This is the letter I received:
It would have been nice to have you and your friends around with their cameras when thousands of Jews were being evicted from their ancient homes for hundreds of years in Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon following the creation of the State of Israel and the various Wars which followed.
Thank G-d Israel showed concern for her evicted brethren, in sharp contrast to all of the Arab states especially Jordan (which was legally created for the displaced Palestinians by the U.N.) who instead pursued a political agenda of purposefully not resettling these refugees, in order to maintain their own political stability and agitate for the destabilization and eventual destruction of Israel as the Jewish homeland. Ben Gurion in his speeches to the Arabs in 1947 pleaded with them not to flee but stay and build a new country together. Why aren't the free Israeli Arabs, who remained in Israel and are quite comfortable right now attending Hebrew Universities and being represented in Parliament with the full freedoms of all Israeli citizens, taking up this cause? Why should the Jews fight their opponent's battles in the name of democracy when there is a democratic mechanism in place for the Arabs to fight their own battles? How many Arabs are fighting for Jewish causes around the World? Or are they instead poisoning the mind and hearts of our young Jewish children with their plight, with the hope of eventually destroying the very people who will come to their aid? What are the Arab youth learning about Jews and how tolerant is their education?
Where were the international conscientious objectors when Jerusalem was being besieged and starved out by the Palestinians in 1947? Where were these international humanitarian objectors when Jews were being sent to the ovens? And most of all "where was the liberal atheistic Marxist Jewish establishment?" They were out to lunch, my dear Aaron.
How did every country on this Earth get their secure borders? By Wars and by legal agreements (called treaties) recognizing their rights to the land they won in these wars and their rights to exist within these boundaries. Why should Israel be any different and be exempt from these universal laws?
May Allah grant you a Shanna Tova.
Fran Zynstein Oz"
This is the responce I sent:
I am not exactly sure what item in any of my letters brought on your very emotional response, but I appreciate your deep concern for Israel and our Jewish people while being totally unconcerned with the plight of others, whether they are Palestinians in the West bank or Arab Israeli citizens. My very Jewish upbringing included the realization that centuries of suffering have taught us the need for a strong and secure home, but have also increased our human sensitivity to the plight of others. Your words lead me to question your agreement with the latter half of the previous sentence.
I am also concerned with the possibility that in your closing paragraph you glorify, or at least justify, war as a proper means of gaining "land they won in these wars". Obviously you must conclude that "winning" a war makes everything all right and just. I have always thought that war may be "right and just" as a last means of defending ourselves, rather than as a way of gaining possessions. But here too, our paths evidently don't converge.
Perhaps the most frustrating parts of your letter are the unfortunate misuses of historical occurrences to back up whatever you are trying to say to us. Every paragraph and at times every sentence contains historical inaccuracies, historical omissions, or just plain naïve ignorance of the facts on the ground.
I don't intend in one letter to point out all of the unfortunate historical inaccuracies in your letter. That would become a thesis. One or two examples will suffice in order to have you (maybe) do a bit more research in history rather than in myths. You write, for example:
"………in sharp contrast to all of the Arab states especially Jordan ( which was legally created for the displaced Palestinians by the U.N.) who instead pursued a political agenda of purposefully not resettling these refugees, in order to maintain their own political stabilty and agitate for the destabilization and eventual destruction of Israel as the Jewish homeland."Jordan was created by England and the League of Nations in the early 1920's after the First World War in an attempt to keep a promise made during the war to part of the Hussein family's Bedouin people. Its creation had nothing to do with displaced Palestinians nor the United Nations. In 1948 the great majority of displaced Palestinians ended up in the West Bank and Jordan. Jordan was the only Arab country to give complete citizenship and equal rights to all Palestinians. Most Palestinians under Jordanian rule managed to leave the refugee camps. Jordan held the refugee camps for 19 years. Afterwards, we – Israel –have been holding the majority of all Palestinian refugee camps for 43 years. Much more was done to "replace the displaced" during the 19 years, than in the 43 years when they are our total responsibility. But let's go back to pre-1967…… While Syria was now actively aiding the fledgling Palestinian resistance movements, and Egypt was aiding them organizationally, Jordan was the one Arab country not interested in conquering back and creating a Palestinian State. It was the one country which tried (often with success) to tone down and stop incursions of terrorist activities from the West Bank into Israel. Its political agenda was to hold on to the West Bank as part of Jordan. To do so meant not fighting for a Palestinian State. Things didn't work out well. Jordan has greatly and often bemoaned being drawn into the war in 1967. Life and history are complicated and can be told from a number of angles. The story you chose to write, has no resemblance to history.
Your use of Ben-Gurion's call to the Arabs to stay (something specific to the conflict in Haifa) completely ignores the historical progression of our War of Independence. Some such calls could be found at the beginning of the war. Progress in the war, political and strategic realities, opportunities to create a new demography…. all resulted in a change of policies. No more such calls. Rather a change which encouraged the displacement or destruction of about 500 villages……some by fear, others by force and coercion. Perhaps it all needed to be done for our own preservation. Perhaps it was one of those unavoidable traumas of war. But that is what characterized the war so much more than your use of Ben-Gurion's early call. (By the way, Ben-Gurion was one of those "liberal atheistic Marxist Jewish establishment" who you so accuse of doing nothing for the Jewish people.
Your knowledge about the good life of the Israeli Arab and of his non-participation in the Palestinian struggle is beyond my desire to expand on in this letter. Evidently you have no knowledge whatsoever about the inequalities of second-class citizenship here in my country, nor about the active identification of Israeli Arabs as Palestinians, something all the more accentuated by second-class citizenship. You are also not the first to use the same excuses which I remember used by some in the U.S. regarding the black population during the 50's: "After all, they have it much better off than the blacks in Africa. If they don't like it, let them go back." Allow me to say that you have strayed from reality, though you have built a reality that helps you survive those grey areas in our national existence.
Your complete misuse of historical facts reminds me somewhat of those who refuse to recognize the historicity of the Holocaust because they have a different agenda in mind. This is normal in fundamentalists who have an agenda that reformats the truths of history and reality. It is doubtful whether we can use history to help solve today's conflicts. But it is almost certain that the misuse of yesterday's history is a sure hindrance to dealing today with those conflicts.
I am most surprised by your emotional outburst asking:
" and most of all where was the liberal atheistic Marxist Jewish establishment?" ….."when Jews were being sent to the ovens"…or "when Jerusalem was being besieged and starved out by the Palestinians in 1947"…. "They were out to lunch, my dear Aron"....….Well, my dear Fran, there weren't that many of them, and of those, many were actually here in the country doing their best to smuggle boatloads of Jews onto our shores, including my father, while the country you chose to live in was stubbornly turning away boats. (Nor do I remember many a Chana Senesh coming from America.) Oh, and by the way, during the siege of Jerusalem (which you ask about), many of them were the ones breaking the siege and bringing food and supplies. That's where "they were out to lunch, my dear" Fran. And of course another small but important historical inaccuracy of yours: the siege was in 1948, not 1947….. An important year to remember in our Jewish history. The country you chose to live in enforced a total embargo on supplies that would have helped raise that siege earlier, and openly encouraged other nations to do the same. Those "liberal atheistic Marxist Jews " were there also to evacuate the bulk of those non-liberal, non-atheistic, non-Zionist orthodox Jews who were trapped in the Old City. Of course, before doing all that, they spent a few decades at building settlements, smuggling in more Jews, and preparing for a Jewish State. And yes, every once in a while they also, as you said, had "lunch" . That's where many of them were, my dear Fran.
Of course, I was a bit taken aback with the tone of your letter…..to some extent accusing "me and my friends" of being negative to the security of our country. Well, while you are emotionally writing your words from afar, "I and my friends with our cameras" have actually gone through a few wars here, have withstood countless rains of katyushas together with our children and grandchildren, have been to funerals of those whom we dined with the day or the week before, and who weren't as lucky as we, and have remained the backbone of Jewish survival by continuing to build this State and working for what we still proudly call the Zionist Ideal.
Thank you for invoking Al-ah in your wishes.
May God, by any name, grant you too a Shana Tova.