(re: “Building the world we all want,” Feb. 4)
Maayan Seligsohn’s thoughtful letter warrants comment.
Only a fool or a rogue would disagree with Ms. Seligsohn’s statement of the vision ascribed to Rabbi Avi Weiss (long a leader in the fight for human rights, and a person of unequaled vision and integrity), namely that “all human blood, and the bloods of all people crying out from the ground — Black, white, Israeli and Palestinian, gentile and Jew” (and I would add Muslims and others) is sacred, and demands dignity, equality and just treatment.
Ms. Seligsohn’s statement was made in the context of concern that Israel’s government supposedly had failed to provide coronavirus vaccinations to Arabs, including Palestinians. But her comments are flawed.
The politician, U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, who first jumped on that canard — and who Ms. Seligsohn cites — had not done his homework. Indeed, his assault was only the latest in a series of hateful and harmful slurs attacking the Israeli nation that raise serious question as to his real purpose.
Israel undertook to provide vaccinations to its entire population — Arab, Palestinian, Christian, Muslim, Jew and agnostic alike. Once that herculean task was under way, it would look beyond its own citizenry and provide for the Palestinian Authority. Although under the Oslo Accords, the authority had that responsibility, and some among the Israeli population would question that judgment in view of the ongoing indiscriminate terrorist attacks upon innocent Israeli citizens, and concerns as to whether those who dominate the authority and Hamas would actually provide fairly and honestly for their populace.
Israel nonetheless discreetly determined to provide from its own limited vaccine allotment thousands of doses to the authority so that it could vaccinate the populace in Judea and Samaria — the so-called West Bank — plus Gaza, although the authority already has a pending vaccine application to the World Health Organization, whose COVax program was designed to meet just such needs.
Israel did not wait to first take care of its own elderly and infirm. Thousands of doses have been already allocated to the West Bank and Gaza populations, not withstanding the indiscriminate savagery that some in that community continue to practice against Christians and Jews alike.
Ms. Seligsohn’s stated concern and vision is laudable, but I would submit it misses several marks, and ignores others. To illustrate, her thesis that partnership — in providing “universal access to food, housing, health care and safety” as between Israel and its neighbors is ignored — is a fundamentally flawed notion.
Partnership presupposes at least two parties — “it takes to two to tango.” And as the late Abba Eban famously stated, the Palestinian leadership “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
Look at the emirates, Bahrain, Dubai and even Saudi Arabia, and the contrast becomes plain. Partnership is at work there. Yet, those hostile to the state of Israel and its people — including Congressman Bowman and his like-oriented extreme Republican counterpart from Georgia — ignore that demonstration of reality and what good faith as contrasted with posturing can achieve.
It is true that there continues to be serious distrust and tension between Israel and the authority and its Hamas “affiliate.” Bombs, missiles, stabbings, firebombs, and other acts of indiscriminate barbarity tend to generate distrust, and worse. Ms. Seligsohn’s vision is laudable, but there are two sides to most stories, and that is certainly the case here.
Unfortunately, Ms. Seligsohn makes no mention of Hamas and Palestinian corruption and butchery, let alone their historic refusal to partake of meaningful dialogue, or its implementation. Not surprisingly, her pedestrian politician friend ignores it.
However, it really does take two to tango, and consistent finger pointing at just one is unforgivable, though revealing.
Israel’s leadership has its faults. So do those of China (like in its persecution of the Muslim Uighur population), Russia (like in its persecution of its Muslim Chechnyan population, and the Stalin-like savagery against Alexei Navalny and the voices of freedom he leads), Turkey (in its renewed genocide against Armenia), and certain African nations (like the Eritrean massacre), to name a few.
Indeed, our own government has rightly been accused of human rights abuses against people of color, Latinos and others. Interestingly, politicians on the extreme left — like their colleagues on the extreme right — are utterly silent when it comes to the unquestioned human rights abuses or genocidal actions of other nations, but stridently vocal when it comes to any issue they can cobble up with respect to Israel.
That studied silence and striking contrast speaks volumes.
Ms. Seligsohn doubtlessly acts in good faith, and has standing to challenge the governing policies of the ruling individuals in Israel and those of every other nation she legitimately believes is violating basic rights. However, those are challenges to the conduct of individuals and their policies, not to the essence of a nation, its people, and the lone democratic institution in the area: the state of Israel.
That is a fundamental distinction with a vital difference.
I think Ms. Seligsohn recognizes the difference and I fervently hope that, in the future, she makes it clear. I seriously doubt whether some extremist politicians comprehend — or even care about — the distinction.