Jeremy Ogul, a former editor of the UC Davis “Aggie” has joined the leftwing attacks on the ad placed in the Aggie by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and endorsed their calls for censorship of the ad. If Ogul and the so-called “Group of 15” led by the Muslim Students Association and Students for Justice in Palestine prevail, this would close the door to any further defenses of the Jewish state and any semblance of historical truth in dealing with 63-year Arab war against Israel.
The objections raised by Ogul and the “group of 15” are that the Freedom Center ad is “..racist, inaccurate and discriminatory…” Wrong on all three counts.
False Claim One – that the Ad is racist: The ad’s description of the Arab war against Israel is factually correct not racist. Describing this war as an “Arab aggression” cannot be racist because “Arab” does not designate a race. The term “Arab” is an ethno-linguistic identification. There are black-skinned Arabs and light-skinned Arabs and a lot in between; so “racism” is a misuse of the term, and misleading as well, because “racism” has become an indiscriminately applied weapon of the political left to silence disagreement with its views.
False claim Two – that the Ad is discriminatory: Ogul and the group of 15 may claim the ad discriminates unfairly against Arabs, a variation of the previous charge. But the use of the term “Arab” in the ad is appropriate. From the point of view of simple and widely accepted English usage, the ad is not referring to the Arab people as a whole or to all or every individual Arab. The ad refers to those Arabs, Arab states, Arab leaders conducting the aggressive war against Israel.
Just as people speak of the American intervention in Viet Nam even though, obviously, many American individuals and groups opposed that intervention, so too one can speak of the Arab aggression against Israel without the implication that the Arabs as an entirety, as a people, as a whole ethno-linguistic group, engage in or support that aggression. On the other hand, while their were many dissenters in the United States against its intervention in Vietnam, and there many Israeli opponents of Israeli actions in the Middle East, there are no visible Arab or Palestinian leaders, parties, organizations that dissent from the terrorist war conducted by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas against the Jewish state.
In sum, the term “Arab aggression” does not imply a universalization of, or generalization regarding, all Arabs or the Arab people as a whole. Thus there is no discrimination against Arabs in the historically accurate assertion that there was Arab aggression against Israel. The ad is not demeaning or stereotyping Arabs. It is stating historical fact. The claim that to state a historical fact is “discriminatory” is an attempt to suppress the historical fact.
False Claim Three – that the ad is Inaccurate: It is beyond argument that seven Arab states and several paramilitary Arab forces, armed and supported by some of those states, attacked the newly-created state of Israel in 1947 and 1948. This was an act of naked and unprovoked aggression. Intelligent people disagree to this day about details of this war of genocidal aggression initiated by the Arabs; but the first hand evidence, the numerous eye-witness accounts, and the many statements and threats and predictions of slaughter and mass murder made publicly by Arab religious and political and military leaders are so numerous and so widely accepted as accurate and reliable that even Arab historians acknowledge that Israel’s 1948 war, a war of survival, was indeed initiated by the Arab side.
It is also beyond argument that Israel has offered to relinquish legitimately acquired lands in defending itself against aggression – lands which, according to international law, Israel would have every right to annex — in exchange for peace. Israel’s offers have been formally, through the UN and through the offices of the United States and other parties, and have been rejected publicly and unconditionally by Arab leaders repeatedly, since 1947.
Mr. Ogul adds the following false claims concerning the accuracy of the ad:
There are some statements in this advertisement that seem plainly false.
- For example, the ad states that “there has never been a political entity, state or country called Palestine in the Middle East.” As a matter of fact, dozens of countries have recognized a state of Palestine since 1988. And as historian Moshe Sharon writes, “the name Palestine became the official name of the country under the British Mandate,” in 1923.
- Another example: “The derivation of the name “Palestine” is Roman not Arabic.” Actually, according to both Sharon and the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, the name Palestine can be traced back to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, who referred to the area as Palaistinê in the 5th century BCE.
- Another: “The goal of the PLO, as expressed in its charter, was not to liberate Palestinian Arabs from foreign rule but to destroy the Jewish state.” The Palestine Liberation Organization’s charter certainly does make clear the group’s goal to “destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence,” but it also makes abundantly clear the desire for self-determination and sovereignty on the part of Palestinian Arabs over the borders set in the British Mandate.
These statements may “seem” plainly false to Mr. Ogul but only because, as he himself concedes, he is largely ignorant of the history and issues of the Arab-Israel conflict, or the geography of the Middle East. Like Moshe Sharon, the authority whom he cites, Mr. Ogul seems unaware of the fact that the Palestine Mandate referred to a geographical region, not a “country” or state.