VIEWPOINT Columnist Makes Ill Comparison of Conflict By Salomon Kalach, Zack Kurland and Adi Price

It is a shame to see The Hoya award a column to Shadi Hamid, a writer who deliberately seeks to distort and manipulate information as a means of inciting hatred. His last column [“Present Aggression Reminiscent of Past Atrocities,” March 19, 2002, The Hoya, p. 3], perhaps belonged in the Saudi government daily Al-Riyadh (which featured on March 13 an article entitled “Jews Use Teenagers’ Blood for `Purim’ Pastries”) but certainly not in a Georgetown publication. In the column, Hamid draws out a repulsive comparison between modern Israel and Nazi Germany that could not be more abject even as a rhetorical device. How could The Hoya staff tolerate such baseless slander? We hope that a conscientious and informed Georgetown community was able to overlook Hamid’s ignorance. We suggest a trip to the Holocaust museum for Hamid.

The Nazis engaged in a hateful, systematic obliteration of millions of innocent Jews and non-Jews. Israel currently finds itself in the midst of a 54-year-old battle waged upon it by the Arab world and most recently fights a war against Palestinian terrorism (not against the Palestinian people). Israelis have been the victims of over 11,500 terrorist attacks in approximately two years. There is no possible way to equate the horrors of Nazi Germany or fundamentalist terrorism to Israel’s actions of self-defense and ultimate assertion of its right to exist.

As if the Nazi metaphor were not enough, Hamid outdoes himself when he includes an invented quote from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In our research, we found the quote on the Web sites of anti-Israel hate groups, such as www.resistance.jeeran.com (the only halfway- professional Web site on which we found this quote was an Islamic Association for Palestine quotes page, an organization whose reputation is doubtful due to an ongoing federal investigation into its links to terrorist organizations such as Hamas). The quote is obviously manufactured, but please judge for yourself the credibility of a site whose main slogan is “Palestine is free from the River to the Sea” (i.e. the destruction of Israel). The words are reminiscent of a past policy of the Arab leadership in which the Jews were to be “pushed into the sea” (wiped out) by the invading Arab armies.

Hamid expressed shock at Israel’s incursions into Palestinian refugee camps, yet the need was obvious. Through the incursions Israel found many ammunition depots, bomb-making factories and terrorist suspects. The necessity of these incursions could not be made clearer given some of the events of the past week. Even after repeated demands by Israeli, American and international leaders, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat refuses to arrest known terrorists. The suicide bomber who carried out the attack in Jerusalem on March 22, Muhammad Hashaika, was reported by CNN to have been released by the Palestinian Authority from a Ramallah jail only days before the attack. As is too often the case, the incursions arrest the terrorists who are allowed freedom by Arafat. As to the question of identification numbers being written on random detainees, Israel has in fact not recently adopted this practice. This was a one-time incident in which numbers were written in marker on a group of suspects. However, this was condemned by Israeli authorities as soon as it came to light (as Hamid himself points out), immediately investigated and banned from any future use.

While Mr. Hamid tells us about a poll in which 46 percent of Israelis say they would support transfer of Palestinians, there is no call for transfer of Palestinians in mainstream Israeli politics, no movement, no intention and no plan. His assumption that “transfer” refers to ethnic cleansing is an unfounded jump with no basis. Hamid conveniently leaves out the other numbers from the same survey: those that show most Israelis supported the idea of a Palestinian state just one year ago. The reason some changed their mind is also in the survey: it shows that 41 percent of Israelis said they are less willing to compromise as a result of terrorist attacks, compared to the 10 percent who said they were more willing to compromise. Israelis want peace and are willing to make painful sacrifices to achieve it, yet this willingness is being eroded by the terrorist attacks of Palestinians.

We agree with Hamid that the Holocaust was one of the most shocking occurrences of the 20th century. The vow of “Never Again” was, indeed, taken. Israel embodies it. Never again will Jews be victims of the world’s apathy. Never again will we not have a country to defend us. Never again will we stand silently as people try to destroy us – only this time through bombs. No, Israel is not our nightmare. It is only a nightmare for the intolerant fundamentalists, for those who cannot accept the coexistence of Jews and Arabs and for those who wish to shatter us with terrorism.

Salomon Kalach is a junior in the College and president of the Georgetown Israel Alliance.

Zack Kurland is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service and co-vice president of the Georgetown Israel Alliance.

Adi Price is a sophomore in the College and co-vice president of the Georgetown Israel Alliance.

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