At long last, after being without tourists since the beginning of October I found myself at Ben Gurion Airport, at the end of December, to welcome my small group of 8 Dutch tourists with their tour leader Jo. I would have preferred a bigger group, but it was great for the tourists, who could stretch out luxuriously in a luxury 20 seater bus as we made the pleasant journey to Tiberias to stay overnight and be ready for a full day’s touring round the Sea of Galillee, the next day.
Our feet crunched the dry brown, end of Summer shrubs of wild mustard and thistle bushes as we walked down the Mt. Beatitudes, in beautiful weather, with the blue sea glitteringly stretched out below us. Now and again we stopped to listen to Jo tell us about the Sermon on the Mount and to take pictures.
A happy group of young people, some of them, very pretty girls, dressed in different shades of bright red and yellow colors, from China shared the boat ride on the sea with us. Dutch and Chinese tourists danced Israeli dances together.
In memory of St. Peter we ate fish, known as St. Peter’s fish, a popular delicacy, served by restaurants on the shores of the sea.
Now that the tour is over I’m trying to put down some thoughts that have come to me in recent months.
One of the things that occur to me is that a long time has passed since my last “No Newsletter”. This isn’t because of being busy, but because of the mundane reason that I was busy eating. I wasn’t eating all the time, of course, but only when I wanted to write something like this no newsletter or interpretations of movies that I had seen. On the one hand eating slows down my writing, but on the other hand, eating is a necessary part of my thinking. Food for thought, you might say.
I can’t sit down to write anything until I’ve eaten something, such as a sandwich of salty cheese and whole wheat bread. That’s usually my first meal of each day. The cheese is delicious stuff that Ettie buys for about IS150 a kilo at the supermarket or from Zidkiyahu, her deli man in Mahane Yehudah Market, which she frequents with her friend Irena every Friday at 6:30 in the morning and then drinks coffee with a group of her friends like Doron, enjoying telling each other stories of antics of their grandchildren. Noga, only just turned 1 year already turns the pages of books and looks as if she understands what is written there. Then Noga turns up pushed in her pram by her father, Ittamar or her mother Anat. During this time I take my morning walk and on Fridays I end up at the market and join them.
I started writing this letter on Saturday 2nd Jan and I don’t know when it’ll get finished even now, the 6th Jan. I would love to zip a letter off in one sitting, but I keep getting up to fetch a snack.
While preparing my snack and eating it I think about the content of my letter, making changes as I munch. My digestive system is to blame; I can only think when I’m busy digesting something.
Now I want to return to the original subject of my letter, which was suggested to me during a discussion with my friend Shaul and later with my son Emanuel about who is to blame for the stabbings that have been going on since the festival of Succot.
Shaul and Emanuel blame the Jews for provoking the Arabs. I blame the Arabs for provoking the Jews.
I had started the discussion by remarking how peaceful and productive the Jewish settlements in Samaria that I had visited were. They were never provocative, such as deliberately attacking Arabs, excepting for a good reason, e.g. for self-defense.
I had visited Emanuel, Karnei Shomron and Shilo and the town of Ariel and this brought me to the conclusion that the Jews weren’t provoking the Arabs, on the contrary the Arabs were provoking the Jews.
The economy of Arab villages in the vicinity of the settlements was flourishing; we stopped to buy “knafe” in Hawara, a town near Shechem (Nablus), the best Knafe I have ever tasted (later I learnt that the best knafe comes from here). The shops were full of expensive products; new houses were being built everywhere. This upsurge in the economy was due, in part, to the good incomes Arabs were earning by working in the Jewish settlements. They were employed building houses and in factories. They also earned good incomes working in Israel and in wealthy Arab countries like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Despite this favorable situation, enjoyed by the Arabs and brought about through Jewish settlement in the area Arabs have attacked Jews almost daily, not only since the building of settlements, which only began after the 6 day war in 1967, but for as long as Jews and Arabs have been living here together, i.e. since the 7th century.
The Arabs have forever blamed the Jews for provoking them to these attacks.
Never, to the best of my knowledge have Jews ever accused the Arabs of being provocateurs. I would like to do this here.
The feeling that one is being provoked is a subjective one, probably arising in people with inferiority complexes and I hesitate to attach such a feeling to an entire nation, like the Arabs, because one can understand one individual feeling inferior, but it seems absurd that a whole nation should feel inferior.
Shaul’s opinion was that Zionist propaganda has combined with my own feeling of inferiority and so caused me to feel that the Arabs were trying to provoke the Jews.
Analyzing any situation it’s necessary to consider whether our analysis is true, namely is our opinion based on objective reality or is it a figment of our imagination?
The Arabs justify their attacks on the grounds that they are struggling to rid themselves of the oppressive Israeli domination of themselves and their territory.
The Arabs need to show in as dramatic way as possible that Israel is indeed oppressing them. They never miss an opportunity and even create fictitious scenes of oppression to publish on the media. I won’t enumerate examples here because you can easily find these on the internet and TV etc. In any case I am skeptical of all news about atrocities of both Arabs and Jews.
They even claim that the Jews are bent on carrying out genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Arab population.
However, without Israeli retaliation to attacks, like knife attacks or rocket attacks, there would be very little evidence that Israel is carrying out genocide and cruel oppression. But when knife wielding murderers are shot dead and so prevented from carrying out their attack or from carrying out further attacks, the media insists on stating that the person being shot dead is an Arab and that the person doing the killing is an Israeli.
Such photos are used as evidence that Israel is carrying out genocide and oppression against the Arabs. The media always emphasizes who is an Arab and who is a Jew.
In fact retaliation isn’t carried out on the basis of Arab or Jew, but on the basis of “who is the criminal?” The media usually forgets to mention this.
The fact that Israel retaliates to attacks against its citizens is so highly publicized in this way by the Arab media, that people know nothing else about Israel, excepting that Israel kills Arabs. They miss the fact that these killings are retaliations to people who commit murder or who try to commit murder.
Arabs are not Israel’s target. Murderers and people who try to commit murder are Israel’s target. The Arabs know this very well, but they deliberately confuse the world into thinking that Israel is provoking the Arabs.
If one looks further afield to the recent attacks in Europe and the USA one sees more retaliation which is explained to the world as discrimination against Arabs, but which is really retaliation to crime.
The problem is that terrorists really believe that they are carrying out an attack in protest to discrimination and oppression. The rest of the world is then also happy to accept this explanation.
Provocation serves a purpose for the Arabs; it causes retaliation, and this reinforces their conviction that they are being discriminated against. In this way by carrying out attacks Arabs can show that they are being discriminated and Israel intends wiping them out. The tragedy is that the terrorists themselves don’t know that the only purpose of their attack is to provoke retaliation.
I don’t want to label their attacks as provocation, but it’s not my label that makes it provocation; retaliation to their acts of terror and the publicity benefits they derive from the retaliation makes it clear that it’s provocation. The Arabs need the retaliation. They thrive and get the sympathy of the world through showing in as vivid a way as possible that they are being discriminated against.
They want to show that their claim that the world, the West wants to subdue and oppress them out of a motivation to annihilate them is true. The question, whether this is true or not really needs to be examined.
Wishing you a great no newsday