The Journal News in New York’s Hudson Valley has published an attack on the new commuter rail ads we’ve been so excited about for describing Palestinian dispossession. “Railway ads present a skewed portrayal of Israel,” by two officials of the American Jewish Committee, Scott Richman and Larry Grossman, seems significant because it doesn’t smear the ads as anti-Semitic but is earnest and engaged. So the battle is on! Some potted history in this response:
One would never know from the ad that the area shown on the maps was the homeland of Judaism and the Jewish people; that Jews have lived there for more than 3,000 years; and that those exiled from the land never stopped praying to return there. Similarly, the ad makes no mention of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, whereby Great Britain promised the nascent Zionist movement a Jewish “national home” there, a pledge that became part of international law when endorsed by the League of Nations.
And the ad is discreetly silent about why the Palestinians have lost land. It’s not due to Israeli aggression. Rather, the Palestinian leadership has consistently refused to compromise and allow any Jewish sovereignty, of whatever size, in the land. Enlargement of Jewish territorial holdings has come in defensive wars fought reluctantly in order to stay alive…
In vain, Israel has attempted for years to reach agreement with the Palestinians, just as it did with Egypt and Jordan, so that a Palestinian state could be created that lives side-by-side in peace with Israel. Even today, the Palestinian Authority refuses to sit down with Israeli negotiators unless endless demands are met in advance. And, by the way, here’s another thing the ad conveniently ignores: More than 2 million Arabs are Israeli citizens, with equal rights.
Note that the writers’ claim is specifically contradicted by yesterday’s New York Times, in which Jodi Rudoren described Palestinian citizens of Israel as second class–“citizens of a state whose defining philosophy most find alienating at best, often considered enemies within, with a list of complaints about discrimination in employment, education and housing”– and in which Palestinians likened their status to that of blacks under Jim Crow.