This is a letter just sent by the former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, Rabbi David Rosen to the Irish Times. Please note that in their biased and one-sided account of events in the Holy Land, they gave what Rabbi Rosen has called 'a willfully false interpretation'.
But Rabbi Rosen doesn't just leave it there. What he also does is to point out just how wrong-headed the article was at the outset, by providing the all-important historical context. He therefore transforms what was a hate diatribe from the Irish Times into a reasoned and nuanced explanation of the facts on the ground as they really are.
His is a piece In the best rabbinical tradition, and one of which Jesus would surely have approved!
In your Opinion - Editorial of 24th of December 2007 referring to the
RTÉ program on the situation in the Holy Land, you associate me with the
claim that Israel's security barrier is a "land grab". I said nothing of the
sort. In fact in my opinion not only is that a willfully false
interpretation, it is not born out by the historic facts.
Those who remember the events during the second Intifada, will recall the
enormous Israeli public pressure to build such a barrier to protect them
against the carnage in Israel's cities wreaked by murderous Palestinian
suicide bombers. The proposal for this move in the Israeli Parliament was
actually made by the opposition Labour Party. The then Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon and his right wing government strongly resisted this call. Why ?
Precisely because they understood that any kind of demarcation line of the
western periphery of the West Bank would in effect lay down the line of an
eventual border between Israel and a Palestinian state and they did not want
to encourage any such premature action , especially as there were and still
are those ( granted a minority - but a vociferous one) who believe that
control of the West Bank is essential for Israel's regional security.
It was only when the public pressure became too much to bear, that the then
government of Israel went ahead with building a security barrier. Thus if
anything, it would be more correct to describe the barrier as a land
relinquishment - something which I personally believe will be to the
ultimate benefit of both Israelis and Palestinians as it psychologically
prepares the way for the separation desired ironically by the majority of
both peoples, but prevented by violent extremists which the Palestinian
leadership has been unable or unwilling to control.
This is not to say that everything about the security barrier is acceptable
to me. I did say to Roisin Duffy and Felicity Heathcote that many of us are
unhappy with the route the wall takes specifically in Jerusalem and I
applauded the Israeli Supreme Court for its decisions changing the route of
the security barrier elsewhere to take the needs of Palestinian farmers into
consideration. Similar such petitions (mostly from Israeli organizations
(sic !) are still before the Courts.
Nevertheless the statistics are categorical - the wall has proved its
security value beyond doubt and Israel's first duty is to protect the lives
of its citizens.
former Chief Rabbi of Ireland"