A DOUBLE STANDARD FOR ISRAEL
My father grew up in Russian Poland before World War I. One of his saddest memories was seeing notices for jobs or student enrollment at the university, all ending with the proviso, “Except Jews” (kromye yivrayev). Unwilling to live under such an oppressive system, he came to the U.S. as a teenager. Till the end of his life, he never tired of reminding me how lucky I was to live in a free nation that treated all its people equally. Today’s world is vastly different from the one he grew up in, but some things may not have changed as much as he hoped.
The situation in the Middle East is tense, and agreement on anything is rare. But many observers seem to agree on at least one thing: that it is up to the Israelis to give up even more of the West Bank than the 90-plus percent they have already yielded to the Palestinians, and in addition give up control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Web site NewsMax.com reported (Jan. 8), “Talking tough to Israel, President Clinton has admonished America’s ally in the Middle East to divide land with the Palestinians and make the best of it.” That is, Clinton’s “peace initiative” consisted mainly of pressuring Israel to give up more, and pressuring Arafat to take it.
In other words, the victors in four wars that others started are expected to yield large sections of hard-won territory, seemingly without concern that those areas may again be used to launch attacks on Israel. Moreover, Israel is expected to yield control of its central sacred site to those who denounce its religion in the vilest terms, and who denied access when they controlled the site from 1948 to 1967. I cannot recall a similar situation in world history.
Throughout history, winners of wars set the terms for the peace treaty. After World War II, the Allies redrew the borders of Germany. Some Germans still yearn for the return of eastern territory ceded to Poland, but realists recognize that only winners of wars redraw borders — that is, except Jews. The Israelis were victorious in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973. But a four-to-nothing record does not entitle them to the rights normally accorded to victors. Why?
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