Last night I attended an event at Temple Concord in Syracuse New York. The speaker, Ido Aharoni, is the current Consul General for the State of Israel in NY. To prepare myself for his probable remarks, I googled him and watched various youtube videos. Watching him reminded me of an advertiser working for a tobacco company: Really hype the product despite the fact that it kills. I was surprised that his talk was not his usual "Brand Israel" one, but that he tackled politics head-on.
I knew I was not in friendly territory considering my viewpoints on the Israel/Palestine conflict, but I sat quietly as I tried to stomach the half-truths, racist innuendo, and outright distortions of fact. The mostly grey-haired audience ate him right up. He was giving them exactly what they came to hear: Israel is a truly diversified, democratic nation; the Israelis have done everything possible for peace; the settlements are not an obstacle to peace; the problem with the Middle East is not Israel, but another word that begins with "I". He expounded on the "culture of hate and death" that permeates Palestinian society. The real problem, according to Aharoni, is the Palestinians' "habitual reluctance to accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish homeland". He contended that their leaders have erred by not telling their constituents that quite simply "the right of Palestinian return is just not going to happen".
His statements went unchallenged, including the regurgitation of "Barak's Generous Offer", which we know to be a false assertion. He failed to mention the details of the leaked Palestine Papers which showed the degree to which the Palestinian leadership was willing to acquiesce to Israel's demands. He spoke of the extremely benevolent moves made by the Israeli government including the "giving back of the Sinai" and "the return of Gaza", failing to mention the legal obligations to do so and the siege imposed on Gaza that is squeezing the life out of the people.
Particularly disturbing were his remarks about the murders of the family members in Itamar. He described the vicious throat-slashing of the 4 month old baby. His disgust at all "Palestinians" was evident. No mention was made about the tremendous disparity between the number of Palestinian children killed and the number of Israeli children killed. And needless to say, he failed to mention the "accidental" killing of a family in Gaza unfortunate enough to be playing soccer outside their home when Israeli artillery rained down on them. His one-sided representation made his presentation a farce. He told the story of an unwelcome gift, a "white elephant", one which eats and eats. He then referred to the Palestinians as "White Elephants" who eat up Israel's resources, and deplore "Israel's values".
He ended the presentation by reminding the audience about how truly superior the Israelis are: The tremendous gains in high-tech, the upscale quality of life for Israeli's, and the strides in environmental sciences. He spoke of the willingness of Israel to send medical teams to support catastrophes around the globe. And then he lamented that the conflict exists because of the Palestinians "dangerous, lethal, mentality".
After a few comments from the audience, I was able to get in a couple of points before being booed. I complimented Aharoni on being a gifted speaker and one who gives the audience what they want to hear. I said that a baby can be killed by having his throat slashed or by being burned alive with white phosphorous from the sky. I spoke of the wall which delves deep into Palestinian territory, and the settlements which are stealing the resources of the local villagers. Lastly, I managed to express that the average age of the audience was about 70 years old and that younger Jews are beginning to question the reality of the conflict and morality of Israel's positions. These believers in Jewish values will cease being unquestioning allies of the Jewish State.
Pat Carmeli is a US/Israeli citizen who lives in Cazenovia, NY, and is a member of CNY Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel.