Israeli history vs. cloudy ideology

Friday February 1, 2013

I know that Leonard Quart is nothing if not intelligent, honest and a lucid writer, and he certainly means no harm, though the opposite is not always apparent. I believe him when he writes and illustrates, while admitting scant knowledge of the country, that he has ". . . been reading, books and articles and screening films that take a variety of critical stances toward Israel" (Eagle, op-ed, Jan. 25). Inevitably, his social outlook, with like-minded others, tends toward a channeled ideology and settles like a cloud obscuring other points of view or understanding.

Unrelieved condemnation of Israel while holding her to celestial standards, and a double standard for the rest of humanity despite rhetoric to the contrary, contributes to viral contagion. Included, is Mr. Quart's approbation of Zionism. This movement arose in the late 19th century and sought to reestablish a Jewish homeland in response to growing anti-Semitism by the eventual purchase of land belonging to the Ottoman Empire mainly from absentee landlords. Jews living in the land called themselves Palestinians.

One would also wish for a wider respect for additional basic history, even the ill-conceived division by the U.N. in 1948 of a sparsely populated, poor and disease-ridden land into a Jewish and an Arab portion, accepted by one population and rejected by the other. Most of the land east of the Jordan River had been awarded to the Hashemite tribe of Jordan by Great Britain in 1921. In 1948 the land west of the river was annexed by Jordan. It declared its independence and its predominant population, later taking for themselves the appellation Palestinian, became the majority, except by rule or favor. And there is no accounting for the coming to terms or not, with a frequently unfulfilled utopian dream of a Jewish adolescent with a Shangri-La that doesn't exactly meet the demands of his or her adult ideology. Many words have been written on that and other closely related subjects but that discussion might better be left to the experts. RUTH HEUBERGER

Great Barrington


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