Dear Israeli voters: a counterpoint
NJ attorney responds to column on U.S. Jews on eve of Israeli elections
Dear Israeli voters,
I know you have a lot on your minds in these tense days leading up to your next national election on Sept. 17. In addition to the stress of the campaign, you have to worry about Palestinian Arab terrorists firing rockets into your kindergartens, blowing up your children with remote bombs when they go hiking, striking you with cars as you stand by the side of the road, and randomly stabbing you and your friends in the Old City of Jerusalem.
And if all that was not enough to worry about, you now have some American Jews lecturing to you, from 6,000 miles away, as to which political parties they think are best, or worst, suited to run the country. That is, the country in which you — not they — reside.
Of course, American Jews, like all members of any free society, have a right to express their opinions. But I would like to point out that you have an equal right to ignore them.
In particular, I’m referring to Martin Raffel’s “Open letter to Israeli voters” (Sept. 5). Before you mistakenly assume that most American Jews agree with his positions, I hope you will keep two important points in mind:
First, most American Jews understand that returning to the 1967 borders would endanger Israel.
On the eve of the Six-Day War, Israeli mothers in some coastal towns kept their children home from school because they knew Arab tanks could cut the country in half at its 9-miles-wide border, thus stranding their children on the other side.
The Palestinian Arab leadership has said time and again that they will never agree to any swaps, so in practical terms, Raffel, by advocating for a two-state solution, is promoting a return, more or less, to the 1967 lines — the lines that Israeli politician and scholar Abba Eban, in a 1969 interview, said had “something of a memory of Auschwitz” because they would make Israel so vulnerable.
Second, the “occupation” ended long ago.
In his column, Raffel referred to what he called “the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people for more than half a century.” He frets that the “occupation” is a danger to Israel’s “dual Jewish and democratic character.” I disagree.
Most American Jews know full well that Israel stopped occupying 100 percent of the Palestinians in Gaza in 2005. And Israel ended its rule over 98 percent of the Palestinian Arabs in Judea-Samaria way back in 1995; it is the Palestinian Authority (PA), not Israel, which occupies them. Anybody who has visited PA cities — as many American-Jewish leaders have done — know that there are no Israeli soldiers there, nor any Israeli military administrators or civilians.
Nearly all Palestinian Arabs live under regimes (the PA and Hamas) where the police, courts, schools, labor unions, news media, and culture are completely Palestinian. They have their own elections in which they vote for Palestinian candidates (when their leadership deigns to have elections). The only thing the Israeli government forbids them to do is import tanks and Iranian troops. That restriction does not constitute an “occupation.”
My dear Israeli sisters and brothers, you are going through difficult times. I wish your American-Jewish critics would be a little more sensitive to the dangers you face, a little less eager to point out your faults, and a little less hasty to add to the pressures you face.
Whatever choice you make in your next election, know this: Most American Jews will continue to stand by you. We will not go rushing to the newspapers to dissociate ourselves from you in the hope of impressing The New York Times, The Washington Post, or our friends at the country club. We will not denounce you in order to demonstrate our progressive credentials. Instead, we will respect your right to democratically choose your leaders, and we will support Israel against its detractors, whether or not it is popular to do so.
With respect and love,
Stephen M. Flatow
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Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. His book, “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror” (Devon Square Press), was published at the end of 2018.