About a week ago, I touched on the possibility of Israel attacking Iran (“Maybe the Dog will Talk” – March 21, 2012). Let’s deal with the Middle East crisis a bit more: Typically we look at the morning paper and read of some Palestinians firing rockets in to Israel. Sometimes they kill a few people and mostly they don’t. The rockets themselves are considered very inaccurate and, possibly, the Palestinians are simply not good shots. Next day we read of some Israeli retaliation, usually using American-built F16’s. This seems to be endless. Now, firing rockets loaded with explosives into another country is something that you just don’t do. As I understand it, the legal profession refers to it as “An Act of War”.
OK,but why are they doing it? Well, they feel that they are the rightful owners of Israel and the Jews are not. When you look at history, whether it is the history of the Middle East or Europe or North America and South America you will almost always find that the current residents took the land from someone else. You would find that the Romans did not originate in Italy. They conquered it. The Hungarians started someplace else. The Germans, the French, ditto. The people who live in Egypt are mostly migrants from Morocco and Tunisia, etc. They didn’t start off in Egypt. They weren’t dropped there by God!
So, then, who did The Jews take their land from? In the bible we learn of the Moabites, and Ammonites, and the Cannanites. Jews lived in Israel for a VERY long time. Do they have a claim to the land? One would think so. The problem came when the huge influx of holocaust survivors started to leave Europe after the end of World War II. There were huge cultural clashes. The Jews of Europe after all, were culturally Europeans. DNA testing does show that European Jewry is traceable back to the Middle East.
At the end of World War II the British were trying to keep order but were so devastated by the recent fighting in Europe that they simply didn’t have the strength — or desire, or finances to keep a lid on things. So, the new world body, the United Nations gave it a try. They proposed a division of the territory into a Jewish area and an Arab area. The Jewish leadership, under David Ben-Gurion immediately agreed. The Palestinians did not.
The leader of the Palestinians was officially the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Now, the Grand Mufti spent World War II in Germany attempting to organize Muslims into a division or two of the Nazi SS. Needless to say, the Grand Mufti, Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, was not exactly a friend of the Jews. His solution to the problem was simply, “NO JEWS”. Kick them out! Not very practical, I’d say.
The British were very serious about leaving. The day that they left, the Jewish leadership proclaimed The State of Israel. The surrounding Arab nations invaded the Jewish Territories — planning on an easy and quick victory.
The Arab armies outnumbered the Jews but the Jewish army consisted of Holocaust survivors in addition to a large number of Israelis who had just gotten back from World War II — fighting on the side of the Americans, British, Canadians, French, Poles, Russians, etc. In many cases, they were high ranking officers under American General Eisenhower, or British General Montgomery. They knew how to fight a modern war and how to use modern equipment. The new Israeli Army triumphed! The State of Israel became a fact.
Atrocities were committed by both sides. Innocent civilians were forced to leave their homes — some to never return. Prisoners of war were executed — on both sides. This has always been an unfortunate byproduct of war — and this war was no different.
Currently, the Arab population of Israel is about 20% of the total Israeli population. They have full voting rights — and definitely take advantage of that fact. They make up 10% of the Israeli Parliament. In Israel proper, there is some friction between the two cultures but in the court of law, Arabs have the same legal rights as do the Israelis.
OK, what about the Arabs who live in Gaza or the West Bank, Aren’t they treated differently? Well, yes. They are treated differently because they are not citizens of Israel. They are governed by either Hamas or the Palestinian National Authority. Israel has no say over how they are treated.
Did those young Arabs who were firing rockets into Israel, ever live in Israel? Most likely they grew up in Gaza or the West Bank and had never set foot in Israel. What about their parents? No, they probably also grew up in Gaza or the West Bank. Grand parents? Maybe. But understand that the Gaza area was densely populated for a long time as was the West Bank. So, it is likely that even the grand parents of these terrorists never resided in Israel.
There is still plenty wrong in Israel. Arabs generally will not sing the Israeli National Anthem because it makes reference to a Jewish State and refers to the struggle that the Jews have faced. Right wing Jews don’t like that. Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu defends their right to not sing it. That sounds almost trivial — even laughable — but when both sides are looking for a fight, that is as good a reason as any! There are right wing Jews who continually build settlements in Arab territories. Why, because their imaginary god said they could. Of course, the Muslim equivalent said that they could not. The solution to that is actually pretty straightforward, a peace treaty recognizing sovereignty of the Arabs over the West Bank and Gaza would allow the settlements to be disbanded under Arab law — if that is what the Arabs chose to do. Yes, there is lots wrong, but as long as there is no peace treaty and a recognition of Israel, no solution is possible. The rocket attacks and the retaliation bombings continue.
I would suggest that today’s Israelis have a more moral justification for defending their land and defending their people than the terrorists have in indiscriminately firing rockets at innocent people. Much more! On the other hand, the Israeli ultra-religious have NO justification for settling in the West Bank. NONE!
From all that I have read, the vast majority of Arabs as well as the vast majority of Israelis would prefer to live in peace. The religious zealots on both sides are not allowing this to happen. As usual, as the late Christopher Hitchens had it right, “Religion spoils everything”. Amen!