The problem is fundamental: Founding a modern state on a single ethnic or religious identity in a territory that is ethnically and religiously diverse leads inexorably either to politics of exclusion or to wholesale ethnic cleansing. Put simply, the problem is Zionism....This is a very odd claim. To the extent that the Middle East is ethnically and religiously diverse it's only because Israel is there. Everywhere else in the region any diversity is either driven out, killed off, or enchained in a form of servitude called dhimmi.
Rabbi Moshe Averick, a man who suffers fools grudgingly, will have none of Ehrenreich's silliness, and composes a scathing retort to Ehrenreich at Algemeiner.com. Here's part of it:
No kids, the problem is not Saudi Arabia, where practicing any religion other than Islam is punishable by death; the problem is not the murderous and tyrannical regime in Syria that has murdered tens of thousands of its own citizens (imagine what they would do to Jews!); the problem is not Jordan, where selling land to Jews is a capital crime; the problem is not Iran whose leader has vowed to inflict a nuclear Holocaust on the world; the problem is not Egypt whose fanatical Moslems assassinated the first Arab leader to make peace with Israel and is now ruled by a Moslem Brotherhood whose mantra is Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!, and the problem is certainly not the Palestinian Arabs whose only innovative contributions to mankind have been plane hijackings, murder of Olympic athletes, suicide bombers, and whose greatest hero – Yasser Arafat – is the godfather of all radical Islamic terrorism in the world.Averick continues to dismember Ehrenreich's column at the link, and it's all worth reading - especially if one is a little fuzzy on the goings-on in that part of the world - but one of Ehrenreich's paragraphs comes in for a special measure of Averick's scorn. Ehrenreich says:
In other words, the Arabs/Palestinians/Moslems are not expected to live up to any of the ideals of justice and morality expressed in exhortations of the prophet Jeremiah. They are permitted to routinely engage in “politics of exclusion” (try wearing a cross or Star of David necklace in Saudi Arabia) and “ethnic cleansing” (any Christians left in Bethlehem these days?).
No, the problem is Israel; the only pluralistic democracy in the middle-east, the country whose Arab population has a higher life-expectancy and per-capita income than any of the surrounding Arab states, where hospitals treat all of its citizens, be they Jew, Arab, Christian, or other; the only country in the middle-east with a truly free press and where freedom of religion and expression is guarded, where an Arab judge sits on the Israeli Supreme Court, where an Arab judge can preside over the trial of, and sentence, a former (Jewish) President of the State of Israel to a prison term for rape, and where Arabs vote and can (and do) elect Arab representatives to the Knesset who rail against the very state that confers upon them the right to be elected.
If two decades ago comparisons to the South African apartheid system felt like hyperbole, they now feel charitable. The white South African regime, for all its crimes, never attacked the Bantustans with anything like the destructive power Israel visited on Gaza in December and January, when nearly 1,300 Palestinians were killed.To which Averick replies:
Is it possible that Israel’s attacks on Gaza had something to do with the fact that Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, has in its official charter an exhortation to kill Jews and destroy the State of Israel? Did it have anything to do with the fact that Palestinians fired more than 2000 rockets from Gaza into Israel in 2012? When asked about the rocket attacks, Ehrenreich replied: “Rockets? What rockets? I don’t see any rockets. Do you see any rockets?It really is utterly incredible that any educated man would compare the situation in Israel to that of the white regime in South Africa during the days of apartheid. Everything Israel has done it has done because it is constantly being terrorized and attacked by Palestinian Muslims who hate the fact that a non-Muslim state prospers in their midst and who thus wish to destroy it. Israelis have watched their children blown to shreds by suicide bombers, they've lived in constant terror as rockets rain down on their villages, they've listened with trepidation as Palestinians, Hezbollah, and Iranians have all sworn to obliterate them from the face of the earth. Finally, to stop the rockets they launch a military attack against Hamas in the Gaza strip, but since Hamas chooses to use civilians as human shields, innocent Palestinians are inadvertently killed. What on earth is the similarity between this and the oppression of a largely powerless and helpless black population by the South African government under apartheid?
On one point Ehrenreich is correct, though. There probably never will be peace in the Middle East, but it's not because Israel is there. It's because its enemies will never stop making war against it as long as they're able and as long as Israel exists. And then, if Israel does ever cease to exist, the Arab Muslims will then turn to making war on each other. It seems it's all they know how to do.