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Response to Rabbi John Rayner's Critique of Norman Lebrecht
uploaded : Friday 19th Apr 2002 at 18:17
by : Robert Brown
I suppose in many ways, I am an average American citizen, and there are
times when I feel I lack the expertise in current affairs especially in the
Middle East to "know" anything about the area for sure. I am the biological
product of a mixed marriage between a Jewish Mother and a non-observant
Christian father, so naturally I defer to people such as Rabbi Rayner simply
because they grew up in the tradition when my own inheritance of it has been
acquired as an adult, and their scholarship compared to my own is great.
However, it seems to me before the "current unpleasantness" between
Palestinians and Jews started some 18 plus months ago, there was on the
negotiation table at Camp David an agreement made on behalf of Israel by then
Prime Minister Ehud Barak that would have given the Palestinians their
longed-for state which would have comprised 93% of the land that had been asked
for. A generous offer indeed if it were accepted.
I can remember e-mailing an Israeli friend and inquiring about how Israeli
citizens felt about the election of Ehud Barak. His return e-mail was one that
was full of hope -- at last their was a real chance for peace -- a peace that
has yet to be realized.
Mr. Barak was defeated precisely because of the response of the
Palestinians directed against Israeli civilians by "policemen" who were
supposed to cooperate with the Israeli infrastructure to guarantee the safety
of ALL civilians in the area-- Palestinian as well as Israeli. That is the
reason that Mr. Sharon came to power in a DEMOCRATICALLY conducted process. I
don't see the same process at work in the Palestinian Authority. Even today,
most Israelis that I have contact with (admittedly, my knowledge of the society
is limited) still are able to speak candidly of the eventual establishment of a
Palestinian state, on condition that such a state would live in peace with
Israel. I don't hear like opinions from the other side.
I guess I identify with the Israelis for another reason -- from where I
sit in a wheelchair-- I have been able to help raise two children to adulthood,
and support a family,I never once thought of an alternative. I fully realize
that I am a product of a society that has encouraged my independence and the
choices I made and provided the infrastructure to accomplish my choices.
Which is my point. No Arab country has done the same thing in regard to
the Palestinians. Instead, the Palestinians have been placed on the world's
welfare roles through the auspices of UNRWA, an organization that was
established solely for the purpose of keeping these "refugees" dependant on
world aid for fifty years. For me personally that goes against the grain. AS I
implied yesterday when you posted "No Longer Victims," yes, we do remember the
Holocaust, but certainly we have moved on -- contributed to the societies of
which we are a part in far greater representation than our numbers would
There is NO excuse for the kind of Anti-semitic violence or the biased
media coverage reports of both of which has appeared in recent media coverage.
I, as an American Jew cannot control what Mr. Sharon believes to be the right
policy toward expressions of Palestinian violence. I recognize that Israel
after all is a sovereign nation with a democratically elected government. The
Palestinian Authority has yet to achieve either.
While I certainly respect Rabbi Rayner's opinion, I respectfully disagree
-- whether British, French, Norwegian, Americans or otherwise --we are loyal
Jewish citizens of our respective countries. We ae entitled to our opinions,
and we are entitled to respect from our fellow citizens. Anything less smacks
of Munich -- which was a stop over to the death camps.
"One who teaches another's child TORAH
is regarded by the tradition as one who
gave birth to the child."