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Yoram Hamizrachi East z"l
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

 
REMEMBERING HOW YORAM EAST DEFENDED ISRAEL WHEN HOWARD DAVIDSON REFERRED TO IT AS AN APARTHEID STATE

East, a retired Israeli colonel born in Jerusalem took issue with what he termed the “venom that came out of Howard Davidson’s mouth

By Rhonda Spivak, reposted March 7, 2012 , originally posted March 10, 2011

[Editor's note: I came across this article that I wrote in 2007 in which Israeli colonel Yoram East,  someone I have long respected and admired for his integrity and his depth of knowledge on the Middle East, who died in October 2010, debated Howard Davidson and others regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As Israel Apartheid Week hits University Campuses across North America it seems fitting to reprint this now.]

A public forum  sponsored by the United Jewish People’s Order  and co-sponsored by CKUW radio station at the University of Winnipeg entitled “1967-2007: Forty Years of Occupation was replete with many attacks undermining the existence of the State of Israel, made by both a Palestinian and a Jewish panelist.

Panelist Bassam Hozaima, a Palestinian born in Gaza City who came to live here in 1973  told the audience of about 75 people  that “Israel has made it almost impossible for a two state solution….The solution to [the conflict] involves a one state reality.”

 “Jerusalem should become the capital of a United Democratic State, that welcomes all people… I believe in one democratic state for Jews, Palestinians and Christians,” said Hozaima, who is a youth counsellor and a member of the Canada Palestine Support Network.

Since Palestinians could eventually outnumber Jews in this “United Democratic State”, the soft spoken Hozaima was in fact advocating the end of a Jewish state in the Middle East.

There were some non-Zionist Jews in the audience who supported  Hozaima’s extremist views.

Hozaima added that “Occupation makes many Palestinian youth prefer death over life..”   and accused Israel of “trying to destabilize the elected Hamas leadership.”

Panelist Dr. Howard Davidson, an Assistant Professor of Continuing Education at the University of Manitoba,  told the audience that, “contrary to accepted Zionist historical discourse”, the six day war was not the result of an act of aggression by Egypt and Jordan.  “I accept the interpretation that the 1967 war was an attempt by Israel to crush Nassarism. Israel did so for it’s own internal reasons and at the behest of the superpowers”, said Davidson who is a founding member of the International committee on Education and Occupation.

In supporting this view,  Davidson relied on a book by Baruch Kimmerling, a professor at the Hebrew University, entitled Politicide: The Real Legacy of Ariel Sharon.( in particular at pp.28-29).  Davidson referred to a quote by Menachem Begin who, in defending the 1982 invasion of Lebanon said, “In June 1967 we again had a choice.  The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai did not prove that Nassar was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him (New York Times, August 21, 1982)."  

Davidson didn’t point to any other sources.
 
Davidson said that “ Israel is an apartheid state.”  and spoke favourably of  measures against Israel such as the boycott of Israeli academics, divestment and other economic sanctions. “These measures are having a significant impact, especially in academic circles and the Israelis see it as a real threat,” said Davidson, who travels to the West Bank regularly to put on educational symposiums.

A Palestinian Canadian doctor in the crowd took issue with Davidson for focusing only on 40 years of occupation.  “It’s 59 years of occupation, not 40!,” he yelled.

Yoram Hamizrachi East, a retired Israeli colonel born in Jerusalem took issue with what he termed  the “venom that came out of Howard Davidson’s mouth.” 

 “Had I known that this was going to be an Israel bashing evening, I wouldn’t have come…,” said East who fought in East Jerusalem in 1967, advancing from the American colony district to the Damascus Gate, and then reaching the Western Wall.

East referred to Davidson’s radical interpretation of the six-day- war as “non-sense,” pointing out that “Nassar was the one who closed the Straights of Tiran,” and that the Jordanians made the mistake of entering the war. 
 
“I saw the occupation as it happened.  I know who I fought against in 1967.  I didn’t fight against the Palestinian people. From 1948 to 1967 the owner of the West Bank and Jerusalem was the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.  The enemy I fought against was the Jordanian army,” he said.

“When I came to the West bank in 1967, it wasn’t a garden of eden.  There were only a couple of hospitals, no universities, and no educational system to speak of.  There was no Palestinian state. It was Jordanian territory.  I believe it was a mistake for Israel to say [to Jordan] at the time, you don’t want it, so we’ll keep it. I believe we should have given it  to [local Palestinian] people at the time…,” said East.

East, who supports a negotiated two-state solution, does not believe that the prospects for peace are very high.

When East was working as an Israeli foreign correspondent  stationed in Cairo, he met with P.L.O. leader Yassir Arafat.  East told the crowd that  in  his opinion it was more pleasant to talk to “Arafat  than Howard Davidson.”  East refused to engage in a dialogue with Davidson about whether Israel was an apartheid state.

East noted that  Davidson was applying to Israel a standard that he didn’t apply to other countries such as Canada.  “Will Howard take his property, the title to his home and all of his land, and give it back to the Aboriginals?  Why isn’t he doing that?  Isn’t that justice?," East asked.

A man of Pakistani origin, who East said followed him around to various events yelled out that East was  a “war criminal”, and “a C.I.A.agent,”  He did so until he was asked by Moderater Mark Etkin, a Jewish psychiatrist, to stop.

Etkin said he hadn’t “expected there to be such a debate between the panelists.”

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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