Monday, May 12, 2008

More Wisdom from Hauptman

'Maybe we should live together'
To the Editor: Ames Tribune
From: John Hauptman
Just read the originals, "Righteous Victims" by Benny Morris, "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" by Ilan Pappe, and "One Palestine, Complete" by Tom Segev. Do not believe the incessant repeated lies of the Israel lobby. All three authors are Israeli and Jewish. You can receive these books in a plain brown wrapper from Amazon.com.

There are also humane books of great beauty, such as "The Other Side of Israel" by Susan Nathan, and "A Witness in Palestine" by Anna Baltzer, both sensitive, intelligent and thoughtful Jewish women who see all of this with a clarity we men often miss. Susan Nathan talks of the similar rituals of life, the spices used in cooking, the gentle often shy women at tea. Anna Baltzar talks of peaceful non-violence and the resilient lives of people under duress.

The constant demonization of the Palestinians is wearing thin. These historically completely innocent people have been slandered and murdered at will. Bringing up Husseini and Hitler ignores the illegal British military occupation of Palestine as the result of the European First World War (which Palestinians had nothing to do with).

Anyone can play this game. For example, Adolf Eichmann was in Jerusalem twice, the second time to get his neck stretched, and the first time to swing a deal with David ben Gurion for sending German Jews to Palestine. It was a deal in their common interest. I repeat Jane Haddad: "People always seemed to know half of history, and to get it confused with the other half."

Conflating Palestinian with Arab, and further claiming historic hostility between Palestinians and Jews is a falsehood. Jews were safe in Palestine for nearly 2,000 years while European Jews were murdered, slandered and driven from country to country by Christian religious fervor (and stupidity). The Palestinians absorbed Jewish refugees, their fellow Semites.

As for the larger Arab world, there are still vibrant Jewish communities in Iran and Turkey, for example, who refuse to emigrate to Israel. Hostility began in the 1920s after the illegal British Balfour Declaration when Palestinians were driven from their farms and their land. Of course there was subsequent hostility.

This is not a simple or easy subject, and one-sided letters are easy to write. (For example, the above two paragraphs are one-sided: I did not emphasize the degree of persecution of Jews, nor the anti-Semitism of Americans as late as two generations ago.) There have been historic wrongs, mainly by Europeans, and both Jews and Palestinians have been maligned.

The words of Karen Armstrong in her book "Holy War," an excellent history of Palestine from the Crusades to the present, come to mind: when the Crusaders reached Jerusalem "we could not tell the difference between Muslim and Jew, so we killed them all," and that "the blood in the streets of Jerusalem was up to the knees of our horses."

She claims that the ways of thinking have not changed since then. Not a good sign.

Whenever anyone in the U.S. media says something good about the Palestinians, such as the library film series a few years ago, there is a torrent of invective and threats coming from one small group. But, as far as I can tell, everything in the U.S. media is 1,000-to-1 pro-Israel. In contrast, the Israeli press is far more balanced, even the right-wing correctly acknowledging that the Israeli army created Hamas and Hizbollah by their brutal suppression of Palestinian civilians in Gaza (2000) and Lebanon (1982).

As one older Israeli man spoke in the newspaper Ha'aretz, "when we came here, we thought that the Palestinians would be willing to leave, and it would be all ours. But, they have an attachment to the land and don't want to leave. So, we need another plan. Maybe we should live together." The voice of reason.

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