Stemming The Surge In Anti-Semitism And Other Forms Of Terror

Modern Zionism as a political movemnet first appeared in the late nineteenth century following the persecution of Jews and anti semitism in Europe. Actually, for over a thousand years, the Jews had aspired to return to Zion to establish a Jewish nation in what they referred to as the Land of Israel.

During World War I, the Balfour Declaration, a highly conflictual and controversial public statement in modern Arab history, was issued by the British government to announce their support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. It was made during World War I (1914-1918) and was included in the terms of the British Mandate for Palestine after the Ottoman Empire was dissolved. Soon after the Balfour Declaration was made, the  British began to facilitate the immigration of European Jews to Palestine. Despite the fact that the Balfour Declaration included the caveat that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”, Britain proceeded to equip Jews with the tools to establish self-rule, at the expense of the Palestinian Arabs.

The Balfour Declaration

The 1948 Arab-Israeli war that followed the Israeli Declaration of Independence ended in an Israeli victory. Israel not only annexed territory well beyond the partition borders for a proposed Jewish state but encroached into the borders created for a proposed Palestinian Arab state. The League of Arab States asked the United Nations to help Palestinians set up their own Government in Palestine in exercise of their right to self determination as enshrined in the United Nations Charter.This has not happened. Atrocities on both sides resulted in the First and Second Intifada uprisings. The Second Intifada , more brutal than the first, was considered by Palestinians to be a war of liberation and by the Israelis as a terrorist campaign.

Today, millions of Palestinian refugees have received asylum  in neighboring Arab countries and an equal number of internally displaced and disenfranchised live in squalid conditions in Israeli-occupied territories. In addition, millions are under the care of UNWRA. Further, some half a million Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are not considered Israeli citizens.

The only two serious attempts to find a durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian quandary were the aborted 1993 Oslo Peace Accord and the Camp David 2000 Summit. The recent Israeli declaration of the Golan Heights as being part of Israel, Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the continuing proliferation of Jewish-only settlements, have been roundly condemned by the international community as being illegal and pre-emptive of any attempt toward a two-state solution.

One can argue that Anti-Semitism is not dissimilar to the abhorrent terror attacks one witnesses on a virtually daily basis. These include (often retaliatory) acts of violence and/or hate speech with the perpetrators being mainly right-wing groups such as White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, Muslims/Arabs. Incidents of hate speech and resultant crimes are also evident in Europe,UK and the USA including, woefully, the recent one in far-flung New Zealand.

What can countries and civil societies do to stem the menace of anti-semitism and other forms of terror?

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man visits Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem.

As for anti-semitism, Prime Minister Netanyahu must  sincerely work toward a 2-state solution, with mutually agreed borders, East Jerusalem as the capital of the new Palestinian state, and a concomitant right of return for Palestinians to their homeland. The USA has not proved to be an honest broker and therefore the British government should now assume the mantle as the whole problem started with the Balfour Declaration. Failing such a solution, the alternative for Israel and the Israeli peoples may well  be a life of perpetual insecurity and constant vigilance, despite Israel’s military might.. on the status of Jerusalem.

For terror attacks in general, there needs be inter-faith dialogues at all levels- governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental to seek help from faith groups to promote interfaith understanding and religious tolerance.This effort must be buttressed by requiring schools to develop educational curricula to include the teaching of pluralism and concomitant moral values. At the end of the day, much of the problem of terror must be attributed to the power play of larger and stronger governments against smaller or weaker ones through proxy wars to bring down governments or regime changes, while propping up dictatorships, depending on their strategic power plays and interests. Unless stronger governments refrain from undue interference in others’ affairs -the hallmark of politically correct diplomacy-only then can one hope to eliminate the scourge of hate speech and violence and to create safer and peaceful societies.

Reposts are welcomed with the reference to ORIENTAL REVIEW.
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