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‘Zionism is not a failure’

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Picture: Mussa Qawasma/REUTERS – An Israeli border policeman scuffles with a Palestinian journalist during a protest against settlements in Masafer Yatta near Hebron, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, January 20, 2023.

By Justin Amler

Sheena Anna Arackal wants you to believe that Zionism is a disaster – that somehow the state of Israel does not represent the success of the Jews returning to their homeland, but their failure.

In her article (Insider on February 12 and The African, February 12) ridden with factual inaccuracies, she tries to make a case that because Israel is forced to fight terror and wars, the country is somehow unsuccessful.

And it is a common theme to equate Palestinians killed with Israelis killed, without providing any kind of context to perpetuate the so-called cycle of violence, as she does in her article. However, what isn’t common, is to explain the context and circumstances around the deaths.

In her opening paragraph, she speaks of nine Palestinians being killed, presenting a narrative of the Israeli army simply marching into the Jenin refugee camp and killing nine people without any sort of reason. This is an outright lie.

The Israelis did indeed go into the Jenin refugee camp, but it was in order to thwart an imminent terrorist attack being planned against Israeli citizens. The nine Palestinians killed were not innocent bystanders, sipping coffee and watching TV, tragically caught up in the cycle of violence as Sheena would have you believe, but active participants who were planning and plotting to murder innocent people.

The question that needs to be asked is whether there is any government in the world that would not do everything in its power to prevent a murderous act being committed against its citizens. We all know the answer to that.

She then says that the next day, “a 21-year-old Palestinian killed seven Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem”. However, again she refuses to disclose the real story. She calls the Israelis killed, “settlers in East Jerusalem”, immediately trying to dehumanise them, as if somehow their lives were not that valuable.

But the truth, which Sheena doesn’t want you to know, is different. The seven Israelis murdered were Jews, including a 14-year-old child, leaving the synagogue after the Sabbath prayers on Friday night. Unlike the Palestinians killed, they were not plotting to murder and hurt innocent people, they were simply praying at a synagogue.

She even goes further to justify these murders by saying the Arab perpetrator’s grandfather was killed by an Israeli 25 years earlier and somehow this was an act of revenge. To equate terrorists with innocent victims in some kind of moral equivalence is a disgraceful and shameful tactic that Sheena has decided to deliberately use – to obscure the truth and misinform the readers.

The deliberate obscuration of information continues throughout the article. She speaks of Israel engaging in regional wars with Arab states but doesn’t mention once that the wars Israel has fought have always been defensive wars, omitting the critical fact that Israel was constantly attacked by the Arab states. Israel didn’t simply “engage” in regional wars but was the victim of the Arab states’ desire to wipe Israel off the map – as the dictatorial leaders of the Arab states openly stated many times. She also says “Israel … continues to oppress the Palestinian people” but ignores the fact that most Palestinians are governed not by Israel, but by the Palestinian Authority – a corrupt and brutal organisation that punishes Palestinians that dare to criticise its leadership.

It has also refused to hold elections since 2005, effectively making it a dictatorship. While it’s true the Palestinians are oppressed, it is not by Israel but by their own authority. These inconvenient facts are ignored in the article. This casual omission of facts is a deliberate distortion of the situation. It presents Israel, a country that makes up something like less than 0.2 percent of the Arab world, as somehow the aggressive and guilty party.

But probably the most audacious claim of this article is the one that says that the state of Israel “undermines the safety of the Jewish diaspora”. It solidifies clearly how ignorant the author is to make such a scurrilous claim. The history of anti-semitism has stretched so far back through time that it is considered to be the oldest hatred of all, and although there were hopes that Israel would mean the end to that hatred, the hatred of Jews continued unabated.

Just the other day, South Africa, along with Algeria, was responsible for forcibly removing Israel from the AU Summit meeting in Addis Ababa. South Africa, a nation that should understand racism more than most, remains an active contributor of it towards Jews. And yet Israel, rather than endanger Jews, as the author has claimed, has strengthened them.

During the dark era of the Holocaust, Jews had no country and no protection. The world, which preaches to Israel about morality, failed to help the millions of Jews desperate to escape to a place of refuge and safety. But the doors were shut on them again and again and again.

And the result of this was the systematic murder of six million men, women and children. Today, there is the state of Israel – a homeland for all Jews – a place dedicated to ensuring that no Jew will be found helpless in a world that has demonstrated its cruelty and indifference to Jewish suffering all too often.

No, the modern-day state of Israel, does not put Jews in jeopardy worldwide, but guarantees that a Holocaust, which too many people seem eager to repeat, will never happen again.

Zionism is not the failure the author wants you to believe, but the success of a people returning to their homeland, defending themselves against all enemies and building a strong, successful democratic country where all citizens, Jews and Arabs, have equal rights and are treated with respect and decency they could only dream of in the Arab World.

Amler is a South African-born Australia-based writer and commentator on international affairs