By: Steven Plaut
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Israel’s enemies around the world have poisoned the debate with their smoke and mirrors.
If a Martian were suddenly to land on earth and started listening to and reading the mainstream media, he would form the impression that the entire Middle East conflict were due to Israel building some settlements in land that much of the world thinks should become a Palestinian state. A near-consensus exists among the governments of the world and among media writers that peace has yet to break out in the Middle East because of three principle reasons. The first is that the Jews and the Arabs have been unable to agree about whether there should be a Palestinian state. The second is because Israel has obstinately refused to withdraw its troops from (so-called) "occupied Arab" lands. The third is because Israel behaves cruelly towards the Palestinians.
The Martian could easily carry these beliefs back to its home planet, as long as it did not bother to learn the background and the history of the Middle East conflict. Those three reasons cannot survive an antibiotic of familiarity with Middle East history.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seem to think the idea of Palestinian statehood is the most wonderful idea to come along since the Thirteenth Amendment. And almost all world politicians, along with the Israeli Left, insist that all Israeli settlements must be removed from the West Bank because they serve as the main obstacle to peace. The reality is that the Middle East conflict has very little to do with debate over Palestinian statehood and even less to do with Israeli "settlements." In fact Israel has agreed in principle, somewhat foolishly, to the erection of such a Palestinian state, at least subject to some security conditions and other concessions from the Palestinians — like recognizing Israel’s right to exist. As it turns out, even so-called "moderate" Palestinians reject any such idea.
Meanwhile debate about the Middle East conflict is based on an incredible absence of historic information and on a series of stylish misconceptions about Middle East history. The anti-Israel Lobby, which grows by the day in its maliciousness and anti-Semitism, counts on the ignorance of much of the public concerning how the Middle East got to where it is.
Here are just a handful of popular misconceptions and their antidotes:
1. Falsehood: Israel was erected on land that belonged to Palestinian Arabs.
Truth: Before Israel was created its territory never belonged to Palestinian Arabs and had not been ruled by any Arabs at all since the Middle Ages. It had been a Turkish province for centuries until it was captured by Britain during World War I. The League of Nations awarded governance of "Palestine" to Britain at the end of the war in exchange for its commitment to turn the area into a Jewish homeland. The lands on which Jewish immigrants settled before Israel was created were purchased by Jews at above-market prices and in most cases had no Arabs living on them. Virtually no Arabs were evicted.
2. Falsehood: The Jews came to Palestine as foreigners and aliens whereas the Palestinians were the indigenous people of the territory.
Truth: Jews lived in "Palestine," which is the Land of Israel of Eretz Yisroel," continuously from the time of the Bible. Most families of "Palestinians" migrated into "Palestine," during the same period as the Zionist waves of immigration, starting in the second half of the 19th century. The largest ethnic group in the country at the time was the Turks. The "Palestinian Arabs" in 1948 were primarily families of migrants from Lebanon and Syria. Ironically, they were motivated to become "Palestinians" in the first place thanks to the Zionist movement, which brought capital and labor into "Palestine" and improved living conditions there. Huge numbers of the names of "Palestinian" Arab villages and towns are slightly-modified Hebrew names. It is difficult to dig in the ground of "Palestine" without uncovering Jewish artifacts, some thousands of years old. Meanwhile, two-thirds of Mandatory Palestine’s territory had been sliced off in the 1920s and used to set up Jordan, an Arab Palestinian state much larger than Israel. The remaining territory, Western Palestine, was to become the Jewish homeland. That was the original "two-state solution," and it was later denounced by Arab regimes.
3. Falsehood: There is no Palestinian state today because of Israeli aggression and obstinacy.
Truth: There is no Palestinian state today because of Arab aggression and obstinacy. In late 1947, the United Nations approved by a two thirds majority a proposal to create in historic "Palestine" two states to replace the British Mandatory regime there. One would be Jewish and the other a Palestinian Arab state. The Jews agreed. The Arabs rejected the idea. The Arab states launched an attack of genocide aggression against the Jews, invaded "Palestine" and gobbled up the lands earmarked for the Arab Palestinian state. Most of those lands were then held illegally by Jordan and semi-legally by Egypt until 1967 when they were liberated by Israel in the Six Day War. The Arab world has maintained a state of war with Israel since 1948, refusing to recognize its legitimacy, and attacking Israel over and over in a series of wars and terrorism campaigns. The Arab states attacked Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 1986, and sponsored terrorist atrocities against Jews in Israel since it was created. The attack which produced the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948 is exactly the same thing that stands in the way of any real peace settlement today.
4. Falsehood: Israel conducted "ethnic cleansing" of the Palestinian Arabs in 1948-49.
Truth: The Arab states conducted ethnic cleansing of Jews after 1948. About a million Jews were expelled by Arab states, their property stolen, and most then became citizens of Israel. Palestinian Arabs became refugees in 1948-49 as a direct result of the Arab war of aggression against Israel, in which the Palestinians participated. The estimated number of such Arab refugees varies between 400,000 and 750,000, with the former the more likely correct estimate. Afterwards, many were quietly allowed to return to Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs from other Arab countries then declared themselves "Palestinian refugees" in order to get handouts from the UN and other international relief organizations. The actual Palestinian Arabs became refugees for the same reason that ethnic Germans living in Eastern Europe became refugees after World War II: because they were on the losing side of the war of aggression launched by their own political leaders.
5. Falsehood: Israel is an apartheid regime and mistreats Arabs.
Truth: Israel is the only Middle East country that is NOT an apartheid regime. Arabs living under Israeli rule are the only Arabs in the Middle East who enjoy freedom of speech and of the press, free access to courts operating with due process, legal protection for property rights and the right to vote. Israeli Arabs have higher standards of education and health than any other group of Arabs in the Middle East. Israeli Arabs are quite simply the best-treated political minority in the Middle East and are in some ways better treated than are minority groups in many European countries. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that does NOT deal with Islamist terror through wholesale massacres of the people in whose midst the terrorists operate
6. Falsehood: Arabs engage in aggression and terrorism because Israel occupies territories.
Truth: Israel occupies territories (that had been controlled by Jordan and Egypt before 1967) because of Arab aggression and terrorism. Had the Arabs made peace with Israel after 1949, the West Bank and Gaza would have remained under the hegemony of Arabs and they could easily have erected a Palestinian Arab state there any time they wished. Instead, they attacked Israel in an attempt at genocidal extermination in 1967 and they lost.
7. Falsehood: The Middle East conflict is and has always been based on Israeli opposition to Palestinian self-determination.
Truth: The Middle East conflict is and has always been based on Arab opposition to Israeli-Jewish self-determination. There is one and only one cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict, even if that single cause is buried beneath an avalanche of media mud designed to obfuscate and confuse. That single cause is the refusal of the Arab world to come to terms with Israel’s existence within any set of borders whatsoever. The cause of the war is Arab refusal to come to terms with Jewish self-determination in any form whatsoever. The Middle East conflict is not about the right of self-determination of "Palestinian Arabs," but rather it is about the Arab rejection of self-determination for Israeli Jews. For a century, the Arabs have attempted to block Jewish self-determination, using violence.
No Palestinians before 1967 demanded any "homeland," although they did demand that the Jews be stripped of theirs. That is because Palestinians are not a "people" at all and do not consider themselves such, any more than do the Arabs of Paris or of Detroit. Palestinians never had any real interest in their own state, and in fact rioted violently in 1920 when "Palestine" was detached from Syria by the European powers. Indeed the original term "Nakba" ("catastrophe" in Arabic and in leftist NewSpeak) was coined to refer to the outrage of Palestinians separated from their Syrian homeland. Immediately after the Six Day War a sudden need for a Palestinian state was fabricated by the Arab world, as a gimmick to force Israel back to its pre-1967 borders. Israel would then again be ten-miles wide at its narrowest, and so prepped for the new Arab assault of annihilation and genocide.
The Arab world invented the "Palestinian people" so that it would serve the same role as the Sudeten Germans did in the late 1930s. That role was to provide a pretense of legitimacy for the war aims and aggression of a large fascist power. The term "self-determination" has been repeated as a rhetorical "inalienable right" for so long that few people recall that pursuing "self-determination" can also serve as a tool of aggression by barbarous aggressors and totalitarian powers. When Hitler decided to go on a war of conquest in the late 1930s, he dressed up his intentions in the cloak of legitimacy, merely "helping disenfranchised and oppressed people attain self-determination." He distorted the plight of ethnic Germans living in the Czech Sudetenland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, inventing tales of mistreatment. In reality of course these ethnic Germans already had the option of "self-determination" within the neighboring, sovereign German nation-states, and in fact enjoyed far more freedom and rights than did Germans inside Germany. Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia was prepared through postured indignity over the mistreatment of Germans by Germany’s neighbors. Hitler insisted he was simply seeking to relieve the "misery of mistreated ethnic Germans," supposedly suffering inside democratic Czechoslovakia. "Self-determination" was also the pretense when Germany attacked Poland and other countries.
The Arab world decided that the "Palestinians" must play the role of Sudetens, serving as the political and moral pretense for Arab aggression and Islamofascist imperialism. The Arab fascists then misrepresent themselves as pursuing noble efforts at protecting a mistreated oppressed minority group of Arabs in need of "self-determination."
8. Falsehood: Palestinian terrorism has been a response to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and as a response to Israeli settlements there.
Truth: Palestinian terrorism against Jews began in the 1920s, escalated in the 1930s, continued non-stop in the 1940s even in the midst of World War II, and reached heights of barbarism in the 1950s. All this was long before Israel "occupied" anything. The PLO was set up long before the Six Day War, meaning before Israel "occupied" the West Bank and Gaza, and before those areas held a single Israeli settlement.
9. Falsehood: Israel has no right to build settlements in the West Bank.
Truth: Israel has as much right to build settlements in the West Bank as France has to build towns in Alsace and Lorraine, or as Poland has to build in areas that once held ethnic Germans. The Arabs launched a series of wars of aggression against Israel and lost. Aggressors who lose war also lose territory. The bulk of Jewish "settlers" are actually Israelis living in the suburbs of Jerusalem that were constructed after 1967. A handful of small rural "settlements" have been constructed in empty West Bank lands from which no Arab civilians were evicted. In any real peace settlement, Jews would have as much right to live in the West Bank as Arabs have to live inside Israel. A peace accord that rules out such an arrangement would be no peace accord at all.
10. Falsehood: The Middle East conflict continues because Israel refuses to share its land and resources with Palestinians.
Truth: The Middle East conflict continues because the Arab world refuses to share its land and resources with Jews. It is about the absolute refusal of the Arab world to acquiesce in the existence of any Jewish-majority political entity within any set of borders in the Middle East. The Arabs today control 22 countries and territory nearly twice the size of the United States (including Alaska), whereas Israel cannot be seen on most globes or maps. Arabs as an ethnic group control more territory than any other ethnic group on earth. They refuse to share even a fraction of one percent of the Middle East with the Jews, even in a territory smaller than New Jersey. Without the West Bank, Israel at its narrowest point is less than 10 miles wide, about the length of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The main reason the Arab world demands that Israel relinquish the West Bank to Palestinian terrorism is so that it can be used to attack Israel again and so that Israel can at last be militarily annihilated. The Arab world controls such vast amounts of territory and such vast amounts of wealth (thanks to petroleum) that it could have created a "homeland" for Palestinian Arabs anywhere within its territories at any time.
11. Falsehood: Israel deals with Palestinian violence and terrorism using excessive disproportionate force.
Truth: The number of innocent Palestinian civilians intentionally killed by Israel is exactly zero. The number of civilians injured in Israeli anti-terror operations is tiny when compared with NATO and Allied military operations in Serbia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, or Iraq. Given the near universal support among Palestinians for terrorist atrocities against Jews, the self-restraint and moderation used by Israel in dealing with the threat has no precedent in the world. Israel’s own Arabs make little attempt to hide their open identification with the genocidal enemies of their own country and they by and large support the annihilation of the state in which they hold citizenship. No other democratic country facing such open sedition and identification with the enemy in time of war ever responded with anywhere near the same restraint as shown by Israel. In World War II, when faced with a far less-dangerous problem, the United States locked up its ethnic-Japanese domestic population in internment camps. Democratic Spain set up teams of death squads to deal with its separatist terrorists. Democracies in war have junked habeas corpus and treated their internal Fifth Columns as the enemy, with no hesitation or squeamishness.
Democratic Czechoslovakia and India (as well as non-democratic countries throughout Eastern Europe) undertook wholesale expulsions of millions of members of their internal ethnic minorities who had sided with the enemy. Greece and Turkey and the two sections of Cyprus simply expelled altogether their minority populations. Israel, in contrast, operates affirmative action programs that benefit Arabs, finances Arabic-language schools in which Israeli Arabs preserve and develop their culture, overfunds Arab municipalities, and turns a blind eye to massive Arab sedition and lawbreaking, including with regard to illegal mass squatting on publicly-owned lands. Israel is a Western democracy with a Scandinavian style social welfare system, the only democracy in the Middle East. It is hard to come up with words to mock satisfactorily the ludicrous nature of the complaints about Israeli "mistreatment" of Arabs. These complaints come from the very same people who are apologists for genocidal Islamofascist terrorist movements and for the Arab fascist states, regimes that are among the most barbarous and openly war-seeking on earth. The endless complaints about "human rights violations" of the "Palestinians" by Israel are a rhetorical part of the broader campaign of aggression against Israeli survival. Arabs living under Israeli rule are the world’s foremost illustration of "Moynihan’s Law," which holds: "The amount of violations of human rights in a country is always an inverse function of the amount of complaints about human rights violations heard from there. The greater the number of complaints being aired, the better protected are human rights in that country."
12. Falsehood: Israel can achieve peace by trading "Land for Peace" and by relinquishing territories that it "occupies."
Truth: Every time Israel relinquishes territory it "occupies" it triggers an escalation of terror and violence by Arabs against Jews. The main cause of anti-Israel terrorism today is the removal of Israeli occupation from Arabs. This is so obvious that it is a major intellectual challenge to explain why so few people understand it. Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip in its entirety in 2004 and evicted all Jews who had been living there. The complete Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip produced a barrage of thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli civilians inside Israel (NOT in the "occupied territories"), a barrage that eventually forced Israel’s reluctant leaders to carry out the "Cast Lead" operation against Gaza terrorism. The Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon was unilaterally ended in the year 2000 by then-Israeli socialist Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The direct result of that fiasco was the launching of 4,000 Katyusha rockets from Lebanon against northern Israel in the summer of 2006, and several times that number now poised to strike Israel. The worst waves of Palestinian suicide attacks were directly triggered by the early Oslo withdrawals — before which there had been no suicide bombings. There can be no doubt that a complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and a return to pre-1967 borders would trigger a massive rocket and terror assault against the remaining areas of Israel, launched from the "liberated" lands in the West Bank. The same thing would result from Israel relinquishing the Golan Heights to Syria.
13. Falsehood: The Zionist Lobby exercises excessive influence and dictates policies to the United States, protecting Israel from just criticism.
Truth: The anti-Zionist Lobby exercises excessive influence and dictates policies to the United States, protecting Palestinians, Arab fascist regimes, and Islamofascism from just criticism. While the media overflow with nonsensical talk about a "Zionist/Israel Lobby," it would only be a small exaggeration to claim that there is no such thing at all. The anti-Zionist lobby binds together anti-Semites and fanatics, ranging from Islamists, to the radical Left to the Neo-Nazi Right. There is little today that separates anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism and I have never met an anti-Zionist who was not also an anti-Semite. (Jewish leftist anti-Zionists are the self-hating moral equivalents of Taliban John and Tokyo Rose).
14. Falsehood: The Middle East conflict can be resolved through "Two States for Two Peoples."
Truth: The "Two States for Two Peoples" idea is not a solution at all but simply a strategy for weakening Israel and forcing it behind indefensible borders. Right after "Two States for Two Peoples" would be implemented, the new "Palestinian state" would invite the rest of the Arab world to finish off what remains of Israel. Even the "moderates" within the PLO insist that any "Israel" left standing within "Two States for Two Peoples" must be flooded by Arab migrants and stripped of its Jewish majority, in effect converted to yet another Arab Palestinian state. The Arabs still condition any "two-state solution" on Israel agreeing to being flooded with Arab immigrants purporting to be Palestinians, so that it will morph demographically into the 24th Arab state. Israel obviously cannot agree. Israel would be blanketed in rocket and mortar fire from "Palestine" and waves of Arab terrorist infiltrators into Israel would raise the carnage to unprecedented levels.
That such a "two-state solution" will not end the conflict, but only signal the commencement of its next stage, has long been the quasi-official position of virtually all Palestinian groups. These have long insisted that any two-state solution is but a stage in a "plan of stages," after which will come additional steps ultimately ending Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. The "two-state solution" is no more realistic an option today than it was in 1948, when it was militarily squashed by the Arab states, terrorists, and armies. It is ultimately as much of an existential threat to Jewish survival in the Middle East today as the so-called "one-state solution," favored by the anti-Semitic Left, in which Israel is replaced by a Rwanda-like bi-national entity controlled by Arabs, in which the Jewish problem will be resolved in a Rwanda-style manner.
Creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel would be a major step in the escalation of the Arab war against Israel’s existence, even if that war is delayed for a brief time while the world celebrates the outbreak of a Potemkin "peace" in the Middle East produced by the end of Israeli "occupation" of "Palestinians."
Since the Oslo "peace process" began in the early 1990s, the working hypothesis endorsed by nearly everyone on the planet (including large numbers of IQ-challenged Israeli politicians) has been that the most urgent task at hand is to end the Israeli "occupation" of Palestinian Arabs. The problem is that ANY Palestinian state, regardless of who rules it, will produce nothing but escalated violence, terror and warfare in the Middle East, certainly not stability or peaceful relations. It will seek war with the rump Israel, and will seek to draw the entire Moslem world into that war. It will be indifferent to the economic and social problems of its own citizens.
Humans seem to have a basic impatience with hearing the truth repeated over long periods of time. In an era in which technology, politics, and science change so rapidly, many consider it to be implausible that a statement that had been true 60 years ago could still be true today. Surely, they insist, explanations from the past, such as those of the Middle East conflict, must be obsolete by now, replaced with new updated "theories" and more-modern perceptions of reality.
The result of all this is pseudo-history, where people invent new "theories" about some of the most widely-accepted truths of history. No subject has been subject to quite so much pseudo-historic revisionism and denial of "out-of date" truths as the Middle East. George Orwell once said that the first duty of intelligent men is to restate the obvious. Obvious truths need to be restated because they are under assault by so many dishonest men.
The Palestinians have no legitimate claim to a right to set up their own state, and creation of such a state would result in escalated warfare and bloodshed, not peace. There was never in history an Arab Palestinian state. Even if such a right ever existed, the Palestinians – like the Sudeten Germans – would have forfeited it thanks to decades of terrorism, savagery, mass murders and barbarism. Their pacification today requires reimposing of martial rule by Israel and a thorough program of De-nazification.
The promotion of a "Two States for Two Peoples" solution has radicalized and Nazified most Israeli Arabs, who now identify with and openly support Arab parties and politicians openly calling for violence against Jews and for the destruction of Israel. The "solution" is a recipe for more bloodshed and strife.