Sunday, March 28, 2010

“A Plea for Justice: A Historical Analysis:” false beginnings, twisted thoughts- part 3

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in his Holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, and has not sworn deceitfully. (Psalm 24:3-4)

We are all longing for the peace of Jerusalem, but it cannot come twisted and incomplete.

Professors Nahida Gordon and Fredric W. Bush in the paper entitled “A Plea for Justice: A Historical Analysis combine the issues of the partition of Palestine and the Palestinian refugee problem with two of Israel's wars with the Arab nations. Their statements about Israel’s 1948 war for independence as well as the 1967 war Israel fought against Egypt, Jordon and Syria are incomplete and often historically inaccurate. Picture the Western Wall of Jerusalem taken by en:User:Chmouel,

The authors’ statement on the 1948 war begins with an explanation of the influx of Jewish European immigrants into Palestine. They write, “The Palestinians who in a short span of three decades saw the ethnic composition of Palestine change dramatically due to the British facilitation of immigration of Jews into Palestine objected to the partition plan." They go on to state simply and rightly that there was violence on both sides.

But the way the rest of the paragraph is written the implication is that the Palestinians became refugees during the violence that occurred between November 29,[1] 1947 (the date of the UN recommendation of the Mandate), and May 14, 1948 (Israel’s declaration of independence). There is a further statement that the Arab nations attacked Israel in order to save the Palestinian refugees from expulsion. Going even further is the thought that Israel was better prepared militarilythan the Arabs.

I have already answered these kinds of statements in a posting on the booklet, "Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace" published by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).[2]

Immediately after the UN announcement, Jewish people all over the world rejoiced. But by the next morning they would begin fighting for their lives. As Walter Laqueur, who is not a conservative, but an excellent historian, in his comprehensive book A History of Zionism: From the French Revolution to the Establishment of the State of Israel, states:

"The next morning [after the UN Mandate announcement] the Palestinian Arabs called a three day-protest strike, and Jews in all parts of the country were attacked. On that first day of rioting seven were killed and more injured; the fighting continued to the end of the mandate. The next months, as chaos engulfed Palestine, were a time of crisis for the Jewish community. ...The most pressing task facing the Jewish population was to strengthen its defenses, since the Arab countries had already announced that their armies would enter the country as soon as the British left. Syria was not willing to wait that long: an 'Arab Liberation Army" inside Palestine was established in February with the help of Syrian officers as well as irregulars." (p. 583-84) (Emphasis mine)

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein writes, “In 1948, after the UN Partition went into effect, five Arab armies attacked the fledgling State. Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League announced, “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.”[3]

The point here is that the Arab nations attacked because they did not agree that there should be a Jewish State. (And here is an additional thought, Arab anti-Semitism goes back centuries, it did not suddenly appear with the birth of Israel.)[4]
It is also important to note that Israel was not prepared militarily as were the Arab nations. Once again, as Laqueur puts it:

"While Britain continued to supply arms to the neighboring Arab countries, and America had declared a general arms embargo, the Jewish forces had great difficulty in obtaining supplies. By February the Arab forces were on the offensive throughout the country. While they did not succeed in capturing Jewish settlements, they all but paralyzed the traffic among them, and even Jerusalem was about to become a besieged city. The Jewish relief force sent to the help of the Ezion settlements had been wiped out to the last man, a terrible loss by the standards of these days." (p583)

Bush and Gordon make short work of the 1967 war. They write, “In June 1967, Israel attacked Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. At the end of six days, Israel had taken the Gaza strip and the Sinai from Egypt, East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan from Syria.” The authors then go on to write about the United Nations Security Council and resolution 242. This is shoddy historical writing. It leaves the reader without any understanding at all. Perhaps the authors did not know the circumstances of the Six-Day war.

The history is complex but includes bombardments from Syria, an Egyptian blockade of the Straits of Tiran so that Israel had no route to Asia. The removal of UN peace keepers by Egypt and threats from several Arab States including this from the Voice of the Arab Radio Station, “As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel. We shall exercise patience no more. We shall not complain any more to the UN about Israel. The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.”[5]

The story is far more complex than I have written. Please see the article “The 1967 Six Day War” , at the Jewish Virtual Library. There are many complex problems between Israel and Palestine. When institutions such as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and committees such as the Presbyterian Middle East Study Committee attempt to help sort out the needs of each nation and yet begin with so much one-sided misinformation they eliminate from the discussion all of those who care about truth. And then peace can never come.

[1] The paper at one point refers to the 29th, at another point to the 19th, the 29th for the UN’s recommendation is the correct date.
[2] See
More from the Presbyterian Israel/Palestine Mission Network's booklet Steadfast Hope The IPMN is advised by some of the same leadership as the Presbyterian Middle East Study Committee. Their views of Israel and Palestine are usually the same.

A Rabbi Reflects on the Horizons Study of Joshua - Part I See also Richard Kraus, “The Roots of Anti-Semitism.” This paper disproves that the State of Israel is the sole cause of Arab anti-Semitism.
[4] See again “
The Roots of Anti-Semitism.”
[5] See The Jewish Virtual library, Michael Bard,
“The 1967 Six Day War.”
Reading the Rest of the Story:


Pastor Bob said...

I was thinking about all of this today before I read your blog. It seems to me that part of the problem is that some people (on both sides of the issue) want to make things simple. History and condemnations are much simpler if one side or the other is a clear bad guy. And since Israel has more weapons they must be the bad guy.

Of course life isn't simple. The 1947-48 series of war is not simple. There is plenty of blame to go around. It is very difficult when someone says that they are going to exterminate you, particularly right after 6 million of you kinfolk have been murdered. On the other hand in some locations the Israeli Army (and before that various groups) had pushed people on to trucks saying that they were going to be in the way of a war, people who weren't participating in the war at all, and at the end of the war they weren't allowed to go home.

I suggest there is plenty of sin and stupidity on both sides. Acts of terror by Palestinians and their friends led directly to the building of the security barrier. Suicide bombing did go down. But shouldn't the barrier have been placed on the blue line?

In other words the only way to choose sides is by ignoring the sins that the side you support.

Is there a way out of all of this? It sure would help if people stopped killing others and particularly the innocent. And it would be very helpful if the Palestinians offered a permanent peace, recognition of Israel as a state on the condition that Israel end the settlements on the West Bank. And Jerusalem? There must be a way for Jerusalem to be the capitol of 2 countries. And it would be best if it were not divided. Part of the complaints after 1948 was that the Western Wall was in East Jerusalem and Jews were not allowed to worship there. (At one point it was a garbage dump)

A solution depends on the violent on both sides standing down. And it is much simpler to kill people than it is to make peace.

Viola Larson said...

I do agree with you, and I have been thinking a lot about this today. There are real problems that Israel needs to consider. However, here is our problem as Presbyterians, all we have are one sided organizations that keep feeding people material that is, false, incomplete or just one-sided. And they stick all the real problems in between. I think one can safely say that they have set themselves up for failure. That is they won't help prevent a war even if all of their materials are adopted and received.

And there are some real bad guys out there, the Hamas and others to the right or left of them. But the Palestinians are the ones suffering because of Hamas. They need some better leaders.

Pastor Bob said...


I am sick (and tired) of having this argument in the PCUSA. What exactly do these people hope to achieve in their actions? If the PCUSA actually passes these overtures Jews in America will cooperate with their local friends but not with presbyteries or the GA. Is that the goal? PCUSA proclamations don't hurt Israel. The one thing that might hurt is if the PCUSA becomes a leader in divestment. But of course colleges in England and across America already have divested. Maybe they hope to persuade the US government to stop giving money to Israel (and Egypt). Not gonna happen. If the US stops supporting Israel and Egypt the US loses any possible control or power in the region.

The core problem that no one wants to talk about is what would happen to Muslim countries for Morocco to Iran? Without Israel to distract the masses maybe the masses will see the corruption and oppression of their leaders and rise up against them. Does the US really want that?

Viola Larson said...

Yes, I thought of that. If it wasn't for Israel we would probably be more focused on Iran, etc. Because that side of the argument wouldn't exist, but Iran and other problems would exist. After all Israel was certainly not the cause of the war between Iraq and Iran. But none of that is easy, all of it is complex.

And I'm with you about being tired of the argument but I am afraid we will go on having the argument in the PCUSA; I wonder if God has something to do with that: -)

Pastor Bob said...


Isn't it interesting that no one but you and me are commenting on this?

Bob Campbell
Sharon Hill, PA

Viola Larson said...

But according to my feed a lot of people read or at least looked at it. Do you think I am being boycotted:^) I really don't mind as long as it is being read.

Pastor Bob said...

I think the other side gave up on debating with us. They are putting their energy into getting the SF overtures and the report passed. Why argue about it if you already have your mind made up and, more important, you are busy trying to get the GA to take a particular position?