There is an old story about a headline in a Russian newspaper: Russian entry finishes second in auto race while American entry ends up next-to-last. However, the real story was in what the newspaper didn’t tell you. In this case there were only two cars in the race! Now re-read the headline. Today–as always–what is omitted is often equal to or more important than that which is reported.
Russell O. Siler, Retired
Recent violence has prompted many Israelis and leaders from other nations–the U.S. included–to proclaim that Israel has the right to security within its borders. What they do not say is that Israel has never announced the delineation of its borders. Militant settlers proclaim that all of historic Palestine is theirs. Some Israelis regard only that land west of the 1949 armistice line [the “Green Line”] as their nation. Some say that Israel includes all of the Jerusalem metropolitan area. But no Israeli government has stated the limits of its borders. Many observers ask “Which Israel?” when Palestinians are asked to recognize Israel.
It is difficult to open an American newspaper these days without encountering some item regarding Israel’s concern and that of other nations over Iran’s potential for developing nuclear weapons. I can report without hesitation or reservation that every Israeli, Palestinian, or International living in those lands is quite aware that Israel is now–and has been for some decades–the solitary nuclear power in the entire region. I would hazard a guess that only a small fraction of Americans know of that reality. The U.S. refusal to acknowledge that fact publicly or officially goes all the way back to an agreement reached during the Eisenhower administration. Do not misunderstand or misquote me. I do not–repeat DO NOT–support a nuclear weapons program in Iran or any other country. I do believe, however, that Israel’s nuclear capability is one of the facts which are highly relevant to any discussion of Iran’s military intentions. Those of us who are old enough to remember the first generation of the Cold War recall well how both the Soviet Union and the United States justified each leap in nuclear weaponry on the other’s expanded arsenal. The players are different, but the principle of deterrence and the specter of mutually assured destruction still lurk in the clouds of “diplo-speak.”
And, just like the two-entry auto race, accurate analysis and wise policy formation must include all the relevant facts.
Jerusalem. Almost immediately after the end of the 1967 War Israel moved to annex Arab East Jerusalem. Most of the world is aware that Israel claims the city as its “eternal, undivided capital.” Fewer people know that not a single nation in the world recognizes that claim. The last two nations with embassies in Jerusalem moved them to the Tel Aviv area–where all other embassies are located–in response to the war with Lebanon in 2006. Fewer still are aware that in 1967 Arab East Jerusalem consisted of 6 km2 [square kilometers]; Israel’s annexation encompassed 70 km2, including many villages and open lands. Lastly, even fewer people know that two sets of laws and rights apply to Palestinians living under occupation: Those who live in the West Bank are under the aegis of military governance, but those who live in Jerusalem, because of Israel’s inclusion of that city in its nation, live under Israeli civil rules. It also means that those Palestinians have relatively free access to all of Israel [No Wall, No Checkpoints.]. By some unknown method Israel has determined that these 200,000 Arab Palestinians are not a significant security risk.
All the listening world knows that Israel and the U.S. regard the Hamas movement as a “terrorist” organization. But I wonder how many realize that Israel actually fostered the rise of Hamas as a counter-balance to the late Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO].
Finally, on a much less important level, you probably saw that the nation of Dubai refused a visa request for Shahar Peer, an internationally ranked Israeli tennis player, barring her from participating in a tournament there. The announced justification was a concern for Ms. Shahar’s safety in the wake of the death and destruction in Gaza mere weeks before. Immediately a firestorm of criticism blew around the globe. “Political bigotry,” “not acceptable,” “sports should be above politics” were among the more civil comments. What you did not read in the popular media was the fact that Israel had banned all football [soccer] matches during the Gaza violence if these matches took place in Palestinian villages in Israel and included non-Arab Israelis. Nor did you read of the many times in recent years that the Israeli government has refused to allow Palestinian sportsmen to leave their homes to participate in international events. It really helps me to assess an incident if I know the broader truth. When we are aware of the context of any incident or claim, we will see and hear things very differently
Lately our church has been criticized by some of its members and pastors. I fully support their right–even their responsibility–to do so. But they have an even greater obligation to register their critique from a foundation of all the relevant facts, not just those “truths” which strengthen the conclusions they wish to reach.
Russell O. Siler, Retired