Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Abuse of History.

Tony Elliot - Resident of Israel and UK

It is possible to take details from history (or omit them) and distort present day reality. This is happening regarding the peace process in the Middle East at the time of writing.

Viewing Israel through the prism of contemporary history can be used to create the wrong impressions. The conflict in the Middle East needs a context. Part of that context is the historical facts.

“The past must not be consigned to irrelevance. Unbroken historical continuities contextualize current events. Nothing springs forth from a vacuum. What takes place began back there”
-           Sarah Honig  

To paraphrase:  If we ‘airbrush out’ or ‘spin’ aspects of history we lose integrity and distort reality.   

On the 13-03-2014  Secretary of State. John Kerry addressed the House of Foreign Affairs Committee. He made the point that Israel was deliberately making things difficult for the Palestinians by insisting they recognise Israel as a Jewish State. This he intimated was an un-necessary stumbling block being put before the Palestinians because their recognition had been endorsed in the 181 Resolution back in 1947. Basically he was telling Israel to stop ‘banging on about it’.

Quote  “They (Israel) keep raising it again and again as a critical decider of their attitude towards the possibility of a state and peace and we’ve obviously made it clear”

This statement is either a mistake or worse a dangerous and deceptive manipulation of historical fact. It is true that in Resolution 181 Nov29th 1947 the words ‘The Jewish state is mentioned 40 times’. However Mr Kerry misses out one important fact: The Arabs never accepted Resolution 181. Their response to Resolution 181 was to mobilise 7 armies with the intention of exterminating the Jewish people. Gen Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha articulated Arab priorities. Quote  “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre”.  That sentiment remains today.

Israel insists the Palestinians recognise the Jewish State of Israel because it is stated in the UN Resolution 181. To Israel the present day reality and the historical facts cannot be separated. Nor should they be!  What the Arabs rejected 67 years ago must be accepted today. The issue should not be ‘airbrushed’ away.  It is the central issue in the search for a lasting peace.    
Another example of interpreting history through a contemporary prism appears in Robert Fisk’s book ‘Pity the Nation’ quote:

‘……….Yad Vashem is not so much a memorial as a political statement. Its documents, photographs, dictate its theme: That the holocaust produced the state of Israel and that anyone who opposed the creation of that state is on the level of the Nazis’

The historical context tells a different story. By this statement he makes three insinuations:

1.       That Yad Vashem is more a political statement.
2.       That the Holocaust produced the State of Israel.
3.       Anyone who opposes the creation of the State of Israel is a Nazi.

1.Yad Vashem has two functions: First and foremost as a memorial to 6 million men, women and children, who were denied the right to live. Secondly as a place of study and research into the subject of genocide. To reduce Yad Vashem to the level of a political statement is an abuse of the historical facts and an insult both to the memory of those who perished and the integrity of Israel’s government.

2. The State of Israel was long in process before the Holocaust.  Mr. Frisk ‘airbrushes’ over the facts and creates a distorted picture. The vision for a Jewish homeland existed as early as 1809. A London Missionary group supported by people like William Wilberforce had an agenda which worked towards the physical restoration of the Jewish people to Eretz Israel.  
In 1895 Theodor Herzl wrote Der Judenstaat (the Jewish State).

“The Jews who will it shall achieve their State. We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and in our own homes peacefully die. The world will be liberated by our freedom, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness. And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind."

To suggest that the Holocaust produced the State of Israel is either ignorance or a deliberate manipulation of the facts.

3. Mr. Fisk’s third insinuation does contain some relevance to historical fact because, Hajj Amin al Hussieni, the grand Mufti of Jerusalem (1921-1948) actually joined the Nazis party. He vehemently opposed the creation of the State of Israel.  However Mr. Fisk uses the word ‘anyone’ to infer that Israel is in the business of stereo typing ‘anyone’ who disagrees with its politics as ‘Nazis’. Another example of a misleading interpretation.

Contemporary history needs the context of past history.  It is dangerous to pick and choose aspects of history in order to push an agenda.


Rachel said...

I agree!

As an RE teacher who has heard it taught that the state of Israel was created after the second world war in response to the Holocaust, I always find it rather annoying, (and ignorant), that Israel's ancient religious and cultural Jewish connection is not mentioned! How out of context is that!

Sasha Brengauz said...

The only what I get from the history of (new) Israel is that
she was permitted to be created by gilt of some states, that
did allowed the holocaust. Those state assumed that it will be
very temporary and there will be nobody to blame them afterward,
Yad Vashem has a meaning no less then a second Temple back
over two millennial. It is sort off a Third Temple.



HolylandIsraelTours said...

Shalom Stuart

May I suggest additional information:

The Jews never left the Holy Land even after the Great Revolt in 66 CE and the Bar Cochvah Revolt in 132 CE when a large protion of the Jewish nation was exterminated or exiled and sold as slaves, still in the Galilee area and the in the Negev, Jewish communities continued to thrive. In 1881 started the fist major Aliyah or comeback of Jews to the Holy Land.

See this:

Even way before that there were several movements to re-settle by Jews in the Holy Land.