In our present political and societal climate, it has become fashionable in the fringe circles of left-wing politicians and college campuses to demonize Israel, although, or maybe because, Israel remains one of America’s best friends and staunchest allies and the only country in the Middle East which shares America’s values. We applaud Connecticut’s Congressional delegation for not succumbing to the wishes of the small but willful mob on the left and instead for adhering to the longstanding mainstream principles of their party.
In the face of our representatives’ principled stand, two recent opinion pieces in the CT Mirror have attacked the delegation for resisting the carefully orchestrated efforts at demonization and delegitimization. The writers specifically criticize a lack of support for a “nuisance bill” proposed by Rep. Betty McCollum, by members of the so-called “Squad” and by a handful of others with similar views.
That bill would set conditions on American assistance for Israel’s defense and would give support and a lack of accountability for those Palestinian teenagers who have been trained from age 6 to become terrorists.
We refer to McCollum’s bill as a “nuisance bill” because the bill would have no practical effect, since Israel’s conduct is appropriate and compliant. It’s also a “nuisance bill” because there is no realistic possibility it will become law when only 32 Representatives (of about 435) have co-sponsored it, indicating that the bill was introduced only for ulterior purposes.
Let’s set the record straight, since the well-funded anti-Israel campaign counts on ignorance and prejudice as its most powerful allies.
Within Israel itself, all citizens have equal rights. Within the disputed territories, comprised of the portions of the historical Land of Israel that had been captured and then occupied by Jordan and Egypt between 1948 and 1967, the Arabs actually had more rights than Arabs anywhere else in the Middle East outside of Israel until the Palestinian Authority took charge of major territorial areas in 1994.
From Israel’s recapture of its territories in 1967 until the advent of the PA in 1994, the living conditions for the Arabs there improved enormously. Unfortunately, that situation has changed under the PA and, in Gaza, under Hamas after Israel’s withdrawal, as the PA and Hamas have mercilessly oppressed their residents while trying to shift the blame to Israel.
During that time, Israel has repeatedly offered the Palestinian Arabs virtually all the disputed territory for an independent state. Such offers were made in 2000, 2001 and 2008, but flatly rejected. Another proposal, possibly even more favorable to the Palestinians, was put forth by Secretary of State John Kerry in 2014 and was accepted by Israel but rejected by Abbas in a meeting with President Obama. Abbas rejected the very core concept of the “two-state solution,” two states for two peoples.
Instead of accepting any of the proposals that would give them the state they claim they want, the Palestinian Arabs have launched wave after wave of terror attacks, most prominently the so-called “Al Aqsa Intifada,” which Yasser Arafat started planning even before the “peace talks” at Camp David that he exploded in 2000. Thousands of rockets have been launched from Gaza at Israeli communities, causing periodic flareups or mini-wars, including one last May, during which Hamas and other terror groups not only bombarded Israeli civilians, but doubly committed war crimes by launching those rockets from civilian areas and using the residents as human shields.
In line with Hamas’ strategy, Israel’s defensive measures always bring unfair criticism, generally accompanied by attacks on Jews around the world, thus belying the insistence of many that their fanatical criticism has nothing to do with antisemitism. Facts do not deter the Israel-haters from their campaign to demonize Israel in order to move toward their ultimate goal, the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state and homeland, a Western-style democracy inconveniently situated among hostile neighbors. Desperate to make their point, the haters even grab the coattails of American Blacks by claiming a non-existent similarity between two separate and qualitatively different movements.
Our Congressional delegation needs to continue to do what’s right rather than cave in to the strong-willed and loud mob. Although succeeding in so many endeavors as it does, Israel still doesn’t deserve collateral attacks by McCollum or The Squad on top of the tens of thousands of Iranian-funded missiles and rockets aimed at it by Hezbollah and Hamas.
Mark Fishman is President and Alan Stein, a former long-time resident of Waterbury, is President Emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting).