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The Big Lie – U.S. Jews must act to stop the misnomer “occupied territories’’
A Column from “A Modern Orthodox Life.”
by Emanuel Rackman
Repeat a lie often enough and ultimately it is accepted as the truth. The Nazis used the technique. Now Washington and the media employ it.
The territories Israel liberated in 1967 are called “occupied.” is a lie, one nearly impossible to stop. Since the lie is considered truth by virtue of repetition, the “settlements are concluded to be illegal.” Thus, one falsehood generates another. And a loan guarantee Israel needs for humanitarian purposes hangs in the balance.
Where are American Jews to kill this vicious cycle? Must one place a bomb under them to get action?
Id s start with some of the lesser media before taking on the giants. Cynthia Ozick, a brilliant author and committed champion of Jewish survival, has begun with a letter to the executive producer of the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour of public television. She protested the reference to the land west of the Jordan as “occupied” as if this is axiomatic when in fact it is “entirely without historical foundation.”
“Before the 1967 war,” she wrote, “a war begun by Arab states with the intent to annihilate Israel, the territories west of the Jordan River had no internationally legitimate or historically recognized sovereign government, though they had been under Jordanian control for 19 years. Jordan, then known as Trans-Jordan, had seized those lands during the 1947 war, again a war begun by Arab states with the intent to annihilate Israel.
“Except for Britain and Pakistan, Jordan’ s control was not internationally recognized. Not a single Arab state recognized the legitimacy of that Arab takeover.
“Prior to Jordan’ s seizure of the lands west of the Jordan River in 1947, the territories in question were under the British Mandate, precisely for the reason that ownership of those territories was as yet unresolved under international law. The fact is that since the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, there has never been an internationally recognized claimant to these territories, precisely because there has never been any internationally recognized sovereignty over them.
“Since ownership of the lands west of the Jordan River has remained unresolved from the end of the Ottoman Empire until this moment, a non-polemical, non-politicized, non-tendentious, non-Israeli, non-Arab and entirely accurate name for the lands in question would be “disputed territories.”
“When – glibly, axiomatically and apparently without self-consciousness you continue to say ‘occupied,’ you are willy-nilly, pandering to the PLO narrative and working to legitimate it.”
It is on the lie so clearly and eloquently exposed by Ozick that the illegality of the settlements is based. And that is axiomatic for President Bush and Secretary of State James Baker a lie based on a lie.
I suggest, to begin with, a test case for future action against newscasters. If on public TV the lie is still used, the time has come to withhold financial support and resign from membership. Letters to Bush and congressman are of little avail in comparison with the loss of funds. All public television need do to retain its devotees is to announce that hereafter the lie will not be uttered again.
Is that an infringement of its freedom of speech? Since when is the freedom to lie protected by the Constitution?
Would freedom of speech be extended to anyone denying that there was a Holocaust? If our enemies can lie with impunity on one major issue, they will do so on others as well.
And after we have succeeded with one transmitter that depends more on public support than others, we can proceed to do the same with other stations and their advertisers.
There have been other times when the negative attitude of public television to Jews and Jewish causes irritated me, and I would express my sentiments to friends. Their usual response was that one must indulge them because their musical and cultural programs are of such a high quality.
The response always made me think of the German generals who loved music so much they listened to symphony orchestras as Jews were burning nearby in their ovens.
If there is need for an adjective to be linked with the word “territories,” neither occupied nor captured is correct. Call them “liberated” then you have the truth!
Finally, apart from the legality of the settlements, which is attested to by no less an authority than Eugene Rostow, formerly of the State Department, there are other considerations. We do not stop Jews in New York from settling in Harlem or Crown Heights if they wish. Why should we stop Jews from settling in any part of the Holy Land whose rocky soil they want to redeem with their blood, sweat and tears?
Not only does Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir speak sense, but Jews ought to also hear what Housing Minister Ariel Sharon is saying. You may not agree with all of it and may dislike his flamboyant manner, but he makes sense. He understands the Middle East better than anyone in power in Washington.
If Washington really wants peace in the area, Sharon may have the right formula. It is based on the assumption that the existence of Israel in the Middle East is not the cause of Arab strife and the disappearance of Israel will bring no peace. Therefore, a strong Israel is still the best bet of the democratic world.
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