December 24, 2014
All too often critics of the State of Israel have been obsessed believers of what they regard as the truth or been guilty of bad faith or dishonesty. Some have propounded lunatic conspiracy theories of Jews in the world and Israelis today as ruthless, treacherous individuals whose ambition and reach of power have no limits in time or space.
Palestinian Arab and Islamic authorities, in mixed tones of envy and hatred, relate the accomplishments of the detested people: Jews have spread poison, disseminated AIDS, and convinced people of the myth of the Holocaust – that it never happened, or that it was simply a trivial incident in which Nazis responded to Jewish brutality. In their quest for world domination, the Israelis have used extraordinary devices: griffon vultures carrying an Israeli tracking unit; sharks in the Arabian Gulf with a GPS tracking unit; a European bee-eater with an Israeli microchip.
We have been informed by reputable Palestinian and Arab sources that the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is a Mossad agent. Though they might be reasonably accused of paranoia, some of those sources have told us that Jews are responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013, and for the murder of 20 schoolchildren and six educators in the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012.
In view of this assessment of unlimited Jewish power, it is bewildering to find that Jews in general and the State of Israel in particular are not held responsible by Palestinian and Islamic representatives for some contemporary activities. Perhaps the behavior most disconcerting for those well- meaning advocates of a Palestinian state is the friction, including currently over the collection of taxes, between the Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas and the violent Palestinian demonstrators against UNRWA.
The World Council of Churches and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have been righteously concerned with the blockade of Gaza. In their indignation they have apparently not noticed the Egyptian blockade in December 2014 of the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip. The well-meaning advocates must be perplexed by the Palestinian inefficiency and irresponsibility in failing to resolve the strike by cleaners in Gaza hospitals or the mountains of garbage there.
Israeli behavior and power are not blamed for the refusal of Palestinian President Abbas to visit the Gaza Strip or for the fact that his ministers do so only rarely. Even more disconcerting is the striking animosity between Mahmoud Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan, the former leader of Fatah in the Gaza Strip, where he was born, now exiled in the UAE. Neither Palestinian has blamed Israel for this particular problem. Abbas has told us that Dahlan was partly responsible for poisoning and murdering Yasser Arafat. In his turn, Dahlan has told us that Abbas is a catastrophe for the Palestinians.
Israel has not been held responsible for the dismissal of the 2,000 Fatah members associated with Dahlan from the security forces in Gaza. Other signs of friction among Palestinian rival groups, not only Hamas and Fatah, are evident. Gaza was the setting of a number of public activities organized by Dahlan’s supporters that marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Arafat, while Abbas refused to engage in any such commemoration. Moreover, slogans appeared in streets in Gaza City, not in Tel Aviv, alluding to Abbas as “the symbol of dictatorship and surrender.” In December 2014, banners and posters blamed Abbas for the continuing suffering in the Gaza Strip.
Israelis do not visit Qatar. At the meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Doha, Qatar in December, there were acute differences of opinion among the leaders of the Gulf States over various issues, especially the ouster on July 3, 2013 of Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi, over the different armed gangs in Libya, and in support for the groups fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The most contentious friction is between Qatar on one side and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the other.
At the center of the difference is how to deal with the two Islamic entities, Iran and the Islamic Republic of Iraq and Syria. Qatar has been friendly to the Muslim Brotherhood, some of whose members it has sheltered, and thus to the former ruler in Egypt, and critical of the present President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, and uses the Al Jazeera network as a propaganda weapon.
Israeli power seems not to have extended to Asia or North Africa. Pakistan experienced a great tragedy with the Peshawar school massacre on December 16, 2014 by Taliban terrorists. It has become aware of its irresponsibility in allowing its security organizations to use militant jihadist groups in its actions against India and Afghanistan. The government now recognizes that all those groups must be controlled. The rule that has existed for seven years imposing a moratorium on the death penalty for terrorists has been ended. Some changes have already occurred since General Raheel Sharif became head of the army a year ago, especially the offensive starting in June 2014 against the jihadists in the North Waziristan area.In Nigeria, the brutal Islamic terrorists Boko Haram have kidnapped hundreds of young men and women, the worst incident being 276 schoolgirls on April 14, 2014. They have carried out massacres in marketplaces, caused the deaths of more than 16,000 people, created checkpoints on highways, destroyed mosques, and imposed harsh Islamic law in the 11,000 square miles they control. At last, Nigeria’s military has been reacting, using Russian-made helicopter gunships and surveillance planes.
Israel has been careful in respecting the truce between it and Syria. It was long assumed that the July 2012 bombing in Syria – the attack on the regime, and especially on the National Security Bureau that killed senior officials including Assad’s brother-in-law, General Assef Shawkat – was the result of opponents of the regime. As a result, Assad became more aggressive and used chemical weapons against opponents and civilians. Now allegations have appeared that the bombing was connected with and organized by the Assad regime because of the differences between the Assad family and its allies on one side and Syrian officials such as former General Manaf Tlass, in favor of negotiations with rebel groups, on the other.
As a result of Assad’s actions, more support was obtained from Iran and Hezb'allah in defending the regime. The result of this was more success for Assad’s forces, causing a dramatic rise in the number of deaths to 200,000 and also the displacement of millions of Syrians from their homes. Brutality in Syria, a failed state, has become indiscriminate and chaotic.
Israel, like all democratic countries, has its faults, but slavery is not one of them. The Global Slavery Index of 2014 calculates that 35.8 million people are presently enslaved in the world. It lists the ten worst countries with the highest percentage of population as slaves. In order, they are Mauritania, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Qatar, India, Pakistan, the Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Syria, and the Central African Republic. Slaves in the Middle East countries amount to 2.1 million: in four of the countries, Qatar, Syria, the UAE, and Iraq, more than 1 percent of the population is enslaved.
The worst country in the world is Mauritania. It was the last state in the world to abolish slavery, which it did in 1981. Yet though it nominally criminalized slavery in 2007, slavery has never been completely condemned there. Among the total population of 3.5 million, a number, variously calculated to be between 150,000 and 300,000, are slaves.
It is unfortunate that the “international community” and the United Nations organizations have not appreciated and tried to deal with these distressing issues. They should remember there is a world outside Palestine.