An Open Letter to Friends and Colleagues from Professor Norman Schwalm, Ph.D., University of Haifa

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Dear Friends,

Those of you who know me know that I do not engage in politics or in propoganda. I do not forward messages aimed at promoting the views of any party or opinion, to friends or colleagues, nor do I make public my own views regarding the age-old saga of middle-east strife.

Today, I part from that closely-held tradition, and send this mail to you whom I would hope will read it with an open mind.

Many months ago, a centrist party received an overwhelming percent of the population’s support here in Israel, and elected then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon — known by all accounts as a hawkish political entity — to another term. Mister Sharon surprised all conservatives in Israel by withdrawing unilaterally from the Gaza strip, leaving complete communities homeless. It was a difficult site to see — especially when places of worship were burned to the ground in glory and hateful pride, by the ‘inheritors’ of those communities. But major portions of Israel’s population swallowed the bitter pill, in the hope that it would make for future peace — something that we all want and that has eluded us continually.

What we got for that sacrifice was a terrorist Hamas government, who stepped up rocket attacks at sovereign Israel, and who invaded Israel directly, killing eight soldiers on “the other side of the fence” and kidnapping the now famous Gilad Shalit. (Can you imagine a group of Mexican nationals invading the U.S. across the border into California, killing 8 border patrolmen, and kidnapping one? Seems absurd, doesn’t it? What would the U.S. do in such a case?). To that action, Israel, through no choice of her own, began a campaign to clear out Hamas from Gaza, and to end rocket fire into Israel’s mainland. We’re no longer talking about “occupied territory”…we’re talking about undisputed international borders — undisputed, of course, by everyone except terrorist Hamas.

Not two weeks after that, Hezbollah invaded Israel in the same vein — you all know the details. Although it took a little longer than it took Hamas, Hezbollah attacked Israel after the latter, in search of the elusive peace, withdrew, again unilaterally, from South Lebanon. During the six years between then and now, not a single international body — notably not the European union nor the United Nations — raised a single eyebrow as Hezbollah, in typical terrorist fashion, entrenched itself in underground bunkers, armed itself to the teeth with missles supplied by Iran through Syria, and established bases of operation throughout South Lebanon, primarily in and around villages and civilian centers. This is nothing new…it is done all the time under the noses of the entire world. But the world was silent. What exactly did the world think was the reason for this massive buildup of force deliberately in the middle of civilians?

Now, only a week or so after most of the world understood and even accepted the Israeli response to the invasions and kidnappings, the tide is turning once again against Israel, fueled by the unabashedly lopsided media accounts of the world press. We are seeing disaster in Lebanon — noone denies it. We are seeing all too many civilian deaths — noone condones it. But what we are witnessing is the implementation of malicious, premediated intent so abominably satanic that only Hizbollah could have conceived it and executed it: To use its own men, women, and children in a heartless and bloody campaign to steer public opinion away from the hate that it spreads, away from its fundamentalist Islamic evil, away from its mutant, martyr-minded malevolence, and away from its responsibility for the age-old Jihad –the holy war against anything and everything Western or democratic — that it has been waging forever. The diversion is of exactly the same ilk as Iran’s, who gave Hezbollah the green light to attack, so as to divert the world’s attention from its mad rush to develop nuclear weapons. What do you think the situation in the middle east would be today if Iran had a nuclear arsenal? Do you think Ahmadinejad would hesitate to deliver such missiles to Syria, for eventual delivery to Hezbollah? Is Nasrallah the kind of person who represents careful deliberation before making a decision to use of such weapons of mass destruction?

Hezbollah has become smart in the last six years; it has learned well how to manipulate the all-too-willing world press to spit on the truth and further its lies, and to place the blame squarely on Israel’s back. These guys should run Madison Avenue.

None of us here in Israel are surprised by any of this. Most predicted it. We’ve seen it before, we’ve complained about it, we’ve raised our voices about it. But noone listened then, as they refuse to listen now. It goes on, and the world, seethingly blind in its complacency and its willingness to be led by the nose by a corrupt cartel of media stooges, again comes to the conclusion that Israel is to blame.

As controversial as President Bush might be at home, we are thankful that at least he and the U.S. government see through Hezbollah, through Ahmadinejad, and through fundamentalist Islam in its entirety, not least because America lived through 9/11not that long ago. A very sad price to pay, indeed, for a lesson in fudamentalist Islamic intent and tenacity.

But this cannot last forever, as even Mr. Bush is subject to world political pressure.

As for me, I am tired of sitting quietly and watching this grossly unjust situation play itself over and over again. I want answers:

  • Why do we not see pictures and video clips of the children who are losing parents and loved ones because of Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on northern and, just recently, more central Israel?
  • Why aren’t we seeing video of Israeli civilians sifting through the rubble of collapsed buildings and of craters 5 meters wide and 10 meters deep, in the ceilings and floors of residences in norther Israel ?
  • Why aren’t we seeing clips of Israeli mothers cuddling teary-eyed and terrified children in their arms — are these children worth less than the children of Lebanese mothers?
  • Why doesn’t the world crucify Hezbollah and Hamas for hiding missile and weapons caches under the homes of their own people, or question why these ardent terrorist organizations place no value whatsoever on the lives of their own?
  • Why has the world press not publicized the fact, yes, the indisputable fact, that the reason whole populations do not flee from their homes after the Israel air force drops leaflets well in advance of any bombing of buildings is because these people are not free to flee, under threat of a bullet in the back of the neck if they leave the area! Hezbollah does not allow civilians to leave the area — it forces them to be its human shield. Does anyone know that the number of people that died in today’s bombing of K’far Kana is not 57 but 27 (not that that makes it any better…but it is typical of media rushing to publish numbers that haven’t even been confirmed)? Does anyone know that there were more than seven hours that passed between the time the building was bombed and the time it collapsed on those people? Doesn’t anyone find it strange that not only didn’t those men, women and children leave the village when the leaflets were dropped, but they didn’t leave during those seven hours either? How does the media justify this madly irresponsible journalism?
  • Why does the world have such a despicable double standard when it comes to Israel, a country that has made major concessions — unilaterally — against all warnings by those of us who know the terrorists — and given up areas that were used as security zones, on the hope…on the prayer…that perhaps Hamas and Hizbollah would ultimately recognize the value of peace?
  • How does someone like Kofi Anan — the same Kofi Anan that abrogated his responsibility in failing to implement his own UN resolution 1559 over the last six years (read what that resolution was to have done here: ) get away with an accusation against Israel of deliberate targeting of bombs at UN personnel? Why wasn’t he castigated for that accusation, which is as absurd as anything imaginable? Why doesn’t someone ask him why he didn’t put an international force in place six years ago when Israel marched out of Southern Lebanon?
  • If the ultimate accuser had done his job, we wouldn’t be experiencing this war in the first place. Where do the responsibilities really lie, and why isn’t anyone else asking that question?
  • And finally, I’d like for someone to advise me as to how best to put my children to sleep, as they lie awake with the fear that our neighborhood will be the next on Nasrallah’s list of missle deliveries?

My friends, I am one of the right wingers who was opposed to Ariel Sharon’s unprecendented withdrawals from those security areas. And I am one of those who opposed Sharon’s successor, Ehud Olmert, because of his plans for more unilateral withdrawals with no guarantees of anything from the other side (as if those Arafat-like guarantees were ever worth anything in the first place). I saw all this coming long ago. But I must admit that once it was done, once democracy spoke and Israel supported the withdrawals, I accepted it, albeit reluctantly, as did many of us, all in the hope that maybe, with G-d’s help, we would buy peace for the price of withdrawal.

Instead, we bought a much more costly war. We bought confirmation that there cannot be peace with fudamentalist Islamic hate, violence, and martyr-like mentality. After two unilateral steps forward, Hezbollah has taken us 20 years backward, and close to the brink.

The world was deathly silent during the time Hezbollah sowed their seeds of war. Now,

  • if the world cannot come to the side of a just democracy that was pushed into this war grossly against its will,
  • if the world cannot present a balanced picture of what has transpired here in the middle east over the last three weeks,
  • if the world cannot stand up and put the blame for civilian deaths and homelessness squarely on the shoulders of Hezbollah, who alone prepared the ground for that situation over the last six years,

then it is high time that the world do what it has done for those last six years — it should fall deathly silent and let Israel do what it should have done long ago: rid the area of those elements who would blacken our children’s futures — on both sides — and who would squash their hopes for peaceful coexistence and a better life in this part of the world.

Simply put, the world should either put up, or it should shut up.

Thank you for your attention.


Norman D. Schwalm, Ph.D., CPE
Department of Psychology
University of Haifa
Mount Carmel, Haifa
[email protected]

An Open Letter to Friends and Colleagues from Professor Norman Schwalm, Ph.D., University of Haifa

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