Objecting to 'A Solution for Israel'
To the Editors of The Crimson:
Imagine your surprise if you opened the newspaper at the breakfast table to read the headline: "A Solution For World Hunger". To anybody with even a little knowledge about the Middle East, the title of Jonathan M. Moses's column "A Solution for Israel" (January 20), could not but seem equally absurd. To anybody who read further, the article could not but seem misguided to boot.
Absurd, because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is far too complex to be solved over a cup of coffee. To name just a few of the factual difficulties with Moses's neat litle four-point plan:
--Egypt wouldn't accept control of the overpopulated, impoverished, faction-ridden Gaza Strip if you paid them. A lot.
--The United Nations would just as soon move its headquarters to old Jerusalem as it would to West Beirut.
--A Palestinian state on the West Bank, while being a very serious possibility for at least some of us, is not a panacea. An overcrowded nation with little economic infrastructure, doubtful democratic traditions, ridiculous geographic boundaries, a radical leadership, and a populace none too kindly disposed towards Israelis is not necessarily a recipe for peace. There are no easy answers.
Misguided, because Moses bases his argument upon a bizarre view of the origins and role of the State of Israel. Europeans with guilty consciences did not "colonize Jews on a strip of desert," nor were Jews colonized in any way, shape, or form. Zionist immigration was a protracted, eclectic, and voluntary process which began around 1881. And from the 1920s and '30s onward, most Jewish refugees from Europe had to be smuggled past British colonial authorities. Moreover, a majority of Israel's current Jewish population originated in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, not Europe.
Even more disturbing is Moses's intimation that Israel's sole importance is to give American Jews "a sense of identity and courage"--that it's nice to have around because it proves that Jews aren't wimps and it might come in handy in the event of another Holocaust. Israel also has its own cuisine and its own literature, its own cinema, and its own rock music. Israel represents not only a negative response to anti-Semitism, but an affirmation of traditional Jewish identity. A Zionist is not merely a person who "desires to live in a Jewish state"; a Zionist is a Jew who cares about his national identity. If you truly care, Moses, then you, too, are a Zionist.
This is not to say that American Jews should not criticize Israel. On the contrary, a proper perspective lends all the more urgency to the quandary which Moses correctly described. All lovers of the State of Israel must deplore the deaths and violence of the past few weeks, and the situation which triggered its outbreak. It is our duty to involve ourselves in Middle East political discourse. But before we criticize, we must make sure that we have our facts straight, and our hearts where they belong. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. A little love is even more dangerous. Harvard/Radcliffe Zionist Alliance: Jessica Rutman '89, co-chair Jonathan Springer '90, co-chair Michael Goldhaber '90, member H/R Hillel Steering Committee: Jonathan Kolodny '90, chair Ellen Chubin '90, associate chair Ellen Lebowitz '90, secretary Daniel Schwartz '88, annual events