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June 24, 1983 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-06-24

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2 Friday, June 24, 1983


Purely Commentary

Sensationalizing the News Does Not Contribute
to Goodwill or to Strengthening the Israel-U.S.
Friendship as Assurance of Amity in the M.E.

By Philip

When Sensationalized Articles Fan Hatred and Undermine Multi-National Friendships

A Knight-Ridder syndicated article from Jerusalem quoted the complaints that are
still being heard as judgments of the manner in which the media have distorted news
about Israel during the tragic months of the struggle against the PLO in Lebanon.
But only a few days preceding the publication of that revealing report, a James
McCartney analysis of American aid for Israel caused serious concern among Jewish
readers. It was again the sensationalizing of the issues on the front page of the Detroit
Free Press that resulted in resentment.
If the U.S. is such a sinner that it provides Israel with so much help, the authors of
the flag-waving reports surely should have consulted members of Congress, and cer-
tainly the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Charles Percy, who has

Palestinian Myths:
Multiple Fables That Add
to Unnecessary Hatreds

an important role in negating White House and State Department recommendations
that foreign aid for Israel be reduced. Percy and his associates felt differently and voted to
increase financial provisions for Israel. Congress followed policies of aiding the forces
that are strongest in checking Soviet intrusions into the Middle East.
There are many more reasons for assuring Israel's role as the only true democracy in
that part of the war-troubled world, and merely to give notoriety to figures that are now
flaunted by anti-Semitic forces is not contributing to goodwill and to amity among
It is the sensationalizing that is disconcerting. It is a sad commentary on the
communicating arts in American society and is most regrettable.

munities expanded by leaps and bounds during
those years: 90 percent in Jerusalem, 134 percent
in Jaffa and 216 percent in Haifa.
It is a fair assumption, too, that British statis-
Jews paraded in Boston to demonstrate in support of an
tics of the time are an underestimation, since
ideal which is in reality a portion of a massive myth. They
many Arabs are known to have crossed the bor-
flaunted loyalty to Judaism and interpreted it as an obliga-
ders without going through immigration for-
tion to be on the side of a claimed persecutee of their fellow
malities. The Palestinians' roots in their "native
Jews in Israel. That's how the myth developed and the
soil," then, are far more shallow than is commonly
boast of heraldry, by claimed supporters of an underdog,
understood — and their debt to Zionism much
served to mudddy already polluted waters.
It often becomes cause for anger to be compelled con-
Until a few decades ago, in other words, no
stantly to point to the mythical that is resorted to as a duty
Palestinian national consciousness emerged be-
to play heroes in a campaign which in the long run is
cause the territory lacked a unique Arab histori-
harmful to Israel and the Jewish people.
cal culture, and because many, if not most, of the
It is doubly unfortunate that Arabs do not cooperate in
residents lived there only briefly. The weak at-
the craving for peace that would end the Palestinian prob-
tachment of the people to the place was demon-
lem — hopefully with a workable solution. An Arab hand-
strated during the Israeli War of Independence,
shake with a Jew at a round table for discussions of realities
when half a million Arabs swiftly abandoned
could, as it must, end the horror of hatreds in the Middle
their homes at the behest of their invading
East. In the process of such solution-seeking, facts must be
brothers. A deeply rooted peasantry does not eas-
established and recognized.
ily give up its land.
What is this myth labeled Palestine and personified by
As for the- "Palestinian-nationalism" that is
Palestinians? An eminent historian and student of Middle
currently much heralded, it developed strictly in
East situations, Dr. Moshe Decter, writing extensively in
reaction to the presence of an independent, equal,
the New Leader, presents the facts about the legend labeled
sovereign Jewish community — something all
Palestine. Truth cannot -be stifled when the background is
Arabs, except perhaps the Egyptians, persist in
regarding as . an unacceptable alien excrescence
fully traced. Dr. Decter provides these facts:
in their midst. This was confirmed with stunning
Consider the popular notion that a place
called Palestine was the ancestral home of the
candor by the head of the Palestinian Liberation
Arabs who now live on the West Bank of the Jor-
Organization's military operations department,
dan River. The truth is that neither in fact nor
Zuhair Muhsin, who told the Dutch newspaper
Trouw on March 3, 1977:
according to the statutes of international law has
Palestine ever been a country, let alone an Arab
". . there are no differences between Jorda-
nians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese . . . We
It was only after the British came upon the
are one people. Only for political reasons do we
scene in 1918 that the name Palestine was resur-
carefully underline our Palestinian identity. For
rected. But the Arabs never held exclusive domin-
it is of national interest for the Arabs to encourage
the existence of the Palestinians against
ion over the whole area so designated by
Whitehall; they never created a self-contained na-
Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palesti-
tional unit or any form of separate political or
nian entity is there only for tactical reasons. The
social identity there; they were not autonomous at
establishment of a Palestinian state is a new
any time; in short, a Palestinian Arab nation
expedient to continue the fight against Zionism
never existed.
and for Arab unity."
It is far from clear, moreover, that the present
Indeed, it is very pitiful that instead of taking into
Arab population in Israel and the West Bank is at
account the important human factors, the contributions
all indigenous. Prior to the British assumption of
toward human needs, in Israel and elsewhere, time must be
the League of Nations mandate over the territory
spent, valuable newsprint devoted, to shattering lies, to
in 1921, the wretchedness and poverty of life in
appealing for exposure of myths resorted to in fanning
Palestine had been driving. the Arabs away in
hatreds. Since this becomes a compulsion, here are the facts
about myths. Let them sink in.
The trend was reversed, ironically enough, by
Some Facts That Refugees
the subsequent positive effects of extensive
Jewish settlement and development. As Jewish
Themselves Should Take
agricultural, industrial, technological, and com-
Seriously Into Account
mercial enterprises thrived — despite all the re-
Perpetuating tragedies have unfortunate roots. Israel
strictions imposed by the British authorities, as
is in mourning over 500 dead and thousands injured in the
well as a surrounding environment of great hard-
Lebanon war. Arabs suffered tens of thousands of casual-
ship and hostility — the country's economic ab-
ties in a decade of internecine strife. There are roots that
sorptive capacity rapidly increased. Starting in
are ignored and backgrounds that are either misun-
1922, poor Arabs streamed in from drought-
derstood or distorted.
stricken Syria, from the Sinai, from Iraq, Trans-
Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.
Much of the strife stems from accusations that Israel
caused a refugee problem, and under the guise of Pales-
The benefits the migrants reaped in terms of
tinianism a war is waged against Israel.
health care, income, housing, education, literacy,
While using the refugee problem as means of continu-
trade union protection and political and human
ing strife, Arabs failed to come to the assistance of their
rights vastly exceeded the standards of any Arab
state. Not surprisingly, therefore, between the
A movement that functions under the term Jordan is
two World Wars, the Arab population of Palestine
Arab Palestine has undertaken to present the facts. In one
rose by 75 percent — apart from natural increase
of a series of advertisements aimed at arousing attention to
and from the decline in infant mortality that fol-
the basic facts in a muddied issue, this movement called
lowed the Jews' revolutionary introduction of
attention to the following:
modern medical care. The growth rate for the
same period in Egypt, that most fecund of Arab
One nation has given Palestinian refugees
states, was 25 percent. By 1948, there were fully
more aid than Bahrain, Egypt, Algeria, Syria,
twice as many Arabs in Palestine as there had
Oman, Iraq, and Yemen combined . . . that nation
been in 1917.
is Israel.
More telling still, between 1922-1947 the ex-
Of all the Arab nations who say they care
pansion registered in Palestinian areas where
about the Palestinian refugees, few put their
there was no Jewish development was relatively
money where their mouths are.
small (though even here it significantly outstrip-
From 1950 through 1979, for example, Egypt
ped the figures for Arab countries): 42 percent in
gave a total of $5.5 million to UNRWA to aid Pales-
Nablus, 40 percent in Jenin, 32 percent in
tinian refugees. Syria gave $2.7 million. Iraq gave
Bethlehem. In Jewish cities, the Arab corn-
$1.3 million. Oman and Bahrain gave less than

half a million between them. Algeria and Yemen
gave nothing.
One Middle East. nation has given nearly $10
million — more than all of them combined. That
nation is Israel.
In one year alone, 1976-1977, Israel gave an
additional $42.2 million directly to the refugees
All but one of these Arab nations refuse
Palestinians citizenship. Most, like Saudi Arabia,
import workers from as far away as South Korea
_ rather than hire more Palestinians to fill their
labor shortages.
Yet, there is one Moslem country where
Palestinians are at home. Where they are
granted automatic citizenship. Where Palesti-
nians make up two-thirds of the population, hold
three-quarters of the government posts, and run
70 percent of the businesses.
This country is Jordan. Culturally, linguisti-
cally, religiously, demographically, geograph-
ically and historically, Jordan - is a Palestinian
Arab nation in - every respect. Moreover,
cupies 77 percent of the original Palestine Man-
Jordan is the homeland for the 600,000 Pales-
tinians kept homeless for 35 years by their Arab
Such figures speak louder than the words of hate that
accompany the actions of those who have mobilized for
Israel's destruction. Why haven't the Arab states come to
the aid of their less fortunate? Why the perpetuation of
antagonisms when negotiations, cooperation, decent
neighborliness, the human spark, could lead to an end to
What is quoted here is a mere fragment of a painfully
agonized situation. But it is at least an element in the effort
to plead for knowing the roots of troubles that are costly in
lives to Jews as well as to Arabs.
A committee of academicians, chaired by Prof. Daniel
Elazar, proposed a plan for action in the Samaria-Judea-
Gaza dispute. Workable or not, practical or chimerical,
there was a tragic note appended to that approach to friend-
ship: appended to it was a comment that Arabs were not
responding to it. Indeed, there should have been even
greater emphasis for such an effort in Jewish consideration
as well. The movement toward peace is all-too-slow.

Affirmative Action
and Two Communities

William Raspberry, popular columnist whose com-
ments on Israel and the Arabs occasionally clash with
Jewish reactions, had an important postscript to this
Commentator's views on affirmative action, expressed last
Taking into account differences of opinion in the black
and Jewish communities, Raspberry gave an account of
liberalism in Jewish ranks which provided the balances
needed in elections in several cities where blacks were
successful mayoral candidates, and he preceded to state
that the friendship between the two groups is not irrecon-
cilable. He accepted differing affirmative action views as
facts while affirming the friendship between the two com-
munities, stating:
The black leadership finds it frustrating that
Jews, focusing on their own recent history, seem
incapable of distinguishing between numbers as
a limit to participation and numbers as a guaran-
tee of participation. From the black leadership
point of view, recruitment and testing reforms
may constitute an appealing recipe, but the proof
of the pudding is in results: in numbers.
It may be that the two positions are funda-
mentally irreconcilable. But it does not follow
that blacks and Jews are irreconcilable enemies.
Indeed, the recent election returns, though little
- remarked upon, suggest just the opposite.
If it were otherwise, every claim to fair play and com-
mon decency would be negated. Adherence to the basic
American ideals is especially applicable to the Jewish ex-
perience which has been tested by time and by the agonies
of human bigotries.
That is why there is a sadness whenever blacks align
with Israel's enemies.


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