We should lecture Israel's neighbors about their treatment of Jews and other non-Muslims before any criticism of Israel


By —— Bio and Archives--January 5, 2017

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The day after betraying Israel with abstention in the unfair UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, John Kerry attacked Israel directly. 

In addition to a number of cutting slights, Kerry admonished Israel stating that Israel can be either a “Democracy or a Jewish state, but not both.”

This was wrong on a number of levels, but particularly in the patronizing rhetoric directed at Israeli democracy.


Having spent time on peacekeeping duties in the region – from 1996 to1997 (Multinational Forces and Observers based in the Sinai) – I had the opportunity to see the reality of democracy between Israel and its Arab neighbors. During that time, I went from being skeptical of Israel to becoming a lifelong supporter of Israel, particularly Israeli commitment to Western values of freedom and respect for human rights.

Let me explain, and make clear the real obstacle to peace in the region.

The first thing I noted while visiting Israel was the large number (over 1.5 million at the time) of Arab-Muslim Israeli citizens living inside the pre-1967 Israeli borders. These Muslim citizens had all rights, and even representatives in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament).

In sensitivity to their background, this was the only ethnic/religious group of citizens not “required” to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. They were free to criticize the Israeli government, and even praise anti-Israel groups like Fatah, Hamas, and Hezbollah. The Israeli newspapers ran the spectrum of opinion, including those against Israeli leaders, expected of a free and Democratic society.

Jews were expelled from throughout the Arab world

Most Israeli citizens I spoke with wanted peace, and almost all were willing to relinquish land for peace. They respected the legitimacy of their Arab neighbors. 

In contrast, the neighboring Arab states (this includes the West Bank and Gaza, minus Israeli settlements) were “Jew free.” Jews had lived throughout the Arab world in communities going back 2,000 years. However, after Israel accepted the UN partition plan in 1947, then attacked almost all surrounding Arab states during the Israeli War of Independence, Jews were expelled from throughout the Arab world.

Spending the majority of my time in Arab-Muslim land, I could see the effects. I sensed the pervasive hatred against not only Israel, but Jews. At that time, anti-Jewish books like “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” even Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” were bestsellers in surrounding nations. Children were being taught to hate Jews as the “sons of monkeys and pigs.” Maps in places like Jordan did not even recognize the existence of Israel. Most of Israel’s Arab neighbors did not recognize the legitimacy of Israel in any part of its land, let alone the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinians generally were not willing to accept Israel’s existence, regardless of the land they received in exchange for peace. The only way for Israelis to live in the West Bank, land they call Judea and Samaria and sacred to their history, was and is in protected settlements which are always under threat of terror.

Something to understand is the tiny size of the Jewish State. Taking away the uninhabitable Negev desert, Israel proper is a fraction of the size of South Carolina. Just north of the main Israeli population center of Tel Aviv, the distance between the Mediterranean Sea and the West Bank is under 10 miles.


Peace will not come with the end of settlements, but when Israel’s neighbors stop generating hatred

The full pre-1967 West Bank cannot go back to a future Palestinian state if Israel is to survive. When the Israelis unilaterally gave back Gaza in 2005, they were rewarded with rocket attacks.   

While I was there, Israel was in the process of giving back control of critical parts of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. In particular, this was when the ancient and sacred city of Hebron – home of the tombs of the Israel patriarchs Abraham (and matriarch Sarah), Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) – was transferred to Palestinian control. Almost immediately, violence against Jewish pilgrims prevented their access to Abraham’s’ tomb. The Israelis told me this was reminiscent of the period between 1949 and 1967 when Arab Muslims controlled the Old City of Jerusalem, which is claimed as the future capital of the a Palestinian state. Before 1967, Jews were prevented from visiting their holiest spot on Earth, the Western Wall. They were expelled from the ancient Jewish Quarter of the formerly Jewish capital. (note:  In contrast, the holiest spots to Muslims, Mecca and Medina, are off-limits to non-Muslim on pain of death. The legal discrimination against non-Muslims under Sharia law is demanded by Hamas in a future Muslim Palestinian state, and they claim the Old City as Muslim holy ground).

The time viewing the truth on the ground in the region made a profound impact on me, and from that experience Kerry’s statements against Israel seem incomprehensible. 

The United States is good, and that goodness makes us great. We are respected for defending what’s right, not purely short-term self-interest, in international affairs.

In the case of Israel, we have stood up against much of the world by defending the Jewish state as a solid ally. This is because Israel has stood up as a beacon of democratic light in a dark region of the world, and Israel stood by us throughout the Cold War.

We should lecture Israel’s neighbors about their treatment of Jews and other non-Muslims before any criticism of Israel. Peace will not come with the end of settlements, but when Israel’s neighbors stop generating hatred. That’s what Kerry should be declaring on our behalf.


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Col. Bill Connor -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Bill Connor,  received his Bachelor’s of Arts from The Citadel in 1990. After serving over ten years as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army he received his Juris Doctorate from University of South Carolina in 2005.

He is currently an attorney with Hamilton and Associates in Columbia, South Carolina.

In May 2008, he returned from a yearlong combat deployment in Southern Afghanistan. During that time, he served as Joint Operations Officer for the Southern Region of Afghanistan developing and implementing the US advisory effort for Afghan National Security Forces. This effort occurred during the 2007 Taliban spring/summer offensive.

Due to success in that position, he was promoted to take command of the US advisory effort in the volatile province of Helmand. Shortly after arrival in Helmand, he was promoted in rank from Major to Lt. Colonel. In addition to command of US advisory teams, he was the senior American working with the United Kingdom senior staff. Upon return from Afghanistan, he published the book “Articles from War,”a memoir of his experiences and thoughts in Afghanistan.

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