The Progressive Passover
The Progressive Passover

A people liberated from slavery. No wonder Passover is a time when advocates for a State of Palestine feel drawn to play a Progressive Moses. ‘Let the people go!’

Passover, many think, comes around for a melodramatic appeal to the conscience of Israel. Have pity. Remember – your people were enslaved in Egypt and so howled in torment it made the Almighty act .Hear oh Israel the cry of people in bondage. Let the Palestinians go. Let them make unto themselves a nation.

This, in one form or another, is the cry and substance of the Progressive appeal. Well-intentioned and calculating people make it, none more than devotees of human rights who make a career from their devotion. Listen to them. In what they say and in what they believe lie the fatal flaws of the type. Today Moses gets up in a human rights T-shirt.

Uri Zaki is a modern self-styled Moses. The ex director of Israeli human rights outfit, B’Tselem (in the image of), Zaki thought he’d stir up American Jews with an impassioned Passover appeal. Let the Pals go. What Zaki actually said was, “Israeli settlements in the 'West Bank' make it practically impossible for the Palestinians to realize their right to self-determination in an independent and viable state of their own.”  https://blogs.timesofisrael.April 16, 2011

The fatal flaw in Zaki’s browned-off appeal lies where? Look for the duty of one party to give and the right of the other party to receive. In an egg shell Progressives comprehend human rights in those terms. They award rights to one party and impose obligations on the other. To make their allocation of rights and burdens sacred they like to borrow from the bible, believing parts of it or none.

Progressives are adept at making theology their handmaiden. Concepts in Judaism or Christianity in their clever hands meld seamlessly with leftwing dogma. Bible-borrowing Christian leftists borrow Jesus, not to beat swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks; they bring him on for mundane acts you or I can do. They tell Jesus to walk through a military checkpoint in the 'West Bank,' and to report how the Son of God coped with the cruelty of Israeli border control.

Jewish Progressives don’t have a Messiah; they fetch their catch-all tool from Judaism – the concept of tikun olam or making the world a better place. Do-gooders in droves are drawn by tikun olam like moths to electric light. They boil a multitude of meanings down to the right of Palestinian Arabs to want things and Israel’s duty to supply them. Pals are owed and “Benjamins’ owe. That’s the goo boiled down from a deep principal with more meanings than the octopus has tentacles.   

And the benefits – they go to whom and to what? The lives of a clutch of millionaire kleptomaniacs are made comfy and effortless. From their silk-covered divans the heads of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas table demands; then they sit back, leaving it to Progressives of capricious conscience to tell Israel to meet the demands more than half way. Pal leaders are exempt from adulthood. Given victim status no criticism, never mind criminal penalty, may touch them.   

It’s the old story of the spoilt kid, and it brings to mind a quip made by the famous Israeli ambassador, Abba Eban. “I think it would be the first war in history that on the morrow the victors sued for peace and the vanquished called for unconditional surrender.” 

 bittersweet joke! The Six-Day war had ended in a stunning victory for Israel and world leaders lined up to force bitter medicine down the victor’s throat: the remedy of land for peace. Today more than five decades later the formula (or mantra) keeps Israel trying to keep Washington and Brussels keep the wolf at bay – the wolf in boycotting garb.  

One thing has changed since Israel made the error of vanquishing the Arabs in 1967: the stakes have been upped. Today world leaders demand that Israel gives more than land for peace. Another failed Sharia state and nothing less is on the table – unless Israel wants Brussels to stop trying to keep the wolf at bay.

Give Pals the 'West Bank', hot dammit! Never mind they lost wars they started. Like the spoilt kid, Palestinian Arab tyrants want everything and they want it on their own terms, unconditionally. Possession of land may be nine-tenths of the law, and ‘Benjamin” may have the possession, but who holds victim losers to law? Victims are defined by rights. Other claimants for a state to call their own (the Kurds for one) must drool at the mouth looking at the pampered Pals.

And whose rights have to make room for the Chosen Victims? None but the Un-Chosen People making do with an already slip of hostile homeland. But hey – who cares! White and Jewish makes a combo for the biggest villain of them all. When human rights are dished out, ‘dark’ victims, especially when under the bondage of Benjamin, get it all.

That was fatal flaw one. Flaw number two, Moses in a Human Rights T-shirt forgets the other side to the equation. The right to self-determination involves a big supposition – that of lawful ownership. By all means let people make unto themselves a nation, but where shall they do that? On what land? On whose land? Except for the Kingdom of Jordan, no land west of the Jordan River was ever held by a people recently named ‘The Palestinians.’ Israel took this bit of real estate in a defensive war when such a claimant still had to be conceived. Well – could Jordan not ask for the West Bank back? No it could not because it was never Jordan’s to have and to hold. At the time Israel snapped up the territory Jordan had no right to be there. Not even the Arab league makes a case for the West Bank to go back to Jordan.

So the Progressive Moses looks to Israel. At Passover time thoughts on bondage and liberation run riot. “We must allow Palestinians to enjoy the same basic rights to self-government and independence that we, the Jewish State, have been privileged to enjoy since 1948.” David Newman, a professor at Ben Gurion University, goes on to write of “fundamental Jewish religious values” as recounted at Passover. (Handy tikun olam pops up again). It is incumbent on the Jews of today, Newman believes, to ensure that other peoples are not oppressed, even more when they are under “our own control and for whose wellbeing we have direct responsibility.”

After marrying rights to responsibilities, Newman divorces them. Israel gets the responsibility and the Palestinian settlers get the rights. Your Progressive Moses can be clever but not wise. He knows of no such a thing as reciprocity. Jews must part with their promised land and leave enemies at liberty to rain down rockets on the metropolitan hub of Israel. The ‘fundamental Jewish values’ espoused by the professor come with that sting in the tail.

Diplomacy, having no truck with the bible, comes with a sting of its own. Looking back on American brokered peace talks before the Trump era, it is easy to forget the generic players on the game board – landowner and supplicant. Obama’s negotiator John Kerry hammered Israel for dangling carrots which the other player did not find terribly juicy. Not even negotiators acting for Israel stopped to recall natural law.  The owner of real estate needs do nothing until a person who would like to have it brings an offer. Should the latter be unwilling to meet the owner’s terms, the owner carries on with his life.

Cornered, Zaki the Priest and Newman the Dean would have to admit that no laws or treaties give the Big Victim the right to “self-determination in a viable state of its own.” There are only Accords made in Oslo, and they’ve been trashed time without end. But even when the Accords were in mint condition they conferred no rights to self-determination. The Progressive Moses ignores principles of law while he scatters rights and obligations like confetti. Odder yet, our Moses is often the first to insist that Israel abides by the law.  

Unpacking the biblical thunder in ‘Let the Pals go free!’ one discovers a fake product.  Obligations come without rights and rights without obligations. The demand of the modern Moses comes down to, ‘Give Pals what they want, hot dammit!’

Well – why not, if only to satisfy some quirky view of fair play. The Jews got their state, why deprive the neighbors? It might even help Israel’s own security. So say do-gooders toying with real baddies. But look at the way they put their case. Don’t put a spanner in the wheel by telling Palestinian leaders to recognize a Jewish state. Obama’s man Kerry, only thinking of Israel of course, scolds it for putting the spoilt kid out of temper by insisting that a Jewish state, a paid up member of the UN, exists. Other come-and-go hopeful negotiators throw up their hands with Kerry. Stop the tantrums. Give the kid what it damn well wants for heaven sake!

Problem is, no one can fathom what the kid wants. And here’s fatal flaw number three. How many times did Israel offer what everyone told Israel the kid wanted? Again and again Palestinian leaders were invited to establish a home they could call their own. Arafat then Abbas were offered land on which to make a home. After tearing the RSVP’s to shreds, they launched Intifadas and threw the bits of paper at Benjamin’s pale face.  

Then there’s Gaza. Were not The Victims in bondage in Gaza before they got it, lock stock and barrel? For nothing? All they had to do in Gaza was make unto themselves a nation. You’d think Moses the Progressive would be happy. Think again. “In 2005 Israel withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip, which increased Palestinians’ control over their lives…However, Israel continues to hold decisive control over major aspects of people’s lives.” https://blogs.timesofisrael.April 16, 2011  

Here was Zaki the Priest prodding Pharaoh to let the people go, after Pharaoh had already done that. What did unelected leaders do with the gift which came with no strings attached ? They warred and they jawed. But then it’s not for Gaza’s elect to uplift the lives of their subjects, to build a nation. It’s for Israel to do that for them.

Zaki the Priest and Newman the Dean, like all Moses prophets in Human Rights T-shirt, go about with blinkers. They fail to see the bottom line of giving land away. Let Palestinians have the Temple Mount, half of Jerusalem and Judea-Samaria – all the parts in dispute. Where will this leave the Benjamins? It will leave them looking suspiciously like colonial usurpers. After all what historical connections do the Benjamins have to Tel Aviv?

‘Let the people go’ is all well and good. But at Passover time Jews ought to have their own people in mind. This could involve treating foes with a strong hand and an outstretched arm so that never again will they be a footloose and powerless people begging other nations, not to let them go, but to let them in.

Steve Apfel is an economist, a cost accountant but mostly a prolific author of non-fiction and fiction, including books, essays and articles.  He has been published on many sites and journals, and been ccommissioned to write groundbreaking works such as “A bias thicker than faith” and, Is the NYT motto for real?  Steve blogs at http://enemiesofzi