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by Michael George
Saturday, Jan. 15, 2005 at 12:16 PM
Last weeks Middle Eastern Focus on KPFK brought out some alarming misinformation that it's host, Don Bustani, is purveying. In the interest of fairness this letter will attempt to reconcile this information with the truth.
Dear Mr. Bustani,
I am a peace activist. I go to Israel and speak on behalf of Palestinian rights at Rabbin Square, I march against Iraq wars (both of them), and I donate every extra penny at the grocery store to free and help the Sudanese.
Having said that, I must say that as an Israeli by birth and a Jew by heritage I am quite distressed about what some people would say about what I consider my race.
During last weeks Middle Eastern focus, Mr. Bustani, you erred when he said Europeans were the ones who caused the problems in Israel. Frankly this statement is the most racist statement I have ever heard. Historical fact and present statistics show that the majority of Jews in Israel are in fact Arab refugees from before, during and after the Holocaust. The status of these people in their Arab motherlands and Mr. Bustani's opinion thereafter is also suspect but I will adress this later.
Secondly, his reference to European Jews belies the nature of the very people he is speaking about. He speaks as if all of these "European," people were wealthy and militant. This is simply not the case. The majority of Jews who came to Israel from Europe were second class citizens and refugees. These people were under constant attack from their neighbors for nothing else than being different. Up until the seventies in Russia, where my mother is from, Jews were clearly seperated by stamps on their passport, restricted from work, restricted in housing, jailed, beaten, and murdered. My Mother lost an entire half of her family to Hitler. Including a fortune in businesses, hotels, and fine art.
My father, who's family can be traced to relatives in Israel who owned a large swath of what is now Rishon LeZion since before diaspora, had grandparents who survived Siberia because they were Jewish under Stalin. In sevety one and seventy two respectively, my parents came to Israel and met in a school for Russian immigrants in the middle of nowhere surrounded by desert on land which was indeed purchased. The school has since been converted to house Ethiopian students who were starving when Israel rescued them while the rest of the world basically only threw money at the problem.
To say Europeans, being a different color than their Arab/ Jewish counterparts, caused the problem is directly akin to saying that black people ruin a neighborhood when they come in. Not only are both statements false, but they both show that the person speaking is allied with the true racist, be it the KKK, or a Muslim extremist. My color doesn't mean I'm not Israeli by heritage and geneology, my color doesn't mean I hurt a Palestinian, my color doesn't mean I don't have a right to live where I please if I buy my house with legitimate money or that if I am attacked, have no right to defend my skin because it is white and I speak Russian and English. Being a Jew, my color does sheild me from some discrimination, but my best friend as a child was hung from a tree in Skokie Illinois by skinheads for wearing his Jewish star, so my color does not protect me from any racism in the long run. Jews have always been strange fruit hanging from Poplar trees, in Poland, America, Arab lands, and in rare instances even Asia proper.
I am a refugees child.
I fight for the right of everyone to claim their history, be he Native American, or Palestinian, but I have yet to ever hear Mr. Bustani give me my right (not that he has to) to live in the city which my family owned for millenia. In fact, Mr. Bustani says my fathers people in Israel were few in number. But I would dare to say to him, how many could there be after Romans, Nazis, Muhammed, and others were through hanging us from trees and skinning our most beloved Rabbis alive.
Which brings me back to Mr. Bustani's opinion of what he calls "protected minorities." On the show, he used that phrase to describe Jews in Arab lands before the rise of Israel. He uses the Quaran itself to show that Jews were to be protected. Indeed Mr Bustani, they were protected much as African slaves were protected here in America. The very Quaran he spoke of tells a tale of how Jews were slaughtered wholesale by Mohammed himself. Decrees and other documents may have ordered protection, but what is protection when you pay twice the taxes, have seperate institutions, are plagued by pogroms worldwide, and are scapegoated whenever the economy is bad????
Even the Jews of Morocco, who weren't persecuted outright until Israel came into being, experienced Cristal Nacht like behavior from their neighbors. Sephardi Jews from America comprise a huge portion of Settlers. They are mostly Iranian or Persian and they refuse to even think about return to being second class citizens. To date, no Arab country in the world can truly offer freedom to it's Jewish citizens. Of the 30,000 or so which remain in Iran, many live as poorly as civil war freed slaves, despite their higher education and persistence in business which is dictated by their religion. Even in Turkey, where Turks claim to love their Jews as fellow Turks, Synagogues face attack.
Mr. Bustani, I agree that ideally all people of the region should be happy, I agree that what we now call Palestinians were gravely abused by the British, and most other conquerors. However, on a large scale, my sympathy does not rest with an Arab majority in the UN which votes against your so called, "protected minority," on a regular basis. I even find, after the oil for food scandal and other atrocities, that the United nations records and file keeping are extremely suspect. I find that after the Vichy incidents and persistent Arab violence against Jews in France that references to French documents in the UN do not stand up to explicit racism regularly demonstrated by the French. I find, most unfortunately, that you do not answer to or for Arab teaching of Nazi propoganda in schools from Iran to Indonesia adequately, nor do you justify it by saying my skin and languages justify this teaching.
I especially find it horrendous that you call a nation, one nation of refugees terrorists, the nation which builds schools, waterways and roads for their neighbors only to be bombed in return, while the other nation of refugees who comprise a much larger race, and have many more financial resources among that race from oil, do nothing but bomb, hurt, and malign white and Jewish people as a national cause.
I heard somewhere that certain clerics said God destroyed Indonesia and Thailand for allowing Western tourists into Muslim lands. If God exists, and if that entity destroyed Indonesia maliciously at all, it was because when America was attacked, Muslims cheered all over that region.
The main difference is, aside from isolated tiny groups which you will be hard pressed to find outside of Israeli jails, no Jew has ever rejoiced at the suffering of another race. Our bible teaches us to be kind to strangers because we were starngers too in Egypt. We do not hand out Baklava when our enemies are defeated. We do not put up posters of our soldiers as heroes when they kill an innocent. We do not honor Rachel Corries killer with radio broacasts of his bravado and the virgins he will recieve. In fact, we investigate and try these people as criminals when the evidence clearly shows malice. You are not a forensic photography expert, and to purport that you know for a fact she was killed maliciously is simply a lie for which you will pay in instant Karma I'm sure.
From the christian perspective, "judge not lest ye be judged." And I find I am judging you also Mr. Bustani, I am judging you to be a part of the racist culture which says it is o.k. to think a Jew has no feelings, sympathy, or regard for his neighbor. You have taken forty years or more of retaliatory war, and two thousand years plus of worldwide persecution, and twisted it up as if to say that Jews were not so victimised as we would have you believe. You have compared 5 terrorist acts with 500. You have said white people destroy a neighborhood by simply trying to buy land and live. You have compared worldwide genocide with a struggle for independance that has cost Palestinians less than 5,000 lives. You have allied yourself against a Jewish nation regardless of the fault of Jordanians and other Arabs who treated their refugees in despicable ways, Jewish or Palestinians.
I bleed for the children of the Middle East who thanks to you think it's ok to hate my skin. I cry at night for the teenagers and tourists who died in bars and cafes, grandchildren of Holocausts, pogroms, second class, who just only now in Israel have become free. When the 22 other Arab nations which surround Israel decide a Jew is not just a minority to be taxed and maligned and "protected," then perhaps we will have peace. When the Palestinians demand the same things from Arabs as they do from Jews, when they no longer teach hatred, and when they no longer blow up Palestinians and Jews at checkpoints, bars and restaurants, when they realize the settlements are economic developments where many Arabs worked high paying jobs before this intifada, and that Jericho has lost 30,000,000 U.S. dollars per year for housing terrorists because no one will go there anymore for tourism, they will see the Jew is their brother, a human, no matter what color, and to hurt him, is to hurt yourself. It is time for racism in Arab lands to go. There is no justification for it. Israelis simply will not trust the culture that still sides with the Imam and Hitler. If Germans taught these things we would be at war again with them. It is not acceptable, and it is the only thing in life worth fighting against. And every Israeli soldier is not fighting against people, or children, or towns of refugees, they are fighting like civil war heroes for justice against racism that has tried to destroy a people since their inception as a people. It is something, as part of the opressors culture, that you may never understand. My only hope is that the end result will be the end of opression of minoroties in Arab lands throughout the world, especially Sudan.
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