Sunday, December 1, 2013

Yet another answer to Ms. Max Coutinho

Dear Ms. Continho,
First, I must apologize to you, Ms. Continho, for not recognizing that you belonged to the better gender. I should have noticed this from your language, sorry about that…

To the point: the majority of Palestinians elected Hamas (in the Gaza Strip only!), not because the majority of Palestinians have become so fanatically religious or anti-peace (although the Israeli government is giving them all the reasons to be so), but – because Hamas, in addition to being a terrorist organization, is also a welfare organization and jobs provider. This is much like the Shas party of Israel, which is an ultra-orthodox, anti-democratic political party (they don’t allow women in their roster; they are being led by an orthodox Rabbi strictly according to the Jewish Halachic rules – or so they say, I wish that it was even partially true; etc.); their supporters are not necessarily religious at all (they are what we call “traditionalists”), but they still elected this party, for providing long education days with hot meals to their children, and jobs to the parents.
In short, electing Hamas doesn’t make the Palestinian public any less innocent, compared to the Israeli public which elected this evil and dishonest government.
As to your point, that Hamas are using innocent people as “human shields”: this is much like the Jewish settlers, who put their women and children’s lives at risk, by living in towns and villages provocatively built inside and far out in Palestinian territory. Not to mention, that the IDF (the Israeli military) is “cowardly using” (as you said about Hamas) local residents, uninvolved in combat, as human shields during search missions. This procedure was eventually banned by Israeli Supreme Court, but has been used nonetheless occasionally.

As for your (own) interpretation to the Declaration of San Remo: well it is, in my humble opinion, completely wrong. Here’s why: the November 2, 1917 declaration (known as “the Balfour Declaration”), upon which San Remo’s was based, called for “a national home for the Jewish people”, and as you rightly mentioned, must not “prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities”. If you are so meticulous in reading the civil and religious rights as not pertaining to “national aspirations”, then you must be just as meticulous as to acknowledge, that a “national home” does not necessarily mean an independent state! Because, although the Israeli government has long ago acknowledged the right of the Palestinian minority for self-government, it has always done its best to deprive them form giving this a political implementation, but rather fulfil this be some kind of “autonomy”, whatever that means. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for a Jewish State in the land of Israel; I have fought for it, and I brought my boys up to do the same. But if the 1917 declaration does not imply a state for the Palestinians, then honesty obliges that it does not imply a Jewish state, just as well. Not to mention, that the end goal, “to protect the civil and religious rights” as you said, has never been fully achieved – as an official government committee (the Or Committee, 2000) has clearly stated.

Fast forwarding to 1947: the UN resolution, taught in Jewish school as “calling for the establishment of a Jewish State”, actually called for establishing two states, Jewish and Palestinian, the last part omitted from the curriculum for some reason.
But I will give you that (something that the Right-wingers fail to do to us on the Left), that there could be an interpretation to the legal issue, which is different than mine. My point it simple: the legal situation is not what really matters (and this is what I meant by saying “irrelevant” in my post). Because, even if the Palestinians do not have the right for their own state, from the international law point of view – then what do we do with them? If we don’t give them full civil rights (which you actually agreed to do, and that includes the right to vote – which would lead to a Muslim Prime Minister pretty soon, and, in many people’s view – the end of the Zionist project) – if we don’t give them that and hold them as second-class residents, then Israel cannot be truly regarded as a democratic state. We can’t expel them, we can’t hold them occupied – so what do we do? The only answers I have heard so far from fellows in the Right are – Israel Trust in God almighty, or that we should just wait for them to learn to accept us and the wonderful life we generously give them here, or that they will just go away.

Regarding Apartheid: No, Ms. Continho, about 2 million Palestinians are NOT allowed to vote for the Israeli government. Can’t you see that you defeat your own argument? – You claim that the Palestinians do not deserve their own state, yet at the same time you exclude them from the Israeli public, when you claim that in Israel, everybody has the right to vote! So it’s either you are against a Palestinian State, which renders all Palestinians under Israeli control lack the basic right to control their own fate, or – you claim that voting is free for all in Israel, by which the occupied territories are excluded from Israel.
And regarding sexual relations – it is not illegal to have inter-race relationship; but almost anybody who will try to date somebody from the different religion will soon find out that it’s nearly impossible. For this, by the way, I blame both sides and not only the Jews.

For your knowledge, I do acknowledge “the fact that the Palestinians murder civilians”, and I don’t “refuse to criticize them for that poor approach”. In fact, in most Arab countries, thousands of people have been murdered and abused by their own people, and I attribute this to the poor moral standards in effect in those countries, especially in Syria but also some in Palestine. This by the way has nothing to do with Islam, but with the nasty and cruel regimes in those countries in modern times. In short, those who did it are primitive criminals, justifying their crimes by a distorted and inhuman interpretation of the Islam, a phenomenon which, I must say, is very common in the modern era in many Muslim societies. But this can’t justify killing civilians by individual Jews (like Dr. Baruch Goldstein, who is considered a martyr by a great part of the fundamental Jewish right wing), but also by the Israeli military!
I don’t know how you came to put this thought in my head and words in my keyboard, that I did not criticize the Arab side. This is either a remarkable demonstration of mind-reading (albeit totally wrong), or – a demagogic argument, very typical, I must say, to the right wing rhetoric.

To claim that “the international law says that this disputed piece of land belongs to the Jewish People, period” is nothing more than reducing the argument to a level that nobody can argue, because you, the knows-all, have put a period at the end of your sentence. If you had enough intellectual honesty, you would admit that this is just your own interpretation, which I do respect, but is just as good as the opposite one.
If you conclude by your interpretation to Ismail Haniah, that “the Palestinians do not want peace and they will never recognize the Jewish State” then you show another remarkable ability of predicting the future; and in seriousness – a not-so-remarkable manner by which you comprehend the situation, if you think that Haniah represents the majority of Palestinians.

With all due respect,
Avner Efendowicz


  1. PART I

    Brother Avner,

    יום העצמאות שמח

    No need to apologise at all. It was an honest mistake...

    Interesting how you draw a parallel between Hamas and Shas - they may share some social traits but they can't be placed on the same level, because Shas doesn't engage in terrorist activities and as such it is not blacklisted as a terrorist organisation.

    Again, you make an ill comparison: Jewish "settlers" can't be compared to Hamas (a terrorist and political organisation that uses innocent Arab citizens as shields). Those Jewish citizens (men, women and children) are defending the Land of Israel - the women and children are not shields, they are activists for a cause they deeply believe in.
    I am in no position of commenting the IDF's former behaviour in operations it conducted in the past; however, if I take your word for it then at least the IDF stopped doing so after the Israeli Supreme Court banned the practise...Hamas, on the other hand, keeps using civilians as human shields despite the several warnings it has received (from the UN, the Red Cross etc) - in sum, it insists on violating the international laws.

    Brother Avner, you just offered me the opportunity to clarify a point that so many people (and I am surprised to see that you are included in that group) misunderstand and misinterpret:
    The Balfour Declaration, the Declaration of the San Remo Peace Conference and the Palestine Mandate recognised the "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country". You mentioned the following passage from the Balfour Declaration (ipsis verbis)

    "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine"

    The above means that the existing communities' rights (civil & religious) were not to be violated; but this particular statement does not confer those communities a nationality in the Jewish state but a green card (with all the rights that permit grants to any foreign citizen in a host-country).

    Now, you said a "national home" doesn't necessarily mean an independent state? Let's parse the expression so we can reach a decent conclusion:

    National: "of, pertaining to, or belonging to a nation; peculiar or common to the people of a nation; Of or maintained by the government of a nation"
    [Nation: "A relatively large group of people organized under a single, usually independent government; a country; The government of a sovereign state"]
    Home: "A valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin; The native habitat; The place where something is discovered, founded, developed, or promoted; a source."

    If National is something pertaining to a nation (a country, the government of a sovereign state = self-governing; independent) and a Home is the native habitat of a people; it is quite safe to state that a "national home" is necessarily a sovereign/independent state/home.

  2. PART II

    Of course, the Arabs in Palestine have the right to self-government: only not on Israeli land (covered by a binding international legal instrument such as the Palestine Mandate). The Arabs in Palestine stem from Saudi Arabia, from Syria, from Egypt, from Lebanon etc so legally speaking they have the right to be absorbed by and integrated in those countries; but if they choose to stay in Israel, they can have two options: become an Israeli and obey the rule of the land; or do so just like any foreign citizen who lives in other countries around the world (and like they do when they travel to the US and the EU, for instance - where they can't vote either) and submit to the laws of the land.
    Wanting to impose a different standard for Israel is not only bias but also misguided.

    And I would like to thank you, brother Avner, for having fought for Israel: your service is much appreciated by Jews both in Israel and in the Diaspora. I salute you.
    The Balfour Declaration, the Declaration of San Remo and the Palestine Mandate does imply a Palestinian State: the historical homeland of the Jewish People ("historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country").
    If by "to protect the civil and religious rights" of the Arabs you mean giving them Israeli Land that legal instruments granted to the Jewish People, then has not been achieved and it will never be achieved. However, if by "to protect the civil and religious rights" you mean that Arabs can freely profess their religion in Israel (which Jews and Christians could not under the Muslim administration of Jerusalem) and have access to social security, benefits, education, health etc; then it has been fully achieved, yes? It all depends on how one would look at the issue.

    There are three curious things about the UN Resolution 181 (known as the 1947 Partition Plan, considered by the UN, at the time, as "an invitation", i.e. a suggestion):
    1- It is not a legally binding document as "Resolution 181‟s validity hinged on acceptance by both parties of the General Assembly's recommendation" (Eli Hertz) - which never happened.
    2- After circa 80% of the land included in the Palestine Mandate (i.e. Jordan) was illegally retrieved from the Jewish People to grant to the Arabs; the remaining circa 20% were to be divided between Jews and Arabs.
    [THERE FROM]. FOR THESE REASONS IT IS UNABLE [TO] ACCEPT [THE] INVITATION." - the Arab Higher Committee telegraphic response received by the Secretary-General on 19 January). In fact, only in 1997 the "Arab leaders suddenly recommended to the General Assembly that UN Resolution 181 be resurrected as the basis for a peace agreement." (idem)
    These are the legal arguments and they matter.

    I take my hat off to you, brother Avner, for at least acknowledging that from the international law point of view, Israel has a solid case.
    Now, to answer your question: what do we do with them? The Arabs in Palestine have a de facto state already (bestowed by Israel): the Gaza Strip. They could go there. Or they could follow an Arab suggestion and negotiate with Egypt to let the so-called "Palestinians" settle in the Sinai Paeninsula - there is a third option that is legally viable but politically undesirable (i.e. Jordan). The point is: they have options; but they will keep rejecting every single one of them because they want all of what you and your sons fought for.
    I am inclined to agree that those answers from fellows in the Right Wing are not acceptable when debating with individuals who do not grasp the depth of certain words.


    I believe you misinterpreted what I said, brother: I gave you specific examples of how Israel cannot be labelled as an Apartheid state (which is the biggest lie of the century) and instead of acknowledging the obvious, you counter-argued with the 2 million "Palestinians" who do not vote for the Israeli government. Question: they are supposed to vote for the Palestinian parliament, yes? If so, then it isn't Israel's fault that the former PA hadn't organised elections since 2007.
    I never said that "Palestinians do not deserve their own state" (because I would blantantly be contradicted my own belief, since I do believe in the two-state solution [being the second Arab State the Gaza Strip]).
    The so-called "Arab-Israelis" have the right to vote, yes? Because they are Israelis. Those who do not hold Israeli citizenship have no right to vote, obviously. All the rest, who now hold a citizenship and documentation issued by the new "State of Palestine" (which replaced the PA on the 29th November 2012) have the right to vote for the "State of Palestine" parliament; wouldn't you agree?

    If you are indeed willing to criticise the Arabs in Palestine then do it. Because doing it is also a way of helping them to change their ways and work towards peace. But when you put solely pressure on the Jewish State you seem to validate their terrorist activities and their political intransigence.

    I mentioned Ismail Haniyeh because you said that the two peoples (Jewish and Arabs) could live side by side in peace - his words contradict that argument. Ismail Haniyeh represents a faction of the "Palestinian" people but he is not that different than members of Fatah/PLO (that regards itself as the sole representative of the "Palestinian people") a group that last week said:

    "The two-state solution does not exist. The two-state solution is over. It's time for armed conflict. We must return to the option of one Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea."

    This sort of statement validates most Jewish Right Winger arguments and reveal the "Palestinian" lack of peaceful tendencies.

    Thank you for this wonderful conversation.


  4. Dear Max,

    please see my comments here: