Sunday, April 8, 2007

July 29, 1982 - Debate on Israel's Invasion of Lebanon

Today is Day 14,239 of the Maintenance of the Immoral (and Illegal) West Bank Settlements

Micah.6:8 “He has told you, O man, Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God

In a few months it will be 25 years since the debate I helped organize at the JCC in Marblehead, Massachusetts – July 29, 1982. I have in front of me the flyer we distributed which reads in part

ISRAEL IN LEBANON: Self-Defense or Invasion? Is the Road to Beirut the Path to Peace? Speakers were: Robert Lappin, former President of the Jewish Federation of the North Shore; Yuval Metser, Israeli Consul General; Donald Perlstein, Editor of Genesis II; and Roger Hurwitz, Member of New Jewish Agenda

Two hundred attended: Quotes and comments from coverage in the Jewish Journal of the North Shore. Lappin, “Israel’s entry into Lebanon was an act of legitimate self-defense. We should not allow our compassion for innocent civilians who have the ability to save themselves to becloud the grim reality of Arab actions and intentions.” “In order to reach the talking stage, both Lappin and Metser insisted first on the removal of the PLO”. Hurwitz said that the PLO really posed no imminent threat when the moves were taken. “The alternative of negotiating with the Palestinians has been steadfastly refused by the government”. Perlstein “I reject the myth that Israel will attain security and peace by destroying the PLO. .. Those who call for a change of policy are often called traitors or non-supporters of Israel, when in fact it’s the very policy presently pursued that is at the core of what is most dangerous to Israel.” The program ended abruptly when Yuval Metser, apparently insulted by a comment by Roger Hurwitz, spit on Roger Hurwitz, and led a walk-out of more than half of the audience with cries of “Anti-Semite” filling the air.

From a letter to the editor after the program: “Clearly my anticipation and willingness to listen was not shared by those who came to heckle and disrupt the evening with the self-righteous conviction that there is no valid second option and that their positions were ‘the right ones’ absolute and inviolate. .. As a Jew I have always been proud of our people’s wonderful, if painful and passionate history of openness to inquiry, discussion, exploration and debate.… I wonder, sometimes, if the North Shore was served an overly generous share of intolerant, parochial minds. It seems that when some of us are served an unfamiliar or threatening concept, we revile not only the idea but also the source.”

Prior to that there was an op-ed piece in the New York Times on June 26, 1982 by Roger Hurwitz and Gordon Fellman: “Under present international conditions, there is little likelihood that Prime Minister Menachem Begin will get the strong Lebanese government – that is, one dominated by Phalangists – that he seeks. His further pursuit of it would entail a prolonged Israeli occupation and strain his country’s resources and morale.….. West Bank Palestinians were moved to protests by expropriation of lands they worked, suppression of their cultural institutions and denial of political rights. … for three decades, Israeli officials boasted that their armed forces respected the lives of innocents … Such claims can no longer be believed, not even by the Israeli public. Until now fear of disunity has muffled public criticism by American Jews of Israel’s approach to the Palestinian issue. This fear must be overcome, for at stake are Israel’s moral future and the identity of Jews everywhere as moral agents.”

And in September, 1982 some of us signed a letter to Ambassador Arens stating in part: “We insist upon the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Beirut and ultimately Lebanon. We urge that the Israeli government recognize the human rights and needs of the Palestinian people.”

One reaction to this 1982 invasion and occupation of Lebanon by the government of Israel was the formation of Hezbollah!!

Deuteronomy 16:20 – “Justice, justice shall you pursue that you may live and inherit the land which God gave you”

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