CHUTZPAH, ISN’T IT?

This Thursday marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Balfour Declaration. Named for Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, the Declaration stated in part: “His Majesty’s Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

Can you imagine such magnanimity? The British government viewed with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, when Palestine was not even under British control! It wasn’t until December 9th of that year, five weeks after the Balfour Declaration was signed, that British forces led by General Sir Edmund Allenby wrested Jerusalem from Turkish control. In fact, it wasn’t until practically a year later, on October 31, 1918, when all of Palestine came under British control. I’m sure that at that time, His Majesty’s Government viewed any number of territorial changes with favour. Who knows? Perhaps His Majesty’s Government also viewed the retaking of the expanded Thirteen Colonies with favour as well. Why, I think that Lord Balfour was simply divine – at least in his own mind. Having perused the Torah any number of times, I’ve come across HaShem promising the Land of Israel to Abraham and his descendants, but I’ve never come across Lord Balfour promising the Land of Israel to Abraham and his descendants.

But it was more than a national home for the Jewish people that His Majesty’s Government viewed with favour. His Majesty’s Government viewed fairness with favour. His Majesty’s Government knew that it had to show fairness to both the Arabs and the Jews already firmly ensconced in Palestine. And so it did. His Majesty’s Government showed fairness to the Jews and even more fairness to the Arabs. His Majesty’s government simply knew that unfairness to Jews would lead to hurt, anger and feelings of being disenfranchised; unfairness to Arabs led would lead to slit throats. Just as His Majesty’s Government viewed the establishment in Palestine of a national home for Jewish people with favour, so too did the British view un-slit throats with favour. And that’s why immigration to Palestine of Jews looking to escape Hitler was curtailed and cut down to a trickle by the British, as was immigration to Palestine of the bedraggled, war torn Jews who somehow managed to defy the odds and survive Hitler.

If His Majesty’s Government viewed fairness with favour, it also viewed justice with favour – its concept of justice. And that’s why His Majesty’s Government views how it was done dirty by the very same Jews it sought to “civilize.” The savage bombing of the King David Hotel by the Igun Tzvai LeUmi will never be forgotten, nor will the kidnapping and hanging of Sergeant Clifford Martin and Sergeant Mervyn Paice (the Irgun Tzvai LeUmi threatened to hang the two kidnapped Sergeants if the British carried out the execution of Avshalom Haviv, Meir Nakar and Yaakov Weiss.) Apparently justice, full and complete justice, has yet to be carried out. Otherwise why has no State Visit to Israel ever taken place by any British Prime Minister? “When the time is right” remains the official response issued by 10 Downing Street.

His Majesty’s Government cedes land that is not its own, His Majesty’s Government views fairness with favor, especially when dealing with Israel’s Arab population, His Majesty’s Government has yet to put aside decade’s old recriminations against Israel, despite its own besmirched, sullied reputation between the years 1917 through 1948. Chutzpah, isn’t it?

BREAKING THE SILENCE

Any society or government is bound to have its share of malcontents. It’s a reality of life. The Israel Defense Force is no exception. Close to 12 years ago, a group of disaffected soldiers and veterans of the IDF formed an organization known in Hebrew as Shovrim HaShtikah or Breaking the Silence. Its goal is to tell the other side of the story of the most “remarkable” army in the world, by bringing to light incidents of unacceptable and even criminal behavior on the part of its soldiers. And so, Breaking the Silence tells how the army indiscriminately fired at a nearby settlement thereby killing innocents. Similarly, Breaking the Silence reports how three or four soldiers of a unit entered a home, blindfolded its occupants holding them at bay, so that the soldiers could commandeer the television and watch a soccer game being broadcast.
Breaking the Silence may be a perturbed and agitated group of soldiers and veterans but at the same time it sure as heck ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. Fulminate if you must, but don’t tell us that Israeli soldiers engage in immoral and illicit behavior against civilians. Not only do your charges and claims insult our intelligence and make us very angry, but it gives you zero credibility.
Only Fort Knox is under tighter scrutiny than the Israel’s army. With more reporters looking for a front page story of a dishonest or crooked soldier who takes the Palestinian problem way too personally and camera men all too trigger happy to get the incident on tape, the IDF is very much aware that just one wrong move on the part of their soldiers against the “poor Palestinians” and as they say in Italian: Badda Bing! Badda Boom! All hell breaks loose in the sanctimonious media that shapes the vacuous minds of the vast majority of its viewers and readers.
The IDF avoids trouble at all cost. Very much aware that it is held to higher standard than any other army in the free world, very much cognizant of that these standards are at times even seemingly impossible to attain, the IDF has for the longest time adopted an attitude very much like the fictional Paul Cicero of the 1990 Mafia movie Goodfellas. “I don’t need that” every commander screams at his men at his men, reminding them that by is very nature, the IDF finds itself sitting on a tinderbox 24/7.
One vital bit of information that Breaking the Silence just doesn’t get, yet the Arab enemy understands only too well, is that as brilliant as the IDF is, it is still very much dictated by its heart and soul. Because of this, the enemy will use human shields whenever possible, knowing that Israeli soldiers have far more respect for the lives of Palestinian children than Palestinian fighters do. Because of this, Israeli units have placed themselves and at times Israeli civilians in harm’s way. It is not all that far-fetched that the 12 year old Palestinian youth the Israeli soldiers are refraining from shooting at, in order to neutralize the terrorist cowering behind the youth, might very well be the next “suicide bomber” as he avoids detection at a military checkpoint and then proceeds to make his way to a Jerusalem market to detonate himself, snuffing out the lives of any number of Israelis and injuring many others.
As much as I hate to admit it, thanks to existing in a democratic country Breaking the Silence can continue with impunity to disseminate its “information” and viewpoint, however skewed and blatantly false it may be. One thing however I would hope the Israeli court system can change. The group has no right to call itself Breaking the Silence. Breaking the Silence is a misnomer. The group should be required by the court system to change its name. Breaking Our Hearts would be a far more apt moniker, because that’s precisely what the group is managing to do.