(photo credit: Courtesy)
Foresight and hindsight
Sir, - "No less than firing a gun" (April 13) reminded one of Rabbi Meir Kahane's motto: "Never Again! Every Jew a .22!" This seems like an overreaction, but it reflected Kahane's wish never again to see Jews led, sheep-like, to the slaughter.
Indeed, before WWII broke out, a group of Zionists led by Vladimir Jabotinsky foresaw the Holocaust. His Revisionist followers, who later founded the Irgun, proposed practical solutions to fight Hitler. One stands out: a Jewish Land Army on the European continent trained by what would later be known as the Allies.
Jabotinsky could have recruited over 300,000 Jewish men, and the Polish government was prepared to arm them. Had he done so, the Jews could have protected themselves from the Einsatzgruppen. Even the most dedicated Nazis vowed on Judenschaleg would have balked faced by a Warsaw Ghetto-type resistance every time they attempted an Aktion.
But the Jewish establishment would not allow him to save Europe's Jews, and Jabotinsky died in 1940, with most of European Jewry following him passively shortly thereafter.
Sir, - I agree with Meir Ronnen, who writes in "Hitler's image maker" (April 13) that he "always found it monstrous that the two most self-serving sycophants of the Nazi regime, Albert Speer and Leni Riefenstahl, should have escaped justice." I have long been awaiting a critical biography of Riefenstahl. Now there are two. They show a life of deception, exploitation and lies.
Highland Park, New Jersey
Sir, - I find two new books on the life and death of film director and Nazi sympathizer Leni Riefenstahl totally unnecessary. This evil genius belongs in the array of "photo portraits" of the most-wanted Nazis, most of whom are dead by now. These killers shouldn't get any more exposure than is strictly necessary.
HERBERT W. STARK
Massapequa, New York
'Post' readers take issue with Daoud Kuttab
Sir, - Daoud Kuttab's contention that Zionists created the refugee problem ignores the fact that it was the Arabs who rejected the UN partition resolution and went to war to destroy it ("You created the problem," April 13). Had the Arabs accepted the state proposed to them in 1947 there would have been no refugees. Arabs and Jews would today be living productive lives, fraternally, in peace. And tens of thousands of hate victims would be alive.
It is disingenuous of Kuttab to criticize Israel for not implementing UN resolutions when the one resolution that created the problem was viciously rejected by radicals among his people.
Nor is the generalization true that Zionists threw out all the Arabs in 1948. I lived in the mixed and peaceful Arab-Jewish quarter of Talbieh in Jerusalem during that period, in a house owned by an Arab physician. One day before Pessah my landlord came to me to say that the Arabs of the quarter were leaving - "not because of the Jews," but because of threats from Arab extremists. He insisted that if we ever had to leave, we rent his apartment to a Jewish family. Our Arab friends who lived across the street echoed that view when they called on us before they left for Beirut.
Sir, - Daoud Kuttab asks that Israel take responsibility for creating the Arab refugee problem. That would be like asking the Americans to take responsibility for the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, or the Dutch to take responsibility for the Nazi invasion of 1940.
Sir, - On this eve of 59 years of Israeli statehood there is one undeniable fact: Israel is here and, short of mass destruction of this country, we are not going away. Daoud Kuttab perpetuates the myth that Israel is bigger, stronger and wealthier than the poor disenfranchised Arabs only because we stole their lands. No - we worked very hard and sweated over every square millimeter to develop this country.
Sir, - When Daoud Kuttab says that the refugees and their descendants have no desire to return to their homes, he is expressing his own opinion, nothing more. Unfortunately, we have to take into account the objective of executing a full return, as expressed so many times in the media. Palestinian "generosity" is also doubtful. I do not think anyone is under any illusion as to what would have happened had the Arabs been victorious. The statement that Israel-Palestinian talks did not break down on the question of the refugees is also doubtful; all analyses I know of report the right of return and Jerusalem as the breaking points. Population transfers are not unknown in recent history - one need only mention the Indian-Pakistani and Greek-Turkish population transfers.
Jewish longing over 2,000 years to return to Zion expressed a wish, with no hope or expectation of immediate satisfaction until the emergence of the Zionist movement. In contrast, the Arabs, according to many well-publicized reports, see the return to the abandoned lands and the demise of the Jewish state as an aim realizable in the foreseeable future.
Mr. Kuttab expresses a wish for small numbers of refugees to be allowed to return. Who will define what is "small"? How narrow is the thin end of the wedge?
Sir, - Daoud Kuttab's claim that Israel is responsible for the refugee problem is a classic example of transference of blame from the guilty to the victimized party. He justifies his statement by referring to the fleeing of his father and uncle following the death of their sister as a result of actions by armed Zionist groups. He appears to forget the years of brutal Arab attacks on Jews, including the Hebron massacre. Jews did not flee the country in response to these attacks.
His most ridiculous statement is that no one opposed the 2,000-year desire and hope of Jews to return to Jerusalem. This indicates an ignorance and complete lack of understanding of known historical facts.
I congratulate the Post on publishing this op-ed. The world can now read and understand the absurdity of Palestinian claims.
MONTY M. ZION
Sir, - I always turn first to Daoud Kuttab's articles, since I think he offers one of the most valuable perspectives on the Israel-Palestine dilemma. But I sincerely cannot understand:
1. How one can accept responsibility for the refugees, and then deny its implications. How can one admit to stealing something and then refuse to give it back? I suspect these are just words, and that if Israel really admitted responsibility, the next step would be the implementation of measures that would cripple or destroy the country.
2. If it would help at all to admit responsibility - even though we don't really deserve it - I am sure that as a good-will gesture we would be happy to say verbally that we are the guilty ones. But is that really true? Obviously Arabs ran from fear of Jewish arms, but why were those arms being used in the first place? With Arabs refusing to allow a Jewish state and employing military action, didn't the Jews have a right to use arms?
I am sure we would be willing to apologize for any excessive use of force, as long as the Palestinians did the same. But I can't understand how we can do any more.
Sir, - Living in Israel all my life and having a "Palestine" British Mandate passport, I am most surprised by Daoud Kuttab's perpetual accusations of Israel being to blame for all Palestinian troubles, including the refugee problem. Why can't he admit the Palestinian Arabs' fatal mistake - rejecting the two-state resolution proposed by the UN in 1948? He would then have a state for his people, and no "refugee problem." Instead, five Arab nations attacked the new State of Israel and lost the war. A loser is a loser. Blaming others for your mistake will solve nothing.