Winning the War of Words by Einat Wilf
The establishment of the state of Israel on May 15, 1948 remains the most significant event in the history of the Jewish community in modern times.Having read widely about the Jewish people, history shows that after an exile of almost 2000 years, the Jewish people are returning to their ancient homeland, a tiny little piece of land in the Middle East of which they were dreaming, yearning and praying for, for many centuries all over the world.The millions who emigrated to Israel before and after the establishment of the state and those who come today are not just “settlers” who arrived to a remote and unknown plot of land, but people who are going back to their homeland, the place where their religion, culture, language and national identity took form. The place where they became a people.Reading “Winning the War of Words” by a very good friend of mine Dr. Einat Wilf, a former Knesset member of parliament, ex-intelligence officer and currently roving Ambassador for Israel and Zionism and edited by Daniel Rubenstein ,it is clear that historical backdrop of the Israel-Palestine conflict can be traced back 5,000 years to 3000 BC.The story of struggling Jews is part legend, part scriptural, part psychological, and entirely political. Religions happens to be in the picture because the Middle East is the birthplace of three monotheisms namely Christianity, Islam and Judaism thus making it “the cradle of civilisation” as historians likes calling it. On page 29 under a title “How can Palestinians be refugees in their own state,” Dr Einat Wilf made me understand that “cradle” status ensures the region is continuously in the limelight.
Religions are involved, yet they are not the main concern according to her argument. Instead, this conflict is a humanitarian issue of massive proportion.The Israel-Palestine conflict also centres on a piece of land.The notion that Jews are highly regarded because of the notion of the “the chosen” people is not a valid argument, to begin with. A religious belief, after all, is simply a belief.The story of Palestinian people is more of betrayals and preservation of culture, something we all should acknowledge and be aware of and thats why she quotes a story she co authored with Jonathan Schanzer on Jerusalem Post on why Sweden move to recognise Palestine as state was awfully wrong because it may conflict with its support for a United Nations Refugee Organisation that it backs to the tune of tens of millions of dollars annually.The land of Israel has been the home of the Jewish people for more than 3000 years.Even after they had been deported from their land by the Roman Empire, after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, a significant group of Jews remained in the land. The majority who were exiled, never forgot their homeland and prayed for many centuries to return to Jerusalem, to Zion. Anti-Semitism, a phenomenon of hatred towards Jews because of their different religion,led to Jews for many centuries, living as an oppressed minority, weak, humiliated and persecuted. Anti-Semitism is hatred, which in many occasions is coupled with brutal violence against Jews only because of their religion and because of their persistence to preserve their different way of life.We saw that happen in a Belgium museum recently and in France where a popular jewish supermarket was attacked by terrorists.
Hundreds of years of such hatred and persecution led to the biggest tragedy in Jewish history and the history of the whole world, the Holocaust.The systematic murder of the Jewish people by the Germans during the World War II, the Shoah, was not just another case of “genocide”. It was the first time in human history where a systematic, planned, and industrial murder of millions of people was perpetuated. Six million Jews, among them one and a half million children were slaughtered in the death camps of Nazi Germany only because they were Jews.The birth of Zionism, which was a movement of renewal for Jews by Theodore Herzl is meant to be the antithesis of antisemitism, which started a whole new ball game that continues to this very day. With the 1917 Balfour Declaration, in which the United Kingdom officially recognised the Jewish people’s right to a homeland in Israel, and Woodrow Wilson’s notion of self-determination, the dream of unity provoked the Pan-Arabism movement, which created more antisemitism.According to Dr Einat Wilf , during that period, the Turks, then the Ottoman Empire, loosened up immigration regulations, which resulted in waves of Jewish migration to Palestine. Such influxes brought some level of prosperity to Palestinian Arabs who sold their lands to the highest bidders, and eventually better healthcare and longer life expectancy.Yet some Palestinian Arabs saw the Jews as a threat to their sovereignty due to UK and US influences. Since then, widespread riots have been used as instruments of revolt.
The US and UK have been involved in the region in rounds of talks as revealed by Edward Snowden.We all know that Harry Truman supported Zionists due to the promise of the Balfour Declaration and belief in humanity to compensate holocaust survivors. In 1947, the UN General Assembly declared the division of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.From Dr Einat Wilf essays, Contador Harrison can now define Zionism as a political idea, a political platform, and a movement which aims at calling the Jewish people to come back to their ancient homeland and resuming their independence as a modern state.Thus, Zionism has two aims in my understanding after reading Winning the War of Words. One is the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the normalisation of their lives like many other peoples in the world. The other is to establish a safe haven for all Jews, in which they will have a state of their own and capable of defending themselves.It is also clear that Zionist leadership never ignored the fact that the land of Israel, whilst under British rule, was not an empty place.Many Arabs lived there. Those Arabs, the Palestinians, saw and still see this land as their land and they also wish to exercise their national rights there.The territorial conflict between Arabs and Jews over the rule of the land led the General Assembly of the United Nations, in November 1947, to decide on the partition of the land into two separate sovereign states.A Jewish state and the other a Palestinian state.The Zionist leadership immediately decided to accept the UN partition plan.However, the plan was rejected outright by the Arabs.
The entire Arab world rejected the mere idea of an establishment of a Jewish state in the Middle East and started a war against the newly established state of Israel. With this rejection, they also denied the Palestinians, the establishment of their own independent and free state that could also have celebrated today its 60th year of independence.Dr Einat Wilf thinks that it is possible to end the Middle East conflict by reaching a territorial compromise which will enable both people to live as good neighbours together in peace.Since the establishment of Israel, it is a flourishing democracy. In her own words,Israel has a dynamic and pluralistic society with a rich culture. It has become an important center of creativity and innovation. It has numerous universities and research institutes, some of which are renowned worldwide.The existence of Israel is a fact that even President Barack Obama has accepted according to Dr Einat Wilf essays on page 68 under a title “President Obama Lessons on Zionism,”she acknowledges the importance of US president visit to Israel where he appealed to peace and reminded the world of Zionism’s foundations and nature as a movement of liberation and self-determination.Dr Einat Wilf notes that within moments of landing in Israel, Obama emphasised that the creation of the state of Israel is rooted in the historical, yet sometimes denied, link between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel: “I know that in stepping foot on this land,” he said, “I walk with you on the historic homeland of the Jewish people.
Well over 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people lived here, tended the land here, prayed to God here.” Those who choose to ignore this fact are ignoring a living reality. The very few who choose a policy of “no recognition” of the state of Israel are becoming marginal and irrelevant.Israel will continue doing everything in order to reach a historic compromise with its neighbours and to finally end the conflict. We all hope that this compromise will be reached in the near future for the benefit of all the people in the Middle East.We all hope that this compromise will be reached in the near future for the benefit of all the people in the Middle East.Those of us who’ve read history related to the two religions knows that Muslims and Jews were close brothers until the incident in Medina when Jewish influences were eliminated for not accepting Islam.It is distinguishable that a religion is both a spiritual vehicle and a political instrument.When it is used as a political instrument, the scripture is likely to show such an inclination.In my overall view, the essays on Zionism and Israel by my friend Dr Einalt Wilf is well researched and intention and dispels myths that we’ve come across like how Zionist leaders allowed the massacre of Jews in Europe to create the image of an oppressed group, which critics claims that Israel has benefited in the long run.Dr Einat Wilf has showered Israel with words of admiration but by contrast, Dr Wilf is unclear in her essays on the fate of Palestinians in exile or living under occupation but its clear there is a solution to it.
From Dr Einat Wilf, now I know Zionism and its ideology are the victor in the homeland of Jewish and Palestinian people and not just the former.I did also fully understand that Zionist ideology in Palestine is not consistently based on one strategic goal and many myths and there is no goal by Israel to occupy as much Palestinian land, or to expel as many Arabs from it, as possible.Thats a propaganda that seems to peddled by those don’t like the Jewish state as noted on “Winning the Media War” on page 80, Dr Einat Wilf notes Al Jazeera and Russia Today as among the leading anti Israel global media outlets.Dr Einat Wilf also weighs in on how to fix the Israel Education system at no additional costs on pages 90-94. She notes that improved education system is inseparable from elevating the general quality of life in Israel. She gives examples of other countries, the notion of having a set percentage of the state budget for education sector may seem unusual and unnecessary. Finland, a country widely accepted as the highest achiever in quality education, surprisingly only spends 15 percent of its state budget on education. In Finland, education comes third in the budget after social affairs/health and finance.Dr Einat Wilf makes it clear that it is not the allocated budget alone that can help Israel achieve quality education. Quality education is a combined result of good public service, the provision of basic needs to Israel citizens and effective management of public funds, no matter how large or small.It was interesting “The Red Carpet Syndrome,” was her last section in the book and its about her graduation from prestigious Harvard University and I quote her “The Red Carpet Syndrome is the sense of entitlement that comes not from wealth or lineage, but of merit. Yes, even merit can lead to entitlement.” Good job well done Dr Einat Wilf!
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