From: Zionist Organization – Michigan Region Newsletter
June 12, 2010
I attended your peace forum on June 2nd. I’d attended other peace forums, lectures, programs, etc., in the past and found them to be gatherings of Israel bashers.
I appreciated the fact that your program did not descend to the level of hatred and purposeful misinformation about Israel that I found during these other programs, although Israel bashing groups were present. It was good to see that space was given to at least one pro Israel group amongst groups like Friends of Sabeel, Jewish Voice for Peace, and some of the other more questionably Jewish supportive organizations. I also liked the breakout sessions where all voices and views were allowed time to speak, something I’d never experienced at the other “peace” meetings.
The problem I found was that some of the information presented was inaccurate. Your main speaker, Sister Martha Larson, complained that Israel rejected the Goldstone report, but never mentioned that Goldstone has now also rejected the report.
She talked about Israeli commandos boarding the Mavi Marmara of the Gaza flotilla, but never mentioned that the commandos carried paint ball guns and were forced to fight for their lives against terrorists who tried to kill them.
She talked about the 70 UN resolutions against Israel, but never discussed the validity or the morality of any of them, or the fact that while Israel is pilloried by the UN, real human rights violators like Iran, Sudan, Syria, and Libya are routinely ignored as they murder thousands of their own citizens and work to destroy the one stable and free society in the Middle East: Israel.
It was also claimed that Gaza is one of the most crowded places on Earth. In reality, it isn’t even in the top ten. According to the United Nations (by way of Wikipedia), the Palestinian territories come at number 20 in population density. If you examine the list, it’s also obvious that crowded doesn’t necessarily mean poor, as some of the most crowded countries on Earth are also the wealthiest.
Then there were the minor absurdities, that Israel destroys mosques and that Jews demand sensitivity from Muslims on the Sabbath. In reality, when Jordan ruled E. Jerusalem, the Jordanians destroyed synagogues.
When Israel forced all Jews from Gaza, Palestinians destroyed the synagogues of Gaza along with greenhouses left by the Israelis that could have produced jobs and a boost to the local Gazan economy.
I found Sister Larson’s claim of the vast power of AIPAC (more than any of the thousands of other lobbies, including Arab and Saudi lobbies?) in influencing Congress highly offensive and reminiscent of white supremacists and neo-Nazis who are convinced we live under ZOG: Zionist Occupied Government.
Also troubling were some of the handouts. The one that bothered me the most was not the most outrageous and libelous showing alleged Israeli torture of Palestinians (without asking what’s happening to Gilad Shalit, who is still being held prisoner in Gaza) but rather the “guide” to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict put out by the Foundation for Middle East Peace.
I’m not going to dissect the entire pamphlet, but only point out one egregious example of its dishonesty in its attempt at demonstrating a false moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians, and putting Israel in the worst possible light, by quoting one sentence regarding Israel’s war of independence: “War erupted and forces from six Arab states intervened.” Correction: War did not “erupt”. Nobody “intervened”.The nascent state of Israel was invaded by six Arab nations. Their aim was a second Jewish genocide.
This little pamphlet is full of misleading statements, false moral equivalence, and outright lies. Another huge error made by one of your speakers (I forgot to write down which one) was the claim that the cradle of the three monotheistic religions was Jerusalem. The cradle of Islam was Saudi Arabia; Mecca and Medina.
What’s never mentioned by speakers at yours or any other of these peace gatherings is the fact that Israel is the only free and democratic state in the Middle East, the only country which allows freedom of religion for believers of all faiths, freedom for women, for gays and lesbians, for open politics. Would these freedoms hold in a Palestinian state? Examine Gaza for the answer.
Also, take a look at the violence in the surrounding Islamic nations (where Christianity is slowly disappearing) and how many hundreds, if not thousands of citizens are being murdered by their own governments, and then explain to me why Israel is THE nation singled out for scrutiny, subjected to BDS, and held to an impossible standard of decency while the previously mentioned nations are held to no standard.
Unfortunately, most of the people attending these events know very little of the reality of the situation in Israel, and so they swallow the misinformation spread by these organizations. It’s the only information they hear.
I would like to make two recommendations for future programs. First, anybody sponsoring these events needs a truer picture of Israel’s history. There is a local chapter of Stand With Us, an organization created to give more factual information on Israel. They can provide booklets and other information for free. Some of their material was available at your program at the Jewish Community Relations table.
There is another group called Our Soldiers Speak, made up of retired IDF soldiers. They are also very informative, and they’re not afraid of tough questions. Israelis are subject to much worse than an angry audience. For your own knowledge, I recommend reading ISRAEL, a History, by Martin Gilbert. It’s lengthy but detailed and Mr. Gilbert doesn’t shy away from showing that Israel was not perfect in the conduct of their wars, like the rest of the world expects them, and only them, to be. It’s a very informative book.
Respectfully, (not my word – jsk)
Harry Onickel is one of Metro Detroit’s leading Israel advocates
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