Thursday, January 27, 2005

A Rose By Another Name

Sometimes I think that the British simply can't forget/forgive their Mandate experiences and their periodicals are always open to radical, anti-Zionist ideas.

The London Review of Books is one such base of debasement. Recently, in their issues of 4 November, 16 December 2004 and 6 January 2005, there has been a remarkable exchange of opinions in articles and letters. So, I decided to join in.

And this is what I wrote:-

The discepting antagonists - Jacqueline Rose, Avril Mailer, Avi Shlaim and Asher de Bentolila Tlalim - regarding terrorism in mandate Palestine and the attitudes and actions of members of the Revisionist Betar youth movement have raised not only issues of historical accuracy (for example, Shlaim errs; Aryeh Yitzhaki died in a premature blast while preparing letter-bombs) but moral standards and political expediency, then and today. The argument needs refocusing.

Shlaim befuddles us by claiming that the Arab Revolt of 1936-38 was but "a desperate response" to Zionism supported by Britain. The Arab riots in Jerusalem in 1920, in Jaffa and Jerusalem in 1921, the country-wide attacks which killed 133 in August 1929 and their riots in October 1933 were also "desperate" or, may we assume that Jews returning to their homeland are but to expect that they are legitimate targets for Arab violence?

In the Shlomo Ben-Yosef incident, the immediate trigger to his act was the slaughter of five Jews, one child, three women and the driver, travelling in a taxi between Haifa and Safad on March 28, 1938. One of the females was 17 year-old Alegra Mutzari who was to be married a few days later. She was raped. On April 16 that year, four men were shot by a marauding band of Arabs near Hanita. One of them was a close persoanl friend of the Betar members at Rosh Pinna.

To get beyond the details, however, one must recall that the Jews were divided about the preferred solution to the conflict. Arab opponents of Zionism always had the advantage of working with binationalists, concessionists, anti-Zionists (ultra-orthodox and secular) and other stripes of "peace" activists. That advantage, which continues today, conjoined with the non-sympathy, and even an undercurrent animosity, of too many Gentiles to Jewish nationalism has been manipulated by Arabs.

Far from being "desperate", Arab leaders, from the Mufti El-Husseini to Yasser Arafat, have been confident that their total rejection of Zionism and their violence will be understood and tolerated. They rarely used diplomacy and always resorted to violence, exclusively targeting civilians. Ethnic cleansing was another weapon with Arabs razing Jewish communities such as Tel Hai (1920), Hebron and Beer Tuvia (1929), Atarot, Bet HaArava and the Gush Etzion Bloc (1948) among others. Active support, including mobilzing Muslims for the Nazi Wafffen SS, on behalf of Germany during World War II was ignored by "enlightened" Europe.

It is, then, in this light, or better, shades of darkness, that Rose's twisted thinking is to be considered as well as Shlaim's abject apologia.

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