistan or Yemen? Do homosexuals have equal rights in Iran?  What about Lebanon? Is there freedom of expression or an independent free press in Syria or Libya? Does a Christian or a Jew enjoy full religious freedom in Saudi Arabia? Could a Jew walk into Gaza without being murdered within 10 mins? Are Jews allowed to live in Gaza or is the place completely Judenrein?  If you are prepared to be truly honest about the sources of racism and discrimination in the Middle East, you will see that Israel represents pretty much everything that is right and forward thinking about the Middle East as represented by the following economic/political/social phenomena:

- The highest rate of R&D spending in the world  http://www.oecd.org/sti/inno/ DataBrief_MSTI_2017.pdf

- The only country in the Mideast that is ranked as 'Free' by Freedom House https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Freedom_in_the_World

- Liberal Democracy with multiple political parties representing every major segment of society where Arab citizens have equal vote https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Democracy_Index

- Vibrant Free Press https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Media_of_Israel

- Independent Judiciary https://books. google.co.il/books?id= 7lfFAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA86&lpg=PA86& dq=independent+judiciary+ index+israel+index&source=bl& ots=naIgheuwPu&sig=OqpC2dlgb3- eWNMM-myk1uT3Yt8&hl=en&sa=X& ved=0ahUKEwigjO7rs_ fSAhWK7BQKHbG_CK0Q6AEIQzAH#v= onepage&q=independent% 20judiciary%20index%20israel% 20index&f=false

- A cadre of Basic Legal Rights that protect freedoms of religion, freedom to protest, equality for citizens

- One of the most LGBT friendly countries in the World https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Israel

- Entrepreneurial economy that has made Israel the startup capital of the world and such that Israeli companies are  in the top 3 in the world terms of foreign listed countires on Nasdaq https://www.bloomberg. com/graphics/2015-innovative- countries/      https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/List_of_Israeli_ companies_quoted_on_the_Nasdaq

- Multiple Nobel Prize winners https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/List_of_Israeli_ Nobel_laureates

- Leading academics across every major discipline in the Arts and Sciences

- One of only a handful of countries that has elected a woman as head of state (for longer than Kim Campbell was PM)

And Alas, Alan Dershowitz, the renowned legal scholar from Harvard says it more eloquently than I ever could.  http://www.huffingtonpost. com/alan-dershowitz/lets-have- a-real-aparthei_b_485399.html

I would appreciate if you could forward this email to Ms. Kanji as her email does not seem to be available.

Sincerely,

Todd Sone
Ra'anana, Israel

Friday, March 24, 2017

(List of) Inconvenient Truths the Anti-Zionists Don’t Want People to Know

(A PDF file with this list, in a format suitable for printing and distributing, is available on the PRIMER-Connecticut website (www.primerct.org) in the "Resources for Activists" area.)

Zionism is, at its essence, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.

Anti-Zionists deny the right of the Jewish people to our own nation.

Denying that right to the Jewish people, while promoting it for others, is anti-Semitic.

Until relatively recently, the people today calling themselves Palestinians were insisting they weren't Palestinian.

The PLO has never removed the articles in its charter calling for the destruction of Israel.

Israel and the disputed territories take up less than a quarter of what constituted Palestine at the time of the British Mandate.

Historically, Jerusalem has never held much interest for Arabs or Muslims except during those times when it was controlled by others.

Jerusalem has been at the heart and soul of the Jewish people since King David made it his capital about 3,000 years ago.

The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 makes this statement of official United States policy: "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel."

The term "West Bank" is relatively new.

Only a handful, perhaps 50,000, of the so-called Palestinian refugees are really refugees. The youngest of the refugees are now 68 years old and have no recollection of ever living in what is now Israel. 

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is in the twelfth year of his four year term. Abbas is no moderate, has shown no inclination to make a peace agreement with Israel and has neither the ability nor the authority to do so even if he wanted.

The Christian community is increasing and thriving in just one country in the Middle East: Israel. It's being decimated in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas-run Gaza. Under the Palestinian Authority, Bethlehem has turned from a Christian city to a Muslim city.

The proportion of civilian casualties in the Gaza wars has been amazingly low compared to the norm for post-World War II conflicts. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,  said "Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties." Israel has been criticized by international military leaders for setting a standard their countries are unwilling to match.

The Palestinian Arabs have shown far more interest in there not being a Jewish state than in having one of their own.

Mahmoud Abbas has admitted he's responsible for the continuation of the conflict.

Mahmoud Abbas has told his people he will never compromise on any of the key issues. 

Abbas rejects the very concept of a two-state solution.

Abbas bluntly told President Obama he would not commit to an "end of conflict.”

Abbas demands ethnic cleansing.

Mahmoud Abbas was a prime instigator of the year-long and counting wave of knifings, shootings and vehicular attacks.

In Israel, Arabs comprise nearly a quarter of the population. They have full, equal rights.

The BDS movement is anti-Zionist and thus inherently and irredeemably anti-Semitic.

Mahmoud Abbas refuses to make peace with Israel, defames and slanders Israel at every opportunity, but when push comes to shove he knows Israel is his only friend.

The "illegally occupied territories" aren't even occupied. They are disputed territories and Israel has a strong legal claim to them.

The "1967 borders" were never borders.

The Palestinian Arab leadership accepted the Israeli presence in the disputed territories and depends on it.

Hundreds of national groups are more deserving of statehood than the Palestinian Arabs.


Israel is the front line state in the fight against fanatical, Islamist terrorists.


Getting across the truths the anti-Zionists find inconvenient ... and don't want people to know

These are notes Alan Stein used for a talk at AACI in Netanya on March 19, 2017. It's a variation of a talk "Inconvenient truths the anti-Zionists don't want you to know" (http://primerct.blogspot.co.il/2016/10/inconvenient-truths-anti-zionists-dont.html) which he gave at the University of Connecticut in October, 2016.

In October, I gave a version of this talk at the University of Connecticut in Waterbury, Connecticut, where I lived for nearly 40 years. That was shortly after our mayor had gotten arrested. I told my audience I felt there was a special connection between Waterbury and Netanya. Waterbury is a little bit like Chicago. The first mayor I knew in Waterbury, Ed Bergin, got arrested. He got lucky; he didn't get convicted. The second mayor I knew, Joey Santopietro, got convicted and served time. The third mayor I knew, who I also had as a student at the University of Connecticut, Phil Giordano, has been in jail since 2003 and has about 16 years to go on his sentence.

Meanwhile, a good friend of mine from Waterbury moved to Tsfat a year and a half ago. By coincidence, now the Tsfat mayor has been arrested.

And another friend, from a suburb of Waterbury, bought an apartment in Ashkelon. Another coincidence, now the mayor of Ashkelon has been arrested.

I'm getting afraid Israel will start discouraging aliyah from Connecticut.

In Waterbury, I spoke to a general audience about the inconvenient truths the anti-Zionists didn't want them to know. Here, we know them, but I'm talking about them anyway because while we take them for granted, and generally take the anti-Israel bias in the media for granted, we shouldn't.

Those of us living in Israel are often in the best position to debunk the lies told about Israel and get across those inconvenient truths.

Hence the title of this talk: "Getting across the truths the anti-Zionists find inconvenient … and don’t want people to know.”

I'll go into some of them, in some detail. I've also prepared a "brief" list. You'll probably think of others and we can spend some time commiserating.

But mostly I want to encourage you to do your part, reading newspapers - from here, mostly online - and responding, especially when you see unfair items about which you can bring your perspective, from living in Israel, and can write with authority. Letters to newspapers, in talkback forums, on Facebook, on Twitter, whatever venue you're comfortable. None of us can do everything, but we all can do something.

And make sure you're on the CAMERA and HonestReporting mailing lists.

CAMERA

HonestReporting
http://www.honestreporting.com

And if you're not already, give me your email address so I can put you on the PRIMER-Israel mailing list. I send out alerts when I become aware of items to which responses from Israelis like us can be particularly useful.

PRIMER-Israel
Today, I'll take for about a half hour to describe some instances of irresponsible, factually challenged newspaper items, briefly list a small subset of inconvenient truths - after all, I'm a mathematician - and document a few of them in more detail.  I'll make sure to leave time for questions and discussion.

Not long ago, there was an Associated Press story about meetings a year before, meetings including then American Secretary of State John Kerry, Jordan's King Abdullah, Egypt's President el-Sissi and Benjamin Netanyahu.

Here are some of the headlines:

MetroWest Daily News: "Ex-officials: Leader spurned peace offer"

Boston Globe: "Israeli leader rejected secret peace plan"

Hartford Courant: "Ex-officials: Netanyahu nixed secret peace deal"

Waterbury Republican-American: "Israel spurned secret peace deal"

Reading the story, it was clear there was no peace plan, the was no peace deal, and there certainly wasn't a peace offer.

And then, a few days later, there was an article in the Jerusalem Post by Herb Keinon that made it clear that there was some common ground among Abdullah, el-Sissi and Netanyahu, but it was Kerry, not Netanyahu, the put the kibosh on everything.

Incredible! Isn't it? But stuff like that happens just about every day. Indeed, it happened again yesterday.

One week ago, Jeff Jacoby published an op-ed on anti-Semitism in the Boston Globe. It wasn’t about Israel. I keep a tally of pro- and anti-Israel opinion pieces in the Boston Globe and didn’t even include it. Here’s the op-ed, with the relatively insignificant parts that even remotely related to Israel highlighted.

Boston Globe

From left and right, anti-Semitism on rise

By Jeff Jacoby, GLOBE COLUMNIST

This weekend, Jews the world over celebrate the festival of Purim, a highlight of which is the public reading of the biblical book of Esther. In 10 fast-moving chapters, it recounts the first recorded attempt at a Jewish genocide. The Persian emperor Ahasuerus (known to historians as Xerxes I) allows himself to be persuaded by Haman, a powerful courtier, that the Jews are a disloyal and disobedient minority who ought to be eradicated. The emperor signs an edict authorizing Haman and his followers "to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day.'' But the plot is foiled thanks to court intrigues involving Mordechai, the leader of the Jewish community in the imperial city of Shushan, and the courage and faith of Esther, the young Jewish heroine who becomes Ahasuerus's queen.

On the Jewish calendar, Purim is a joyful day. Families distribute gifts of food, alms are lavished on the poor, children (and even adults) wear costumes - and at every mention of Haman's name during the reading of Esther, the congregation breaks out in a raucous din of boos and noisemakers.

It's easy to celebrate Purim with hilarity when Jews feel safe and welcome, and in modern times there is nowhere on Earth they have felt safer and more welcome than the United States.

Last month, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey showing Jews to be the most warmly regarded religious group in America. It was Pew's second such survey in three years, and both times the finding was the same. "We love our country, and America loves us right back,'' wrote David Suissa, the publisher of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, after the Pew numbers came out. Jews, who know only too well what it means to be a hunted minority, have been blessed to find in America a degree of benevolence, respect, and freedom unparalleled in their long and precarious history.

But Purim arrives this year amid an alarming surge in anti-Semitic menace.

Since January, Jewish community centers and organizations nationwide have been targeted with anonymous bomb threats - at least 140 such threats to date. At Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Rochester, N.Y., hundreds of gravestones have been toppled or smashed. In Evansville, Ind., a gun was fired through the window of synagogue classroom.

During the recent election cycle, Internet trolls from the so-called alt-right unleashed repugnant attacks on Jewish journalists who questioned or criticized the rise of Donald Trump, often suggesting that they prepare to die in a new Holocaust. Equally horrific anti-Semitic eruptions have come from the left, especially on college campuses, where virulent hostility toward Israel often boils over into undisguised hatred of Jews.

Thus the paradox: In the nation where Jews are more welcomed than ever, animosity toward Jews is more palpable than ever.

To many on the left, the upwelling of anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric is plainly connected with Republican politics. Trump's strong appeal to white nationalists, the Jew-baiting memes and tropes that showed up in his ads and social media, and his seeming unwillingness until quite recently to explicitly condemn anti-Semitism - while Trump may harbor no personal ill will toward Jews, he has too often enabled, and pandered to, those who do.

To many conservatives, meanwhile, it goes without saying that contemporary anti-Semitism is overwhelmingly a product of the hard left, which seethes with bitterness toward the Jewish state. The anti-Zionist boycott campaign, the Israel "apartheid'' slander, the ominous atmosphere in academia - all of it has had the effect of moving bigotry from the fever swamps on the fringe ever closer to the mainstream.

Both camps make a legitimate point. Jew-bashers can be found on the left and the right; often it is the only thing they have in common. In our hyperpolarized political atmosphere, it isn't surprising that anti-Semitism has become one more excuse for partisans to point fingers at each other. But history's oldest hatred has never been limited to one party or ideology or worldview.

Anti-Semitism is an intellectual sickness, a societal toxin that is endlessly adaptable. Jews have been tortured and tormented for not being Christian and for not being Muslim. They have been brutally persecuted for being capitalists, and just as brutally persecuted for being Communists. They have been hated for being weak and easily scapegoated - and hated for being strong and influential. Jews have been killed for their faith, for their lifestyle, for their national identity, for their "race..'

A key teaching of the Book of Esther is that once the plague of Jew-hatred gets in the air, almost any environment can nourish it. Another is that Jew-hatred does not subside on its own. It must be confronted, denounced, and defeated.

"We love our country, and America loves us right back.'' That has been manifestly, wonderfully true for decades, but will it continue to be? Elsewhere, the post-Holocaust taboo on overt Jew-hatred has long since crumbled. Can that now be happening in the United States? Pray this Purim that the answer is no. For if America succumbs to the anti-Semitic derangement, it isn't only Jews who will suffer.

Jeff Jacoby can be reached at jacoby@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeff_jacoby.


You can see, there was very little relating to Israel.

The Boston Globe didn’t publish any letters about the actual content of the op-ed, but yesterday published no fewer than three letters totally misrepresenting those small portions of the op-ed and using them as an excuse to viciously attack Israel.

The first letter:

Boston Globe

There's room to protest Israel
Hate crimes shouldn't be lumped together with legitimate protest

Jeff Jacoby ("From left and right, anti-Semitism on rise,'' Opinion, March 12) distorts the issue of the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States. By equating the unprecedented rise in physical and verbal attacks on Jewish institutions since the elections with criticism of Israel, he sows confusion and distracts from the real threats facing American Jews, Muslims, immigrants, and people of color.

By attacking the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, Jacoby implies that attacks on people based on their religious affiliation are equivalent to criticisms of a nation's policies, practices, and laws.

As Joseph Levine, professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, wrote recently in response to anti-BDS legislation: "Israel is a state, not an ethnic or religious category, while being Jewish is precisely an ethnic-religious category. . . . States that violate rights can be legitimately targeted by boycotts and sanctions, while ethnic-religious identities cannot. That was the principle underlying the BDS movement against apartheid South Africa . . . and underlies the legitimacy of the BDS movement to defend Palestinians against the actions of the Israeli state..'

Yes, the desecration of cemeteries and the threats to synagogues and schools is egregious anti-Semitism. No, challenging Israel's violations of international law and human rights is not anti-Semitism.

Marc Gurvitch
Jamaica Plain
The writer is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston.



The second letter:

Jeff Jacoby points his pen at both the traditional anti-Semitism of right-wing bigots and what he describes as more recent anti-Semitism from the "hard left,'' which he implies is the result of an "anti-Zionist boycott campaign,'' "Israel 'apartheid' slander,'' and some undefined "ominous atmosphere in academia..'

Jacoby offers nothing to indicate which portion of the hate crimes is attributable to these hard-lefties. Without any supporting statistics, he is lumping hate crimes against Jews with the very legitimate boycotts of companies that profit from the land, labor, and colonization of the occupied West Bank and the very accurate use of the term apartheid for the segregation and second-class citizenship to which Israel subjects its Arab citizens.

Brown and Lois Pulliam
Bedford

The third letter:

An anti-Zionist's appeal to the right: Do not commit hatred in my name

I am one of those anti-Zionists Jeff Jacoby deplores. I find the actions of the government of Israel toward Palestinians horrific, and I advocate boycotts, divestment, and sanctions as tools to support Palestinian rights.

But I am not an anti-Semite. I abhor the painting of swastikas, the calling in of bomb threats, and the desecration of cemeteries. I urge others: Do not do these things in my name or in the name of anti-Zionism. If you oppose the actions of Israel, speak up against them. But do not resort to violence or threats. The Jews you hurt by such acts are not your enemies.

I call on those on the right to join me in a clear condemnation of anti-Semitism.

Ken Olum
Sharon


I think they dost protest too much

The question is, what can we do? What should we do?

I think we should all do what we can do, what we feel most comfortable ... but maybe sometimes a little uncomfortable ... doing.

We can talk to people. Some of us, when we visit outside Israel, to our former hometowns, can speak, at synagogs, at churches, at mosques - yes, at mosques, if we can get invited - schools and colleges, at civic groups. We all have personal stories we can tell, to humanize the situation.

We can write. To newspapers. To radio and television stations. On social media, Facebook, Twitter, discussion groups, newspaper comment areas.

You don't have to be fanatical about it, the way I am. But we can all do something.

And when we do, we can look for opportunities to make use of those inconvenient truths, the ones the anti-Zionists want to hide, the ones they lie about.

Okay. Now I'll list a handful, and then go into detail about others. We all know them all. But the people we need to bring over to our side, the undecided - not the ones who hate us, but the ones who the anti-Zionists are trying to fool - don't know them. And many of the people who are on our side don't know them either, and need to be reminded they they are supporting the good guy, Israel.

•Zionism is simply the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.

•Anti-Zionists deny the right of the Jewish people to our own state.

•Denying that right to the Jewish people, while promoting it for others, is anti-Semitic.

•Until relatively recently, the people today calling themselves Palestinians were insisting they weren't.

•The articles in the PLO Charter calling for the destruction of Israel have never been removed.

•Taken together, Israel and the disputed territories take up less than a quarter of what constituted Palestine at the time of the British Mandate.

•Historically, Jerusalem has never held much interest for Arabs or Muslims except during those times when it was controlled by others.

•Jerusalem has been at the heart and soul of the Jewish people since King David made it his capital about 3,000 years ago. Every Passover, Jews all over the world end their Seders with the chant בשנה הבאה בירושלים - "Next Year in Jerusalem."

•The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 declares, as official United States policy: "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.
•The term "West Bank" is a relatively new one. Historically, that area, the heartland of the Jewish kingdoms in Biblical times, was referred to as Judea and Samaria, or Palestine, or southern Syria.

•Only a handful, perhaps 50,000, of the so-called Palestinian refugees are really refugees. The youngest of the refugees are now 68 years old and have no recollection of ever living in what is now Israel.

•Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is in the thirteenth year of his four year term. He is no moderate, has shown no inclination to make peace with Israel and has neither the ability nor the authority to do so even if he wanted.

•More than 95 percent of the Arabs in the disputed territories have lived under their own government for more than two decades.

•The Christian community is increasing and thriving in just one country in the Middle East: Israel. It's being decimated in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas-run Gaza. Under the Palestinian Authority, Bethlehem has turned from a Christian city into a Muslim city.

•The proportion of civilian casualties in the Gaza wars has been amazingly low compared to the norm for post-World War II conflicts. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties." Israel has been criticized by international military leaders for setting a standard their countries can't possibly match.

Now I'll go into a few other inconvenient truths, in more depth - as our very limited time permits - with some documentation, including historical texts and the words of Palestinian Arab leaders.

•The Palestinian Arabs have shown far more interest in there not being a Jewish state than in having one of their own.

The PLO was established in 1964, while the West Bank was part of Jordan. Rather than promoting a separate Palestinian Arab state, the PLO was established to destroy Israel. This goal was enshrined four years later in the PLO Charter. It's sobering reading, although far less so than the Fatah and Hamas charters. Among its provisions:

The PLO "aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine."

"The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine."

AND

"Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase."

In their fundamental covenants, the Palestinian Arabs clearly say they reject the existence of Israel, but do not call for their own state.

•Mahmoud Abbas has admitted he's responsible for the continuation of the conflict.

In his own words, spoken in Ramallah on October 15, 2010: 

[click]

"If we showed flexibility on these issues the peace agreement would have been signed a long time ago."

•Mahmoud Abbas has also told his people he will never compromise on any of the key issues. 

As quoted in the Palestinian Authority's own newspaper, Al-Ayyam, on September 7, 2010: 

"If they demand concessions on the rights of the refugees or the 1967 borders, I will quit. I can't allow myself to make even one concession."

•Abbas clearly rejects the very concept of a two-state solution, vigorously insisting he will never acknowledge Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

•Abbas even bluntly told President Obama he would not commit to an "end of conflict" - in other words, even if he signed some agreement with Israel, the conflict would continue.

Peace requires concessions, by both sides.

Israel has made enormous concessions. Benjamin Netanyahu may be considered "right wing," but he's offered concessions, such as offering the Palestinian Arabs a state, Yitzhak Rabin insisted he would never make.

Mahmoud Abbas may be called "moderate," but he has yet to make a single significant concession; he's still clinging to the same demands Arafat was making in 1993. It's one thing to start negotiations with extreme demands; I thought only my mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, could refuse to budge for more than two decades. I was wrong.

•Abbas demands ethnic cleansing.

For example, on Christmas Day, 2010, in Ramallah, he said: 

"We have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won't agree to the presence of one Israeli (meaning Jew) in it." 

How's that for the Christmas spirit!

•Mahmoud Abbas was a prime instigator of the wave of knifings, shootings and vehicular attacks that "spontaneously" started about a year and a half ago.

On September 16 last year, he proclaimed "Al-Aksa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They (meaning the Jews) have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem."

Praising Muslim women who harass Jews on the Temple Mount, he said "Each drop of blood that was spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood as long as it’s for the sake of Allah. Every shahid (martyr) will be in heaven and every wounded person will be rewarded, by Allah’s will."

•Arabs in Israel comprise nearly a quarter of the population and have full, equal rights.

Of course there's some discrimination; I challenge you to name a single country in which there's no discrimination. I also challenge you to name a country, other than Israel, giving equal rights to a minority which in significant measure is loyal to the nation's enemies.

Arabs participate in every area of Israeli civil life. They're doctors, lawyers, teachers, police. They're in the Knesset, the parliament. Majalli Wahabi, an Israeli Druze, actually served as Acting President for a time in 2007. George Karra, an Israeli Arab Supreme Court Justice, convicted President Moshe Katzav and sent him to prison.

Think about that: an Israeli Arab sent the president of Israel to prison!

When it comes to legal discrimination, if anything, it's the Jews who suffer. Jews are compelled to serve in the army. They don't have a choice. Arabs have a choice. They may serve if they wish, but they don't have to.

•The BDS movement is anti-Zionist and thus inherently and irredeemably anti-Semitic.

Omar Barghouti, the most prominent of the founders of BDS, has said: 

"Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”

Anna Baltzer, a frequent speaker at "Tree of Life" events, was even more blunt, saying, quote: 

"“We need to wipe out Israel.” unquote.

•While Mahmoud Abbas may refuse to make peace with Israel, may defame and slander Israel at every opportunity, when push comes to shove he knows Israel is his only friend.

In April last year, Abbas' brother, who lives in Qatar, was in critical condition with cancer. Where did Abbas make sure he went to get the best medical care? Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv, where the doctors had saved his brother-in-law's life with a delicate heart operation six months before, and where his wife underwent leg surgery in 2014.

Ismail Haniyeh is even more extreme than Abbas. Haniyeh was the chief Hamas terrorist in charge of Gaza. But he wasn't too proud to send his granddaughter for treatment at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv in 2013. In 2014, he sent both his mother-in-law and his daughter there, one shortly before the war he launched and the other shortly after.

Haniyeh is no longer in charge of Gaza. He's been replaced by Yehya al-Sinwar, one of the terrorists freed in exchange for Gilad Shalit. Compared to al-Sinwar, Haniyeh was a moderate.

•The "illegally occupied territories" aren't even occupied. They are disputed territories and Israel has a strong legal claim to them.

At the San Remo Conference in 1920, following World War I, Britain was assigned a mandate over Palestine - which then comprised all of what is today Israel, Jordan and the disputed territories. The mandate called for Britain to prepare for the reestablishment of the Jewish homeland, including the "close settlement" of the land by the Jewish people. This actually included the "East Bank," the 77-78 percent of Palestine east of the Jordan River which Britain separated from the rest, renamed Transjordan and gave to the Hashemites.

The decisions made at the San Remo Conference were confirmed by the League of Nations in 1922, and incorporated into the founding documents of the United Nations. That makes them international law.

So, under international law, Israel has claim to all of the disputed territories and building in those territories is not only not illegal, but encouraged.
•The "1967 borders" were never borders.

Article II of the 1949 armistice agreement with Jordan stated "no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations."

In plain language, the armistice lines were specified to have no political significance.

References to "1967 borders" are factually wrong; no borders existed.

Insisting on "negotiations based on the 1967 borders" is actually an insistence on the violation of that signed agreement! It's also an insistence on the violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

Resolution 242 was adopted November 22, 1967, exactly five years after the assassination of President Kennedy. Its provisions called for:

"Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict" in conjunction with the "termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."

So, according to this binding Security Council resolution, any Israeli withdrawal awaits a peace agreement and must not be a total withdrawal to the temporary armistice lines. The Security Council itself has given legitimacy to an Israeli presence in the disputed territories until that time.

Here in Netanya we're only about nine miles from the armistice line and the Arab town of Tulkarm, which is already under the control of the Palestinian Authority. We know we're not taking back Tulkarm, so the secure borders, as called for in the resolution, are unfortunately an impossibility, but the goal should be to make them as close to secure as reasonably possible.

•The Palestinian Arab leadership accepted the Israeli presence in the disputed territories and depends on it.

They agreed to it in the Oslo Accords and Mahmoud Abbas knows that he wouldn't last a week if it wasn't for the Israeli military maintaining security.

Abbas may demand an Israeli withdrawal, but he stakes his life on Israel not caving in to that demand.

My final three inconvenient truths:

1. We keep hearing that the Palestinians deserve a state of their own. There is actually an "Encyclopedia of Stateless Nations." Most people know of the Kurds and the Tibetans, but there are literally hundreds of others, almost all with a far longer and more peaceful history than the Palestinian Arabs. None have repeatedly rejected statehood the way the Palestinian Arabs have. Every one of those national groups is arguably far more deserving of statehood than the Palestinian Arabs.

When my wife and I bought an apartment in Israel, we decided we needed to sell our private home in Waterbury and move to a condo in Massachusetts nearer our daughter. We joined the nearest synagogue, Temple Israel of Natick, which has a "Rabbi Laureate" you may have heard of, Harold Kushner, of "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" fame. On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, I was in the first row, right in front of Rabbi Kushner, when he gave his sermon and said: 

"I would remind you that for almost twenty years, from 1948 to 1967, the Palestinians had a state of their own on the West Bank and half of Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Temple Mount."

Today, for most practical purposes, they have three states: the Palestinian Authority in Areas A and B of Judea and Samaria, Hamastan in Gaza, and Jordan.

Now, when Jews say "Jordan is Palestine," people tend to dismiss it as propaganda. But it turns out that Mahmoud Abbas - remember, he calls himself the president of Palestine, even though there is no Palestine - agrees with Rabbi Kushner.

Less than two years ago, on June 2, 2015, Abbas said 

"Jordan and Palestine are one people living in two states."

There are two basic reasons the Palestinian Arabs get so much undeserved attention: They are the world's most successful practitioners of terrorism ... and their target has been the world's only Jewish state, us.

2. Israel is the front line state in the fight against fanatical, Islamist terrorists. Every method used by those terrorists against the United States, against France, against Britain, was first used against Israel. Had the civilized world stood solidly with Israel in the past, we might not be suffering from today's outbreak of terrorism. The first, essential step in defeating terrorism around the world is standing with Israel.

3.

Israel stands with those who value human rights.

Israel stands with those who value freedom of the press.

Israel stands with those who value the rights of gays.

Israel stands with those who value the rights of women.

Israel stands with those who value diversity and multiculturalism.

Israel stands with those who believe children should grow up and not blow up.

Israel exemplifies the very values true liberals cherish most, while Palestinian Arab society rejects those same values.

Rabbi Kushner said, in his Rosh Hashanah sermon: "We were privileged to see the rebirth of a Jewish nation in the ancestral Jewish homeland. Be grateful that you were privileged to live in the age of the Third Jewish Commonwealth."

We are not only privileged to live in this age, but to live in the Third Jewish Commonwealth.

In my years of involvement with the Arab-Israeli conflict, I've rarely read a news story, or a letter to the editor, or a presentation by someone anti-Israel, that wasn't tainted by what I'll euphemistically call false information.

We, who live in Israel and know Israel and its history and the efforts it has made to reach peace and the nature of the enemies we face, have the ability and the obligation to promote our story in a way nobody else can.


On that note, thank you for listening. I'm eager to hear your questions, with the usual qualification: questions, not long-winded statements, with one exception: statements about some of the many other truths I haven't mentioned this morning.