My initial skepticism over the objectivity of your multi-part drama to be aired on British TV which, as you say, strives to “come to an understanding of the most dangerous and intractable war of our age…the conflict between Arab and Jew in the Middle East”, called The Promise, seems warranted now that I’ve read your introduction to the film printed in the Guardian on January 28th.
You claim that, among the lessons you’ve learned from researching modern Israel, is that 60 years after the Holocaust:
“Israel is isolated, loathed and feared in equal measure by its neighbours, finding little sympathy outside America for its uncompromising view of how to defend its borders and secure its future.”
You then ask:
“How did Israel squander the compassion [derived from the horrors of the Holocaust] of the world within a lifetime?”
To this question, I’ll briefly ask an admittedly rhetorical one:
How dare you.
“Isolated”, you say?
Actually far from being isolated, my country is actually more economically entwined with Europe than we’ve ever been – the story of a tiny nation with little in the way of natural resources outperforming not only its neighbors, but some larger European nations as well. That Arab countries on our borders don’t wish to share in our relative prosperity, that 62 years after our birth those same Arab states continue in their self-defeating (either de facto or de jure) economic boycott of our country is not a reflection of our values, but rather of theirs. In nearly every measurable social, educational, and economic category, my country often wildly exceeds the performance of our oil rich neighbors. That my Israeli passport makes me persona non-grata in most of the Arab world is an indictment of their intolerance, their intransigence, their bigotry, not mine.
“Loathed”, you say?
If by “loathed”, perhaps you’re referring to the fact that 90% of the Arab world have an unfavorable opinion toward Jews? That is, empirical evidence demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of Arabs are openly not just anti-Israel, but wildly anti-Semitic – polling data which is thoroughly consistent with the evidence of state sanctioned Jew-hatred documented continually, yet frequently ignored by those who see such facts as inconsistent with their predetermined conclusions. While the overlap between anti-Israel sentiment and outright anti-Semitism in the rest of the world is a bit more complicated, in our region the data proves that the two are quite simply one and the same. That copies of the Elders of the Protocols of Zion sell briskly on the Arab street, that conspiracy theories about Jews being responsible for 9/11 are popular, and that state-owned newspapers in Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia continue to publish cartoons portraying Jews as hideous, treacherous, bloodthirsty villains is not a reflection on me. It is an indictment against them, their culture, and their values.
“Feared”, you say?
The notion that my democratic Jewish state is feared would almost be comical if it wasn’t so dangerous. Tell me, Mr. Kosminsky, were we feared when six Arab armies sought our destruction on the day of our birth in 1948? Were we feared in the weeks prior to June 1967 when Arab leaders were telling roaring crowds in Cairo, Damascus, and Tripoli that the the annihilation of the Jewish state was near, or when those same leaders conspired with the Soviet Union to launch a surprise attack on us six years later on the holiest day of the year? Have all the civilian casualties and human carnage we’ve suffered as the result of suicide bombings and rocket fire in the years since those full-scale attacks indicated to you that we are feared? What you characterize as fear may simply be something more akin to a grudging acceptance by our enemies regarding our resolve, our steadfastness, and our will to survive despite their enmity – not a commentary on our villainy.
That Jews – who have but one state to call their own, and who represent 2/10 of 1% of the world’s population – inspire fear in others is again not proof of our sins, our phobias, our behavior – but is a window into the soul of those who allow themselves to believe the most ludicrous, and historically lethal, Judeophobic calumnies.
As a citizen of the country which you now claim expertise, I can assure you that I don’t seek the compassion you audaciously claim we squandered. I have no need for your sympathy, and I don’t require your affirmation. Our national right to exist, my rights as a citizen in the national homeland of the Jewish people, is not suspended in mid-air awaiting your approval. I refuse to give you that power.
To the degree to which my stubborn refusal to allow you, and others, the right to pass judgment on my merit may inspire fear, loathing, and isolation, I’m okay with that.
I’d rather be alive and hated than posthumously loved.