Archive for December, 2010
Monday, December 27th, 2010
By David Isaac
On Sunday, Dec. 19th, hundreds of Israeli high school kids filled the Knesset’s main auditorium for the awards ceremony of the “Ze’ev Jabotinsky National Essay Contest”, which marked the 70th anniversary of his death. Fifteen students won cash prizes in five categories related to Jabotinsky’s life and work.
The contest was the brainchild of Herbert Zweibon, chairman of Americans for A Safe Israel, and organized by former Knesset Member Michael Kleiner, of the World Herut Movement, and Emanuel Weiser, of the Jabotinsky Order of Israel.
Shmuel would have been delighted. Jabotinsky had a profound impact on Shmuel, setting him on his lifelong mission of Zionist activity from the moment he first heard him speak at a small gathering of the Betar Youth Organization in South Africa in 1930. Shmuel was then only 15, but Jabotinsky’s philosophy remained with him all his life. In 1983, Shmuel wrote, Jabotinsky’s “influence on my thinking seems to me to remain undimmed even now, in the fifth decade after his death.”
In “Reflections on Jabotinsky” (The Jerusalem Post, Oct. 17, 1980), Shmuel writes:
[As] leader of the Revisionist-Zionist Movement, as leader of the Betar youth movement, as the inspirer and mentor of the underground Irgun Zvai Leumi, he was the teacher of two generations who played a crucial role in the miracle of our national rebirth. The texture of his teachings, passages from his political thought, find their way, years later, again and again into the thinking and the articulation of his disciples and his opponents alike.
Despite Jabotinsky’s many contributions and continuing influence, Israel’s education system has failed to accord him his rightful place in the Zionist pantheon. In fact, Jabotinsky has become something of a political bellweather in the Ministry of Education, indicating which way the wind blows. If the Right is ascendant, he’s given a more prominent place in the curriculum; if the Left, then a more modest one. The political winds even influence those who should know better.
In “Memory Lapses of the Perilous Kind” (The Jerusalem Post, Aug. 6, 1993), Shmuel takes to task Professor Walter Laqueur, author of “A History of Zionism”, who belittled Jabotinsky’s impact on the Zionist movement in a book review. “Jabotinsky and his followers had not that much to contribute. In short, Jabotinsky’s role, in retrospect, was modest,” Laqueur wrote.
Who indeed could have believed that the writer of those silly sentences was in fact the author of “A History of Zionism”? Laqueur devotes 47 of its 600 pages to Jabotinsky – almost as much as to Herzl. It is, moreover, a quite comprehensive account of his Zionist activities and, for an opponent, a reasonably balanced profile.
As Douglas Feith, author of “War and Decision”, pointed out in an address he delivered in commemoration of Jabotinsky’s death last August:
“[Jabotinsky’s] political influence was widespread in his day and remains potent even now. Though Ben Gurion is admired by many Israelis, no political leaders in Israel anymore describe themselves as Ben Gurionites. None describe themselves as Weizmannites. But many proudly think of themselves as Jabotinskyites, followers of this rational, pragmatic, unapologetic, security-minded, non-socialist Jewish nationalist.”
The failure of the Education Ministry to teach about Jabotinsky is only the tip of the iceberg, a symptom of a much larger problem. Anti-nationalist, post-Zionist influences began seeping into Israel’s school system decades ago. Shmuel understood the grave dangers posed by such trends, and the importance of providing Israel’s youth a strong Zionist education, so that they would know, as he put it, “the whys and wherefores” of their existence in the Land of Israel so that they could adequately defend it.
In his 1975 monograph, “Experimentation on the ‘Conflict’ Assists Arab Propaganda”, Shmuel attacked a Ministry of Education reader distributed to Israel’s high schools and designed to “help” students understand the Arab-Israel conflict. At the conclusion of his expose, which pointed out the reader’s many distortions and omissions, he wrote:
It’s possible to fill whole books with the information that is not presented to the current Israeli youth – basic and vital education that the high school in Israel is obligated to give to the student even without any connection to the Arab problem. This denial of the student denies us all. It endangers the entire spirit of the generation in relation to its place and its national future in the Land of Israel.
It was the recognition of this ongoing problem – the need to revive an appreciation of Zionism among Israeli youth – that inspired Herbert Zweibon to initiate and raise funds for the Jabotinsky contest.
The presence at the event of Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar suggests there is hope. The Education Ministry has promised to add “an in-depth Zionist history review to the high school curriculum,” William Mehlman, AFSI’s representative in Israel, says.
This would be a welcome change. Those who have had dealings with Israelis know just how pathetic is their knowledge of their own history. On more than one occasion, Israeli television has broadcast shows parading these ignoramuses – light-hearted entertainment for some and a horror show for others. This writer remembers a TV show where young Tel Aviv students were sent out to see who could identify the historical figures the city’s streets were named after. (An Arab child won.)
The Jabotinsky contest will hopefully act as the catalyst of a renewed interest in Zionist learning. There are promising signs that the Israelis themselves are starting to wake up and realize that something vital is missing. The new “HaShomer”, or Watchmen, organization, which was created to protect Jewish farmland in the Galilee from Arab marauders when Israel’s authorities failed to do so, has stocked the shelves of its makeshift buildings solely with books related to Zionism.
As Yoel Zilberman, founder of the organization, noted, “When you talk to the teenagers in this society… they can tell you … who Harry Potter’s grandmother’s cousin’s brother is, and when you ask them who the Rambam is, even the hospital by that name doesn’t mean anything to them. And if you ask these guys who Berl Katznelson or Tabenkin or Jabotinsky is – at best it’s some street in Tel Aviv, and even that is highly doubtful.”
At the conclusion of an article Shmuel wrote for “Nativ” magazine in 2001 entitled, “The Reader for 9th Graders: ‘The 20th Century’ – A Weighty Contribution to the Distortion of History”, the editor appended a famous quotation from Milan Kundera’s “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.” It’s worth repeating here.
“The first step in liquidating a people is to erase the memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it was. The world around it will forget even faster. No nation is capable of crossing a desert of organized forgetting.”
Monday, December 20th, 2010
By David Isaac
Israelis exercising their legal rights at Gilad Farm in Samaria.
“The EU position on settlements is clear: They are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. Recent settlement-related developments, including in east Jerusalem, contradict efforts by the international community for successful negotiations,” said Catherine Ashton
, the EU foreign policy chief, on Dec. 9, after Israel refused to halt building construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
The UN, the U.S., the EU, Britain, The International Court of Justice at The Hague – these governments and entities all claim that Israel’s “settlements” are illegal. They repeat the false charge so often it has become gospel.
When this charge was in swaddling clothes, Shmuel recognized its importance and the urgent need to combat it. Over 30 years ago, in 1978, he began to write about this “monstrous charge.” The smear was started by State Department lawyers under the Carter administration. They were looking for legal ammunition to challenge Israel’s hold on the territories it captured in the 1967 war.
In “The Blunder Functions” (The Jerusalem Post, April 14, 1978), Shmuel wrote:
The question of the legality of our actions has become the central indictment in a many-voiced political campaign, whose influence may well be most destructive.
In “America’s Bad Joke” (The Jerusalem Post, April 6, 1979), Shmuel gives the best analysis and refutation of the outrageous charge, which is based on a distortion of the fourth Geneva Convention. We quote him at length.
This charge of illegality (with its hint of odiousness, even of criminality) has proved one of the most effective weapons in Washington’s propaganda campaign against Israel.
After all, if the government of the US itself, presumably primed by the best legal opinion, declares Jewish settlement to be illegal under international law, the average citizen will assume that there is good legal ground for the charge.
The fact is that the charge of illegality is little more than a bad joke. Far from the administration’s policy being a reflection of serious legal thinking, it is demonstrably the government’s lawyers who have tailored their opinion to suit the government’s policy. This may be regarded as professionally legitimate.
A legal adviser is not a priest of righteousness. He is a professional lawyer who is presumably expected to serve his client’s interests by making the best of his client’s case. Now the State Department’s case in support of its charge has seen the light of day. It was originally prepared by the legal adviser for the enlightenment of two curious congressmen; but as all such documents have to be made available for public inspection it found its way into the “Journal of International Law” (October 1978).
There is no merit in mincing words about this document. It is a distortion, not always subtle, both of the relevant facts and of the international agreement Israel is alleged to have contravened; the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 “Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War”.
The primary fact about this convention is that it is not relevant to Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza; nor, indeed, to the Israeli presence there.
The convention’s applicability is defined precisely in its second article: “The present convention,” it says, “shall apply to cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party”.
Now Israel did not and does not occupy the territory of a High Contracting Party. True, she wrested the territories from Jordan and Egypt, but these territories did not belong to them.
They acquired them in an act of naked aggression in their invasion of Western Palestine in 1948.
This pact does rather create a dilemma for the legal adviser. It leaves him without a case.
To insist that Article Two is applicable would mean explicitly to condone the 1948 aggression (about whose political and genocidal purpose the invaders made no secret at the time).
What is he to do? The Jewish settlements have to be illegal. Otherwise the Arabs will be annoyed, oil prices might go up, who knows — Saudi Arabia might initiate an embargo.
The solution turns out to be simple: Ignore Article Two, do not quote it, do not mention it, erase it. The legal adviser consequently boldly insists that the “principles” of the convention “appear applicable whether or not Jordan and Egypt possessed legitimate sovereign rights in respect of these territories”. He then announces that the paramount purpose of the convention is “protecting the civilian population of an occupied territory”.
Having cleared the ground of the unhelpful text of the convention itself, and having amended it to suit his purpose, the legal adviser might now reasonably be expected to follow up with his proofs that Israeli settlements do indeed interfere with, or prevent, or reduce the protection of the Arab population in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
The reader will wait with bated breath for the lurid details. He will wait in vain. After all his labours, the legal adviser obviously discovered that Jewish settlement has not had any adverse effect on the protection of civilians in the areas. He could, of course, make some up. That kind of thing has been done before. But this is apparently no job for a legal adviser. He therefore simply leaves the subject, claims nothing, makes no charge, and goes on to the next “proof” of Israeli illegality.
Now indeed comes his tour de force; and here he advances from mere obfuscation to somewhat blatant misrepresentation.
His “exhibit” is Article 49 of the convention — made particularly famous by much debate among international lawyers.
Article 49 had a special history and a specific purpose. It was designed to proscribe actions of a specific nature that had characterized the Nazi occupation in Europe. They had deported people, sometimes whole communities, some to Germany, others to occupied territory, some to labour as slaves, some to be killed.
The first paragraph of Article 49 therefore lays down that: “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive”.
In some cases, the Nazis transferred Germans into the occupied territories to replace and “inherit” from the expelled local population.
The last paragraph of the Article, therefore, proceeds to prohibit this type of action. Paragraph 6 says :
The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.
It is on this sixth paragraph of Article 49 that the US Government hangs its charge of illegality against Jewish settlement in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, Sinai and the Golan Heights.
The legal adviser obviously realizes that the bare text itself (about deportation or transfer of parts of a civilian population) is hardly a reasonable description of how the groups of young Jewish men and women went up to the Golan Heights, and down to the Jordan Valley and on to the bare hills of Samaria.
Without noticeably blinking an eyelid, he, therefore, seriously suggests that it is enough that the government was involved in the location of settlements, in making land available to them and in financing them in order to qualify as a government that meets the criteria of paragraph 6 that is of “deporting or transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.
Far more grave is his pretence that he does not know the background and the significance of the form of words used in Article 49, nor what the specific purpose of the whole article was. Indeed, he denies there was such a purpose…
He writes: “Another view of Paragraph 6 is that it is directed against mass population transfers, such as occurred in World War II for political, racial and colonization ends; but there is no apparent support or reasons for limiting its application to such cases”.
This is simply not true. This is not “another view” (though the thrust of the text makes such a “view” unanswerable). It is the official explanation for the drafting of Article 49.
It is hard to believe that the legal adviser to the State Department has not read the official Red Cross commentary on the Geneva Convention (even if only for his brief on Israel illegality). It was the Red Cross that organized the diplomatic conference in 1949 in Geneva where the convention was adopted, and the commentary it prepared at that time is the official authoritative source for the background and the meaning and the purpose of its provisions.
On Paragraph 6 of Article 49, the commentary says: “It is intended to prevent a practice adopted during the Second World War by certain Powers, which transferred portions of their own population to occupied territory for political or racial reasons or in order, as they claimed, to colonize those territories.
Such transfers worsened the economic situation of the native population and endangered their separate existence as a race”.
Such are the essentials, such is the weight of the case the State Department’s legal adviser scrambled together in order to provide a fig-leaf of professional justification for the administration’s cynical policy.
There is something additional in the legal adviser’s “opinion” which must interest everybody concerned about US policy towards Israel.
The legal adviser’s document inadvertently sheds a strong light on the inherent hostility which animates the State Department. His statement is embedded in what purports to be a survey of the historical background.
That “background” is a hotch-potch of misinformation, implicit and explicit.
As one example: the document twists and turns in order not to have to mention that Israel was compelled by Arab aggression to fight two defensive wars over the territory of Western Palestine.
Here, for instance, is the total description of the Six-Day War. “During the June 1967 war, Israeli forces occupied Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank and the Golan Heights”. That is all. Not a word of who or what started the war, or — again — of its annihilatory purpose.
This is a sample of the style of the document which, as a whole, is an effective reflection of the spirit which inspires so much — though not all —of American policy — a spirit that finds a natural expression in the ridiculous, yet monstrous, charge that Jewish settlement is “illegal”.
For the layman, no one laid it out better or earlier than Shmuel. But for those who wish to go deeper into the legal basis of modern Israel, please see The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law, (Mazo Publishers, Jerusalem). This 660 page treatise, written by Howard Grief, a former adviser on international law to the late Professor Yuval Ne’eman, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure in the government of Yitzhak Shamir, is the definitive, landmark work. It provides the entire legal framework of the State of Israel, shattering, in the words of Zionist writer William Mehlman “every myth, lie, misrepresentation and distortion employed over the 61 years of Israel’s existence to negate the sovereign rights of the Jewish People to their national home.” (For those specifically interested in the applicability of the fourth Geneva Convention, please see pages 610-619, among other sections.)
Monday, December 13th, 2010
By David Isaac
Shmuel Katz's Knesset portrait
Ruth King, who runs the excellent Web site ‘Ruthfully Yours’
and was a close friend of Shmuel, once expressed astonishment when she learned that he read Ha’aretz
, an Israeli newspaper whose editorial content is somewhere to the left of The New York Times
“His response was that he skipped the political articles but that the paper often had interesting columns on unsung Jewish heroes and the role they played in the history of Israel and the defense of Jews,” she wrote.
This was consistent with Shmuel’s belief that it was essential to remember those who fought to make the Zionist idea a reality in order that their memory should inspire future generations. So it’s fitting, as he would have turned 96 this past Thursday, to take this opportunity to remember him.
Those who knew Shmuel invariably describe him as warm and generous. He was a wonderful storyteller with a terrific sense of humor and a great gift for friendship. He was, of course, highly intelligent and gifted. He was also possessed of a natural modesty. This writer, visiting Shmuel at his Tel Aviv apartment 20 years ago, remembers Shmuel telling him that his manner reminded Shmuel of his own, which would often lead him to be underestimated, at least until he got into a debate.
Of Shmuel’s modesty, William Van Cleave, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Defense & Strategic Studies at Missouri State University, and a man with whom Shmuel once shared the pleasure of being fired upon, provides perhaps the best example, “In all of the many photos in the two volume Lone Wolf, Shmuel included only one of himself, and that with his back to the camera.”
Yisrael Medad, who compiled a collection of Shmuel’s writings in the book Battletruth, wrote, “[H]e was kind, gentle and considerate and, as he sometimes admitted to me, all he wanted to be was a Yiddishe mensch, a good Jewish person.”
Shmuel was not a politician, but thought of himself as “an information man”. He served in the First Knesset only at the insistence of Menachem Begin, saying he hated every minute of it and got out as soon as he could. In 1977, when Begin finally broke through Labor’s hegemony and became prime minister, Katz briefly reentered public life as Begin’s personal representative to the United States. It took less than two weeks for Katz to undo the lie Israel’s Laborites had disseminated for decades that Begin was a thug and a terrorist.
Shmuel will be most remembered for his wonderful books. As Outpost editor Rael Jean Isaac wrote, “Shmuel wrote by far the best book on the Irgun, Days of Fire, as gripping a read today as when it was written over forty years ago. In Battleground Shmuel provided the definitive work on Jewish rights in the context of the Arab-Israel conflict. There remains today no better single source to counter the lies of Arab propaganda. Then there are the collected essays in The Hollow Peace and Battletruth and the major biographies, of Jabotinsky and the Aaronsohns.”
It was the remarkable Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky who inspired Shmuel to devote his life to the Zionist enterprise. As he wrote in Days of Fire:
I’d been captivated by Jabotinsky on his first visit to South Africa in 1930, when I was a 15-year-old student at university. I was invited to hear him lecture at a private gathering of the Betar Youth Organization. Jabotinsky, one of the great orators of the age, was capable of holding vast audiences spellbound for hours. I was enthralled by the irrefutable logic of his words, and the restraint with which he conveyed their searing content.
Without hesitation I became a dedicated soldier in the cause which Jabotinsky espoused, speaking, writing, organizing, at first in the Betar Youth Organization, later in the Zionist-Revisionist party. My studies were neglected and my university career came to an ignominious end.
In the late 1930s, Jabotinsky expressed his own admiration for Shmuel’s talents in a letter: “I have been reading your reports and articles and must very earnestly congratulate you on the perfect clarity, the forcible simplicity, the sachlichkeit [matter of fact, to the point] with which you present the most complicated situations. I think you are much more than a journalist; but you also are a born journalist and a very good one.”
Katz inspired the creation of Americans for A Safe Israel, an American counterpart to the Land of Israel movement. Herbert Zweibon, AFSI’s chairman, writes, “For me, meeting Shmuel Katz was a life transforming experience. I had been active in my synagogue, a buyer of Israel Bonds, typical of the vast majority of Jews who supported Israel and were comfortable in their confidence that Israel’s government knew and did what was best for the country’s future.
“Katz made me recognize that this was not the case, that the (then) Labor government was profoundly wrong in looking upon the territories Israel had taken in the Six Day War as bargaining chips for ‘peace’ and that United States policy, wedded to the same false idea, had to be challenged.”
Zweibon often says that he has been caught by “Katz’s curse” – his way of describing how Shmuel could draw people into his political orbit and transform them into Zionists dedicated to the cause.
He now jokes this writer has been similarly condemned.
Shmuel was unfailingly optimistic despite the fact that he understood the implications of one disastrous policy after another on which the Israeli government embarked. His friends would be surprised, sometimes even frustrated, by this unshakeable optimism. It was only at the end, according to Yisrael Medad, that his optimism began to waver, something Medad believes contributed to his physical decline.
Shmuel is very much the unsung hero. But his impact continues, to which this blog is testimony.
Monday, December 6th, 2010
By David Isaac
Will the pro-Israel lobby get back in the fight?
In part I of this series, we looked at the failure of AIPAC, America’s largest pro-Israel lobby, to make an effort to thwart the sale to Saudi Arabia of an assortment of advanced fighter planes and helicopters worth $60 billion, the largest arms deal in U.S. history.
According to The New York Times, AIPAC has a “$100 million endowment, membership of more than 100,000 and annual lobbying expenditures of about $1 million.” So it’s not resources the lobby lacks, but will.
Our last blog suggested a path whereby AIPAC, and other pro-Israel lobbying groups, could again find their fighting spirit – one that would permit them to take action as independent actors concerned about American policy towards Israel without either relying on Israel for policy direction or crossing the line into subverting Israel’s elected government.
Should AIPAC choose such a path, we offer a vision of what a more muscular pro-Israel policy might look like.
1) End U.S. Pressure on Israel
Here is the most basic, most salutary change America’s pro-Israel lobby can work to bring about. Although America has shown itself supportive of Israel in any number of fields, on the fundamental points, the U.S. has fashioned its policy to suit the Arabs. It has been doing so for decades. Shmuel Katz called this the “abysmal American blunder.”
It is the historic continuing absurdity of U.S. policy in the Middle East: a world power tied to the coattails of Arab ambitions and fantasies – to the delight of its ill-wishers and the dismay of its friends. (“Washington’s ‘Arab Mistake’”, The Jerusalem Post, April 22, 1983)
To this blog’s readers the reasons are familiar: Fear of antagonizing the Arabs, oil dependence, a historically anti-Zionist State Department. But these reasons are not familiar to many others. How could they be when most are fed a fat-headed diet of ‘America’s staunch support’, ‘the abiding U.S.-Israel friendship’ and ‘the unbreakable bonds of mutual mutualness’?
Already decades ago, this sort of rhetoric had reached a point of reductio ad absurdum where its pronouncement affirmed the opposite. As Shmuel wrote in “Beware of Washington” (The Jerusalem Post, December 25, 1981):
The cant that accompanies every blow at Israel states that there has been no weakening of the American commitment to this country’s security. This is a transparent cover for the undeniable thrust of American policy — the reduction and emasculation of Israel in accordance with Arab prescriptions.
The first step of a reinvigorated Israel lobby is to state the simple truth that, despite our common values, polls showing the American people in favor of Israel, and the overwhelmingly pro-Israel Congress, U.S. foreign policy has consistently taken a pro-Arab line, pressuring Israel to abandon territory it won in a war of aggression waged upon it.
It’s the job of groups like AIPAC to explain to the American public why this policy is horribly wrong both from a security and a moral viewpoint – how it unjustly negates the Jews’ superior historical, legal and religious rights to the land of their forefathers.
2) End U.S. Economic Aid to Israel
“[J]ust a few years ago, the possibility that external aid could be detrimental to Israel was not brought up in polite conversation,” according to a Sept. 1995 article in The Middle East Quarterly. Money was the measure of U.S. support for Israel.
This is no longer the case. A growing number of dissenters recognize that U.S. economic aid is not just useless, but harmful. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most important, as the above article points out, is that it chips away at Israel’s sovereignty.
Shmuel understood this “side-effect” sooner than most. Indeed, he believed America, like a drug-dealer looking to get a future customer hooked on his product, was consciously encouraging a sense of dependence within Israel through its economic contributions.
In “Purse-String Tangles” (The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 12, 1982), Shmuel wrote:
Washington is objectively interested in promoting a high standard of living in Israel because it breeds acquiescence in the state of “dependence” on U.S. aid….
[This] sense of “dependence” on the United States has time and again sapped the will of Israeli leaders and dictated to them a retreat from positions long and sincerely held, an abandonment of tested national, and rational, axioms basic to Israel’s security…
And, as Shmuel wrote in the same column, just as Israel is left feeling dependent because of U.S. aid, cutting off that aid would have the reverse effect.
Its central feature would be an Israel living within its means. There would be less cake and chocolate, but nobody need go short of bread, nor clothes, nor a dwelling.
Those in Israel who live in dread of their government being forced into policies opposed to the will, democratically expressed, of the people, will breathe freely, straighten their backs, and hold their heads high.
When U.S. aid is no longer a crucial item in Israel’s budget, disagreements with Washington will be thrashed out in free and friendly discussion, by argument and persuasion, not by threats or the hint of threats.
This is precisely the policy that Israel itself should initiate. It must achieve an adequate measure of economic independence if it is not to lose its political independence and if it is to halt the undeniable erosion of the social and moral values and virtues of Zionism.
3) No Weapons to Israel’s Enemies
Israel is America’s only reliable ally in the Middle East and the only stable democracy. Clearly, putting advanced weaponry in the hands of its enemies doesn’t make it safer. If this administration wants to sell F-15 fighters and Blackhawk helicopters to Saudi Arabia, it’s free to do so. But it should be made to pay a political price for it.
America feels torn between, on the one hand, the shared values it has with Israel, and, on the other, its dependence on Arab oil and fear of Arab violence. This ‘strategic schizophrenia’ reveals itself when the U.S. declares, at the same time that it is making a massive arms sale to Saudi Arabia, that it’s also committed to Israel’s qualitative military edge.
America can’t have it both ways. The sale of heavy armaments to Saudi Arabia is a breach of its commitments to Israel. Every weapon America sends to a country that promotes radical Islam and limits individual rights is a slap in the face to the Western values it purports to uphold.
4) Move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem
Jerusalem is the chosen capital of Israel. For 3,000 years, it has never been the national capital of any other people. Yet, the U.S. has still not relocated its embassy there. Moreover, it led the diplomatic community in its refusal to recognize the city as Israel’s capital – even when only the western part was in Israel’s hands.
Successive U.S. presidents have repeatedly blocked the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which required that America’s Israel Embassy relocate from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999. The reason most often given is the fear of eliciting Moslem anger. “Flaunting this bogeyman has become standard Washington practice to make up for a weak case,” Shmuel wrote.
In “Moving the U.S. Embassy”, (The Jerusalem Post, April 13, 1984), Shmuel looked at Islam’s claim to Jerusalem and raised the question of whether their anger was even justifiable.
The British Christian theologian and historian, Dr. James Parkes, writes in his book Whose Land the following:
“The common phrase that Palestine is the Holy Land of three faiths is not strictly accurate. It is not appropriate to the Islamic relationship. . . . Moreover no particular sanctity has ever been attributed to the country as a whole. Its biblical frontiers had no significance and were never used to define a Muslim administration. .. . Jerusalem also was never a Muslim capital. Even the two Ummayad caliphs who were most closely associated with the country . . . showed no special regard for it . . .”
“Jerusalem, one may add, is not mentioned even once in the Koran.”
Dr. Parkes goes on:
“From the historian’s point of view there is a difficulty in the fact that the very sanctity which Islam attributes to the Haram-ash-Sharif is due to the association of the spot with the other two religions involved, and not to any comparable Muslim relationship . . .”
AIPAC and others must impart to the American people the knowledge that the Jewish people have a unique relationship to Jerusalem and that the American government is showing a distinct prejudice against the Jewish state by refusing to move its embassy there. The wrong should be righted and the embassy moved with all speed and without being tied to any new policy demands. America’s continued refusal to move its embassy is un-American in that it singles out one country, a close ally, for unfair treatment that undermines its sovereignty.
5) Stress Israel’s Contributions
In “Interdependence in U.S.-Israel Relations”, (Global Affairs, 1988), Shmuel wrote:
The notion that Israel is on a “dole” provided by America has the most pernicious implications and consequences. It is a notion that has been implanted worldwide. Every American who reads newspapers knows that it is frequently stated as a fact that Israel is so completely dependent on U.S. financial aid that if only the United States wished it, Israel would have to agree to whatever was demanded of it…
This “sense of dependence” exists still today, both in Israel and America.
An ongoing campaign to show Congress and the American people why Israel is not a “poor relation” of the U.S. should be a central tenet of any pro-Israel platform. Israel makes many contributions to America. It improves American military hardware through testing and technical improvements, and it contributes to the economic growth and quality-of-life of American citizens through its inventiveness and creativity.
As George Gilder wrote in The Israel Test (Richard Vigilante Books, 2009), “Today tiny Israel, with its population of 7.23 million, five and one-half million Jewish, stands behind only the United States in technological contributions.”
It’s an astonishing story – one that needs to be told and re-told in order to erode the belief among Americans that without them, Israel is kaput.
The platform above is just a start; some common-sense suggestions to help revitalize a tired lobby that has, as Shmuel said, been “cowed by experience”. The lobby may not win every battle, but it will give heart to Israel’s friends knowing that at least it’s out there trying, and on the issues that matter.