Arzi in the Media > De Volkskrant, 23.9.2011

Response article to EU pledged to oppose Palestinian UN bid

De Volkskrant, 27.9.2011

De Volkskrant, 23.9.2011 The Volkskrant printed a letter of response today to the article of Arzi founder Eran de Vries.

Werner de Bus' letter offers no new outlook on the issue at hand. In keeping with tradition, it lists the main grievances of the Palestinians vis-?-vis Israel, sets up false analogies and reconstructs history and international sources.

But that's not to say it's a boring article. The careful reader will notice that the writer is incapable of differentiating between Israelis and Jews.

In the second paragraph, the writer notes: "I strongly doubt that the people from A Different Jewish Voice accept that Eran de Vries speaks also for them." The first group mentioned is a fringe association of Dutch Jews. It has not got a single Israeli in its board. Arzi, on the other hand, represents the majority of people who were born in Israel and then came to the Netherlands.

Inability to see a difference between Jews and Israelis can lead to more than just embarrassing slips of the pen: At times of conflict in the Middle East it leads to attacks (verbal and physical) against Jewish people and institutions.

Mr. de Bus lists unilateral Israeli actions as background to the Palestinian unilateral declaration.

  • But the Oslo Agreements did not preclude unilateral actions, but actions which unilaterally change the status of the West Bank and Gaza. Settlements existed at the time of signing, so no status change there. Neither are the fence, the naval blockade on Gaza, Resolution 194 (passed in 1948!) or the reintroduction of wild gazelle in Samaria.
  • The West Bank and Gaza do not constitute 22 percent of the "historical area" as Mr. de Bus claims, because a "historical area" was never agreed on. There was an offer in 1947 called the UN partition plan. The Arabs were offered an area 78% larger than the West Bank and Gaza. The Jews accepted but the Arabs refused and declared a war (which they lost) to cleanse the land of Jews. In 2008 they had been offered by 100% of the West Bank and Gaza. They're still refusing.
  • Hamas is not a "political party", but as a terrorist organization – at least according to the EU. And the fact that it's opposed to the unilateral declaration of statehood does not mean that it wouldn't become a part of that entity. In fact, it said it would do just that.
  • Israel does not hold "thousands of Palestinians political prisoners." It does hold thousands of Palestinian prisoners convicted of terrorism against Israel. Is that one and the same for Mr. de Bus?
  • Gilad Shalit has not been afforded one visit by the Red Cross or anyone else in five years. Hamas jailed terrorists have been brought before a judge and are watching television and completing PhDs in prison while enjoying regular visits not only by Red Cross officials, but by family members. Equating them with Gilad Shalit's situation is an immoral analogy.
  • Finally, even someone who's never been to the Middle East can recognize the trust of individuals and governments does not stem from accords but actions on the ground. Treaties and accords consigned by Israel and the EU will not get the job of instilling trust done. Only standing by Israel's right for safety, keeping promises and insisting on accepted principles of fair negotiations will accomplish that.

Volkskrant "Brief van de Dag", 27/9/2011

"Criticism of Palestinian demands is one-sided

The pro-Israeli media offensive against the acceptance of Palestine as a new UN member is well on the way. On Saturday, there was a discussion with Ronny Naftaniel, director of the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) about the Palestinian state as a "hothouse for instability and extremism" (24 September) and the day before was the turn of Eran de Vries, founder of the Arzi Association for Israelis in the Netherlands (23 September).

I strongly doubt that the people from A Different Jewish Voice accept that Eran de Vries speaks also for them. Why should anyone fear an on-paper Palestinian state on a mere 22 percent of the original historical area?

For De Vries, the request for a formal and binding recognition of Palestine as a UN member a unilateral action which the EU must reject.

But the Palestinians have been grappling with unilateral actions by Israel for years: The expansion of Jewish settlements in the territories, which have been occupied since 1967; the refusal to allow the Palestinian refugees to return (despite UN resolution 194); the ongoing construction of the partition wall (despite the ruling of the International Court of Justice in the Hague of July 9, 2004); the continuation of the blockade on Gaza.

De Vries averred that the unilateral request for UN recognition of a Palestinian state within the borders of 1967 equals support for Hamas. But this political party is opposed to the request.

An aye-vote at the UN would be a sign of indifference to the fate of the jailed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, but what then of the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners, among them many women and children?

I doubt that EU support for the Palestinian UN initiative would undermine Israeli trust in the EU, because this support does by no means cast doubt on the EU-Israel Association Agreement."

Werner de Bus, Brussels