Bill Stewart and Gerald Rosen – Birds of a Feather in the New Mexican?

Interesting how the Santa Fe New Mexican is happy to publish articles that highlight negative and struggling aspects of Israel or its politics or leaders (see, for example, the past two weeks including herehere, here, and here), but doesn’t seem to cover positive aspects of Israel’s democracy and humanitarianism (for example, Israel’s help of injured Syrian refugees – see also here).  Meanwhile the New Mexican includes op-ed pieces critical of Israel, like Thomas Friedman’s piece “Commentary:  Trump:  He’s Netanyahu’s chump” and Bill Stewart’s ongoing blaming of Israel for almost everything bad in the Middle East, like his most recent, “Israel, Palestine dispute continues,” wherein Stewart proclaims (ex cathedra) that

If it is to be two states, then the West Bank must mean a contiguous piece of territory if an independent Palestine is to be a viable state. The settlements are part of a strategic policy designed to prevent a contiguous territory for the Palestinians and thus no independent country.

This proclamation by Stewart comes after he states in his opening paragraph that the Israel-Palestinian dispute is “The oldest and most fundamental dispute in the Middle East…”  Is Stewart unaware of the Shiite-Sunni dispute in Muslim nations, which significantly pre-dates contemporary Zionism?  Or the Greek-Turkey dispute on Cyprus?  (What’s that you say, Cyprus isn’t part of the Middle East?  Details, details.  Why should we care if Stewart doesn’t?)  Or Baluchistan, Kurdistan, and Kashmir?  How about the Saudi Arabia-Yemen Border dispute, ongoing since at least 1934?

Oh, yes, and there were no “settlements” in the West Bank (for millenia prior to 1948 known as Judea and Samaria) from 1948-1967.  Yet the Arabs refused to create a “State of Palestine” or make peace with Israel.

And Jews, while having been expelled from Israel by the Romans, as Stewart claims, had returned in significant numbers long before the modern Zionist movement – of the 25,030 total population in Jerusalem in 1876, 48% were Jews, 30% were Arab Muslims, and 22% were Christians.  In 1948, at the time of the founding of the State of Israel, the Jerusalem population had swelled to 165,000, including 61% Jews.

There are so many fact-check errors in Stewart’s “opinion” that the New Mexican really does need to re-think letting Stewart write anything about the Middle East – or, given his lack of credibility, perhaps anything at all.  We’ve detailed some of Stewart’s numerous errors previously.

Gerald Rosen – would eliminate Israel.

And then along comes Gerald Rosen.  Anyone with an eye toward virulent anti-Israel letter writing knows of Rosen’s tirades, regularly published by the New Mexican.  Rosen is the one named qualifier for the John Greenspan 2015 “loser award.”  We’re sure that if John, z”l, were alive today, he’d declare Rosen’s January 3, 2017 letter to the editor beyond the pale of decency.  And if it is, why would the New Mexican have printed it in the first place?  Even “freedom of the press” or “freedom of speech” does not relieve the New Mexican of some standards of decency in journalism.

Rosen would send all non-Arabs living in Israel “back to Europe and North America to make room for actual Semitic refugees…and their evacuation would provide space and housing in Palestine for the displaced persons of this century…”  There is no way around it, Rosen is calling for the elimination of Israel.  He is not calling for peace in the Middle East, for equitable settlement of claims, for the ability of Arabs and Jews to live alongside each other, for kumbaya.  He is calling for the elimination of the State of Israel and the establishment of – what exactly?  Only an Arab Palestine that includes present day Israel.  If this isn’t racism, what is?

We wonder – would the New Mexican have published a letter that suggested all Black Americans don’t belong in the US and should be sent back to Africa?  All Italians/Irish/Asians who live in America should be sent back to their original countries of origin so Native Americans can have their lands back?   That we should send troops and bombs to “eradicate” other countries like Saudi Arabia because we don’t like what some of their citizens have done?

Rosen’s hideous letter completely eliminates any sense of democracy and freedom of persons to live in the Holy Land – any part of it.  His call is one directly contravening any sense of the Fourth Geneva Conventions.  One can dispute the current claims of the parties to various lands in the Israel-Arab dispute.  But to state any lack of legitimacy of Jewish claims, and to profess forced out-migration of Jews clearly goes beyond the pale.

What Rosen completely disregards is the actual demographic make-up of what is now Israel, including the West Bank, prior to the European in-migration – prior to modern Zionism emanating from Theodore Herzl‘s vision.  In 1882 there were only 276,000 non-Jews in Israel (then called Palestine). In 1946, before the 1948 war and the displacement of non-Jewish Palestinians, there were 1.2 million non-Jews in Palestine.  What would Rosen do with the (now) 2.5 million non-Jews who live in Israel?  Why does he not advocate removing those non-Palestinians back to Arab lands from whence they came as well?

Can you imagine if a letter to the New Mexican editor had stated, “All so-called Palestinians (in present day jargon) must be removed to Saudi Arabia”?  Or professed that no Arabs should be allowed to live in Jewish Israel?  Of course, the latter sentence is what Palestinians are requiring for any kind of peace deal (insofar as we can ascertain that they are proclaiming anything for peace) – that the West Bank must be judenrein – without Jews at all.

On the other hand, if there is any tolerance of diversity to be permitted in a future State of Palestine, why couldn’t some of the “settlements” be part of it, living under a Palestinian government?  Any fair arbiter in the dispute must consider this as a possible outcome of peace talks.  Apparently Stewart and Rosen think it is perfectly fine to discriminate against Jews – they shouldn’t be in the West Bank (and according to Rosen in any part of Israel).  If so, let’s label them for what they are – anti-Semitic.  Of course, anti-Semites will deny this – anti-Semites, racists, homophobes, and others always deny that they are such.  But Stewart’s words fulfill the US State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, and Rosen’s words go much beyond Stewart’s.

And being Jewish does not inure one to being anti-Semitic (c.f. Bobby Fischer).

Buy your tickets to hear Dennis Ross speak on February 15.

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