Batya Casper 5:00 PM
to Gatestone periodical responding to Mr. Dershowitz' article that negotiations with Iran have failed, and that President Obama must show Iran he means business.
Why do you find it necessary to express this opinion now? Articles that you echo with such confidence here have been written in abundance over the past few months, more no doubt are being penned as we speak. People are growing desperate. Israelis are growing desperate. There is nothing new in your article, Mr. Dershowitz, yet you are right: Iran is accelerating the Middle East conflict to a very real, and very close point of combustion, and Obama must speak up before it is too late. We are waiting
The Human Face of Conflict
Well said! Reader comment on: The "Pro-Palestinians"
Submitted by Batya Casper, Israelathebook.com, Aug 28, 2012 22:29
Dear Mr. Jarallah,
Thank you so much for this article. It needs to be read by people of all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as of the broader, never-ending, onerous conflict in the Middle East. The Palestinian people need friends. Self-seeking fundamentalist idealogues will never fill that role. Palestinians need to move of their own volition away from fruitless jealousy and hatred toward hope, the good life, a peaceful future for their children, and general wellbeing. This is not a dream. It can happen. Allow Israel to exist, and let Palestine be built and thrive alongside it, in peace.
Culture Matters, Dr. Erekat Posted by Daniel Gordis in Uncategorized on August 16, 2012 | Leave a comment Before memories of Mitt Romney’s visit to Jerusalem fade for good, it’s worth reviewing once again what was perhaps the most discussed moment of his pilgrimage. “As I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation,” Romney told a small group assembled with him, “I recognize the power of… culture.”
Palestinians and pundits world-over went ballistic. Saeb Erekat, formerly a Palestinian negotiator at Oslo and now adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, complained, “This man doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation.” Not only did Romney not understand the region, he said, but his remarks were “a racist statement.” Romney, in fact, was being harder on the Palestinians than even the Israelis were. “He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves,” said Erekat. “I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority.”
Really, Dr. Erekat, no one in Israel is willing to speak about cultural superiority? Well, I’m no Israeli official, but here goes.
There is, indeed, such a thing as cultural superiority, and I, for one, think it’s racist to be unwilling to speak about it. It’s racist to pretend that you’re living up to your potential when you’re not. And because I’m no racist, I’ll allow myself the liberty of pointing out why you’re wrong.
Was Mr. Romney really a “racist” to point out that Israel’s success is not an accident? I think not. Israel’s economy is the product of an open-minded commitment to education. Israeli education needs to improve, but still, consider the culture of the Middle East. In Egypt, one study suggests, 45 percent of women are illiterate; in Israel the figure is about 4%. Is Egyptian female illiteracy also a result of the occupation? Or is it the result of culture? Am I a racist for pointing to those numbers?
Or consider universities. Israel, a tiny country with a tiny budget, ranks far beyond all Arab and other Muslim countries, including those of the Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia, which have virtually limitless assets. In a 2009 ranking of the world’s top universities, the Hebrew University ranked No. 102 (shortly thereafter, it climbed to No. 57 on the strength of an award received by a professor of mathematics), Tel Aviv University was No. 114, and the Technion (Israel’s equivalent of MIT) ranked 132.
Yet in contrast, in that same study, there was not a single university in any Muslim country anywhere that made it into the top 250. King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia ranked highest among them at 266, and it was followed by the National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan… at No. 350!
Others are ranked far lower. Is the failure of the Muslim world (parts of which have no budgetary constraints at all) to produce even one single worldclass university the result of the occupation? Or is this a matter of culture? Is one a racist to point this out?
Or what about Fareed Zakaria, himself a Muslim, who had this to say: “In the last 50 years, the West progressed and parts of the non-Western world also began modernizing… [But] the Arab world stayed stuck in primitive political and social arrangements. Arab politics is not culturally unique; it is just stuck in a time warp.” Is Zakaria a Muslim racist?
And then there’s Bernard Lewis, probably the greatest living scholar of the Middle East, who has argued that claiming that the backwardness of Arab societies is the result of Western imperialism is no longer convincing: “Many regions have undergone the impact of the West and suffered a similar loss of economic self-sufficiency, of cultural authenticity, and in some parts also of political independence. But some time has passed since Western domination ended in all these regions, including the Middle East. In some of them, notably in east and south Asia, the resurgent peoples of the region have begun to meet and beat the West on its own terms – in commerce and industry, in the projection of political and even military power, and, in many ways most remarkable of all, in the acceptance and internalization of Western achievement, notably in science. The Middle East still lags behind.”
I guess you’ll claim that Lewis is also a racist?
Dr. Erekat, not every criticism leveled at you or at the Palestinians is racist. Some of it is just, well, true. Obviously, living under Israeli rule doesn’t help. But if I were advising you, here’s what I’d suggest. Stop trying to figure out how to destroy Israel. It’s not going to work, and it’s just going to mire all of us in endless, painful conflict. Instead of trying to destroy us, admit it – you’d like to be like us. You, too, would like to see your people thrive after its losses in 20th century. You, too, would like your people to have a democratic, economically robust, independent country.
So do what we did. Treasure your heritage, but open yourselves up to the wisdom of the West. Honor your traditions, but make space for women at the top echelons of your society. Stay out of people’s bedrooms and let them make their own decisions about how to live their lives. Create a free press, and guarantee freedom of association.
Stop jailing people for what they think or write. Outlaw family honor killing, and when it happens, instead of looking the other way, arrest the perpetrators and throw away the key. Stop terrorizing Christians (who are among your best-educated citizens) in Bethlehem.
This isn’t racism. It’s just honesty. You don’t help the Palestinians when you accuse everyone who’s critical of you of being a racist. You just avoid dealing with the hard work of nation building. The Palestinians need to decide that they want to escape the rut into which Islam has slid, and instead, to lead the way toward a renewed, open and moderate form of your ancient tradition. We Jews have done it, and are still working at it, and you could, too.
You want to end the occupation? State publicly, in Arabic: the Jews have a right to a state, and the Palestinians will live next door to them in peace, seeking not to destroy them, but to emulate them.
Do that, and the next time Romney comes to town, he’ll see plenty on your side of the line to praise. Until then, please don’t call us racist. Just get to work and build your society. If you’re interested, by the way, my new book has lots more to say about this. Drop me a brief email, and I’ll happily send you a copy.
I’ll even write you a nice inscription. For, after all, I’m really not a racist.
Share: Email Print Tags:
Israel is not naive. For sure, despite the rhetoric, the Jewish state has never been Washington's best buddy, yet, in the past, Israel's presence in the Middle East did afford a measure of reassurance to US presidents. Not so with Obama. There used to be much said about Israel as the only democracy in the region. In the past, democracy stood for something because previous American presidents recognized Israel as a buffer against unstable regimes. However irksome Israel might have seemed to super powers, it could be depended upon never to become a fundamentalist dictatorship seeking to nuke its neighbors for power, self-esteem and ambition. Such a belief might have influenced previous presidents. Not so, Obama. Obama campaigned on the slogan of a "new way." He meant it. In four years he has kept his word. He has embraced fundamentalist Arab states to the point of turning a blind eye to, if not out-and-out tolerating, terror. Today, Israel stands alone under its Iranian threat of extinction, and Lee Smith's article is correct: America and Israel are farther apart than they've ever been, as distanced from each other, in fact, as Israel is from her Arab neighbors in what the world so glibly calls "the Arab Israel conflict."
I pray, Mr. Obama, that Israel will stand despite your vision of a new world, and that we'll never get to see how your cookie crumbles.
The Human Face of Conflict,
Yishar Koach to our Olympic contestants. We will always be here to cheer you on. You are our antidote, if only momentary, to the pain of our never-ending Arab Israel conflict, to violence, threats of out and out war, and plain animosity. Long live the good times! Long live the courage and perseverance necessary for friendly competition, long live the fun.
The Human Face of Conflict,
The EU as our friend? Reader comment on: EU "Upgrades" Relations with Israel, Strangling Strings Attached
Submitted by Batya Casper, Israelathebook.com (United States), Aug 8, 2012 18:27
If we have learned anything at all from the EU's attitude to Israel, it is that it stands as stubborn and blinkered on the Arab side of the Arab-Israel conflict, as on the Palestinian side of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. We have to understand: it is easier for them that way, easier for them not to get bogged down in historical records, political realities, or sticky issues such as matters of security, or of the embarrassing Arab hostility toward Israel (issues that are, let's face it, so far from Europe). Israel is balancing many volatile factors, staving off many enemies, trying its best to house cousins - those who are friendly and those who are not so - in its midst. It is far from perfect; no one is. It's perfection consists in its perseverance; in balancing its desire to improve with its fear of losing its home. Besides, how successful are the European countries with their social issues? Do you see others meddling in their back rooms?
Peace as a last resort? Reader comment on: Is a Palestinian State Today Economically Viable?
Submitted by Batya Casper (United States), Aug 8, 2012 23:48
In 1979, Anwar El Sadat was hailed a hero by forward-looking Egyptians and Israelis alike, because he saw the writing on the wall. He recognized that Egypt simply couldn't afford war, and he made peace with Israel. Though Israelis danced in the streets and flocked to Egypt when they heard the news, it was never a cordial arrangement. Egyptians neither liked nor trusted Israelis, so the accord was soon termed the "cold peace." Yet it succeeded. It held up well until now. It allowed both countries to prosper.
If Palestinian leaders cannot recognize that they are in a similar position today, if they won't put the tiresome Israel-Palestine conflict behind them and make peace, they don't deserve to be called leaders. They will fail their people and themselves and never build a self-sustaining home of their own. This is the opportunity Palestinians should clutch in both hands. Why would the Palestinians continue to support leaders who fill their own coffers while emptying those of their people, and who've been selling them an ideology of envy, hatred, and warfare, instead of hope and viability? Now is the time to do what Sadat did: be larger than the Arab-Israel conflict, make peace, and prosper.
Ein Kamonin in the Galilee is an Israeli village which is run by one family Peleg has been taking care of the family goat herd for 30 years. Ein Kamonin in the Galilee is an Israeli village which is actually run by one family. Peleg said they started with goat milk and soon found themselves making cheese.
Soon curious visitors started arriving, and tasting. The family divides up the chores: tending the herd, milking, making cheese, and running a family restaurant featuring all the goods, which include 30 kinds of goat cheese, fresh baked breads, olive oil.
They produce 1500 liters a day. All in the family, farming, marketing, packaging, waiting tables. Peleg said a family business is more efficient than a big business and they can assure a high quality product. The family is hoping the next generation will pick up where they left off.
One of the saddest aspects of the Israel Palestinian conflict, as of the larger Arab Israel conflict, is what it is doing to all of us. However justified we feel in our views, our anger will engender nothing but more anger; our hatred, nothing but irrational behavior. Neither anger nor hatred solve problems. On the contrary, they turn away those who might otherwise listen. The world might well have bought a sack of misinformation. Israel is, indeed, isolated as never before. World opinion today threatens the very existence of the state of Israel. And that is exactly what our Arab neighbors want. Our anger means that those who openly profess their enmity toward us are winning. It plays directly into the hands of the perpetrators of our conflict. We must do what the state of Israel does: we must keep our eyes on the target. Our target? – Education based on historical facts, on what we know is true, education that will lead to understanding, enlightenment, to the recognition and and resolution of differences. Individuals in all countries and political camps are subject to misinformation. Let us counteract that with rational dialogue. Let us appeal, human being to human being beyond borders, for peace. If we don’t – we will surely lose our way.
Author Batya Casper.