web analytics
August 28, 2015 / 13 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
Sponsored Post

Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Victimhood as Foreign Policy

By pushing the issue of Jewish “refugees” from Arab lands to the top of the U.N.'s agenda, Israelis abdicating the moral high ground in favor of sinking into a battle of victimhood narratives with the Palestinians.
Jewish immigrant children from Arab countries at the Talpiot transit camp on the outskirts of Jerusalem, 1954.

Jewish immigrant children from Arab countries at the Talpiot transit camp on the outskirts of Jerusalem, 1954.
Photo Credit: David Rubinger / The Digital Journalist

Currently, Israel’s leadership remains fixated on bolstering support from the U.N., a corrupt, morally bankrupt and largely ineffective world body that consists of over 190 member states, only a fraction of which are free democracies.

Until this obsession with U.N. approval is confronted and rectified, the politically free, pluralistic, tolerant economic dynamo that is Israel will continue to debase itself by constantly apologizing for its policies, actions and, ultimately, very existence.

About the Author: Gidon Ben-Zvi is an accomplished writer who left behind Hollywood starlight for Jerusalem stone. He maintains a blog, Jerusalem State of Mind. As a ‘returning resident’ to Israel, Gidon has vivid memories of playing hooky from Rene Cassin High School while strolling through Ammunition Hill. After serving in an IDF infantry unit for two-and-a-half years, Gidon returned to the United States, where he embarked on a twelve-year run of half-baked careers and wholly misguided educational pursuits.

If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

7 Responses to “Victimhood as Foreign Policy”

  1. Stephen Leavitt says:

    Immigrants get to sell their properties and take their possessions. They get to choose to leave their homes. Refugees don't. My in-laws lost all their property when they "immigrated" as the author calls it. Maybe the author needs to meet a few Sephardi families who lost everything, before he so glibly disposes of their claims and rights, simply because Israel was able to do right by them and they were able to move on with their lives.

    And since it was the Arab countries that caused and created both refugee problems (even if Israel solved her own), then yes, Danny Ayalon has the right idea to wave it back at them as a weapon against those very same Arab countires who are attacking us in the UN with the problems they not only caused, but the problem they continue to maintain.

  2. Stephen Leavitt says:

    I would add that the author also ignores two important issues that Ayalon has raised (among others).

    The first point is that a population transfer has occurred and while Israel has absorbed her immigrants, the Arab countries refuse to do so. It's not a one sided issue as the Arabs always try to make it out to be – and that diffuses (and defuses) their argument.

    The second, is that the Jews in the Arab countries owned significantly far more land and property and had more wealth that the Arabs in the Land of Israel ever did, so telling the Jews to "return to their home countries" isn't just a plane ticket. It would involve a significant distribution of land, money and property to reimburse those Jewish refugees, to return to them what is theirs.

  3. Ltc Howard says:

    Gidon Ben-Zvi. the author reminds me of the tombstone in the cemetery which says: “I had the right-of-way.”.

    Currently, Israel is losing the battle for world opinion. Facts do not matter, feelings do.

    Those who talk about maintaining the moral high ground have a death wish.

    It's all about survival and winning. Not making sure that some individuals feel superior. There is no such thing as a good loser, just a dead loser.

    Then, history is written by the winners and if Israel loses Israel will just be another failed, extinct civilization to be studied.

    Gidon Ben-Zvi and all of Israel has a choice: win or lose? Live or die?

  4. Ariel Reinheimer says:

    This is a line of argument I had not heard before, and it is compelling. I think Ben-Zvi is pretty much on target.

    While it is true, that the Jewish Refugee issue from the Arab controlled lands of the Middle East is a major story that has not received sufficient attention in the past and is an issue which should be emphasized on its own right, it SHOULD NOT be a response to the pal narrative of refugees. Simply, there is no comparison and no relevance.

    The Israeli response to the pal narrative should be simple and straightforward: The Arabs started the war, they lost, and even if Israel was responsible for the exodus (and overwhelmingly, it was not), it is their fault not ours.

    The Arabs have been taught a terrible lesson– that you can start wars, then cry about the consequences. This lesson is both wrong and pathetic. Indeed, this is true with regard to any of the various wars of annihilation that they have launched against the Jewish State.

    It should go without saying that the Arabs had already lost all legitimacy long before the outbreak of the 1948 War for Independence. During the Second World War it was extreme Arab pressure that persuaded the Brits to overwhelmingly close off the Palestine Mandate to Jewish Immigration. Indeed, it can safely be said that the Arabs are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews in Europe who were prevented from returning to their homeland. All Arab legitimacy, if there was any to begin with (and there is not much), was lost at that point. Everything that happened thereafter was of their own making.

    But, the Arabs can't even get that far– for they were never the legitimate heirs of the land. One small exception is the Christians among them, who had largely forfeited their rights by joining forces with the Muslims to annihilate the Jews, who have always had the primary rights to the land.

  5. Hi Stephen. Perhaps I didn't communicate the thrust of my argument clearly enough. In now way am I denying or downplaying the events leading up to over 600,000 Sephardi Jews being expelled from Arab lands. In fact, as I mention in the piece, this is a slice of modern Israeli/Jewish history that has been woefully underreresented in Israeli schools and in Israeli society in general. Thankfully, this miscarriage of the historical record is beginning to be corrected. However, to use the plight of hundreds of thousands of expelled Jews to score political points vis-a-vis the U.N. is a cynical exploitation of the suffering experienced in an attempt to somehow counter the pervading the anti-Israel bias the prevails in many parts of the international community. Finally, the term "immigrant" merely means a "person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence." The circumstances that drove someone to immigrate, be it by choice or by necessity ("pushed out or pulled in"), don't change the fact that he/she immigrated. Many Jews fled Europe in the days leading up to World War II and immigrated to U.S. and other countries; the fact that they were forced out didn't negate their status as immigrants. I thank you for reading and responding to my piece.

  6. Stephen Leavitt says:

    Your talking about taking a "moral high ground" but what you basically saying is don't demand the same rights that others are demanding from you (or for themselves)

    Your argument is propagating the double-standard, but from the other side. We're better than them, so we shouldn't demand the same things from them that they're demanding from us.

    Liberman and Ayalon have introduced a some revolutionary ideas into the Israeli Foreign Ministry. One of those revolutionary concepts they've introduced is that Israel has and can demand the same basic rights that other countries demand from it.

    This is just one more implementation of that concept.

    They've also gone and built up long-ignored relationships with countries friendly with us. And as a result, both in the UN, and in the real world, those improved relationships have paid off.

    We don't have to lose in the UN all the time, and we don't have to rely on the US veto either.

  7. The issue of compensation is very important if ever a peaceful agreement is reached between Israel and it's enemies.

    It is also important to point out that their was a population exchange on both sides.

    If ever compensation should come to materialize, the Arab states that owe money to the Jews whose property was stolen, should figure into the account.

    In general, Jewish rights are completely denied by the other side. It is very important to insist that the facts of Jewish rights not be ignored.

    So when you are insisting on this issue, you are also insisting that Jews have rights.
    like the right to self-determination, the right to a Jewish state, and that remains the issue that prevents a peaceful agreement in the first place.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton.
Sen. Cotton to Visit Israel for More Ammunition against Iran Deal
Latest Indepth Stories
Ben Cohen

Corbyn leading the Britain’s Labour Party polls, describes Hamas & Hizbullah as England’s “friends.”

PA Chairman Abbas proudly celebrating with released terrorists.

The convicted murderer was released from Israeli prison with more than two dozen other sociopaths

New Israel Fund

JCF is a donor/supporter of The New Israel Fund which supports BDS & wants IDF soldiers prosecuted

Moshe Feiglin

The ‘Peace Industry’ promotes its adherents; weak leaders, both military & political, is the result

The conundrum for US Labor Zionists: Lobbying for Iran deal while Israel’s Left lobby’s against it.

What does the Torah want from our small nation described as “they who struggle with God & with men”?

Mr. Nadler’s support for the deal is a naked political gift to a president who has defied logic in his quest to reinvent international affairs according to his ideological inclinations.

In practical terms, the proclamation surely makes a compelling argument:

BDS activists are not shy about discriminating against Israelis simply because they are Israelis –

A Federal Ct Judge ordered the PA to post JUST $10 million due to interfering letter from State Dept

Osakwe, like many other students at the CAMERA conference, described an extremely hostile campus environment when it comes to the issue of Israel.

Many people view a letter or manuscript by a chassidic rebbe or the Chofetz Chaim as intrinsically holy.

Key Iran Lobby figures had been major donors to both Biden and Kerry when they were in the Senate,

Abbas’ resignation has now sparked speculation about who will fill his place if and ‎when he leaves

More Articles from Gidon Ben-Zvi
A US Air Force (USAF) F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft in flight. (illustrative only)

Going forward, Guardian reporters would be well advised to keep their opinions firmly within the confines of the Guardian’s op-ed page.


How does a mild mannered CPA from Far Rockaway, Queens grow a set of vocal cords of such power and presence that a once meek and put-upon bean counter is now a vital part of the burgeoning Jerusalem acapella scene? And what causes an environmental lawyer from Marin County to discard all her eco-friendly (or at least carbon neutral) possessions to hop a fume-belching El Al Boeing 747 flight with the goal of thoroughly amending her life’s trajectory? Perhaps it’s the pale-pink light bouncing off the Old City’s ancient walls on a typical Jerusalem summer’s evening that somehow catalyzes a reaction, diffusing all reason and refracting all rational thought.

Late last week former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated that Washington must make it clear to Israeli leaders that the U.S. must not permit Israel to harm American interests. Previously, Gates had called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an “ungrateful ally.” It would be a serious mistake to slough off these most recent statements as the idle rantings of a retired civil servant.

Sadly, it appears that the Israeli foreign policy establishment has given up on convincing the international community as to the essential rightness of the Zionist enterprise. Rather, by attempting to push the issue of Jewish “refugees” from Arab lands to the top of the U.N.’s agenda, Israelis abdicating the moral high ground in favor of sinking into a battle of victimhood narratives with the Palestinians.

UNRWA Gaza chief Robert Turner’s “prescription” for saving Gaza’s Palestinians, set out in an article on the Guardian’s Comment is Free site, is based on a severe case of historical myopia. For it’s the one word that Mr. Turner neglected to use in his anti-Israel screed that is in fact behind Gaza’s rapidly devolving state: Hamas.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/victimhood-as-foreign-policy/2012/09/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: