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Free Speech Friday: March 3

In response to Free Speech Friday, March 13, by Steve Leigh

Steve Leigh is very, very upset that there is a state (Israel) for Jews who want to live there.

After World War I, one of the progressive ideas supported by President Wilson was self-determination for different peoples.  Instead of being ruled by others, Hungarians would have a country of their own; so would Rumanians, Poles and so on. One of the objections often made to how European colonial powers divided up Africa and parts of Asia was that they ignored this principle, instead creating national and subnational boundaries without regard to more or less natural borders among people of different religions or ethnicities.

The United Nations was following the principle of self-determination when it declared in November 1947, that Palestine should become two states: one, in the area in which Jews were a majority, for the Jews, and a second, in the area in which Arabs were a majority, for the Arabs.

The Jews accepted the 1947 two-state solution. The Arabs did not, instead attacking the tiny Jewish state, much smaller than today’s Israel, which is very small as it is. The attack came from both within, Arabs already in Palestine trying to destroy it, and outside Israel, as military forces of seven Arab states attacked as well.

Israel was created, therefore, on progressive principles, and survived through the elementary principle of self-defense. Try to prevent those who want to kill you and destroy your country from doing so.

There are 21 countries plus the Palestinian Authority in the Arab League: 300 million people, 5.25 million square miles. There is one country for the Jews: roughly 5.5 million people in a country of 7.5 million, 8,000 square miles. It doesn’t seem to me that Israel is asking too much.

Paul Burstein

Professor, sociology

The Disneyland version of the Arab-Israeli conflict — the wicked, aggressive Jews versus peace-loving, eternally victimized Arabs — presented in The Daily March 13 by Steve Leigh and A. Ahmed affords a good opportunity to compare the ways in which the two peoples have handled their refugee problems.

In 1948, more than half a million Palestinians, ignoring Ben-Gurion’s assurance that “there is enough room for ourselves and the Arabs in Palestine,” fled the country. They were following the example and precept of their own leaders as well as the leaders of the five Arab armies that invaded the tiny UN-recognized state of Israel and urged Arab residents of the area to “get out, so we can get in.”

The governments of these same Arab countries, and the Arab world in general, have kept whole generations of their fellow Arabs homeless on the borders of Israel in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Gaza. Hamas’ recent use of Arab civilians as human shields continues the Arab League’s long-standing decision to keep Palestinians, generation after generation, in squalid refugee camps as a weapon in their endless war against Israel. In a century of blood and shame, this exploitation of their fellow Arabs has been one of the most shameful episodes of all.

Israel’s Law of Return, which sticks in Leigh’s throat, was promulgated, contrary to his statement, when Jews were a large majority in the country. Under this law of the 1950s, in the aftermath of the Holocaust, Israel welcomed some of the world’s most injured and persecuted refugees, providing those who needed it with decades of medical treatment, support and sustenance. Israel also welcomed and settled more than 800,000 Jews who were forced out of nearly all of the Arab states in North Africa and the Middle East after 1947.

Since no Arab country shares Israel’s sense of responsibility for its co-religionists, no Arab country has passed a Law of Return or looked upon Palestinian refugees as bone of their bone, flesh of their flesh, children of the same God, but only as weapons in their battle against Israel.

Why are Arabs, who are born and live out their lives in refugee camps in Gaza, Lebanon or Jordan, not allowed to become citizens of the Arab countries they inhabit? Why do Palestinian refugees live in such dire circumstances?

The “root cause” of their misery is not Israel. It is the 60 years of Arab and Palestinian leadership policy aimed at making permanent the Palestinian people’s status as stateless refugees to use their suffering as a weapon against Israel.

The zeal of Leigh and Afrose, living comfortably in Seattle, to fight against Israel to the last Palestinian refugee is apparently not shared by the refugees or their children and grandchildren themselves.

Ben Dershowitz

Senior, industrial engineering

25 DVDs and a Video iPod

Barack Obama is Mr. Smooth. No really, I’m serious. The guy is the epitome of what it means to be smooth. I mean, you’d have to be smooth in order to fill out an NCAA tournament bracket on ESPN in the middle of a financial crisis. You’d have to be smooth in order to go on The Tonight Show and compare your bowling score to that of a score you might see in the Special Olympics. You’d have to be smooth in order to return a bust of Winston Churchill to the Brits, who gave it to President Bush after the 9/11 terror attacks. You’d have to be even smoother in order to give a visiting head of state, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, 25 DVDs as a welcoming gift, while giving his kids toy helicopters. And finally, you’d have to be on your absolute “A-game” in order to visit the UK and give the Queen of England a video iPod preloaded with your very own speeches.

Sure, one might be able to look past him filling out a bracket on ESPN, or even the Special Olympics gaffe, but it’s hard to look past Obama’s treatment of Gordon Brown and the Queen. Apparently, our president thinks our relationship with Britain is worth about $475; $225 for the video iPod, and $250 for the 25 DVDs, which were in the wrong format, by the way, making them unwatchable. And I may be being generous with my cost basis, seeing as he returned the Churchill bust. Regardless, if there was any doubt among the American people that the president might be in over his head, I hope it has been assuaged by now. Elections have consequences, America, and we’re now seeing the fruits of those consequences. We got suckered into voting for a catchphrase, which was delivered over and over again by an inexperienced first-term U.S. senator. We shunned the old, experienced guy in favor of the young, hip guy promising “hope and change.” I don’t know about you, but I haven’t felt hopeful since Obama took office, and I certainly don’t like the change I’m seeing from him. Who knows though, maybe at some point over the next 1,387 days, that will change. No pun intended.

Nick Jacob

Junior, political science

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