“Light itself is a great corrective. A thousand wrongs and abuses that are grown in darkness disappear like owls and bats before the light of day.”
– James Garfield
Regarding the guest column by Mark Davidson, Garfield’s words strike deeply.
Let’s shed some light on Rasmea Odeh, whose words Mr. Davidson naively seems to trust. Ms. Odeh was convicted in the 1969 bombing death of two Israelis and the wounding of nine in a crowded supermarket, as well as the bombing of the British consulate.
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At her U.S. deportation trial, she claimed to have confessed under torture, a claim which both the jury and judge did not find credible … and which fails to explain the bomb-making materials and explosives found in her room at the time of her original crimes. Furthermore, the organization she belonged to, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, claimed responsibility for the bombings.
The new trial that was recently ordered by the U.S. Sixth Court of Appeals was only in regard to Ms. Odeh’s immigration violation, not her original criminal conviction. Ms. Odeh felt so strongly about her alleged torture that, on March 23, 2017, she accepted a plea bargain that trades no prison time for falsifying her immigration status in return for her being stripped of U.S. citizenship and deported.
Another topic that Mr. Davidson covers, Movement for Black Lives (MBL), concerns an organization that is trying to address a pattern of harms against black American communities. It’s unfortunate that this organization has chosen to distort and dilute their primary focus by drawing comparisons to the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
Fact: Israel protects the rights of its citizens, irrespective of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation. Israel welcomes and supports communities of people fleeing from difficult conditions, including Syrians, Somalis, Ethiopians, and Eastern Europeans. They even have a growing Filipino community. All Israelis have freedom of speech, press, and religion.
Fact: In contrast, the Gaza Palestinian’s elected Hamas government marginalizes women, abuses and even executes LGBT people, and bans free press and the right to freely dissent to government actions. Based on the facts, the problems MBL is trying to address are not very similar to the Israel-Palestinian situation. As MBL focuses on helping American blacks to move forward in American society, by comparison Hamas and the people of Gaza will move forward when they stop idolizing terrorists such as Ms. Odeh, stop focusing on killing Israelis, and instead use the billions of dollars they get each year in foreign aid to rebuild their infrastructure and grow a viable economy.
Now let’s look at the last topic of Mr. Davidson’s discussion, foreign aid. The U.S. plans to provide Israel with $3.8 billion for military research and weaponry each year. In return, we get access to the latest Israeli innovations in drones, cybersecurity, and missile defense systems, technologies that help protect us from terror attacks. Mr. Davidson disingenuously refers only to military aid in comparing Israel to other countries, knowing full well that Gaza receives billions of dollars each year in human services aid from the U.S., EU, Arab countries, and U.N. agencies. The fact that their Hamas leadership chooses to use this funding for terror operations against Israel is what leads to the poor living conditions of their people.
If the people of Gaza are dissatisfied with the results of their actions, they ought to consider changing their behavior. When they choose to beat their missiles into plowshares, I’m sure that Israel will be willing to offer yet another two-state plan, even though two-state plans from 1937, 1947, 2000, and 2008 were rejected by the Palestinians. In the words of Golda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”
Josh Ravitch lives in Chapel Hill.