An open letter to Dr. Raju G.C. Thomas:
by Dr. Yohanan Ramati,
the Director of The Jerusalem Institute for Western Defence,
12 February 1994
Dear Dr. Thomas,
I have just carefully read your "Jews, Serbs, and the Yugoslav conflict", which I found informative and deeply disturbing. As my goals are similar to yours -- friendhip and cooperation between Jews and Serbs -- and I accept your analysis of Serb, Muslim, and Croat behavior, I want to make some observations about the section "An interpretation of Jewish Motives" that may help you to understand the attitude of a certain kind of Jew to events in Yugoslavia a little better.
There is no "sudden wave of Jewish-Muslim-Catholic friendship" which "contributed to the Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement. At best, there is an interim agreement, which the Arabs MAY be ready to supercede with a peace treaty (that will probably not last ten years) if all their political demands are met. Nor was Jewish hostility to the Serbs a factor facilitating the Rabin-Arafat pact.
You are too logical when you write: "Israel could not have risked giving Palestine autonomy if much of the Muslim world remained hostile to Israel..." It could and did. I have no quarrel with your parallel between the relative unimportance of Jews and Serbs as ethnic groups. Where you go wrong is in disregarding three decisive factors:
a) Israel's internal politics;
b) The total commitment of Rabin to serve the perceived U. S. interest;
c) The effect of 2,000 years of exile on the mentality of a large segment of Jews.
Israel's internal politics are based on sharp polarization between Left and Right, these terms relating not to economics but to the relative readiness to cede land to the Arabs. Parties Left of Center have always advocated major territorial concessions, parties Right of Center have opposed them. There is a historical hatred between Left and Right, which far exceeds in intensity anything known in other democratic states. This has led some politicians and journalists on the Left to regard as legitimate cooperation with Arabs against the Right on matters of vital importance to the survival of the state, such as borders. In the 1992 elections, the Right was splintered and despite failure to obtain a majority of 61 votes out of 120 in the Knesset with the help of two Arab parties representing anti-Zionist interests. Labor promised everything -- higher living standards, less unemployment, more security and peace. After one year, unemployment was up, living standards remained the same, security was worse than ever. "Peace remained the only political card the Government parties could play, hoping that, if they delivered it, a euphoric electorate would sweep them back into power in 1996. THIS WAS THE DECISIVE REASON FOR THE SIGNING OF THE AGREEMENT WITH ARAFAT. Due chiefly to ever greater Palestinian terrorism, the euphoria has evaporated and will not return. But the agreement remains and the Labor government has a vested interrest in its "success", almost regardless of the terms of a final setlement. If the concessions it has made do not bring about even a semblance of real peace, the voters will throw it out.
Rabin personally is regarded by the State Department as "our man in Jerusalem" and to expect him to stand up to American pressure on any major issue is wishful thinking. However, precisely because the U.S. knows this, it wants to keep him in power and therefore tends to exert less pressure on him than it would on a Likud Prime Minister. For the present, there has been no serious pressure on Rabin as regards Yugoslavia and so Israel has no diplomatic relations with Croatia and Bosnia. Though there is no embassy in Belgrade either, there are diplomatic relations with the Serbs, conducted through the Yugoslav embassy in Tel Aviv.
The third factor is the most important. 2,000 years of exile left many Jews, especially in the Diaspora, with a subservient mentality craving the approval of non-Jews. This is sometimes manifested in a manner utterly strange to non-Jews -- by bending over backwards to support self-declared enemies, perhaps because sub-consciously such Jews want to believe that if they are nice to them these enemies will let them be. Men like Henry Siegman not only back Croats and Muslims against Serbs. They want to put the Serb 35% of the population of the Bosnian population under fundamentalist Muslim rule, but scream to high heaven against Israelis who want to rule the 35% of of Arabs in Western Palestine. Indeed, they will back most PLO, Syrian, and other Arab claims against Israel. They have no sympathy for the Christians in Lebanon. They spout continuously about humanitarian values, but do not care a rap about such values in "politically correct" states. They tend to swoon over the human rights of "politically correct" Muslims, but could not care less about the human rights of Copts in Egypt, Shi'as in Saudi Arabia, Russians in Estonia or even Zulus in South Africa. The entire Jewish "Peace Now" movement (to which incidentally Hillary Clinton's guru, Michael Lerner, belongs) is affected by this psychological sickness and the hypocrisies it produces. This is much more than a desire to be "politically correct". It is a kind of self-hatred. Israel is less affected by it than the Jewish Diaspora, but it exists there, too, especially in Left-wing secular parties though many of their leaders and supporters are not like this). Israel must be the only country ind the world where people argue not the concessions they want from their enemies, but about how much of the land they consider their own should be given to these enemies.
In the U. S. the kind of self-hating Jew I have described is well-represented in the the leadership of organizations like the A.D.L., the American Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee, as well as on the boards of Jewish federations, (although in all these bodies there are plenty of people on all levels who think and act otherwise). In most cases, it is a waste of time to try to persuade him with facts (he does not wish to be bothered with facts) or to appeal to his sense of justice (he does not possess one). He is concerned with his image and deals in cliches and propaganda.
Luckily, this type of Jew is still in a minority among us -- a fairly large and influential minority, but a minority. Do not blame him too much! He is too weak to carry 2,000 years of persecutions and exile on his shoulders and his dominant motivation is fear...
You are welcome to show this letter to your friends and quote it in public.
(Signed) Yohanan Ramati.
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Last revised: April 22, 1997