AMERICA-ISRAEL FRIENDSHIP LEAGUE
Seeing The Mideast Conflict
In A Different Perspective
SRAEL’S very existence was on
every speaker’s mind at the America-Israel Friendship League’s
awards dinner at the Plaza Hotel in New York.
"As long as the Middle East conflict
is about Israel’s existence and no existence, there can be no
peace," said historian Bernard Lewis, who received a
Partners for Democracy Award.
League chairman Kenneth Bialkin presented the award also to industrialist
chairman of the Keter Group, and Malcolm Hoenlein,
executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major
Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens
called Sderot "a disgrace" for Israel. "It
demonstrates that the state is not effective in protecting its
citizens. This is unacceptable. The purpose is not to showcase
Jewish victimization. The purpose is to end victimization."
Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni
set the Gaza campaign in historical perspective. He said Israel
operated on the assumption that there was a simple bargain on
the table: You give them land and they give you peace. If Gaza
is an example, this policy obviously failed.
In 2005 Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
handed over the keys to Gaza to the Palestinians, hoping they’ll
turn it into a tourism destination and a thriving industrial
zone, for the future of their people. "Instead," Aharoni said,
"they turned it into one big weapons depot. We had to endure
12,000 rockets. What country would allow that?"
He noted that the Israelis tried a
two-state solution when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
offered to give up 100 percent of the territories acquired in
the 1967 Six-Day War. But the Arabs turned him down.
"I fear," Aharoni concluded, "that the
conflict is not about the 1967 war, about land. The conflict is
about the 1948 war, about existence."
Hoenlein maintained that the recent
Gaza campaign was about who will rule over the Middle East.
"Will it be Turkey and a revived Ottoman empire, Iran and a
Shiite crescent zone, or Egypt and the Moslem Brotherhood?"
Aharoni called Hoenlein a legend,
adding, "Do you know the difference between a pit bull and
Malcolm? A pit bull eventually lets go."