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There's no correct way to be pro-Israel

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  • World View
    There s no correct way to be pro-Israel By Jeff Halper* The Jerusalem Post
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2007
      There's no correct way to be pro-Israel
      By Jeff Halper*
      The Jerusalem Post

      A funny thing happened to me on my way from Tel Aviv to New York a
      couple months ago. I was sitting in my aisle seat reading a book, when
      all of a sudden I became aware of the tall figure of a man looming
      over me.

      I looked up and saw a guy with a mustache and kippa whom I had never
      met before.

      "I am Gerald Steinberg," he trumpeted. "I am the person who will put
      you out of business."

      Then he abruptly lurched off. But he apparently had one more thought
      he wanted to share with me. Suddenly he turned around, pointed at me
      and bellowed: "You are a Jewish anti-Semite!"

      Now accosting me in the street is one thing, but accusing me of
      anti-Semitism in a voice everyone could hear on a planeload of Jewish
      passengers was virtual incitement to a lynching. Fortunately, my
      fellow passengers had their seat-belts on, and the incident passed

      Later, in the passport line at Kennedy, we passed each other. "Why
      don't we get a cup ofcoffee sometime and talk?" I offered.

      "You're not important enough," he snapped back as he disappeared into
      the Goldene Medine.

      THE ACCOSTING has now moved to the pages of The Jerusalem Post
      ("Europe to host NGO attack on Israel," August 23) where, not for the
      first time, Steinberg refers to me as, in general, anti-Israel -
      although here I only "appear" with anti-Semites.

      All this is silly stuff, of course. But the kind of rhetoric Steinberg
      employs is significant because it is often used by self-proclaimed
      "pro-Israel" advocates to obfuscate the very important debate that
      must take place if we are to overcome conflict and usher Israel into
      the state of peace, security and reconciliation most Israelis seem to

      In his article, Steinberg employs epithets, simplistic and accusatory
      terms as if they were"objective," the very technique of "radical
      propaganda" of which he accuses me and others.

      In the Brussels meetings - to which I wasn't invited, despite
      Steinberg's insinuation that I was - he refers to "radical"
      Palestinian NGOs (whatever that means); "anti-Israel" NGOs (including
      a number of Israeli ones), "radicals" in general (although as an old
      '60s person that doesn't sound bad to me), "liberation theology"
      (apparently a bad thing in Steinberg's world), "anti-Semitic themes,"
      and so on.

      THE UNSPOKEN and misleading assumption underlying all this is that
      there exists a normal, acceptable, correct "pro-Israel" position from
      which no one should be permitted to deviate. And I'll bet that
      position conforms precisely to Steinberg's.

      There is no such position, of course. Twenty years ago, to support a
      two-state solution - which Steinberg today touts as the epitome of
      being "pro-Israel" - would have gotten you thrown out of town. Things
      change, but they cannot change for the better if open, honest and
      occasionally heated debate is not allowed.

      Steinberg urges that the UN/European Parliament meeting in support of
      Israeli-Palestinian peace be cancelled. This seems to contradict the
      motto on the banner of his own NGO Monitor: "Promoting critical
      debate" on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

      Promoting civil debate would be enough.


      *Jeff Halper is the coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House
      Demolitions (ICAHD).



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