Jewish people are native to Israel
We have read your letter to the American Jewish Committee and your artist statement, both of which justify the precepts behind your exhibition.
While we respect and even champion your right to express yourself through your art, we cannot abide the misinformation and historical inaccuracies that form the premise of your viewpoint. We hope that upon reflection of the facts we present below, you will reconsider your argument:
1. “I am right to make a comparison between the histories of the Native Americans and Palestinians.”
Drawing a parallel between Native Americans and Palestinians is completely wrong. In the U.S., Native Americans were indeed indigenous people who lived on the land for centuries, if not millennia, before they were displaced and vanquished by the westward expansion of the U.S. In vivid contrast to your linkage, the natives driven off the land called Israel were the Jews. It was the Jews who were expelled by the Babylonians 500-plus years before the birth of Jesus and later by the Romans, who massacred millions and expelled most of the rest, causing a great Diaspora.
For proof, you can ask any professional archeologist and you will find a Jewish presence on the land of Israel dating back 3,500 years. Jesus was a Jew who visited Jerusalem. The Gospels and Roman accounts of that period have no references to “Palestinians” or “Muslims” because they weren’t there until hundreds of years later.
2. “I refer you to the U.N. Refugee Organization set up in 1948 to deal with 750,000 people the Zionists made homeless.”
The well-documented fact is that most of the displaced Arabs had been recent arrivals who came to Palestine for work. Those who departed in 1948 left largely upon the orders of their leaders in neighboring states. These leaders, acting as the Arab League, were planning to invade Israel and undo the action of the United Nations, which officially recognized the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. It is well documented that the Arabs intended to massacre all of the Jews and did not want to be encumbered by deciding who was “friendly” and who was the “enemy.”
The claim that almost a million Arabs were displaced from “their historical land” is a propaganda ploy that has been exposed by examining the population statistics. By 1900, there were about 100,000 people living in the area – 30,000 Christians, 40,000 Jews and 30,000 Muslims. The most rapid birth rate could not achieve the population numbers you claim.
Furthermore, you are ignoring the displacement of large Jewish populations from their homes in Arab countries that occurred during the conflict brought on by the Arabs attacking the state of Israel in 1948-49. About 650,000 Jews from Arab states were forcibly expelled from their homes. Some of the destroyed Jewish communities dated back millennia, such as the one in Iraq that dated back 2,500 years.
3. “In Jenin 40,000 people were made homeless and most of those killed were buried alive. In both cases legal investigations were blocked.”
Your assertions about Jenin are patently incorrect. The Israeli raid on Jenin was in response to a suicide bombing that killed 29 Israelis. The majority of victims in Jenin were combatants who were involved in recruiting and arming suicide terrorists. While we lament the deaths of innocents, it is sometimes an unfortunate consequence when combatants take shelter among civilians.
As to your point about a U.N. fact-finding mission, the U.N. did issue a report that concluded that 75 people were killed in the hostilities, of which 52 were Palestinian and 23 were Israeli soldiers. The U.N. report mirrored the findings of Human Rights Watch.
4. “I work every day for peace and reconciliation for both Palestinians and Israelis.”
If you truly work every day for peace and reconciliation between the Palestinians and Israelis, you cannot propagate the myth that is the greatest obstacle to peace – that Israel does not have the right to exist as a Jewish state because the Palestinians are the “natives” of that land. This is the claim of Hamas and Hezbollah, who have terrorized and murdered innocent Israeli civilians in support of that cause. Just as the United States will never concede to al-Qaida that we do not have a right to exist as a free and democratic society, so too Israel cannot concede to the terrorists her right to exist as a free and democratic Jewish state.
You have said that when Israel can solve the Palestinian question, it will have a happier and more decent society. While true, it is not solely within the power of Israel to solve the problem. Israel has tried by offering numerous peace proposals, all of which have been rejected. Most glaringly, in 2000 at Camp David, Arafat rejected the magnanimous and far-reaching offer by Israeli Prime Minister Barak to give the Palestinians 97 percent of the territory they claimed. Arafat didn’t even offer a counterproposal, refusing to negotiate, and terror attacks on innocent Israelis ensued.
We ask you, what is the responsibility of the Palestinian leadership in solving the Palestinian problem?
We submit that in addition to negotiating in good faith with the Israelis, Arafat should use some of the hundreds of millions of dollars in his Paris bank account to make life better for his people so that they aren’t so desperate to think that suicide is better than life.
Finally, as Americans and as Jews, we are proud to support and identify with the United States and Israel, both of which are two bastions of democracy, liberty and the rule of law. While not perfect, either historically or currently, both countries are determined to protect the very freedoms that allow us the luxury of expressing ourselves without fear of reprisal, a privilege afforded in all too few countries around the world.
God bless America and Israel.
David Kudish and Melanie Sturm are board members of the Aspen Valley Chapter of United Jewish Appeal, a networking organization that raises money to support Jewish causes and social organizations both locally and abroad. Rachel Hahn is president of the Young Jewish Leadership Committee, a relatively new organization promoting a sense of community in young Jews in the Roaring Fork Valley through educational, social and ritual programs.
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