Indeed, historic patterns repeat themselves. In his My Turn, “Israel-Palestinian conflict explodes at our door,” in the September 26, 2001 Juneau Empire, just several weeks after 9/11 heinous terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington DC, Leslie Hebert made various historical and statistical errors that in 2001 could lead to a divisive and anti-Semitic outcome on the matter in our country.

Hebert’s arguments were: (1) Unjust creation of Israel in 1948 had provoked conflicts in the Middle East; (2) “Israel-Palestinian conflict exploded at our door on September 11,” and, therefore, “… the United States have to cut off foreign aid to Israel to encourage fairness.”

Soon after Hebert’s opinion piece was published in the Juneau Empire, members of the Juneau Jewish Community courageously responded to his misleading and fabricated article via several submissions in the Juneau Empire and public meetings in Juneau. One of the responses came from Shari Kochman’s article, “More than one book on Mideast history,” published in the Juneau Empire on October 4, 2001. At the time, she was a board member of the Juneau Jewish Community. In fact, the narrative and information in her article is still relevant to today’s Israel-Palestinian conflict in Gaza, and explains it all.

On the history of creation of the modern Israel, she responded to Hebert’s article as follows:

“Stating that, ‘President Truman decided to give the displaced Jews someone else’s country, i.e., Palestine,’ is extraordinary. Palestine was not Truman’s to give. The partition plan was established by the United Nations based on recommendation from an 11-member commission, which did not even include the United States. The Jews of Palestine were not completely happy with the plan, but accepted it. The Arabs rejected it. They went to war. Had Arab governments not gone to war in 1948 to block the UN partition plan, a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Galilee and Negev could be celebrating 54 years [76 years today] of independence. Instead, Egypt occupied Gaza; Jordan occupied the West Bank.

“Mr. Hebert’s reference to the land in question as clearly Palestinian by right is amazing. I challenge him to offer clear proof that it is Palestinian land and not the ancient land of the Jews.”

 The second point in Kochman’s article was on establishing a two-state solution in the region. Kochman writes:

“Mr. Hebert claims Israel will not accept the legitimacy of a Palestinian state. In the most recent peace efforts, Israel agreed to establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians rejected the offer and insisted on the “right of return.” That has the façade of a justifiable request. But by sheer numbers, it would mean destruction of the land of Israel as a Jewish homeland [i.e., “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”]. Based on the years of exile, discrimination and murder suffered by Jews, can Mr. Hebert understand why the destruction of Israel is not an option? Would any nation willingly allow self-destruction?”

And in her final point, Kochman warned that a rhetoric of the Hebert’s article may lead to a possible emergence of terrorist activities in the region.

“Perhaps most alarming of all Mr. Hebert’s assertions is that Palestinians, out of despair brought on by an uncaring world, became terrorists. It seems Mr. Hebert is supplying an excuse, an explanation for terrorism. Is such a thing possible? Have other horribly persecuted peoples resorted to terrorism? And if they had, if they do in the future, would we offer an excuse that an uncaring world drove them to it? Is there ever a justification for terrorism?

“I am among the millions, who pray for peace in the Middle East and recognize it will require compromise and concessions by Israelis and Palestinians. While this quest continues, terrorism is not and will never be a legitimate path.

Indeed, progressive and radical far-left advocates for a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza/Hamas must learn from Kochman’s insights – written 23 years ago – in order to understand the geo-political complexity and history of the region.

Today, “Hamas lovers” and violent pro-Palestinian protesters are either naïve or misinformed, or both. The world-wide pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic protests clearly resemble those of the leftist Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA. These violent protests and anti-Semitic rhetoric must be stopped by rational and patriotic Americans.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

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OPINION: 23 years ago, patterns of the Israel-Palestine conflict looked eerily similar

Alexander Dolitsky
The writer was raised in the former Soviet Union before settling in the U.S. in 1978. He moved to Juneau in 1986 where he has taught Russian studies at the University of Alaska, Southeast. He is now director of the Alaska-Siberia Research Center and has published extensively in the fields of anthropology, history, archaeology, and ethnography.