Gerald Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive doctoral work in Middle East studies, has lectured on numerous university and other platforms. He has debated many of the best Arab and pro-Arab academics in public debates and on television. Mr. Honigman is widely published in academic journals, magazines, newspapers and other publications.
Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:27 pm The Difference Two Letters Make...
The Difference Two Letters Make…
by Gerald A. Honigman
A friend of mine passed away several years ago who was a great, old fashioned “Liberal.” In many ways, many of us could fall into that same category when you really think about it. But things today just ain’t what they used to be. For one thing, somehow I just can’t see Jews as the new Nazis and Arabs as the new Jews–as too many current “Liberals” proclaim.
I had much affection for this man, and he was one of the folks who joined me when I very reluctantly accepted the request from a leader in my local Jewish community to form a “media watch” committee. I feared the “yenta factor,” and sure enough, it bit me on the behind not long afterwards.
Over the years, I had built up a reluctant respect by the local Florida newspaper folks–to the point of having some key editorial staff attending my own presentations on the Middle East. Keep in mind that the paper was like a mini New York Times in those days–so this was no small feat.
Like I had done years earlier with many other editors and media folks when serving as a professional consultant while doing my doctoral studies, the result translated into numerous published, in-depth, op-eds (not “letters”) written by myself over the years. This continued until soon after I agreed to form that committee; before long, another member of the committee either accidentally–or accidentally on purpose–gave the editorial brass an excuse to blackball me. The yenta factor…
One of the few good results of forming the committee, however, was meeting my late friend. Marvin used to like to gently remind me that you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.
Again, I had much affection for this man–but disagreed with him.
No, I’m not an idiot. I don’t believe that one should be deliberately impolite or aggressive in promoting or defending one’s position. And I never was.
But I also do not believe that one should have to cower or grovel for simply asking for fairness–in the above case, a more balanced reporting by the newspaper powers that be.
To give an example of the problem, the only time the word “barbarism” regarding the Middle East had come out of the paper’s editorial staff was when one of its key writers wrote about Israeli checkpoints designed to stop Arab suicide bombers from blowing up more Jewish kids in pizza parlors, night clubs, and the like. “Barbarism Under Israel’s Boot” was the title of that particular essay. Think about that for a moment…
The committee carefully monitored and held important meetings with the newspaper brass over the years–and we did see some results. But things only really got better after the old owners lost control to a new team. While there are still some issues, there is more balance in reporting these days for sure–on all fronts. And I was more than a bit satisfied when one of the former owners of the paper later bought my book during my author event at the local Barnes and Noble. I gladly personalized his own copy–right after doing so for a Saudi Arabian engineering student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as well.
So, what’s my point?
Honey should never take the place of honesty. And folks should neither demand nor expect that.
Reasonable people should be able to discuss issues on which they disagree without one expecting the other to grovel in order to be heard or for their cause to be handled in a just manner. Please keep this in mind as we proceed…
A few weeks ago, in some ways my late friend’s counterpart, Shimon Peres, apparently decided to pre-empt President Obama’s upcoming visit with a bit of honey.
The Israeli leader announced that Obama will be awarded one of Israel’s highest honors, the Presidential Medal of Distinction, when Mr. Obama visits in March. The medal recognizes Mr. Obama’s “unique and significant contribution to strengthening the state of Israel and the security of its citizens.”
Like Peres’s frequent derriere-kissing of the late Egyptian ghoul, Yasser Arafat, such sweetness will only be laughed at and used against him–and Israel–later on down the road.
Honesty being sacrificed for the sake of honey…
I will not, of course, reiterate the tens of thousands of words I’ve already offered on this subject, but suffice it to say that no matter how much military assistance and economic aid any American administration offers to Israel, this will not make up for forcing it to return to the suicidal conditions which existed prior to the June 1967 War.
As I and others have often noted, those conditions only invited repeated attacks by Israel’s enemies who still refuse to recognize a state of the Jews in the region–regardless of its size. Additional fighter aircraft, ineffective promises about Iran, the Iron Dome, or whatever cannot make up for Israel not receiving the territorial compromise and buffer that it was promised by the final draft of UNSC Resolution 242.
Given such honesty, no amount of honey will make any difference.
Mr. Obama has likely saved his first presidential visit to Israel to play hardball by forcing it to abandon 242's call for the establishment of more secure and defensible borders (what the settlement issue and building in Jerusalem and the rest of Judea and Samaria are largely all about) to replace the travesty of 1949's United Nations’ imposed armistice lines. Earlier American leaders, such as Johnson, Reagan, and Bush II, are on record endorsing 242's promise.
Let’s talk tachlis here…brass tacks, the crux of the matter, etc.
One should not be able to both force Jews to return to their ultra-vulnerable, nine to fifteen-mile wide zipper of a state existence and receive the Presidential Medal of Distinction for strengthening the security of Israel’s citizens.
Who do folks like my late friend and Israel’s Peres think that they are kidding by indulging in such demeaning endeavors and behaviors?
All that occurs is that we lose respect among those who don’t and won’t expect Israel to prostrate itself and sacrifice its own critical concerns this way.
A 22nd Arab nation–and second, not first, in the original April 25, 1920 Mandate of Palestine (Jordan created in 1922 on almost 80% of the total land) should not be created by grossly endangering the sole resurrected, minuscule state of the Jews. To reasonable minds, this should be a no brainer.
Yet, the above is precisely what both the latter day Arafatians of Abbas and the folks of Hamas have come to expect–especially with the advent of the Obama Administration. Recall that the first phone call Obama made to a foreign leader after his election in 2008 was to Mahmoud Abbas, and that he has repeatedly stated that Israel would be crazy–exact words–to not accept the alleged Saudi Peace Plan–which calls for a total withdrawal of Israel to the ’49 Auschwitz/armistice lines.
In just one of too many other nauseating examples of the pitfalls of choosing honey over honesty, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently had a chance to sit across a table from the Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu ( http://www.todayszaman.com/new.....barak.html ).
And just as Peres was repeatedly played the fool by the Arabs’ Arafat, Peres’s Lefty soul brother, Barak, looked beyond pathetic pleading for acceptance from none other than a representative of perhaps the biggest hypocrites in the entire Middle East–the Turks. He whimpered because Davutoglu refused to shake his hand.
While I still consider myself a friend of Ataturk’s Turkey (which has since been replaced by Islamists), despite its serious, deadly faults, please keep in mind that these are the same Turks who have slaughtered–regardless of whatever excuses may be offered–some two million various non-Turkic peoples over the years in the name of their own national interests. Dare I mention the “A-” words (Armenians and Assyrians)? What’s Cyprus all about, anyway? And why are Hamas members considered heroes but PKK members terrorists?
Get my drift?
As Arabs did elsewhere, Turks have outlawed the languages and cultures of other native peoples’ (who have lived in Anatolia and adjacent areas long before a Turk ever invaded from Central Asia) in attempts to forcibly Turkify them. They have conquered other peoples’ lands and repeatedly take any and all steps deemed necessary to defend Ankara’s interests.
The latest official count of the Turkish Statistical Institute published the birth records of its citizens. It showed some twenty-three million Kurds…over a quarter of Turkey’s population. Over the years, they have been re-named “Mountain Turks” by their subjugators.
Why no “roadmap” for Kurdistan while Ankara feels free to demand yet additional state for Arabs? All together, there are about forty million truly stateless Kurds in the region…
Imagine if Israel did such things to its Arab citizens. While its record isn’t perfect either (what nation’s is?), by any objective study, there is simply no comparison between how Kurds are treated in Turkey (and elsewhere) and how Arabs are treated in Israel. Yet, folks like the Turkish Foreign Minister get Jews like Ehud Barak to whine and beg for acceptance.
Disgracefully, when Israel is forced to take measures to defend itself against those who openly declare intent to destroy it, Jews like Peres and Barak feel the need to bend over backwards to appease.
Perhaps even more worrisome, along these same lines, the thinking behind Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent courtship of folks like Tzipi Livni in his coalition-building in the days leading up to President Obama’s visit become suspect as well. Like Peres and Barak, Tziporah is also more “flexible” when it comes to issues Team Obama holds dear–like getting Jews to cave to his demands to stay within their 1949 oversized ghetto.
Nations which have fought wars, acquired territories, proclaimed sovereignty, and so forth in and over lands hundreds or thousands of miles away from home have no right to dictate suicidal concessions to Jews.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Egypt, a likely twin replacing Assad’s Syria, and so forth are but a few frightening hints at what can be expected down the road.
Given such honesty, shame on those who pressure Israel so unfairly.
In the days which lie ahead–with even more nightmares of the “Arab” Spring,” Iran, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and so forth unfolding in this most volatile region of the world (and who knows what will yet become of Iraq?)–the gap between honey and honesty goes far beyond a mere two missing letters.
Honey and honesty must be Israel’s guidelines–not one instead of the other.