The Cycle That Must End

I received this email today. Below you will find my response to that email which I felt was my responsibility to write. Please forgive the formatting, for some reason blogger did not translate well and I don't have time to correct.

> Subject:
> It's Our Land by Benjamin Netanyahu
> Date:
> Tue, 30 Dec 2008 7:54:04 PM Eastern Standard Time
> It's our land...By: Benjamin Netanyahu
> Apparently, Benjamin Netanyahu gave an interview and was asked about
> Israel's occupation of Arab lands.
> His response was "It's our land". The reporter (CNN or the like) was stunned
> - read below "It's our land..." It's important information since we don't
> get fair and accurate reporting from the media and facts tend to get lost in
> the jumble of daily events.
> "Crash Course on the Arab Israeli Conflict."
> Here are overlooked facts in the current Middle East situation.
> These were compiled by a Christian university professor:
> 1. Nationhood and Jerusalem. Israel became a nation in 1312 BCE, Two
> thousand years before the rise of Islam.
> 2. Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a
> Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the
> modern State of Israel.
> 3. Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 BCE, the Jews have had dominion over
> the land for one thousand years with a continuous presence in the land for
> the past 3,300 years.
> 4. The only Arab dominion since the conquest in 635 CE lasted no more than
> 22 years.
> 5. For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital Jerusalem has
> never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the
> Jordanians occupied Jerusalem, they never sought to make it their capital,
> and Arab leaders did not come to visit.
> 6. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy
> Scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran.
> 7. King David founded the city of Jerusalem. Mohammed never came to
> Jerusalem.
> 8. Jews pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray with their backs toward
> Jerusalem.
> 9. Arab and Jewish Refugees: in 1948 the Arab refugees were encouraged to
> leave Israel by Arab leaders promising to purge the land of Jews.
> Sixty-eight percent left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.
> 10 The Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab
> brutality, persecution and pogroms.
> 11. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is estimated to be
> around 630,000. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is
> estimated to be the same.
> 12. Arab refugees were INTENTIONALLY not absorbed or integrated into the
> Arab la nds to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. Out of the
> 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs is the only refugee group in
> the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own people's
> lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel, a country no
> larger than the state of New Jersey .
> 13. The Arab-Israeli Conflict: the Arabs are represented by eight separate
> nations, not including the Palestinians. There is only one Jewish nation.
> The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost. Israel defended itself
> each time and won.
> 14. The PLO's Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of
> Israel. Israel has given the Palestinians most of the West Bank land,
> autonomy under the Palestinian Authority, and has supplied them.
> 15. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated and the Jews
> were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and
> Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all
> faiths.
> 16. The UN Record on Israel and the Arabs: of the 175 Security Council
> resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel.
> 17. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were
> directed against Israel.
> 18. The UN was silent while 58 Jerusalem Synagogues were destroyed by the
> Jordanians.
> 19. The UN was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the
> ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
> 20. The UN was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like a
> policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western
> Wall.
> These are incredible times. We have to ask what our role should be. What
> will we tell our grandchildren about we did when there was a turning point
> in Jewish destiny, an opportunity to make a difference?
> START NOW- Send this to 18 other people you know and ask them to send it to
> eighteen others, Jew and non-Jew--it doesn't really matter.


My response:

As Jews and Arabs begin to fight here on the streets in Los Angeles,
if you'll allow me, I must respond:

I find this list to be full of ridiculous and out of date arguments
for a claim on a piece of land, just as the Palestinians have their
own ridiculous and out of date arguments to claim that same piece of
land. One can easily Google more than enough of them on both sides
and all they prove is that just about anyone anywhere can make a
historical claim on a piece of land, and then, using that biased
historical claim, justify taking a life to keep that land as opposed
to sharing it and living peacefully side by side. These arguments
from both sides, and they are on both sides, they get us and the world
nowhere, but they do drag us further into a dispute that history
proves will never be solved by a bomb, a gun or a missile for either
side. History does prove that these arguments will kill a lot of
young men and women at the beginning of their lives, with all their
unrealized hopes and potential never given a chance to breathe, let
alone bloom; young men and women who haven't had the time to mature
and think for themselves yet, to have children, to build lives and
families, and is this not how it has always been?

Haven't we seen enough of this violence over the last eight years to
at least begin to question all of these out of date arguments and
so-called facts by "hawks" on both sides who would lead us into their
blood feud stretching back over 2000 years with no end in sight? Can
we not finally begin to attempt to "dream" ourselves out of this with
the best of ourselves and realize that this dreaming for a better
world is not a betrayal of those lost in the past, but an honoring of

As I believe in our hearts we would all like to be responsible and
loving humanists, kind and giving to our friends, family, neighbors,
and they in turn to us, we need to acknowledge each others' history
and our historical claims insofar as an understanding of the pain and
suffering both sides have endured and suffered throughout history can
be achieved. If we cannot come to a forgiveness, at least we can try
for an understanding of why there is so much misunderstanding and hate
passed down from generation to generation to generation on both sides.


Because we are responsible for passing down this hate to our children,
just as those facing us on the other side are responsible when they do
not see through their own lists of arguments to something greater and
more meaningful.

Now I am not writing this naive enough to believe this hate can ever
be fully quelled on either side, it seems man is born with a certain
part of his nature bent on destroying each other and ourselves over
superficialities like land, looks, beliefs, etc. in the name of God or
some other ideal, but as sane, educated and priviledged individuals
living in the West in the Twenty First Century, with all the benefits
and possibilities of freedom, spiritual and material wealth our world
has to offer, isn't it our duty to try to lead the way through and
past those who would keep us living by old and out of date codes and
arguments, making their old and out of date arguments that seem to
serve as no more than rationalizations for the absolutely and
unequivocally unjustifiable crime of killing children and innocents on
both sides by any means at their disposal?

Haven't we seen enough of this old out of date cycle on both sides
throughout our shared history to finally, as a people, a human tribe
of people, say, "enough" to those who would continually lead us back
to this place. This statement, "enough," is not a denial of the
reality of the world as it is; it is not a denial of the threats and
violence that face us, nor is it a sign of weakness, but it is at
least the attempt to look beyond the current turmoil and into the
future, so that upon all that has been destroyed, and continues to be
destroyed, something lasting can finally be built for future
generations who must share an ever shrinking world. Don't we have a
responsibility to at least try to begin to defy history and break this
pattern, or are we doomed to continue to repeat the mistakes of past
generations because it is simply easier to fall into these old
arguments? If we don't move beyond old arguments, if we don't begin
to look to this future, if those on both sides who have the capacity
and dreams to do so do not begin to do this, and to do it loudly and
publicly, that future can never be built. Is this the world we want
for our children and grandchildren? Isn't it our dream, the human
dream, to leave the world a better place for those who carry our name
and spirit into the future long after we are gone? Isn't that the
real dream, American, Jewish, Arab, everyone? I believe it is. If we
do not dream, if we fall into the black hole of cynicism about the way
the world is, the way it is always going to be, then we have truly
lost ourselves.

Defense of one's home and family is a right, but at some point we, as
strong but caring individuals, must ask ourselves when that defense
becomes outright cruelty and murder. And for those that won't, we
must have courage to do the questioning for them, to lead them to this
questioning. If we do not do this we become all that we hate, all
that would try to kill us, eliminate us, all that once did only a
short time ago. If this happens to us, if we lose our humanity, then
there is no home or land or culture worth defending let alone

We must no longer allow ourselves to be driven to war and endless bloodshed by those
on any side carrying lists of "facts" like the ones in the email above.