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Are Young Palestinians Really Suffering From Israeli Discrimination?

Former CIA director John Brennan’s recent remarks about Israel and of Jews have been criticized by Ira Stoll here.

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He writes, “the United States needs to tell Israeli leaders to cease provocative settlement construction and … oppressive security practices.”

Settlements are not “provocative” unless you are a Palestinian or, like Brennan, rooting for them and indifferent to the rights of Jews in their ancestral homeland. The Mandate for Palestine states clearly — in Article 6 — that Jewish immigration is to be “facilitated” and “close Jewish settlement on the land” is to be encouraged. What land? The land assigned to the Mandate for Palestine, that was intended to become the Jewish National Home and then, finally, the Jewish state. That land extends from the Golan in the north to the Red Sea in the south, and from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean in the west. All of Judea and Samaria – what the Jordanians renamed the “West Bank” in 1950, to try to efface the Jewish connection to the land – was meant to be included in that future Jewish state. I have the distinct impression that John Brennan, who was Deputy Director and then Director of the CIA under Obama, has never read, much less understood, the Mandate for Palestine. And I wonder if he has studied UN Resolution 242, with the helpful gloss on it by its eloquent author, Lord Caradon – the resolution which provides Israel with another, independent claim to those parts of the “West Bank” that Israel will need to retain if it is to have, in the key phrase of Resolution 242, “secure [i.e. defensible] and recognized borders.”

Brennan mentions that these young Palestinians grow up suffering “discrimination.” What does he have in mind? There is not a single Israeli in Gaza, so Israeli “discrimination” against Palestinians in Gaza is not possible. In the West Bank, 90% of the Arabs live in Areas A and B. In Area A, the PA has complete control of daily life. In Area B, the PA has complete control of all aspects of the Arab inhabitants lives except for security. It is only in Area C, where Israelis retain control, that fewer than 10% of the West Bank Arabs live. What kind of “discrimination” does Brennan think they must endure in Area C? Are they denied schooling, medical care, the right to practice their (Muslim) religion, the right to employment? No. They can’t vote in Israeli elections, granted – but why should they? They are not Israeli citizens.

Could Brennan possibly think that Israeli Arabs suffer discrimination? They have full equality with Israeli Jews, the same civil, religious, and political rights. Israeli Arabs sit in the Knesset, serve on the Supreme Court, go abroad as diplomats. The chairman of Israel’s largest bank, Bank Leumi, is an Arab. Jews and Arabs in Israel study in universities together; they work in the same factories and offices; they ride on the same busses and trains and planes; they are treated in the same hospitals. There is only one thing in which they differ: Israeli Arabs, unlike Israeli Jews, need not serve in the military, though they may do so if they so desire.

The response to Brennan’s vaporings came fast – and they were furious:

The lesson of 2000 years of persecution of the Jewish people is that Israel should live up to John Brennan’s moral standards. The level of stupidity and arrogance here is unbelievable,” wrote David Bernstein, a law professor at George Mason University.

“John Brennan shares his thoughts about Jews’ has become a full-blown genre,” commented the national security adviser to Senator Ted Cruz, Omri Ceren.

Noah Pollak, executive director of the Alliance Initiative, commented sarcastically, “On behalf of The Jews let me sincerely apologize for letting you down. Indeed we haven’t been living up to your ideals of giving land & power to terrorists trying to kill us. We should be more generous. We hope to earn your praise soon by dropping our objections to Hamas.”

Sara Yael Hirschhorn was succinct: “Two words: HAMAS rockets.”…

Ira Stoll continues:

It’s hard to top what’s been said, but let me venture a longer-than-tweet-length explanation of my own take on precisely why Brennan’s tweet was such a clunker. First, one of the whole [sic] founding ideas of Zionism was that of the “new Jew” — not “scarred,” but muscular, tanned, and strong. Second, the idea that the experience of suffering translates into morality is a classically Christian idea; think of Jesus on the cross. Jews would prefer not to suffer. After we have, we prefer not to be lectured by non-Jews about how we’ve failed to properly learn our lessons. And the symmetry of Jewish victimhood and Palestinian victimhood that Brennan draws is actually asymmetrical, as the scales are vastly different. Contrary to Brennan’s suggestion, Jews are still victims in various contexts.

It’s flabbergasting that this was the man who for four years headed the CIA. Or perhaps not, since at that time, the president was Barack Obama. Their views on Israel (thumbs down) are remarkably similar. They were –  don’t you agree? — made for each other.

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