October 6: Zionism and moral excellence, revisited

The word “occupation” is full of the most problematic associations and it cannot be used in connection with the Israel-Palestinian dispute.

letters (photo credit: JP)
(photo credit: JP)
Zionism and moral excellence, revisited
Sir, – In two main points Donniel Hartman (“The future of Zionism depends on moral excellence,” September 26) is definitely right: 1. We are – concerning our moral and political positions – not negotiating only with the Palestinians but mainly also with ourselves.
2. The central question is not what the Palestinians and the international community will allow us to do – but what we do by our own initiative to obtain morally defensible positions.
But on the basis of these two assumptions, Hartman develops a way of argumentation that has to be rejected.
Hartman accepts as absolute truth many assumptions that have to be examined carefully if we want to judge the situation in the Middle East in a just way.
Let’s cite three examples: 1. The word “occupation” (used in the article again and again) is full of the most problematic associations (also from the Second World War) and it cannot be used in connection with the Israel-Palestinian dispute. The areas now known as the West Bank and Gaza were explicitly designated for Jewish settlement by the International Bodies (by the League of Nations in 1922 – and this right of settlement was later upheld in the UN Charter).
In 1967 these areas were taken from Jordan and Egypt which had seized and occupied them in an act of aggression in 1948.
When Hartman uses the term “occupation” in order to show the moral weakness of Israel’s position, he undermines his own view. If these are “occupied” territories, we have to give all of them back as stolen land, and that includes Ma’aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion and Ariel – all places that should, according to Hartman’s vision, remain part of Israel.
2. By rejecting any expansion of other existing settlements, Hartman accepts without any criticism the assumption that in the future great parts of the disputed areas have to be given to the Palestinians entirely Judenrein. Is that morally acceptable? These settlements were established after the Six Day War.
Could anyone have prevented Israel at that time from going back to the historic places of its past – like Hebron, Beit El and Shiloh – and renewing the Jewish presence there? Is it morally just to demand that all Jewish presence in these areas be annulled and all Jews expelled for the sake of peaceful coexistence? In Israel live more than one million Arabs with full civil rights – and in a future Palestinian entity no Jews should be allowed to stay? Abu Mazen went even further, stating that none of the UN soldiers that might be posted in the area could be Jewish! Judenrein in the full sense of the word! 3. The two-state solution is regarded by Hartman as the only moral solution for peace in the area. The dangers of two entirely different nation-states living together in a small area are enormous, and Hartman disregards them.
However, in the search for a viable peace, it must be stressed that – as everyone knows but prefers to ignore – there is already a Palestinian state: Jordan.
The classical Palestinian entity was divided in 1922. Over 75 percent of the territory (!) went to a newly formed state, Jordan, whose inhabitants are, to all intents and purposes, Palestinians.
There is no real difference between the Palestinians in Jordan and those in the West Bank.
So why create an additional Palestinian state instead of incorporating parts of the West Bank in the existing Palestinian state and perhaps add those areas of Israel which are populated mainly by Palestinians? This would be a viable state for the Palestinians where they can develop their culture, religion and social ideas.
This direction for a peace solution seems perhaps outdated, but once you approach the Middle East dispute from a moral viewpoint and take into account all factors that can bring peace to this area – and real peace is a central ethical value in Judaism – this should be the political and human goal we should pursue.
Rapid response required
Sir, – Once again Israel hands its enemies a propaganda coup when it was clearly Israel’s for the taking. Following the Silwan self-defense killing of an attacker by an Israeli security guard who was ambushed by hostile Palestinians, Israel announced that it took the guard into custody, implying some guilt on his part.
No official mention was initially made of an ambush.
In the interim Palestinian spinmeisters accused Israel and Netanyahu of deliberately trying to scuttle the peace talks, when it was Israel that should have immediately leveled that charge against the Palestinian perpetrators.
Only the next day was it reported that Jerusalem police chief Aharon Franco told reporters that “according to an initial investigation, the guard encountered a preplanned ambush that put his life in danger, prompting him to open fire” (“Tense calm prevails in e.
Jerusalem after death of Arab Silwan resident sparks riots,” September 24).
In this media war being waged against it, Israel must develop the ability to reflexively respond to its advantage, since it is the immediate reaction that gets the headlines and thus shapes public opinion.

Huntington, West Virginia
When the IDF says no to a son
Sir, – I am writing on behalf of other Israeli mothers who have either been in my shoes or now have tired feet from walking a very long and very lonely road.
I am a native Canadian who moved to Israel over thirty years ago. With great pride, my daughter served in the IDF in the air force’s entertainment corps.
My son was scheduled, in two weeks’ time, to enter the Israel Navy’s submarine corps.
After a battery of tests, intensive four-day training, and hours of psychological and physical examinations he was accepted into the corps.
Last week, just three weeks shy of my son’s enlistment date, he underwent a high-profile security check at Tel Hashomer under the auspices of the navy.
At the end of a long and gruelling day, he was told that he had to undergo a polygraph, to which of course he agreed. He was told that, due to unforeseen administrative problems and a long wait, his enlistment date would be postponed until April, 2011 – seven months later than originally planned.
My son was prepared to give up all hopes of entering the navy and begged to be enlisted into any available unit in October.
The response was negative, and he was told that April, 2011, was his only option.
However, “if he was able to somehow manage to get his name to the top of the list in the polygraph admissions pile, then he could undergo a polygraph as early as this week and be enlisted on October 10 as planned.”
And so it begins. Here is where not only the child but also the mother learn the true meaning of the word “protekzia.”
After a whirlwind of e-mails and faxes and phone calls to the navy, Tel Hashomer recruiting offices, friends, neighbors and countrymen, I am, sadly, still in front of my computer, wondering where I went wrong.
Not knowing where to turn, shameful of my lame Hebrew vocabulary, I write this letter in the hope that readers can give me advice.
Two years ago, we had the opportunity of returning to Canada, and it was my son who stopped me in my tracks. In his own words: “Mom, I’m going to the army. I want to serve my country. Don’t take that away from me.”
The Israeli Navy and the submarine corps, who selected my son from amongst hundreds of candidates, should be ashamed of their actions during this last week.
If indeed there is a voice, then let it be my son’s and not mine.
He is proud to serve. He is willing to serve.
Hod Hasharon