A Stony Lesson From Trump’s Caravan Standoff
Illustration: Honduran Refugee Caravan by boitchy [Public Domain] via Flickr
In the current U.S. debate over the Central American "caravan" marching to forcefully breach the U.S. border, much hyperbole has been employed by all sides, painting their positions in the sharpest colors.
One side maintains the marchers are not a threat, arguing that they are still "so far from the border," and besides, they are simply poor and deprived people (carrying their national flags) who deserve to live in America if that will help their personal situations. It is simply “mean” and “racist” and “un-American” to thwart their illegal entry efforts — are you listening, the four billion people out there who “deserve” American citizenship because you are poorer than Americans?
The other side maintains that there is a legal and due process for immigration, and it does not include force and threats. I know you will never guess where I stand on this debate.
U.S. President Donald Trump is sending troops to the open border, where a wall does not exist to impede the millions of illegal infiltrators who have entered over the years, and where local security is simply not enough to stem the huge flow.
His opponents reject this move — it is probably racist or something. What do they suggest? That has never been clear, at least not to me.
What is clear is that they consider enforcing the border laws as abhorrent, and the unlimited breaching of those laws the height of nobility. I can't quite get my head around that, but it wouldn't be the first time.
The president called many of the crowd of would-be immigrants a violent and dangerous group. He pointed to the recent scene of their forceful entrance into Mexico and the wounding of Mexican police and soldiers with stones. He guaranteed that American soldiers will do a far better job than the Mexican troops.
When asked if they would shoot at stone throwers, he reminded the questioner that stones have seriously injured Mexicans and it won't happen to U.S. soldiers. Discussing whether the troops would open fire on stone throwers, he indicated they would, saying, “Anybody throwing stones, rocks… we will consider that a firearm because there's not much difference… when you get hit in the face with a rock.”
Wow, I could not help but immediately think of our pathetic, shameful situation here in Israel.
I need not offer the very long list of Jews in Israel who were murdered with stones — some dropped from roofs as in the case of Ronen Lubarsky, others hurled at car windshields as in the cases of Asher and Yonatan Palmer, Alexander Levlovitz, and Adele Biton — and the many more that are maimed for life.
The picture of Israeli soldiers fleeing stone throwers would be the front cover of the book "How Palestine Was Won" were such a book ever to be written, G-d forbid. Israel long ago allowed itself to be drawn into the lethal trap that Trump is not willing to fall into. For many more years than there were firearms, stones were what decided battles and killed many, many people. This is because stones are intended to, and do, kill — think David and Goliath.
Israeli soldiers and civilians are ordered to flee from stone throwers. Quite naturally, this led to firebombings and then firearms, many of them supplied by Israel to the Palestinian Authority in the Oslo Accords catastrophe. As a result, we hide behind as many walls as we can build, as fast as we can build them. What message does this send?
Trump's unambiguous statement about how U.S. personnel will defend themselves might just ignite an important discussion here in Israel. I have no doubt about which political side will take which position, but the Trump statement is very significant. He is a Gentile and an American; two things that so many Israelis, particularly on the Left, admire greatly. Call it the Exile mentality.
With this in mind, I remember a story I was told some years ago. I know a fellow who was a chaplain in the U.S. army and now lives in Israel. In the mid-90s, just after the Oslo calamity, the U.S. Sixth Fleet made a port call in Haifa. Israel is the most popular port of call for the U.S. Navy because the sailors are treated so well and are adored because they are Americans.
My chaplain friend was asked by the Israel Navy to accompany two Israeli naval officers to greet the admiral of the Sixth Fleet. For these Israeli officers, it was the honor of a lifetime. My friend was to act as a translator when needed. All smiles and adoration, they greeted the all-powerful American admiral.
Before they could get their well-rehearsed greetings out of their mouths, the admiral sneered, "Are you guys really that crazy?” The Israelis looked to the chaplain in horror; what had they done wrong? Their blank looks at the admiral were received with, "You brought Arafat here? Are you crazy?”
There was nothing that a Jew could tell the Oslo champions that would give them even a bit of pause. The Israeli establishment and elites were on board and very smug about it. Then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said the pleading, endangered settlers could “spin like propellers” for all he cared.
One word from a Gentile in uniform and the Israelis were listening in Haifa.
Maybe, just maybe, we can save ourselves with the word of another Gentile, and save ourselves from the picture on the front page of the "Palestinian" national victory album.
Contact Shalom Pollack, veteran licensed tour guide, for upcoming tours at Shalom Pollack Tours: Personalized Tours in Israel. Click here to read more of this writer’s work in The Jerusalem Herald.