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December 15, 1978 - Image 78

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-12-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

18 Friday, December 22; 1918

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Fracturing the Political Myths of Fertile Crescent

By YITZHAK BEN-AMI

"Legitimate Rights."
What are they? Who is
"legitimate?"
To most Third World,
Communist, and variously
shaded Leftists, the an-
swers are simple. The Is-
raelis, descendants of those
ancient Hebrews and Ju-
daeans now in-gathered be-
tween the Jordan and the
Mediterranean, are really
just another breed of white,
alien colonialists.
The artificial state of Is-
rael will eventually be ab-
sorbed, eliminated, ejected
or whatever, off and out of
the land it now "illegiti-
mately" occupies.

The same fate that be-
fell the Crusaders, the Ot-
toman Empire and before
that the Romans, Byzan-
tines, Greeks, Persians,
Assyrians, Minoans and
Egyptians who occupied
part or all the land over
the millenia!

So, in the council of na-
tions of today, with its self-
serving "historic" concepts
of "legitimacy," the only
people to be recognized as
having "legitimate" rights
to "Palestine" is the "Arab
nation" by way of that hap-
less clan — the "Palesti-
nians." History as taught by
Baghdad and Damascus ob
viously accepts as legiti-
mate only the Arab con-
quest of Palestine, covering
the period when this tiny

r

appendage of the "Fertile
Crescent" was ruled as a
minor southern province
out of Baghdad, Damascus,
or sometimes, Cairo.
As is always the case in
fiction, facts such as the
ethnic origins of today's and
yesterday's heterogeneous
population of Palestine,
which totalled about
300,000 when the first
Zionist settlers arrived in
the last century, are delib-
erately presented in nebul-
ous terms.
Are they the ancient
Canaanites? Edomites?
Phoenicians? Nabateans (as
claimed recently by a Jor-
danian ambassador) or,
Heaven forbid, some could
actually be descendants of
the old Hebrews! . . . The de-
ception persists.

And at the same time,
the only legitimate de-
scendants of the people
who ever ruled and lived
on that land as a nation,
the Israelis of today, are
called "illegitimate" in a
land that should there-
fore revert to the "Arab
nation." In one rhetorical
stroke — Baghdad,
Damascus, Cairo,
Riyadh, Tripoli — wipe
clear the pages of history.
History to the United Na-
tions of 1978 is a blank
from the time of Ab-
raham to Arafat.

This fiction, if put today
to a vote in the United Na-
1

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WE'VE JUST

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state on the West Bank.
There is unsettled a ques-
tion of the border between
them, the final compromise
between two peoples who
will have to live side by side
for a very long time. They
may even one day merge
economically and other-
wise.
Meanwhile, the "King-
dom (eventually Republic?)
of Palestine" is a fact. What
is befogging the issue is the
usual Mediterranean
flights of imagination.
* * *

YITZHAK BEN-AMI

tions, will be ruled as
reality. And in reality— the
generation of Palestinian
refugees, rotting and multi-
plying in camps, rejected by
the "Arab nation," poisoned
with this version of history,
— will live on in years of
bloodshed and suffering.
The Eastern Bank of the
Jordan was to be part of the
Jewish Homeland, as de-
lineated in the Balfour Dec-
laration (1917), the League
of Nations Mandate and ac-
tually welcomed then
(1919) by King Feisal, the
father of the "Arab nation."
The fiction of the "Jorda-
nian Hashemite Kingdom"
is an elaborate one, even for
the East, a small monument
to the vanishing Hashemite
dynasty of Hejaz, per-
petuated in only this one
small piece of land.

Jordan, torn away
from Mandated Palestine
in 1921 by Churchill and
the British Colonial
Office, elevated in 1946
by Whitehall to Kingdom,
was thus defined by Time
magazine (April, 1956):

"A country that has little
or no excuse for existence. A
chunk torn from the desert,
it has no geographical un-
ity, national identity or
political Ilistory . . . It was
created by the British for
the British."
Constituted formally in
1947 — it is neither
Hashemite nor Jordanian
nor Nabatean.
This misbegotten entity
could be the answer to a
tragic development fostered
by artificially instigated
events; possibly the answer
to a 60-year conflict: the
conflict between the legiti-
mate heirs of the land, the
land between the desert and
the Eastern Mediterranean,
and heterogeneous sedi-
ments of people of various
ethnic and religious back-
grounds, of waves of invad-
ing armies, tribes and cul-
tures that lapped for cen-
turies over the southern end
of the Fertile Crescent.

During the past 30
years, in the lands from
Mesopotamia, through
the Nile down to Yemen,
there took place a migra-
tion of peoples, an ex-
change of populations.
Similar historic events
occurred time and again,
especially in the last 100
years — world-wide.

About 580,000 "Arabs"
and 850,000 Jews changed
domiciles in 1948 to 1953.
Two states emerged. A
Palestinian state on the
East Bank and an Israeli

The "Israeli Liability"
emerges appropriately,
from Foggy Bottom. It
states that Israel is a
political and military lia-
bility for the U.S. and the
West. If a magic wand
would only sweep Israel
away, the U.S. and the
West would enjoy peace,
bliss, military support
and cheap oil, all coming
forth from a unified,
powerful "Arab nation,"
lined up in support of
Western Civilization.
This fiction borders on
the visions experienced
by partakers of hal-
lucinogens.

In fact, if not for Israel,
the "Arab nation" with its
tremendous petroleum
wealth on one side and tens
of millions of destitute
peasants and city slum
dwellers on the other, would
have been torn apart by now
by its components.
Small-scale previews
have been presented to the
world.. There were the
Iraqi/Syrian border clashes;
Egyptian/Libyan warfare;
the conflicts of Algeria,
Morocco and Mauritania;
Yemen (South and North)
and Saudi Arabia and
Egypt and . . . .
Israel's military strength'
and potential in the East-
West confrontations is ig-
nored deliberately, if not al-
together maliciously. So are
Israel's contributions in sci-
ence, military intelligence,
captured weaponry and so
forth.

The reality of a possible
military vacuum, stretch-
ing along the southern
arc of the Union of Soviet
Socialist Republics, from
the Urals Co Sakhalin, is
camouflaged with as-
tronomic figures, repre-
senting military aid and
sales to oil-rich states. A
realistic evaluation of the
military potential of
these countries, now or in
the future, torn by social
upheaval, may prevent a
repeat occurrence of a
recent history, when bil-
lions 'of dollars of equip-
ment and invaluable
manpower went down
the drain in the Vietnam
quagmire.

There is very little for the
Western world to rely upon,
between young Israel and
modern Japan. The projec-
tion of an "Israeli liability"
has a junior illegitimate
offspring — it is the concept
that the U.S. support for Is-
rael is "domestic policy"
while actually Israel is a
military liability for the
country.

The fact that this concept
contrary to the views of
such "domestic politicians"
as Maj. Gen. George J.
Keegan, Adm. E.R. Zum-
walt Jr., Maj. Gen. D.A.
Thompson (all retired) or
Dr. Josef Churba (formerly
of USAF Intelligence) is ig-
nored.
One shudders to think of
the military "strength" the
West will draw from the
"Arab nation," in case of a
non-nuclear confrontation
in the Middle East. Or how
the West would fare if the
PLO will rule those slivers
of land, Samaria and Judea.

The Jews of the 20th
Century, Israelis and
those in the Diaspora,
continue to live in a world
of fantasy. Although cen-
turies of helplessness
when confronted with
massacres should have
taught them better means
of survival, the Jews still
put their trust in "human-
ity."

A scenario, for instance,
of non-nuclear warfare in
the Mediterranean, involv-
ing the super powers, di-
rectly or by proxy, and
which may mortally affect
Israel — is resolved in the
fantasy of most American
Jews and some Israelis — by

the Marines landing in
Ashdod and Haifa. Little
has been learned by a great
many.
The present Israeli gov-
ernment is attempting to
build a safe future. While it
cannot be fully guaranteed,
at least it has as its cor-
nerstone and ancient sage,
Rabbi Hillel's "Im Ein Ani
Li Mi Li" (If not unto myself,
who?).
Consequently, peace
treaties, guarantees, open
borders, all are important,
but remain only trimmings!
They key to safety is within
the Israeli state, its
strength, its ability to per-
ceive the prerequisites for
survival, and then think,
act, manage to keep its in-
dependence like other small
states do.

On Nov. 2, 1917, the
British Government issued
the Balfour Declaration of
sympathy with Jewish
Zionist aspirations, pledg-
ing support for the estab-
lishment in Palestine of a
national home for the
Jewish people. The Allied
governments were parties
to the antecedent negotia-
tions and approved the dec-
laration. So did some of the
principal leaders of the
Arab national movement.

Past AJCommittee Leader
Louis Caplan Is Dead at 92

NEW YORK — Louis
Caplan, president of the
American Jewish Commit-
tee in 1961-62, died Tues-
day at age 92 in Pittsburgh,
where he resided.
A lawyer and leader of the
Pittsburgh Jewish Corn-
munity, Mr. Caplan was a
member of the AJCommit-
tee since 1939 and served on
its board of directors after
having been persident.
He was an honorary life
member of the board of trus-
tees of Hebrew Union
College-Jewish Institute of
Religion since 1969, having
served on the board for the
20 years previous to that.
He was president of the
Pittsburgh United Jewish
Federation in 1956-58.

Awards established in
his honor included the
Louis Caplan Human Re-

lations Award given an-
nually to a high school
student for contributions
toward human under-
standing, the Louis Cap-
lan Distinguished Lec-
tures in Jewish Law
series at the University of
Pittsburgh and the AJ-
Committee's Louis Cap-
lan Center of Group Iden-
tity and Mental Health.

Born in Oil City, Pa., he
was left an orphan at age 6
when his parents were kil-
led in a flood. He was placed
in a Hebrew orphanage in
Pittsburgh for 10 years.
After two years of high
school he entered the Uni-
versity of Pittsburgh Law
School in 1909 and received
his degree in 1912. The uni-
versity gave him an honor-
ary Doctor of Laws degree in
1966.

Barton's Founder Klein Dies

NEW YORK (JTA) — million and serves 3,000
Stephen Klein, the founder stores throughout the
and board chairman of Bar- United States.
ton's Candy Corp. died Sun-
Mr. Klein was ver--7..
day at age 71. He was buried
active in Vaad Hata.
in Israel.
after World War II
A native of Austria, he helped bring to
where members of his fam- America 500 rabbis and
ily had been candy makers, scholars and their
Mr. Klein came to this coup- families, who fled the
try as a refugee in 1938, and Nazis by way of Shanghai
with his brothers and other and Paris..
partners, founded the corn-
He founded the Yeshiva
pany the following year.
University High School for
The company, which Girls in Brooklyn, and also
began as a one-room factory was a founder and vice
with door-to-door sales, ex- president of Torah
panded quickly through the Umesorah. Mr. Klein also
establishment of retail out- was a founder and officer of
lets, initially known as Bar- Chinuch Atzmai, Torah
ton's Bonbonniere. The Schools for Israel. He served
company which became a for many years as president
public corporation in 1960, of the Jewish Education
now has annual sales of $18 Committee.

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