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RIGHT TO EXIST by Yaacov Lozowick


A Moral Defense of Israel’s Wars

by Yaacov Lozowick

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-385-50905-7
Publisher: Doubleday

A resounding defense of Zionism—by, perhaps surprisingly, a noted Israeli peace activist.

Agitating for peace is one thing; fending off mortal threats is quite another. “If there was one thing to be learned from the twentieth century,” writes Lozowick, director of archives at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum, “it is that when people consistently say that they want the Jews dead, they mean it.” From the collapse of the Oslo Accords to the end of 2002, Lozowick writes, more than a thousand Israelis have been killed by Palestinians—“a steep price to pay for [the] clarity” of understanding that “the will to murder Jews was never the result of oppression and cannot be resolved by removing it.” Unlike some advocates of the Sharon government’s policies, Lozowick acknowledges that such oppression does in fact exist. But, he insists, it is defensive; when Palestinian communities such as Jericho and Bethlehem have chosen to separate themselves from the business of waging intifada, the Israeli Defense Force leaves, whereas nowadays when a town such as Jenin chooses to harbor suicide bombers, it finds itself a justifiable target for military action, though “every time the IDF declares [such towns] subdued and starts moving out, Israeli civilians are shot, bombed, or burned to death in Kfar Saba, Karkur, or Kibbutz Metzer.” Lozowick argues that the cycle of violence can be curbed, but only if the Arab nations recognize Israel’s right to exist and “the Palestinians decide to make peace with a Jewish Israel”—whereupon, he observes, Israel’s case for opposing Palestinian statehood would become untenable, and “surely Palestinian sovereignty must ensue.” Yet, he adds, the chances seem slender that such recognition, and such peaceful resolution, will come to pass, and he grimly predicts “that we have at least 150 years to go” before the Israelis prove to their enemies that they can deserve a homeland.

Controversial through and through. Those seeking a counterpoint should consult Mourid Barghouti’s I Saw Ramallah (p. 515), but Lozowick’s “moral defense” is strong indeed.