Posted on March 6, 2002
Dwight Owen Schweitzer
Editor & Publisher the Jewish Star Times
With those words, Peter Finch’s character in the movie Network went down in history. It is not surprising. Watching him shout it, first from an open window to anyone within earshot, then from the television screens that formed the backdrop for the movie; those words struck a chord in America’s psyche. I know how he felt. On Sept. 11, 2001, we were attacked by terrorists.
We responded by going to war with a country 10,000 miles away. We will never know how many of the enemy died in that war or how many were women and children who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Tight press censorship will ensure that precise information will never be known and the spin medics at the Defense Department will ably deflect any criticism so we are likely never to know what the cost in human misery our Afghan War has caused. Besides, we did it to liberate a country, get the bad guys and safeguard our people from future attacks; all well and good.
So, why am I thinking of Peter Finch’s character you might ask. The answer to that is pretty simple too. I am, to put it mildly, sick and tired of the double standard that applies to our conduct against terrorists on the one hand and the conduct of Israel against the very same activities on the other. Except of course that Israel’s enemies are within walking distance and have killed and injured a percentage of Israel’s population in just the past 18 months that, if compared with our population, would require 12 world trade centers to come close…and this from a group of Arabs who have no legally or historically recognizable claim to the land for which they are killing and maiming women and children on an almost daily basis. Let’s remember too that they could have obtained it anyway and more, without resorting to terror.
So, while we applaud ourselves for doing exactly what the Israelis are doing, and they with infinitely greater justification, we condemn them in words and cartoons. A Saudi Prince offers a piece plan (that is not a typo) and the whole world rushes to applaud what we would reject out of hand and with less justification. Say, giving half of the western states of the United States back to, in this case, the rightful owners: the Sioux, the Cheyenne, the Chippewa and the rest. Right, next case.
I challenge anyone to offer a litmus test for what or who is a Palestinian. If it simply applies to anyone who lived in 1946 or later in what is today, and has been for several thousand years, I might add, the State of Israel. They would need to show they owned land there for them to be entitled to compensation for the value of the land at the time they left. For those of you who don’t think that is a fair formula, I suggest you look at the formulas put forth to return the bank accounts and insurance policy proceeds of Jews who died in the Holocaust. By those standards, the former residents of what has always been Israel should be laughing all the way to the bank.
Which reminds me of all those Jews after 1948 who were thrown out of Arab lands where they had lived for centuries, without so much as a stick of furniture. It seems fair to ask what the Saudi plan for compensating them is. They constitute a number that approximates the number of all Palestinians who fled the land reacquired by Israel, (approximately 625,000) only 15 percent of whom were land owners. But here we sit, full of ourselves and the misinformation constantly being held up to our faces and consider the Israelis lucky that the Arab world, which Saudi Arabia does not speak for, I hasten to add, will recognize the (remaining) State of Israel. How nice. No wonder I am mad as hell, but unlike Peter Finch, I am going to take it because the world and I seem to agree on one thing at least, that as a member of the ”chosen people” things shouldn’t come too easily.