Friday, May 29, 2009
The Crime of Silence
The crime of silence is a crime that most Jews commit against themselves. One of the Ten Commandments says, “Thou shall not bear false witness,” i.e., do not lie. That is a negative commandment – what not to do. Simply keeping silent might satisfy that negative commandment even if one keeps silent in the face of malicious lies. Too many Jews today keep silent in the face of malicious lies by their enemies and thus give the impression that those lies may be true. The prophet Isaiah 62.1 has stated the essential positive side of that negative commandment:
“For the sake of Zion I will not be silent,
For the sake of Jerusalem I will not be still,
Till her victory emerge resplendent
And her triumph like a flaming torch.”
The first official meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama on May 18th was a missed opportunity for Netanyahu to speak truth to power as written by Isaiah. Before the meeting, U.S. officials set the stage for heavy pressure on Israel’s Netanyahu to publicly agree to a “two state solution.” Israel was cast in the role as being “an obstacle to peace” with pressure to agree to quickly relinquish “land for peace” and take “risks for peace” even with no concessions, no recognition and no reining in the terrorists byIsrael’s so-called “peace partners.” The Obama Administration set a diplomatic trap, allowing no escape other than suicidal concessions as part of a U.S.-sponsored (i.e. dictated) “peace plan.” Those concessions were the price for a vague (and essentially worthless) promise by the U.S. to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In advance, it was clear that any hesitation by Netanyahu would place the onus for failure exclusively on Israel, including responsibility for any future Arab-Israeli war that might result. Netanyahu tried to offer some positive steps short of creating an independent Palestinian state inside Israel’s heartland, but these did not satisfy the Obama Administration and U.S.-Israeli relations are very likely to suffer.
Now let us imagine a different response by Prime Minister Netanyahu, to be delivered in the public news conference following their private meeting. Suppose Netanyahu spoke as follows:
“Mr. President, your ‘requests’ sound more like demands with threats behind them. If we agree to your ‘requests’ Israel will be on the path to destruction, and you must be fully aware of that. In the past, Israel has always tried to acquiesce to American ‘requests,’ even when very painful, to avoid angering or offending the U.S. administration. We have paid a bitter price, time and time again, for subordinating our security to American policies aimed at pleasing or placating the Arab and Muslim worlds. We can no longer afford to place our very survival in jeopardy, not even to placate our dear and beloved friend, the United States of America. It is high time that we speak truth to power in the spirit of the prophet Isaiah. You have made your requests, and you demand clear and timely answers from me. I now present our questions to you, and likewise, we expect clear and timely answers from you.
“Mr. President, you have said that our complying with your requests to create a Palestinian state will facilitate Iran not going nuclear. But there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim. Certainly the Ayatollah’s regime has never said so. President Ahmadinejad, supreme religious leader Ali Khamenei, former President Rafsanjani, and numerous other members of the Iranian ruling elite have made it absolutely clear, time and again, that what they seek is not a Palestinian state but the complete destruction of the ‘Zionist entity’ forever.
“You say that your policy ‘dialogue’ with the mullocracy will dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons. But all of the evidence of history indicates that talking to a fanatical, militant regime is no way to prevent it from pursuing aggressive, warlike goals. The U.S. tried to dissuade North Korea from going nuclear. The nuclear bomb test that the North Korean regime has just conducted (May 25th, Memorial Day), demonstrates just how well the strategy of negotiations with a fanatical and inhumane regime works. America’s policy of tolerating Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, and even giving Pakistan hundreds of millions annually in military aid, has also failed. Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal even as the threat of Taliban takeover of this strategic country has been steadily growing. And of course, Neville Chamberlain’s strategy of talking to Hitler and relying on his cynical promises was not successful in halting Germany’s weapons development program, or its aggressive actions, either. Mr. President, you need to learn from history. And with all due respect, Mr. President, why should we Israelis bet our very lives on your strategy of friendly conversations with our worst enemies?
“Mr. President, consider the map of the greater Middle East. It shows one Jewish country, Israel, with 10,000square miles, including the so-called ‘occupied’ territories. It shows 57 Muslim states with about 12 million square miles. Please explain why one tiny country is more than enough for Jews, but 57 countries are not enough for Muslims? Why are 12 million square miles so insufficient that they must go to war over another 2,300 square miles, from Israel’s heartland, to expand Muslim lands by an infinitesimal 0.02 percent?
“Mr. President, Jordan was created in 1922 on land previously assigned by the victorious Allies of World War I to Great Britain, as a ‘sacred trust,’ to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish National Home. Jordan, an Arab kingdom, now possesses 77 percent of this original Palestine Mandate territory. Why then, do we need a further partition of the remaining 10,000 square miles of Palestine, an area only the size of the state of Vermont, which the League of Nations set aside for the development of the Jewish National Home? How can you deny that Jordan, all of whose people live within the original mandated territory of Palestine, is already the state of the Palestinian Arabs? Why do we need a second Arab state in Palestine? And how can you deny to the Jewish people the bare minimum of land necessary to protect themselves from attack and to find homes for their rapidly growing population? How can you demand an end to all ‘natural growth’ in Israeli towns and villages (the so-called ‘settlements’), thereby denying thousands of young Jewish couples the right to build homes for themselves and their children? And how can you demand, as indeed you do, that Israel uproot up to 500,000 Jews from their homes, in order to make all of Palestine outside Israel’s June 4, 1967 borders judenrein, and to satisfy through this proposed ethnic cleansing the demands of the Palestinian Authority and the League of Arab States?
“Mr. President, there is a map of Palestine that was displayed by Arafat’s PLO and continues to be displayed on all official offices, publications, websites, on official stationary, and in school textbooks in all areas administered by Mahmoud Abbas’ ‘Palestinian Authority’ government. That map shows NO Israel at all. Why does your administration not object to this Palestinian map of “NO Israel” that matches the PLO Charter, which states that the creation of the State of Israel is null and void? The U.S. government accepted a PLO promise to amend the Charter but has ignored the fact that the PLO and the PA failed to amend it. To this day it remains unchanged, while young Palestinian Arabs are taught in their U.S.-funded schools that Israel has no right to exist, and that all of its territory is “Palestine.” Why have you failed to address these outrages?
“There is a yet another map that is located in the archives of the U.S. government. After the Six Day War, President Johnson asked the Pentagon and the CIA to produce a map showing the minimal territory needed by Israel to insure its security. Their map included the Golan Heights, Gaza, Jerusalem, most of the West Bank and small parts of the Sinai. The map was then classified ‘Top Secret’ and withheld from the public. This map validated Israeli concerns over American demands to move back towards the vulnerable boundaries of May 1967. The Wall Street Journal published this map in 1983, but it remains ignored. Will you now acknowledge this map and its conclusions?
“Mr. President, can you explain why the Arabs attacked Israel repeatedly between 1949 and 1967 when the so-called ‘occupied territories’ were under Arab rule, and there were no Jewish ‘settlers’ permitted to live in them?
“Mr. President, when in May and June of 1967 Egypt and Syria mobilized their armies along Israel’s borders, placed a blockade on Israel’s only outlet to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and openly proclaimed their intention to destroy Israel, the U.S. government declined to lift a finger to assist Israel. Why did the U.S. fail to honor its prior commitment to prevent Egypt from blockading Israel’s southern port? Why did the U.S State Department claim it could not even find the document in which the commitment was made only 11 years earlier?
“And when Egypt and Syria were preparing to attack Israel once again in 1973, why did America fail to warn Egypt and Syria not to attack Israel? Why, when the U.S. knew very well that allowing the Arabs to strike first would cost Israel heavily, did it still insist that Israel let its enemies strike the first blow?(See memo of Conversation – Abba Eban at the U.S. Defense Department, May 20, 1967). Israel lost more than 3,000 of its finest young men and women when it accepted this American “advice.”
“And what is most important, Mr. President, why, in view of this tragic history, should we rely on your soothing but vague promise to treat our security as ‘sacrosanct?’ And why should we rely on your National Security advisor’s somewhat less elegant promise to ‘not throw Israel under the bus?’ Why, when past U.S. presidents have failed to keep much stronger and more concrete promises, should we rely on your vague, meaningless ones?
“There is a stark lesson that these past attempts by the Arab world to destroy us have taught us: when in June 1967, Israel decided to resist American pressure to do nothing in the face of an immediate threat to its survival, it won a great victory in six days; while in 1973, when Israel obeyed the U.S. demand that it not ‘pre-empt’ its enemies’ imminent attack, it barely escaped destruction at their hands.
“Today, Israel faces new demands from your administration which could lead to our destruction. We also know that the U.S. has never placed itself under anylegal obligation to come to our assistance in the event of aggression against us. We must now make a difficult choice: either to comply with your demands, and once again risk the lives of all of our people, or to resist them, and incur your anger and possible retaliation. Mr. President, before you make any more demands on us, I suggest that you provide some credible response to the questions that I have posed for you. These questions are only a small sample of the many that could be posed. And you would do well to also read the book The Secret War Against the Jews – How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People,by John Loftus and Mark Aarons, if you wish to understand why Israel cannot afford to place its people’s lives at risk, even to please its best friend.
“Mr. President, as a self-professed Christian, you should be familiar with the book of Genesis, in which G-d clearly promises the land to Abraham and to the Jewish people in perpetuity. You should also be aware of Genesis 12:3 which contains a promise and a warning to the nations and for all time:
“Iwill bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
“Mr. President, there is much history and many questions that need reviewing in order to set this region on the proper road to peace. I look forward to pursuing that review with you in a spirit of mutual respect.”
This is what PM Netanyahu should have said, and what everyone who respects rational thought would have approved.
Bertram Cohen and John Landau contributed to this article.
Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Rachel Neuwirth is an internationally recognized political commentator and analyst. She specializes in Middle Eastern Affairs with particular emphasis on Militant Islam and Israeli foreign policy. She is president of Middle East Solutions.