Rob Miller

Blaming the victim, with the best of intentions

It’s been said with a great deal of truth that the way to Hell is paved with good intentions. Equally true is that your friends can do you far more harm than your worst enemy, even without perhaps realizing it.

Judea Pearl is the father of murdered reporter Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and beheaded by jihadis in Pakistan in 2002, and who now dedicates himself to the Daniel Pearl Foundation and the mission self-described on its website, which is “to promote mutual respect and understanding among diverse cultures through journalism, music, and dialogue.”

Recently, he commented on the boycott of Israeli academics and universities by the American Studies Association (ASA). And for all his obviously good intentions, those comments show that Judea Pearl has unfortunately swallowed a healthy dose of anti-Israel narrative, whether he realizes it or not. Parsing this is valuable as a teachable moment, because he’s not alone.

Pearl mentioned quite rightly that two of the common responses to the ASA boycott are unhelpful – the notion that Israel is being unfairly targeted when there are far worse offenders out there, and that Israel is aware of its “crimes” and is working to rectify them.

Yes, he has that correct, although the spectacle of a Dutch pension fund divesting from Israeli banks over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria while still continuing to invest in Chinese banks in Tibet makes for interesting speculation on their real motives.

But as he continues, Pearl slips into the narrative of explaining that Israel’s occupation was really not intentional, that what he calls the occupation is ugly and unsustainable, and what he refers to as Israel’s “forced presence” needs to end with an agreement to end the conflict.

What Pearl is really doing, whether he realizes it or not, is even more deadly then the BDSers, because it’s phrased with such reasonable-sounding terms.

It’s time to recognize a few basic truths here.

In 1948 and in every war since, the Jews were literally fighting for their lives.The Arab objective was never simply to just take over territory, but annihilation.When Palestinians talk today about the nakba of 1948, it’s important to remember that what they are mourning is a failed genocide. It’s high time this was said, and repeatedly, so that it sinks in. The UN declared Israel a state, but there was never any clear agreement about its borders, since the Arabs rejected any notion of living in peace with Israel and figured on a successful jihad to seize and keep all of it.

The entire idea of “occupation” here is a fallacy. The UN itself never recognized Jordan’s 1948 ethnic cleansing and illegal 19-year de facto seizure of the area. This is especially true of Judea and Samaria, where Israel’s claim is bolstered by the 1924 San Remo Agreement between Britain and the League of Nations that allowed Britain to partition Palestine into a Jewish state west of the Jordan and and Arab state east of the river called Jordan, and Article 80 of the UN charter, which preserved the application of the League of Nations Mandate’s stipulations, as the Levy Report showed. Britain’s failure to keep her pledged word and Jordan’s invasion do not change that. And when Jordan attacked Israel in 1967, Israel had a perfect right to retain that territory, especially since it included a great deal of legally owned Jewish property.

Judea and Samaria never belonged to any other country, especially not to the Palestinians, since they did not exist then as a nation. Their sole claim of sovereignty over any part of Judea and Samaria is based on the Oslo Accords, which Yasser Arafat never abided by and which the Palestinian Authority now says they’re no longer bound by anyway.

Like apartheid, “occupation” is simply another convenient word misused to demonize Israel. And it happens because the conversation when it comes to Middle East peace always revolves somehow around Israel’s security and not the rights of its people, while discussions about the Palestinians are exactly the reverse. The Palestinians are able to ignore security because they know they can when it comes to Israel, a humane nation. So they keep talking about their rights. Israel, on the other hand, has no such assurances – the reverse, in fact. This is also why justice for the almost one million Jewish refugees who were ethnically cleansed from the Arab world after 1948 after everything they owned was plundered is seldom mentioned in any discussion of peace negotiations, except as an afterthought. It exactly the reverse of what the conversation ought to be from Israel’s standpoint. I would even go so far as to say that without Israel changing this conversation, real peace is impossible.

Pearl’s comments about an agreement to end the conflict are simply another aspect of this mindset. The clear implication is that all Israel has to do is sign a paper and turn over some land for peace for sweetness and light to reign.

The reality that many people fail to realize is that the majority of Palestinians see this as a religious and tribal conflict, not a political one. That’s why the entire land for peace formula never worked in the past.

Proof of this can be seen in comments by every Palestinian leader from Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini and Yasser Arafat on down. It can be seen in the way  the Palestinians celebrate and make heroes out of murderers who kill women and children, in what they are taught daily in their schools, mosques and media. PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas makes it even clearer and has said repeatedly  that he doesn’t want a single Jew allowed to live in his proposed Palestine. And Hamas, Abbas’ new partner in the coming Palestinian unity government, goes even further, making every member swear the Martyr’s Oath, which contains a religious injunction for the murder of Jews worldwide.

That kind of hatred is not going to be cured by signing a piece of paper, turning over some land and making yet another part of the world judenrein, and it is dangerous to think that it will.

The problem of Middle East peace in a nutshell has nothing to do, really, with what Israel does or doesn’t do. It’s that Israel exists. The core of the matter is the widespread Arab refusal to accept Jews living among them in peace and equality. Fix that, and the rest may becomes doable.

If, as Pearl says, support for the BDS movement is a red line that distinguishes serious discussion of the Middle East from sheer ‘anti-Zionism’, accepting the Palestinian narrative and ignoring the rights of Jews to live wherever they choose in peace ought to be regarded the same way.

It is simply blaming the victim, even with the best of intentions. And it’s time it stopped. Hillel’s injunction about who is going to be for us if we are not for us comes to mind.

About the Author
Rob Miller's work has appeared in The Jewish Press, American Thinker, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The San Francisco Chronicle, Real Clear Politics, Andrew Breitbart.Com's Big Peace and other publications.