07 March '13
Although first posted in April 2008, the points contained within still ring quite true. With President Obama and accompanying entourage about to arrive here shortly it seemed appropriate to once again do a short review of "A Guidebook for Officials Visiting Israel/Palestine"
A Guidebook for Officials Visiting Israel/Palestine
By: P. David Hornik
The endless parade of top officials recently visiting Israel/Palestine has included the American president, defense secretary, and secretary of state, the former British prime minister, the German chancellor and foreign minister, the Russian foreign minister, and so on. Since etiquette is of paramount importance in Israel/Palestine, the following is a useful compendium of gaffes, faux pas, and indelicacies to be assiduously avoided in each and every visit to this contentious land.
1. Do not mention any Jewish connection to the “West Bank” (Judea and Samaria). The fact that the “West Bank” is the cradle of Jewish civilization and the scene of biblical events that have resounded throughout Western history and civilization has been successfully wiped from the record and must remain so. Although they have by now dwindled to a fringe, sinister circles in Israel still refer to this connection in efforts to promote “Jewish rights” (itself a baleful concept). Any such allusion jeopardizes the supreme goal of turning this region into yet another Muslim-Arab dictatorship and a still further accretion of Dar al-Islam, which is cramped for real estate and desperately in need of every additional square centimeter it can obtain.
2. Do not mention any Jewish connection to Jerusalem or, if you do, do so evenhandedly. Any mention of the special Jewish connection to the city is to be avoided unless within a fraction of a second you equate it with the Muslim connection to Jerusalem. The Jewish connection to Jerusalem is particularly incommodious because it can be exploited by nefarious Israeli and other types as an obstacle to the treasured outcome of transferring the holiest sites of Judeo-Christian civilization to the control of Hamas, Al Qaeda, and the worldwide jihadist movement in general. Especially since it is laughably easy to demonstrate that the Jewish connection to the city is far more profound than the Muslim one (through mention of the comparative number of references in the two religions’ holy books, etc.), it is best to avoid the subject altogether or, if you do raise it, to equate the two claims as fast as you can cough.
3. Do not mention the “West Bank’s” vital security importance to Israel. Because this, too, can be used to retard progress toward the Goal, it is crucial that you expunge it from your discourse. That entails, of course, shunning any and all allusions to quotations that are still sometimes cited by militaristic circles in Israel, such as Abba Eban’s reference to the 1967 lines as the “Auschwitz borders” or Ronald Reagan’s statement that “in the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely ten miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel’s population lived within artillery range of hostile Arab armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again” (both Eban and Reagan were, of course, rabid Greater Land of Israel fanatics). Above all, never make even the faintest allusion to the existence of the 1967 Joint Chiefs of Staff Study that concluded that the great bulk of the post-1967 lands was indispensable to Israel’s defense; this has almost been obliterated from the record and you are not expected to disturb its deep slumber.
4. Do not mention the sequence of events since the disengagement. At the time Israel evacuated Gaza in summer 2005, recalcitrant, reactionary elements in Israel had the impudence to predict that this would lead to increased attacks on Israeli communities bordering Gaza and an intensification of jihadist trends among the Palestinians. It is absolutely forbidden to mention that what has happened since then conforms precisely with these predictions and that Israel now faces a drastically increased onslaught of missile and other terrorism from Gaza that works in tandem with the threats from the Lebanese, Syrian, and Iranian directions. Any such empiricism on the issue of Israeli land concessions is deplorable and could even dampen the prospects that Israel will make further concessions that are even more reckless and suicidal—something to be avoided at all costs.
5. Do not mention anything negative about Mahmoud Abbas. The “Palestinian moderate” who “wants peace with Israel” is an essential player on the international stage and is, prima facie, a saint who is above human failings and foibles. Unfortunately Mr. Abbas, like his predecessor Mr. Arafat, has a habit of doing and saying things that enemies of peace in Israel seize upon to hamper progress toward a just solution. For instance, he forms unity governments with Hamas, says “We should put our internal fighting aside and raise our rifles only against the Israeli occupation,” saturates his education system with anti-Semitic hatred, and so on. It is the task of Western diplomacy to relegate these actions and statements to non-actions and non-statements and you are expected to contribute your part to this endeavor by relating to Mr. Abbas’s peccadilloes as if you were a Trappist monk.
6. Do not mention polls of Palestinians. These polls tend to reveal unpleasant things about the Palestinians that, again, Israeli warmongers love to exploit and therefore should be meticulously avoided. For instance, a recent poll found that 84% of Palestinians approved of a terrorist attack on a Jerusalem yeshiva, 75% said negotiations with Israel are pointless and should be ended, and 64% supported rocket attacks on Israeli civilian targets. This is a subject that is best, of course, scrupulously quarantined in the interest of hastening the advent of the Palestinian state living beside Israel in peace and security for which we all so fervently wish.
7. Do not mention disagreeable phenomena among the Palestinians in general. Again, the enemies of peace love to harp on such matters as Palestinians breaking out in wild glee after terrorist attacks, grooming small children to be suicide bombers, naming schools and sports teams after suicide bombers, and the like. One particularly pernicious organization, Palestinian Media Watch, has the temerity to monitor Palestinian media and make its actual, unadorned content available to the world. Your responsibility is, of course, to overlook all this and if possible keep yourself ignorant of it. Peace cannot be achieved when people morbidly focus on negative phenomena that prevent us from striding confidently forward.
8. Do not mention the fact that Jordan is a state existing in eastern Palestine with a Palestinian majority. Important as each of the above precepts is, this is the cardinal prohibition. The precious myth of a stateless Palestinian people who can achieve national expression of their unique, valuable culture only in a state within shooting range of Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion Airport, and Tel Aviv would be punctured if people knew that a Palestinian state already exists and any fair solution to the issue of the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians would have to take that reality into account. Recognition of the Palestinian identity of Jordan would obviate the need for the “peace process” and deprive the Western countries of a prime means of propitiating the Arab oil powers by providing them a constant spectacle of pressuring and harrying Israel into giving up its strategic assets and shrinking back down to indefensible dimensions.
Once you have mastered these principles, you are ready to proceed to Israel/Palestine and play a constructive role in the quest for peace and justice.
P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva and blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He is the author of the new book Choosing Life in Israel. This book is the testament of a veteran American immigrant in Israel—both to the richness and intensity of personal life there and to the powerful, affirmative spirit of the society as a whole. The book’s opening section offers cameos from the author’s encounters with Israeli reality in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Its much-longer second section gives the unfolding story of Israel’s coping with security and political challenges over the past decade, from terror and rocket attacks to a global delegitimization campaign to reflexive criticism by other democracies. The aim is to set the record straight and portray the country’s indomitable will to survive and flourish. A Kindle addition as well as paperback is also available through Amazon by clicking here.