Community Perspective: A Resident Responds to a Council on Aging Lecture

Submitted by S. Brown Pulliam

S. Brown Pulliam - Image (c) JMcCT, 2013
S. Brown Pulliam – Image (c) JMcCT, 2013

Editor’s Note: Inspired by President Jimmy Carter’s book “Palestine:Peace Not Apartheid,” Pulliam visited Israel and the West Bank with the Interfaith Peace-Builders in 2007.

After an auspicious start with two well received lectures covering Syria, Iraq, and Iran, the Middle East Lecture Series of Prof. John Kienzle descended into a heavily pro-Israel explanation of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  This Council on Aging-sponsored lecture was divided into two one hour parts, the first summarizing the history of the founding of  Israel using the traditional Zionist narrative describing the events since the late 1940s, ignoring any modifications to that fiction by latter day Israeli historians such as Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe.  Neither was there any mention of the number of U.N. resolutions Israel had chosen to ignore while reducing the land allotted the Palestinians from the 55% fraction in 1947 down to the present 22% enclosed by the “Green Line”.

Prof. Kienzle then, for the second hour purported to give the Palestinian side of the story, while omitting to mention most of the wrongs done to these people.  He made no mention of the 45 year current Israeli occupation of the Left Bank nor how many basic human rights the occupation takes from the people, no mention of home demolitions, land expropriation by both Israeli government and illegal colonizers, arbitrary imprisonment of thousands without trials, or how the Israeli-only highways and government built settlements and “security” walls make ordinary travel and commerce impossible in many parts of the West Bank.  The Israeli settlements were mentioned in passing as something the Palestinian leadership knew they could live with, but not a word about how some might interpret the ongoing expansion of these settlements as indications Israel has no intention of serious peace negotiations.

There can be no doubt that Prof. Kienzle is well versed in all aspects of the Middle East, both historical and current events.  Therefore, I can only assume that the omissions cited above were intentional, as was his complete failure to discuss how the total capitulation of recent U.S. Presidents and Congresses to the American Israeli lobbyists has destroyed any credibility for the U.S. to be taken seriously as an impartial broker for peace.

His presentation shows nothing suffered by the Palestinians that could justify any violent response, let alone Qassam rockets, so we are left the implication that Hamas, and perhaps all other Palestinians, are a bunch of homicidal crazies.  This is a perception, I fear, that is being exported by the Israeli right wing, and Dr. Kienzle does us no service by bringing it to Bedford.


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Bob Alexander
Bob Alexander
7 years ago

“His presentation shows nothing suffered by the Palestinians that could justify …Qassam rockets”: Neither do you, Mr. Pulliam. What justifies the rocket attacks from Gaza? Are they justified by Israel’s activities in the West Bank, or are they justified by the trade blockades Israel has imposed on Gaza?

If the latter, aren’t they counter-productive? Israel’s motive for the blockades is the violence they fear from Gaza. Launching rockets will never convince Israel that Gazans can be trusted to be peaceful. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Gazans to demonstrate that they can live peacefully alongside Israel? Building that sort of trust is the only way Israel will feel comfortable removing the blockades.

That sort of trust would also show Israelis that leaving Gaza wasn’t a disaster, and make them more willing to leave the West Bank.

Brown Pulliam
Brown Pulliam
7 years ago
Reply to  Bob Alexander

Mr. Alexander, I would never attempt to justify any attacks by either side upon innocent people, such as rockets against Israeli citizens living near Gaza. I am sorry my wording caused you to make such an interpretation.

I was just pointing out that the violence by Hamas, deplorable as it was, did not occur in a vacuum, but was in response to some major wrongs being inflicted upon the people of Gaza by their Israeli jailors.

What I see is a cycle of violence, punctuated by periods of peace that is broken as often by the Israelis as by the Palestinians. I do wonder what Israel might do to demonstrate to the Palestinians (and the rest of the world) that she can be trusted?

No violence is justifiable, and in the last 10 years, the scale of 227 Israelis killed by Palestinians versus 5896 Palestinians killed by Israelis is somewhat indicative of who is most prone to use it.

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