Editor’s Note: Also published on Townhall.
Is there any subject more controversial than the question of the legitimacy of the modern State of Israel? Is it the eternal home of the Jewish people, promised to them by God Himself? Or is it the illegitimate home of violent Jewish occupiers, an apartheid state guilty of ethnic cleansing? Or is it something in between? In the midst of the often emotional arguments on both sides, it is helpful to review five simple truths about the Mideast conflict.
1. There is no such thing as a historic “Palestinian people” living in the Middle East. To be sure, there have been Arabs living in the land of Palestine for centuries. (The land of Israel was derisively renamed “Palestine” by the Romans in the second century A.D.). And it is true that some of these families have lived in Palestine without interruption for many generations. But at no time before 1967 did these Arabs identify themselves as “Palestinians,” nor did they seek to achieve any kind of statehood there. As expressed by former terrorist Walid Shoebat, “Why is it that on June 4th 1967 I was a Jordanian and overnight I became a Palestinian?”
Before 1967, there was no such thing as Arab, Palestinian nationalism and no attempt to develop the territory as a homeland for the Arabs who lived there, and in 1936, when the Palestine Orchestra was formed, it was a Jewish orchestra. In fact, the original name of the Jerusalem Post, the flagship Jewish newspaper, was the Palestine Post.
There is no question that there are several million people who identify themselves as Palestinians today, and many of these people have suffered great hardship in recent years. Nonetheless, the concept of a Palestinian people is a modern invention, and it is part of the anti-Israel propaganda machine without any basis in fact. The recent comments of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, claiming a 9,000 year Palestinian pedigree, are purely fictional: “Oh, Netanyahu, you are incidental in history; we are the people of history. We are the owners of history.”
2. There were anti-Jewish intifadas in Palestine two decades before the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. We are often told that Jews and Arabs coexisted peacefully in Palestine prior to the formation of the Jewish state in 1948, or at least, prior to the rise of strong Jewish nationalism. In reality, as Jews began to return to their one and only ancestral homeland in the late 19th century, hostilities began to rise among their Arab neighbors, despite the fact that there was more than enough room for both.
By the 1920’s, radical Muslim leaders like Haj Amin Al-Husseini, later a confidant of Adolph Hitler, were organizing intifadas against the Jewish population, with many Jewish lives lost. And what helped fuel Al-Husseini’s Jew-hatred was the anti-Jewish sentiment found in the Koran and early Muslim traditions. Post-1948 Jew-hatred simply built on centuries of Islamic anti-Semitism.
3. Jewish refugees fleeing from Muslim and Arab countries were absorbed by Israel after 1948; Arab refugees fleeing from Israel after 1948 were not absorbed by Muslim and Arab countries. Despite the fact that the Muslim nations surrounding Israel are 650 times the size of this tiny state, they made no effort to absorb the approximately 600,000 Arab refugees who fled Israel in 1948 when war was declared on Israel by five neighboring Arab nations.
To this day, these refugees are not welcomed by other Arab states. As expressed more than 20 years ago by Ralph Galloway, former head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, “The Arab States do want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel.” Yet Israel absorbed roughly 800,000 Jewish refugees that had to flee from Muslim nations after 1948.
4. Only one side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is truly committed to peaceful co-existence. It is often stated that if the Palestinians put down their weapons, there would be no more war but if the Israelis put down their weapons, there would be no more Israel. This is not to say that all Palestinians are warmongers and all Israelis are doves. But the vast majority of Israelis are not driven by a radical ideology that calls for the extermination of their Arab neighbors, nor are they teaching their children songs about the virtues of religious martyrdom.
Israel does not relish spending a major portion of its budget on defense, nor does it relish sending its sons and daughters into military service. It simply will not surrender Jerusalem, its historic and religious capital, and it will not commit regional suicide by retreating to indefensible borders. In return it simply asks the Palestinians to say, “We embrace your right to exist.”
5. The current uprisings throughout the Muslim and Arab world today remind us that Israel cannot fairly be blamed for all the tension and conflicts in the region. The nation of Israel is obviously not faultless in the current conflict, but it is ludicrous to think that without the presence of this supposed evil nation in the Middle East, all would be well. There have been constant disputes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, and in 1980, Abd Alhalim Khaddam, then Syria’s Foreign Minister, admitted, “If we look at a map of the Arab Homeland, we can hardly find two countries without conflict. . . . We can hardly find two countries which are not either in a state of war or on the road to war.”
Certainly, there are many obstacles that stand in the way of a true peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and the road ahead is fraught with uncertainty, but it would be a good starting point if we replaced myths and emotional arguments with facts.
Dr. Michael Brown is the author of A Queer Thing Happened to America and the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network.
Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People, News Tagged with: apartheid, Islam, israel, Jerusalem, jew, jewish, Middle East, mideast conflict, palestine, palestinians, TownHall
Editor’s note: For a brief look at some false assumptions related to this issue please see http://walloflies.org/ . For an expose’ of what is happening on the university campuses please see http://campusintifada.com/?p=viewing_guide .
For seven years now in various universities across the globe, there have been meetings and conferences linking Israel to the actions and policies of Apartheid South Africa (usually held the first two weeks of March). For a succinct description please note CAMERA’s portrayal of these events.
They come as part of “Israeli Apartheid Week,” a series of lectures, exhibits and events that single out Israel for fierce attack. Students are told the Jewish state is, by nature, a racist, colonial and oppressive state. They are told Israel should be boycotted, and even destroyed. They are told this by ideologues who distort facts about the country while ignoring genuine oppression in the Middle East and across the world.
Often the focus of attention is on Israel’s SECURITY FENCE and how this symbolizes a ‘wall of oppression’ when in reality it is a barrier that has led to a 90% reduction in terror attacks. The film “With God on Our Side” tried to use this argument but never made apparent the primary use of the fence. In the film a comment was made by one observer from South Africa. This individual was contacted by the writer for further clarification and made the disclaimer that he was not speaking from a professional perspective, but only as an observer, that he felt the limitation of movement, the check points, and restrictions of personal choice of employment made ‘the West Bank … like Apartheid’. Israel does not govern Judea and Samaria (West Bank), the Palestinian Authority does. The Palestinians suffer from their own failed government. This is an important distinctive that often gets lost in the conversation.
Now for a viewpoint from another native South African. Stan Goodenough has presented a clear and forceful argument to the contrary.
I am a South African who was born into, and lived through nearly half of, the apartheid era. During my childhood and teenage years my family relocated repeatedly, living in every corner of that country. I changed schools 13 times, and in three years as a member of the South African Defense Forces I was stationed in five different military bases across the land. I know South Africa well. I know apartheid well. I know Israel well.
And believe me, no factual or accurate comparisons can be drawn between that South Africa and this Israel.
Let me tell you what Israel would have to do to qualify as an apartheid state. But first, a couple of clarifications:
The charge is that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian Arabs is similar to White South Africa’s treatment of South African black citizens (which included full-blood “Africans,” mixed-race “coloreds” and the descendants of immigrant Asian laborers).
The whole argument collapses right there, because the Palestinian Arabs have never been Israeli citizens. Nor did/do they have any national history as “Palestinians” – neither in Israel nor anywhere else. They are Arabs – their country of origin is Arabia.
For starters, then, it is fallacious to compare Israel’s relationship with the Palestinian Arabs in any area to the apartheid governments’ relationships with their black South African citizens.
Next Goodenough makes the statement that Israeli-Arabs who comprise 20% of Israel’s population and that they “live in 15 towns and cities, mostly in and around the Galilee. They have full voting rights. Five Arab political parties are represented in the Knesset; there are 14 Arab members of Knesset, one has attained to a ministerial portfolio, one is a former and another is a current deputy Knesset Speaker.”
According to Goodenough:
Israeli Arabs enjoy complete freedom in their country. They can live, study, work and travel where they please. They have national health coverage and enjoy the same benefits as their fellow, Jewish, citizens.
What they do not have to do, is serve in the IDF (although some Druze and some Bedouin choose to do so and have served with distinction; even laying down their lives.)
He continues by describing 18 separate South African Apartheid laws and what they would look like IF in fact Israel was acting in concert with the same type of oppression. Here are a few examples
– Arabs would be required to be classified and registered in accordance with a racial classification (Population Registration Act).
– Arabs would be forced by law to live in Arabs-only residential areas and work in Arabs-only business areas (Group Areas Act).
– Arabs would have their names systematically removed from the voters’ roll until they were all deprived of their voting rights (Separate Representation of Voters Act).
– By law, Arabs would be deported from wherever they lived in Israel and forcefully settled in designated Arab-only areas (Bantu Authorities Act).
– Arabs would be evicted and have their homes destroyed if they tried to remain in “Jews-only” areas (Prevention of Illegal Squatters Act).
The detractors of Israel who participate in these events have as one of their goals to ultimately render the nation an ‘illegal’ entity. Do those in the Church who subscribe to this flawed logic (Israel is an Apartheid state) realize the outcome of their positions? Will these Christians be able to stop the momentum of hatred that seeks to justify terror against the State of Israel, even its annihilation? What kind of slippery slope is this? Granted as followers of Jesus we do not agree with all the actions of the government of Israel or any nation, especially America. However, if God’s hand is upon Israel for his ultimate purpose at this time in history, whose side are they really on?
John Paul is is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Jewish Issues.
Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People, News Tagged with: America, apartheid, christians, Islam, israel, Jesus, Middle East, palestinians, south africa, Stan Goodenough