Life is Belief & Struggle - Ahmed Shawqi

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why the Jews

(Picture taken from Many Like Me)

I was reading Sarah Honig's latest column on the coming 'tsunami' at the UN with Palestinians. While I have very little to quibble with Honig's column, I was struck by one incredible and existential 'why'. Let me quote Honig at length to set up the existential 'why'.

The 1947 UN partition plan earmarked a status of corpus separatum (separate entity) for Jerusalem, to be overseen by international administrators. Since the Arabs had already violently rejected the Partition Resolution, besieged Jerusalem, conquered and occupied parts of it, expelled all Jews from the Old City and demolished sacred Jewish sites, Ben- Gurion saw no logic in unilateral Israeli adherence to impotent UN proclamations.

On December 5, 1949, five days before the UN General Assembly was to reiterate the internationalization of Jerusalem (and kick off preparations to take control), Ben- Gurion defiantly declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Without trepidation he told the Knesset: “We consider it inconceivable that the UN would attempt to sever Jerusalem from the State of Israel or infringe upon Israel’s sovereignty in its eternal capital…

“Jewish Jerusalem will never accept alien rule after thousands of its youths liberated their historic homeland for the third time, redeeming Jerusalem from destruction and vandalism.

“We do not judge the UN, which did nothing when member-nations of the UN declared war on its resolution of 29 November 1947, trying to prevent the establishment of Israel by force, to annihilate the Jewish population in the Holy Land and to destroy Jerusalem, the holiest city of the Jewish people.

“Had we not been able to withstand the aggressors who rebelled against the UN, Jewish Jerusalem would have been wiped off the face of the earth, the Jewish population would have been eradicated and the State of Israel would not have arisen.
“Thus, we are no longer morally bound by the UN resolution of November 29, since the UN was unable to implement it.

“…The attempt to sever Jewish Jerusalem from the State of Israel will not advance the cause of peace in the Mideast or in Jerusalem itself. Israelis will give their lives to hold onto Jerusalem, just as the British would for London, the Russians for Moscow and the Americans for Washington.”

The UN remained impervious. On December 10, 1949, its General Assembly voted by a whopping majority (38-14, with seven abstentions) to uphold its 1947 resolution and place Jerusalem under the auspices of a UN Trusteeship Council, to be governed by the council’s own appointees.

That was the tsunami of 1949. It threatened to engulf fledgling Israel. But Ben-Gurion didn’t lose his cool. Instead of bowing to pressure, he mounted the Knesset podium yet again to repeat what he had enunciated a mere few days earlier: “We cannot assist in the forcible separation of Jerusalem, which would unnecessarily and unjustifiably violate the historical and natural rights of the Jewish people.”
He assertively stressed that “the State of Israel has had, and will always have, only one capital – eternal Jerusalem. This was so 3,000 years ago and so it will be, we believe, to the end of time.”

Ben-Gurion then put to the plenum’s vote his proposal to transfer the Knesset and the government from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It was approved.

There is probably not one city more contentiously claimed than Jerusalem, the historical capital of the Jews and the heart of Judaism. There were periods when Christians claimed exclusive domain of Jerusalem and expelled the Jewish presence from Zion. In an act, now of historical irony, the Jews were only allowed to return when the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem from the Christians was complete. It was only the magnanimity of Muslim rule which allowed the Jews to dwell once more within Zion's walls. Of course, if the Jews were not despised by the Christians would the Muslim forces been so magnanimous? I think not.

No one, who claims to be a supporter of the so-called two-state solution, is suggesting that Jerusalem should be internationalized, but rather, divided between two states. The western half would remain in Israel's control and capital while the eastern half would come under Palestinian control to be their capital. What I find most curious is that there is a general international consensus that no government will recognize even western Jerusalem as Israel's capital. But these same states, are willing to recognize western Jerusalem as Israel's capital providing the Israelis allow the Palestinians to destroy the unity of the eternal capital of the Jewish people.

While I agree with Honig, that all Israelis and Jews need to do is to stand firm in the face of international perfidy and intransigence, I am struck by this singular fact. Only are the Jewish people are denied the right to determine their own capital. Only the Jewish people are told they must divide and share their ancient capital with a people who never existed as a separate distinct group until the re-establishment of the ancient Jewish state.

So the 'why' becomes simply this; why is it that only the Jewish nation is not allowed to determine their own capital?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dairy Wars

While most of the so-called pro-Israeli political bloggers are busy writing about the Palestinians, Iran, Syria or the Jew baiting among the faux flotilla human rights activists; the Israeli body politic is in the midst of a greater public protest and push back against the rise of cottage cheese prices. This week, the protests have reached the Knesset and even the Prime Minister has waded in.

The first time I had Israeli cottage cheese was this winter and I have to admit it was completely unlike any of the Canadian (foul stuff) cottages cheeses that are widely available for sale here. In fact, I thought it was yogurt originally as it doesn't have texture or flavour as Canadian cottage cheese.

I wish the Israelis must success in their protests and can only wish that Canadian consumers would feel half as enraged over our own outrageous prices for dairy products.

Your move, Steve Jobs

The most amazing part of this story is that the government of Israel actually had to make a formal request to Apple to remove an 'app' whose purpose is to advance a third intifada against the state of Israel.

I would have thought that anything inciting violence against a country and a people would be a common sense red line that no Western company of Apple's size and prestige would willingly cross. Apparently, not. It will be interesting to see how Apple intends to react to this request.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Many Like Me

It is official. I am now a published author. I got the contract and am waiting on the royalties – if any. My children are deeply unimpressed and appear to suffer from the ‘show-me-the-money’ syndrome. Although, Isaiah Sender insisted I sign the last draft of the book I signed off on. Apparently, he did so in hope it might have some intrinsic value one day for which he can auction it off on eBay.

I always thought my first ‘published’ work would be one of the three novels-in-waiting I have spent the last few years toiling away on. I never dreamed my first published work would be a non-fiction historical book….or e-book until the fall when the trade paperback is scheduled to come out.

I was contracted as a hired gun, I suppose ghost-writer is the more accurate term, but my name as ‘author’ is clearly on the cover so I am not sure ‘ghost’ is the most appropriate term in this case. It has been an interesting process, and while I wish that Jaques Bar had been alive to answer in detail many of my own questions that remain unanswered, and consequently, the answers would have given the memoirs more depth but I believe the book does stand as an interesting historical narrative of the times from a unique prospective.

Besides, how many men fought on the Russian front with characters with like Andrei Kirilenko and Sergei Gorbachev? Or were sappers for the British Polish II Corps in Rommel’s Gardens, and then were militarily instrumental in the creation of the nascent Israeli state?

There were times when I really doubted my ability to churn out the first draft before (the always looming) March 31st deadline. I had to keep an impossible schedule to meet that deadline. I would go to my day job from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., go home, feed the sons, go bed and get up around mid-night and work until 6 a.m. Then I would get ready for work and begin the process all over again.

Since I am a hired gun, I do not get a dedication page, but if I did, I would dedicate the book to Gavriel. I met him by chance shortly after I signed the contract to write the Bar memoirs. I was whining away at a party about the inability of my family to leave me alone to work and the horrendous hours I needed to keep, in order, to be able to write. Being an Israeli man, he immediately took action. Of course, being a thoroughly North American woman, I was a somewhat taken back by the boldness of his solution to my predicament. But if there is one thing I have learned in my life - it is this - sometimes one must take a chance. And so I did.

He would wisk me away to his apartment far from my downtown home, in what I call affectionately call the Shtlel, and he allowed me to work undisturbed. I admit the ‘wisking’ (aka driving) made me to understand that everything I had ever heard about Israeli drivers was true and not the least bit exaggerated. Never before, in my life, have I had so many opportunities to recite the Shema in a 15 minute interval. Did I mention that the drive should have taken 40 minutes and my knowledge of modern Hebrew slang and cuss words has expanded considerably and dramatically? I still may not be able to express a complex thought in Hebrew but I can now effectively deliver the most disparaging monologue on the deficiencies of male organs or your mother’s innate promiscuousness with goats, camels etc.

And when guilt would rear its head (like when my youngest son took to addressing me as ‘birther’ rather than ‘Ima’), he would forcefully insist my teenaged sons were old enough to be left alone now and then - and would benefit for fending for themselves – especially given there was a freezer full of meals pre-made for them and my cell-phone was always on. He was quite amazed at how we (North Americans) - baby our children - even in late adolescence – at a stage of life when most Israeli teens are getting ready to join the army.

The entire "Life on the Russian Front" was written in his apartment. It is the part of the book which I am most proud of, but it gave me no end of trouble to write. He would ply me with endless cups of Israeli coffee which would always seem to magically appear at my side whenever I needed a cup the most. He translated reams of Hebrew to English for me when my own written and cursive Hebrew skills were seriously compromised by the material in front of me. Gavriel was fascinated that he had never heard of this man before and he let me ramble on when I needed to.

And so to him, I would say,

תודה לך

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Drawing my redlines in the sand: No Libyans ever called me nigger

The Globe and Mail is reporting that Canadian Defense Minister Peter Mackay is set to ask parliament to increase Canadian funding to the tune of $60 Million.

Apparently, we have already spent $26 million to date for our adventures in Libya. And this, from an alleged Conservative government – I cannot wait to see the next foolish war Stephen Harper elects to involve Canadian in – I’m taking bets it is Yemen.

The strategic thinking of why we are in Libya - as opposed to places like the North Korea, Syria, Iran, Sudan, or central Africa escapes me. And I am a little more than resentful having to fund and help finance the post-colonial adventures of France and Britain.

From what I can tell, the poor beleaguered taxpayers of Western NATO countries seem to be picking up the tab disproportionately for the so-called Arab Spring. An Arab spring, which I am starting to think of as more like the western winter - and I am cringing thinking about the size of the minimum payment needed to be made on the credit card come January.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Behold, a miracle

It will soon be Shabbat and since I am a giver, I thought I would share one of the high points of writing the Memoirs of Jaques Bar (aka Many Like Me). I got to hold in my hands Bar's original battle plans for the Capture of Haifa, circa April 1948, the first real victory in the Israeli War of Independence and without the capture of Haifa, there might not even be an Israel to demonize and kick around - or defend.

I have an Israeli friend who helped me with the translations. He was astounded looking at the maps - he kept saying - I know this street, I played here and he would look at me and say with amazement in his voice, 'they fought where I played as a child'.

By the way, did I mention the Jews had no artillery capacity, and instead of mortars, used tire bombs filled with dynamite and stones?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hamas and the Agents of Death Peace Narrative

The Globe and Mail ran a weekend feature piece by Patrick Martin on Hamas – and I am using the by-line heading here: Hamas: Agents of terror, partners in peace, or both?Martin tries very hard to give a ‘well-rounded’ both sides kind of piece. Some of it useful, some of it not so useful. I do give Martin credit for at least acknowledging that Hamas’ ties to the Muslim Brotherhood – although, calling Hamas an ‘off-shoot’ gives the Muslim Brotherhood cover from the rather disturbing violence Hamas has deployed throughout the years – both against Israelis and Palestinians. Hamas, is simply; the Palestinian Chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Like so very many articles on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict there are a number of distortions, often reinforcing this ‘cycle of violence’ narrative which so many in the western world cling on to without respite. It also allows organizations like Hamas to cover up their less than savory narratives. Take this one -

It was in 1994 that Hamas first launched its campaign of suicide bombings targeting civilians inside Israel. The first such attack took place in Afula, in central Israel, when a 19-year-old bomber blew himself up at a bus stop, killing eight Israelis and wounding 34 others.

The date was April 6, exactly 40 days after an Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein, a physician and reserve army officer, entered the mosque at Abraham's tomb in Hebron and killed 29 Palestinians at prayer, wounding dozens of others. That was the event, Hamas leaders say, that crossed “a red line” and changed the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

…If Palestinian civilians at prayer could be attacked, Hamas reasoned, Israeli civilians would be considered targets too.

Which is all well and good…except The Beit El bombing also known as the Mehola Junction bombing in April 16, 1993 was the first ‘bombing’ Hamas took credit for - almost a full year before Baruch Goldstein’s infamous meltdown in Hevron.

Then there is this little gem:
“We were shocked,” said Ghazi Hamad, recently appointed the Hamas government's deputy foreign minister. Mr. Hamad met with representatives of various European countries immediately after the election. He pleaded for time to show what kind of government Hamas would lead. “ ‘Hamas is not Taliban,' ” Mr. Hamad said he told everyone. “Hamas is a moderate organization."

Nothing quite says “Taliban” or even ‘moderate organization’ like a Hamas Agents attacking a wedding party inside the Gaza Strip…or the violent and bloody coup of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

…or launching a rocket attack at an Israeli school bus from the Gaza Strip and killing one Israeli school boy this past April.

For some reason, the entire history of Hamas targeting Israeli civilians inside the post-49 borders of Israel with rockets is conveniently scratched over…although, I admit, it probably is best to forget it – especially if one wants to accept Hamas can be ‘moderated’ or you have a vested interest in white-washing the Hamas narrative for mass Western media consumption.

As far as Hamas being an agent for peace goes…it probably only works as long as the word ‘peace’ and ‘grave’ are used in the same sentence.