I have lost patience with those who centre discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio on high profile, secondary issues such as unwelcome and “inappropriate” Jewish settlements in Gaza and on the West Bank.
It is time to admit that the basic cause of the whole conflict is Arab refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist. In my view, the recent history of this conflict proves conclusively that, unless Arabs accept Israel’s existence, they will continue to reap nothing but grief in their doomed attempts to destroy Israel. Consider the evidence.
Shortly after the end of WW II, the British pulled out of Palestine, leaving its Jewish and Arab occupants to their own devices. The former wanted to create the state of Israel, the latter to drive the former into the sea. After a period of vicious conflict, the United Nations intervened in 1948 to divide Palestine between the two.
Since the UN apparently was more concerned with ethnic than with geographic integrity, the partition made Israel look like a series of Jewish islands in a Palestinian sea. Although neither side was satisfied with this hodge-podge, the Israelis were apparently willing to make a go of it.
On the other hand, since partition itself was anathema to the Palestinians and their neighboring Arab allies, they invaded Israel with murderous intent . . . to drive the “Infidels” into the Mediterranean. During the ensuing war (won by Israel), Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes to seek refuge in neighboring Arab countries.
The Israelis then claimed the abandoned territory as the spoils of war, which converted their “island” nation into one continuous state, about 85 percent Jewish. It wasn’t long, however, before there were cries for the right of these displaced Palestinians to return to their abandoned homes, a prospect Israel viewed with alarm.
First, if they were allowed to return to the newly enlarged Jewish state, Jews would thus become a minority in Muslim Israel. Clearly, this would amount to voluntary suicide, simply to accommodate a defeated enemy! Not surprisingly, this absurd option was and remains a non-starter.
Second, if Israel gave up its newly acquired conquered territory, and allowed the displaced Palestinians to return there, it would restore the unsatisfactory status quo ante with Jewish Israel once again a series of islands in an even more hostile Arab sea . . . with the certain prospect of, sooner or later, having to repel another Arab invasion!
Since the Israelis were no more idiotic then than they are now, this did not and will never happen. Thus, it seems obvious that Arab insistence on something that can never come to pass must be a smoke-screen for something else. Read on.
Although Israel accepted thousands of Jews displaced from Arab lands, its Arab neighbors steadfastly refused to accept and integrate similarly displaced Palestinians.
Why, you ask? Because, by accepting and integrating the displaced Palestinians, they would effectively have accepted Israel’s existence, something not permitted in their vocabulary. Better to allow their co-religionists to fester in squalid refugee camps, and encourage them to imagine the impossible, of someday reclaiming their abandoned homes in Israel, than admit the obvious: Israel exists and always will.
Over the next 25 years, Israel had to defend itself (how many times?) in wars initiated by its Arab neighbours in attempts to avenge their 1948-defeat. However, the Arabs were no more successful in the 1948-73 period than in 1948. Nevertheless, their determination to destroy Israel was still evident in the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic trash that dominates their news media and school curricula.
In other words, they replaced war, at which they were inept, with propaganda, at which they excelled. In summary, in the first 25 years of its existence, Israel had to contend with external military threats and a hate-filled propaganda environment dedicated to wiping it from the face of the earth. However, this military menace diminished as its attackers gradually realized that they were no match militarily for Israel. As a result, Egypt and Jordan concluded peace treaties with Israel (all the while stoking their propaganda machines) while Israel’s other Arab enemies contented themselves with the same hatefilled propaganda and the occasional long distance bluster.
In the last 30 years, however, it has had to deal with an internal threat, Palestinians resident in Gaza and the West Bank. These two areas were acquired by Israel in the 1967 war (from Egypt and Jordan, respectively).
Although not incorporated into Israel as such, they came under Israeli control and quickly generated monumental headaches such as the Intifada, the product of Palestinian schools teaching the same hatefilled trash taught in neighbouring Arab states.
I would argue that these Arab states, having failed to crush Israel militarily, are now acting through their Palestinian surrogate. Moreover, although these Palestinians had not objected to foreign rule when they were subjects of Egypt and Jordan, they now demand independence from Israel.
Various protest groups came into being, groups such as: Fatah, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas. In my view, Israel chose to negotiate Palestinian independence with the weakest of these, Fatah, led by Yasser Arafat because it felt that Arafat could and would control the other three, whose objective was always clear and unambiguous. The destruction of Israel.
He (Arafat) did not. Because he could not or would not. Without going into the tiresome details of Israeli concessions offered to Arafat, let me just say that Arafat turned down every Israeli offer because it did not go far enough (Israel was left intact), or he feared the wrath of the extremist “Arab Street” if he accepted a deal that left Israel intact.
This is the current situation; as Israel, fed up with Arafat’s duplicity and weakness, has now apparently decided it must deal directly with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. Much blood will be shed. All this to prove that the basic issue in this dispute was, and remains Arab determination to destroy Israel.
Secondary issues, such as Jewish settlements in Gaza and on the West Bank, are but a smoke-screen and have no place in legitimate debate on this issue.