Saturday, April 17, 2010

Benny Morris and the Death of Israel

So I am going to be rather political again. This is about Iran and Israel. When writing about Middle East issues and the involvement of different Presbyterian organizations one particular commenter on my posts often asks me if I have read a history of the problems by Benny Morris. He recommended it. I intend to do so.

I now have two huge books lying on my reading table, 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War and Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionists-Arab Conflict 1881-2001. I will probably get to them after our General Assembly. But one thing I know is how one-sided pro-Palestinian organizations irritate Morris by taking what he has written out of context. He has written so. But yesterday I saw an opinion piece in the LA Times by Morris, When Armageddon lives next door.

He is fearful of what many Jewish people are fearful of and some gentiles too, the ability of Iran to destroy Israel. As Morris puts it, “I take it personally: Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wants to murder me, my family and my people. Day in, day out, he announces the imminent demise of the ‘Zionist regime,’ by which he means Israel.”

Morris also writes, “The American veto [of an Israeli first strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities] may ultimately consign millions of Israelis, including me and my family, to a premature death and Israel to politicide. It would then be comparable to Britain and France's veto in the fall of 1938 of the Czechs defending their territorial integrity against their rapacious Nazi neighbors. Within six months, Czechoslovakia was gobbled up by Germany.”

I was just commenting in a conversation last night at the dinner table, (we were enjoying a sauerkraut, sausage, wine, apples dish that has its origins in Alsace Lorraine, now called Alsace-Moselle) how the dish seemed both German and French. And then all these historical thoughts came to me about how Hitler had used the excuse of mixed ethnic groups and their controversies to invade all of their territories. That included Alsace Lorraine, Czechoslovakia and Poland. Europe and Britain were complicit in Hitler’s intimidation and ultimate invasion.

The destruction of Israel and the death of his family is Morris’ concern, and he has every right to it. I think some of the things we are writing and voting on in our General Assembly offers the world the kind of possibilities that Chamberlain and others offered up during the rise of Hitler’s Germany. For instance I highlighted a part of the Presbyterian Middle East Study Committee’s paper “Our Witness
What We Have Seen and Heard” with these words:

“When the reader looks at the paper “Our Witness: “What We Have Seen and Heard” they read about Iran’s attempt to develop a nuclear warhead and then they read this, “While this growing fear [by the Israelis over Iran’s plans] is a deep concern, an equal concern is the number of nuclear warheads that Israel currently stockpiles and thus the growing sense of Iranian vulnerability and insecurity.” (Italics mine) I should now add that Israel does not over and over insist on the annihilation of Iran. Perhaps we, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), should think about being complicit in the death of Israel.

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