James Ansel (The Port Washington Times, “Revisiting the 1967 Six-Day War,” April 26) is a man who has made a hobby of trying to be an activist for downtrodden people, or for people whom he perceives to be downtrodden. Pro-Palestinian propagandists, speaking at his church, apparently convinced him that the Palestinians are a downtrodden people and that they are suffering under the brutal domination of Israel.
Unfortunately, Ansel’s knowledge and understanding about Judaism, Zionism, Islam and the history of the Middle East is so limited, that he consistently misinterprets events and history. He needs to be reminded that Jesus Christ, a Jew, was born in the Holy Land, 2018 years ago. Mary and Joseph were Jews, as were all of Jesus’ apostles. The temple that Jesus railed against was the Great Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and all of the priests that Jesus condemned were Jews. When Jesus gave sermons, he was speaking to assemblies of Jews. If any non-Jews lived in the Holy Land at that time, they were very few and far between.
It is ridiculous for Ansel to claim that the Palestinians are the “indigenous inhabitants” of the Holy Land. The Romans expelled the Jews from the Holy Land in 70 AD, when they destroyed the Great Temple in Jerusalem and ever since that time, Jews have prayed to God to be allowed to return to their Jerusalem. That prayer is as much a part of Judaism, as eating matzos is, during the Passover holiday. Ansel could not be more wrong when he states, without foundation, that Zionism is not part of the Jewish religion, but rather it’s just a secular, nationalistic movement.
After the Romans and later, some minor rulers, Muslim Ottomans (Turks) controlled the Holy Land until 1917. During 1917 (World War I), the British pushed the Ottomans out of the Holy Land and also out of neighboring Syria. At that time, the Holy Land included what is now Jordan and Syria included what is now Lebanon. In order to gain the co-operation of both the Jews in Europe and in the Middle East and the Arabs during World War I, the British promised both homelands in the Middle East after the war was over. Both the Jews and the Arabs believed the British and the French. Both the Jews and the Arabs were to be disappointed.
Jews in the Holy Land were always willing to live side by side with Arab neighbors. The Arabs, however, were never willing to do that. The Arabs immediately rejected the British promise in 1917 of a homeland for the Jews. There is no record of a Jew killing an Arab before 1947/48, but there is a long record of Arabs murdering Jews in the Holy Land, beginning in the late 19th century (also, see Hebron 1929 for the mass killing of Jews by Arabs).
Ansel claims that the Arabs, or the Palestinians, “are blame free of the Holocaust.” How wrong Ansel is about that. Mohammed Amin al-Husseini was the grand mufti of Palestine, before, during World War II and after that war. He was the highest ranking Palestinian Arab in the Holy Land. He and his thousands of Palestinian followers collaborated with the Fascist Italians and the Nazi Germans as much as they could during the war.
The grand mufti made radio propaganda broadcasts for the Germans. During 1941, he traveled to Berlin to meet with Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS. The grand mufti asked them when he and his Muslim followers should begin to slaughter all of the Jews in the Holy Land. Hitler told him to be patient and wait until the German army had conquered Palestine. Then, Hitler told him, the grand mufti could lead the slaughter of Jews found anywhere in the Middle East. Ansel also doesn’t know that thousands of Muslims from the Balkans, mostly from Bosnia ,encouraged by the grand mufti, formed units and joined the German army. These Muslim units in the German army joined in the slaughter of Jews whenever they could.
Ansel is right. Israel did stage pre-emptive airstrikes against Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan in early June 1967. Great military buildups by those Arab countries and also by Iraq indicated that those five Arab countries intended to attack Israel very soon. Israel, greatly outnumbered and greatly outgunned, had little choice but to attack first in an attempt to blunt the onslaught that was coming.
Of course, the great powers at the UN, the Soviet Union, the U.S., Great Britain, France and China, could have ordered those five Arab countries that were about to attack Israel, not to do so, but none of those great powers was inclined to give that order. I wonder why? Ansel may imply that Israel started the Six Day War in an attempt to gain territory. Nothing could be further from the truth. Little Israel fired the first shots of that war in an attempt to save itself from annihilation.
Ansel fears the consequences of the United States supporting the survival of Israel. He fears that Israel could actually drag the United States into some war that is not in the U.S. interest. How more wrong can Ansel be about that? Israel is the only reliable land base that the United States has in the Middle East. At the moment, the United States is engaged in non-shooting wars with Iran, Syria, Russia and China in the Middle East. Israel is a permanent aircraft carrier for the United States in the region.
Israel and the United States both need each other — very much. If Ansel will stop promoting BDS as a way to bring peace in the Middle East, I can give him a list of ethnic groups who really are downtrodden today and who really are in need of his efforts to help them secure a homeland for themselves, for their survival (e.g. the Tibetans, the Kurds, the Yazidi, the Baluchistans, the Hazaras, the Uzbeks, the Turkmen, the Basques, the Catalans, etc., etc., etc.