Michael Berkowitz
Michael Berkowitz

Things I Haven’t Heard about Israel – Part 1

Although the most overheated rhetoric about Israel is often based on pure fiction (and pretty wooly fiction at that – think stories of Mossad-trained sharks sent to attack swimmers at Egyptian resorts), some of it is just taking more-or-less agreed facts and putting weird constructions on them.

At the start of the modern Zionist movement there was a small number of Jews living in Israel among a larger number of Arabs, though not very many people overall.  Both populations increased naturally and through immigration.  People being what they are, relations between the Jewish minority and the Arab majority were a mix of amiability, simmering antipathy and the occasional burst of mass violence against the Jews.

With the creation of the State of Israel the violence came to a head, with some local Arabs joining forces with the armies of surrounding Arab countries to wipe the nascent state (along with many of its Jewish citizens) off the map.  That effort failed, leaving a situation with a modicum of stability.

These events are documented and not particularly controversial.  How one views them is up-for-grabs.

One tends to fit information into patterns one has already developed, often relating by analogy to what has already been acquired.  Having grown up in the 60s and 70s, the whole thing looks to me like nothing so much as “blockbusting” – at least in its positive aspect of expanding the presence of blacks into white neighborhoods.  More Jews were moving into a neighborhood dominated by Arabs, who were comfortable with the way things had been and didn’t like the idea of sharing with this other group, much less deferring to them culturally.  Hence:  Lobbying of authorities, sporadic acts of individual violence and occasional riots, and ultimately, war.

Israel’s War of Independence was the Tulsa Massacre where the blacks got to win.

Today’s progressives are in the odd position of lamenting that and pitying the poor Klansmen living in trailer parks, and here I’ll veer off into speculation:  Soviet propaganda has had a great deal of influence on progressive attitudes, and the Soviets turned it against Israel in support of their Arab clients.  This led to the “Zionism is Racism” debacle (I think the evidence of Soviet authorship is pretty clear there), the ennoblement of Palestinian terrorism and so forth.

As for placing this in the “Things I Haven’t Heard…” series, of course many people know who the good guys are in this story, but to my surprise I have never heard the blockbusting/Tulsa analogy.

About the Author
Michael and family moved from NYC to Alon Shvut in 1986. He works in Software; blogs sporadically on education, public policy and whatever else comes to mind; chairs the boards of two educational institutions and practices philosophy in the ancient tradition of corrupting the minds of youth.
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