Friday, June 10, 2016

What a pity that the “gestures” strategy never seems to work - by Stephen Flatow

Everyone wants to be thought of as the nice guy. Whether handing out roses or handing out entry visas, Israelis hope that such gestures will soften the hearts of the Palestinians. What a pity that the “gestures” strategy never seems to work.

Stephen M. Flatow..
09 June '16.. – In its coverage of the recent parade in Jerusalem to celebrate the 49th anniversary of the city’s reunification, the Washington Post reported a small but telling incident.

Rabbi Andrew Sacks and “fellow activists” positioned themselves at the Damascus Gate, an entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem that has been the scene of several terror attacks in the past year, and “handed out red roses to Palestinians.” Sacks, who is the (Conservative) Rabbinical Assembly’s director in Israel, told the Washington Post that the Jerusalem reunification parade is “an excuse for needless racism and provocation, and we are opposed to this.”

There was a remarkable irony to the entire scene. The marchers were celebrating the reunification of the city. Sacks was denouncing them. But the only reason Sacks was able to stand at the Damascus Gate and hand out his roses is that Israel reunified the city. When it was under Jordanian-Arab rule prior to June 1967, Jews were banned from entering the Old City (where the Western Wall and Temple Mount are located). Sacks and his “fellow activists” would have been arrested by the Jordanian apartheid authorities if they had tried to stand at the Damascus Gate in those days.

But the most telling aspect of the Washington Post story was the reaction of one of the Palestinians to whom the roses of peace and reconciliation were handed. The newspaper reported: “One member of [Sacks’s] group handed a flower to a Muslim youth who walked a few feet away and made a show of dropping it on the street.”

I feel sorry for Sacks. Here he had gone to such great trouble to try to prove to local Palestinians that he was one of the good, reasonable, moderate Jews — not at all like those bad, extremist, racist Jews who celebrate Jerusalem’s unity. And how did this Muslim youth repay the rabbi’s gesture of kindness? With a contemptuous gesture of his own.

The Muslim youth’s demonstrative casting of the rose into the gutter was another way of saying: “The problem is not marches or other ‘provocations.’ The problem is not that there are some bad Jews. The problem is that all Jews want to keep Jerusalem, even if some of you don’t want to shout about it. You are all the same, and we consider all of you to be our enemy.”

An even more important illustration of the way in which many Arabs repay Jewish kindness was recently provided in the Israeli Knesset. At a joint hearing of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee and the Internal Affairs Committee, experts testified on Israel’s policy of granting legal status to foreign nationals who marry Israeli citizens.

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Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

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