Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Why You’ve Got the Israel-Palestinian Conflict Wrong



Hugh Ash
journalist and writer
For years the readers of the English-language Majorca Daily Bulletin, in Spain, have been assailed by its leading columnist, Ray Fleming, who consistently spouts the most pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli (bordering on the anti-Semitic) rhetoric. Finally my husband, the writer and journalist Hugh Ash, nailed him and the following is Hugh’s ‘open letter’ to Fleming, which the paper printed on Sept 22. Apologies for its length, but it dealt with such a cumulative welter of lies, mangled and cherry-picked facts, distortions and deliberate oversights. Here’s Hugh’s letter (which, incidentally, drew a flurry of support from other readers):-



AN OPEN LETTER TO RAY FLEMING (Majorca Daily Bulletin, 22.9.2011)

Why you’ve always got the
Israel-Palestinian conflict wrong, Ray

Dear Ray,
As predictably as night follows day and bears defecate in woodland, you – and that body of opinion mainly comprised of gullible, ‘useful idiots’ and the shallow self-haters of Western ideals, who maintain a pathological loathing of Israel – throw your support behind the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) gambit to gain statehood at the United Nations, irrespective of the dire consequences for its downtrodden people.
For years you have excoriated five million Israelis for being the bully-boys of the Middle East, somehow ruthlessly suppressing the ambitions of their 200 million Arab neighbours and, in doing so, you have ignored patently obvious truths and cherrypicked whatever you’ve deemed as relevant ‘facts’ to support your mostly spurious arguments.
A recent, stark example of your disingenuousness appeared in Tuesday’s Daily Bulletin, when you chose to begin your version of the historical narrative with 1947’s UN Resolution 181, which offered a two-state solution, accepted by the Israelis but flatly rejected by the Arabs. Now, as you’d have us believe, they’ve finally changed their minds.
Sixty-four years is a long time for the penny to drop and your statement stands commonsense on its head. But that’s your choice, Ray, and I respect free speech, however half-baked it is at times.
Consequently, crass, blinkered bias rather than fair, balance op-ed has been your hallmark. And, in leaving that imprimatur, you have often eagerly leapt to the defence of the indefensible – from the odiously corrupt Yasser Arafat to that maniacal demagogue, Ahmadinejad – laying all ills and evils at Israel’s door.
But ask yourself, Ray, when did you ever peer beyond the borders of a state the size of Wales for the real reason why the Arab masses have been mired in misery for centuries? The answer, as evidenced by the open revolt dubbed the Arab Spring, is their own, greedy, nepotistic, megalomaniac leaderships and not Israel. Geddit?
And when, if ever, did you criticise the tsunami of crude, anti-Semitic propaganda/garbage – lifted straight from Joseph Goebbels’ credo of bile – the tyrants unleashed on their oppressed peoples to deflect blame from themselves for the litany of injustices and daylight robbery they were committing?
No, Ray, you concentrate your obsessive opprobrium on Israel’s ‘occupation’ of the West Bank, a defensive necessity and done much the same as British troops did in Northern Ireland. It is now a limited military undertaking, since Palestinian security forces control all cities and town.
No-one imagined the Israeli strategy would be entirely effective, but if you know a better way of countering terrorism, let’s hear it. Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 should be proof enough even to you that retreat doesn’t work in the face of psychopaths.
So, having missed the real story, Ray, you have regularly careened off piste to excuse the bloodlust of the raving Islamo-Nazis of Hamas and Hezbollah, extolled the virtue of Iran’s crazy ayatollahs wielding nuclear weaponry, empathised with suicide bombers and remained sullenly unmoved by fusillades of rocket attacks aimed at murdering and terrorising civilians.
Meanwhile, your ears were deaf and your eyes blind to Israel’s legitimacy and its history, ancient or modern. You appear to know nothing of how the early Zionist settlers purchased land – mainly arid scrub and malarial swamp, which should have been their ancestral birthright – from money-grubbing, absentee Arab landlords in the late 19th Century and laid the foundations for a dynamic, innovative and flourishing democracy.
You ignored how the then Palestinian Jews fought on the Allied side in two world wars and how Mohammed Amin El Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and head of the region’s Arabs, spent World War Two by Hitler’s side, plotting to build Belsens in Beersheba.
Displaying the same, staggering ability to overlook historical fact, you’ve never mentioned how, against almost insuperable odds, the children and grandchildren of the Zionist pioneers courageously fought three, unprovoked wars (in 1948, 1967 and 1973) to defend what was morally and legally theirs (no, never in the history you’re content to overlook has there been a sovereign nation called Palestine).
And where was any acclamation for Israel in forging land-for-peace deals with Egypt and Jordan – or the host of similar accommodations generations of Israeli leaders have vainly offered the Palestinians? Small wonder that Abba Eban, Israeli’s eminent, British-born and long-time Foreign Minister, was once moved to remark of Arafat, ‘He never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.’
In contrast and mirroring the holier-than-thou, far-Left apologists, you have lent your unqualified support to organisations (like Hamas) who want – among others issues on their bloody agendas – to murder every Jew on earth, persecute Christians to extinction or force them to surrender to Islam, slaughter homosexuals, stone to death female adulterers and subjugate women to the level of pack animals.
Now, as the Middle East confronts the dilemma of what follows the Arab Spring – my own guess is a Fundamentalist Winter, because the Muslim Brotherhood is chaffing at the bit to fill the vacuum with Islamic extremism – PA leader Mahmoud Abbas and his ill-starred Fatah-Hamas partnership bids for statehood, urged on by the usual suspects and useful idiots.
For the record, and intending no insult to Moslem, Christian or Jewish sensibilities, pigs will fly before this unholy alliance could organise a Sunday school picnic, let alone run a country.
Naturally, Ray, you will contend the PA had no alternative, given Israel’s obduracy and land-grabbing antics. You will, of course, neglect to mention calls for a two-state solution in the Balfour Declaration (1917), the Peel Commission Report (1937), the Madrid Conference (1991), the Oslo Accords (1993), the Oslo II Accords (1995), Bill Clinton’s Wye River Memorandum (1998) or the Camp David Summit (2000), when Yasser Arafat rejected a compromise from Israel’s then Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, that met 96% of what the PLO sought.
All the above attempts at resolving the impasse were fully supported by Zionist/Israeli leaders, as were decades of round-the-table or back-channel diplomacy. Israel, in fact, often initiated negotiations and offered ‘land swaps’ that would have produced a tenable, two-state solution long, long ago, but for the Palestinians’ outrageous demands and intransigence over recognition of a Jewish state.
For the record, Ray, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, never before in the field of human conflict has a country – the victim of unprovoked aggression so many times and victorious in three decisive, defensive wars that threatened its annihilation – pursued its enemies so steadfastly in efforts to attain lasting peace.
Reprehensibly, the Palestinians continually played the PR card, either by provoking Israeli retaliation, using their own people as human shields (i.e. Hamas) and then crying ‘foul’ or lambasting Israel through such nefarious institutions as the United Nations Human Rights Council, pre-loaded with a pro-PA majority (and, irony of ironies, once chaired by Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya).
Surprise, surprise, for the record the UNHRC has condemned pluralistic Israel in 48% of its resolutions, oversaw the farcical Goldstone Report, which its chairman later repudiated, and never whispered a word of condemnation against such bastions of human rights as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia or Cuba.
So the real, though unpalatable truth, Ray, is that despite their being 48 Muslim-majority nations throughout the world, you cannot stomach one, miniscule Jewish one, albeit one which subscribes to a model of democracy some Western countries cannot match, and whose 1.3 million Arab citizens enjoy the same rights and opportunities as Jews, including parliamentary representation.
And, by the by, Ray, I don’t notice Israeli Arabs forming an orderly queue at the border to become citizens of a new Palestine. Then, maybe they know something you don’t.
Yours truthfully,
Hugh Ash,
Portals Nous
PS: For the record, Ray – and in tandem with the majority of polls I’ve read of Israeli public opinion – I’d welcome a peaceful, democratic, transparent and successful state of Palestine, which shows respect toward all its neighbours and was born out of responsible, constructive dialogue with the state of Israel.

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