A blight on human history we thought had been put to rest for good is again raising its ugly head in Western Europe and even here in America: anti-Semitism.
The recent desecration of Jewish cemeteries, memorials and other sacred places revives horrible memories of Russian pogroms and the German Holocaust. But lest we conveniently forget, before World War II a home-grown brand of anti-Semitism thrived right here in the U.S.A. Once largely spread by the Ku Klux Klan, hatred of the Jews is being revived by the Klan’s illegitimate stepchildren, the Skin Heads. And we thought we had overcome that sort of thing. If we don’t confront this early on it could again poison our society. But there is another conflict that many Jews and Gentiles alike avoid discussing.
Some Zionist hardliners equate any opposition whatsoever to Israel’s assumed right to take over the Palestinian and Syrian territory captured in the 1967 Six-Day War as tantamount to the reincarnation of Hitler, Eichmann and the Holocaust. Honest disagreement invites accusations of the vilest anti-Semitism. I am appalled that some Jews, probably the world’s most intellectually and culturally-advanced people, would entertain such thoughts.
The 1917 Balfour Declaration stated that the British government, as mandate holder over Palestine, would "look with favor" on the establishment of a Jewish homeland there. But there was no provision for a sovereign Jewish state, only a homeland. The Declaration also stipulated that "the rights of the people already living there would not be prejudiced."
There is also a brief period of history toward the end of World War II many Israelis would like to disown today. It seems Muslim extremists have no franchise on terrorism. As their mandated responsibility, the British tried to slow Jewish immigration to Palestine to allay Arab fears of being overwhelmed. For this they were viciously attacked by Jewish terrorists, including the Stern Gang, a fanatical Zionist organization led by an American Jew, Abraham Stern. And in 1944 Jewish terrorists assassinated Lord Moyne, the British Foreign Minister for Near Eastern Affairs. After repeated killings, kidnappings and the blowing up of British trains, Jewish partisans blew up the British headquarters in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, killing almost one hundred people. On the verge of bankruptcy themselves, the British declared Palestine ungovernable and turned their mandate back to the U.N. The independent nation of Israel was declared in 1948.
After a series of Muslim-Israeli wars and unsuccessful negotiations, who actually has rightful title to this disputed territory? Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are on totally unchallengeable ground here. On one side, there has never been a sovereign Palestinian state. A Palestinian territory, yes; but ruled at various times by Jews, Assyrians, Babylonians, Canaanites, Persians, Greeks, Romans, the Crusaders, the Ottoman Turks and a British mandate, but never a sovereign Palestinian state. And in some 3,000-plus years of recorded history, the Jews have exercised sovereignty here no more than 30% of the time. Until 1948 the last time was in 62 BCE, over two thousand years ago under the Hasmonean Dynasty. After the last Jewish uprising, the Bar-Kokhbah Revolt of 132 CE, the Romans banished all remaining Jews and renamed their troublesome Judean province "Palaestina." Almost 1,800 years later, at the rise of Zionism the Jewish population in the Palestine territory was less than 10%.
Today the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist and Israel refuses to consider the return of any Palestinian or Syrian land taken in the 1967 War or to allow the Palestinian refugees to return. It is also apparent that nobody is willing to give an inch to resolve this conflict peaceably. Might now be the time to reconsider whether we really have a dog in this fight?
George B. Reed Jr., who lives in Rossville, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.