Date: Sun, 02 Jun 2002 14:08:02 +0200. Jerusalem, June 2, 2002
An Open Letter to the Palestinians from an Agnostic
Speaking Truth to the Powerless: An Open Letter To The People Commonly Called "Palestinians"
Greetings to any Palestinian who may be reading this. My name is David White. I am a citizen of New Zealand, a small, Western, nominally Christian country in the South Pacific Ocean. I am not Jewish, or Christian, I guess I'm vaguely agnostic.
Writing this letter is a good way for me to discuss the horrible mess in the Middle East, spell out as many relevant points as possible concerning the state of the Palestinian people, and to see what can be made of them I don't speak Arabic, so I can only communicate with English-speaking Palestinians. There aren't many here in NZ, though, and I haven't yet met any. I don't know how many will ever see these words, but, here's hoping someone does.
I have a post-graduate university education, and I suppose I could be called an intellectual. Unfortunately, many such people have supported abhorrent ideologies such as Nazism, and continue to support Communism, so I refuse to describe myself in this way. I don't want to considered as just another "trendy leftie" academic, as we would say in NZ. So, unlike many university-educated types, I am anti-totalitarian, pro-peace up to a point,pro-democracy, pro-capitalism (except the capitalists running Enron), and skeptical about the "cult of victimhood." I'm quite safe here in New Zealand, and no-one I know has been killed by a Palestinian.
My perspective of Palestinians is something like this - you're Arabs (of course), mostly Muslim, but with a Christian minority. Many of you live outside Gaza/West Bank, mostly in Jordan and other Muslim countries, with some groups living in Western countries as well. You feel that you have been wronged by Israel and are fighting to destroy them.
As for my perspective on Israel, I see them like this. They are a mainly Jewish, small, free-market democracy with a large Arab minority surrounded by hostile Arab dictatorships. They have an ancestral claim to Israel, their state was created as a refuge from persecution, they have a right to exist, and, having survived a holocaust in Europe, they should not have to sit still and wait for another one in the Middle East.
A Down Under Overview.
Over the last few months, the conflict in the disputed territories of Gaza and the West Bank has turned into a war between the Palestinian people and Israel. (I will not apologise for using the term "disputed", as I believe it reflects a rather complicated situation more accurately than "occupied").
Your interpretation, as far as I can tell, seems to be something like this: You have no state of your own, and you are fighting a war against those you call "Zionist oppressors" and "colonial imperialists", in order to create a Palestinian state. Accusations of massacre and human rights violations by the Israeli Army are being tossed around like confetti. Your leader, Yasser Arafat, vows to "martyr" himself rather than "surrender", and that bungling and incompetent organization, the United Nations (again, no apologies for venting personal opinions), is trying to do what it is constitutionally incapable of doing, i.e. "saving future generations from the scourge of war".
The Israelis see things differently, of course. For them, it's a simple battle for survival. They offered you a state, and you attacked them instead. They have occupied Palestinian towns, have fought it out with various armed groups, and desperate attempts are being made by the US, other Arab countries and the UN to break the so-called "cycle of violence". As a result, the Palestinian situation at the moment generally, can be explained by putting it into New Zealand idiom.
Put bluntly, the Palestinian people are b---red. It's like this: Yasser Arafat turned down the Israeli offer of a Palestinian homeland in Gaza and the West Bank. You want, or Arafat claims that you want, a Palestine "from the river to the sea;" in other words, "all or nothing".
There is one insuperable obstacle to this- Israel. No matter how eloquent your arguments or numerous your martyrs, no matter how many European diplomats are angered by, or UN resolutions are passed against, Israel, the Israelis are not going to pack up and leave. The only way you will get the Palestinian state you want is to destroy Israel.
This is what you have been trying to do since 1948, and the current "intifada" launched in 2000 is your latest effort. However, the Israelis are not standing there and letting you kill them. They are fighting back, and if they have to choose between their own survival and yours, guess which choice they'll make.
A Vast Wringing Of Hands, A Great Fluttering Of Diplomats. That has been the overall response to the disaster you have created for yourselves. You, the Palestinian Arabs, are obviously hoping for some kind of international intervention to save you. As we in New Zealand would say, "Get Real!".
The European Union and the UN have demonstrated on numerous occasions in the past their incompetence and total incapacity to take any sort of firm action without American leadership. Ask your Muslim brothers of Bosnia-Herzegovina, about how effective the EU and the UN were in protecting them without American intervention. In spite of the impression that American diplomatic efforts have created, the US will not take sides against Israel, and will eventually abandon its futile attempts at evenhandedness. If they do join forces militarily with Israel in their war against terrorism, your fighters will be snuffed out like candle flames.
As for your "beloved Arab brothers" in the Middle East, they make a great deal of noise about your "liberation struggle", and have sent money and arms, but have not sent a single tank to save you. Their diplomatic proposals are ones that could have been offered at any time, and are aimed at benefiting them, not Palestinians.The Egyptians themselves will not declare war on Israel unless they receive $100 billion to cover their costs.
Do you really believe that the rest of your Arab Muslim brothers think you are worth that much? Do you really believe they will put your interests ahead of their own? Although your friends and Arabs in Europe are passing sanctions and burning synagogues in your support, not a single EU warship has sailed to your aid, and not a single NATO aircraft has dropped a single bomb on your "Zionist oppressors".
I have noted that large numbers of people, including university educated intellectuals support the Palestinian cause. Don't be misled by this. No matter how many western intellectuals, news media and international organisations may support the Palestinian struggle, none of this matters because America stands by Israel.
The Unbearable Burden of Life
How did you get into such a mess? As you yourselves would say and have indeed said on many occasions, it isn't your fault. It's always the "Great Satan" America, and it's "Lesser Satan", Israel, that you blame for all your woes. Everything that you do, such as your "martyrdom operations", are described as the products of your "rage" at being "dispossessed of your land", and of your "helplessness" in the face of "Zionist" might.
There are only 300 million Arabs against over 5 million Jews! How unfair! How unjust, that so many can do so little against so few!
A number of Western commentators have put Arab failures down to numerous cultural factors, not the least being Islam. Your religious beliefs in martyrdom and jihad, coupled with a total inability to accept any blame for your own predicament, have combined to do you great and lasting damage.
Look closely at why Western countries such as Israel have succeeded, and Muslim countries have not. Western countries are free-market democracies. Muslim countries (other than Turkey) aren't. Surely that should tell you something.
Why I Stand.
As I said, I do not, and I will not, support the Palestinian cause. Why not? I have a number of reasons, and here they are:
1. You have made it clear beyond any shadow of doubt that you intend to destroy Israel and kill or drive out its Jewish population. This is genocide, pure and simple. You justify this by saying that Israel has committed many crimes against your people, and that you seek "justice". I say this in response- NOTHING WHATSOEVER is an acceptable justification for genocide. Loss of land, humiliation at being militarily defeated - others have suffered these and moved on to create new nations and opportunities for themselves.
Examples abound- the Germans thrown out of East Prussia in Europe, 1945, the Nationalist Chinese who fled to Taiwan in 1949, to name but two. Germans and Taiwanese have coped with military defeat and the loss of land. They haven't warred with their neighbours, nor have they launched terrorist attacks upon them. Both countries have more wealth than any Arab nation. Why can't Palestinians cope? Are Germans and Chinese better able to deal with adversity than Arabs?
2. You have accused the Israelis of "genocide" against you. Here's a question for you: Israel has atomic bombs and powerful military forces. If they really, truly wanted you all dead, they could easily do it. Why haven't they? If the Israelis went all-out, you would be, as we say in New Zealand, "dog tucker". Why did they spend so much time negotiating with your leaders? Because Israel wants peace and secure borders. You refuse to give them even those. You plan genocide and accuse Israel of the same crime. Prove it!
3. The use of terrorism. Killing people for being Jewish is despicable. Terrorist attacks on innocent civilians are also despicable. (At this point, I'd like to pause and get a question of nomenclature cleared up, regarding those Palestinians who kill themselves and others with explosives strapped to their bodies. You call them "martyrs". Western media sources and academics debate the precise term to use in describing them. Others, including the Israelis, call them terrorists.
I have a better, more appropriate term. I prefer to use the word "kamikazes". The original kamikazes appeared in 1944, in the war in the Pacific. They were Japanese Navy and Army pilots, organised into "Special Attack Units" with orders to crash their planes into American warships, in the hope of destroying them - "one plane, one ship". Their initial impact was similar to that of the Al-Quaeda attacks on New York and the Pentagon- shock and horror. (I noted that many Palestinians appeared on Western TV celebrating the September attacks). Note: The American response, in both cases was not the one hoped for.
Once the shock had worn off, the US set out to destroy the kamikazes, and terrible destruction was rained down on Japan, ending only with 2 atomic bombs. You know what is happening right now in Afghanistan to the Al-Qaeda group).
4. Using children as suicide bombers. Anyone who teaches children to kill themselves in suicide attacks is not worth supporting under any circumstances. For you to do this to your children is an abomination. A commentator on a Web magazine said that if the Palestinians laid down their arms, they would get peace and land. If the Israelis laid down their arms, they would be killed. You know that is true, even if most of Europe doesn't. Your cause is evil, because it seeks destruction at any price. Genocide is not justice. Sacrificing your own children for the sake of your leader's personal ambitions is wicked.
That's why I cannot support you. That's why I stand with Israel.
Palestinian Past or Future?
The Second World War in Europe ended with Hitler's suicide. He was replaced by Admiral Doenitz who quickly made peace with the Allies. Japan's leader, Emperor Hirohito, decided on surrender rather than see his nation destroyed.
If Arafat chooses surrender, though, will the rest of the Palestinians go along with it? If he dies, will the war end? If the answer to both of these questions is No, then the Palestinian people are doomed. Do you really prefer death as a people? Do you fully comprehend what you are doing? If you are indeed aware that the path you have embarked on leads to destruction, and if you have freely chosen to walk in that direction, then as a people you are truly beyond hope.
Are Palestinians really going to be a "Kamikaze Nation"? Are you really going to give Israel no other option except your destruction? If they must choose, then as Israeli historian Martin Van Creveld said, "better a terrible end than terror without end".
Do not think that kamikaze tactics can get you what you want. The Israelis can tell you all about Masada, if you ask them. Remember what happened to the Japanese at places like Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Palestinians deserve better than the current mess you are in now - but before you can be given anything, you must offer a sincere peace, you must stop teaching your children to hate, you must stop believing that "victimhood" justifies everything and - above all other things - GIVE UP ISRAEL! Accept that you will never go there again except perhaps as workers or tourists. Accept that Jews are human beings. Accept the verdict of 1948 and learn to live with it.
Invest in banks, not bombs. Build computer chips, not Kalashnikovs. Teach science and mathematics, not hate. Look to the future, not the past. Stop blaming Americans and Jews for all your problems, and take responsibility for your own actions. Read those parts in the Quran about living with the "peoples of the Book".
Golda Meir, the former Israeli Prime minister, is quoted as saying " there will be peace in the Middle East only when the Arabs love their children more than they hate Israel ". Every time I see pictures of Palestinian children waving guns and wearing dummy explosives, then I can only say she is right. The alternative to peace is not victory but death.
Think about it- before it's too late.
From an Infidel to Those Who Submit, and are living in the Holy Land - May God grant you steadfastness in the face of things that cannot be changed, the capacity to cope with those that can be changed, and the wisdom and the ability to tell the difference.
Auckland, New Zealand
United Nations resolutions on Israel
Statement by US Ambassador
An open letter to the Palestinians
Mourning the dove of peace
Israel’s peculiar position
It’s those Jews again!