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Israel, the only democracy and tolerant society in the Middle East, is surrounded by Muslim states that have sworn to destroy it and have conducted a genocidal propaganda campaign against the Jews, promising to "finish the job that Hitler started." A global wave of Jew-hatred, fomented by Muslim propaganda and left-wing anti-Semitism, has spread through Europe and the United Nations and made Israel a pariah nation. David Horowitz’s classic Why Israel Is the Victim, now updated in the pamphlet below, sets the record straight about the Middle East conflict. In addition to restoring the historical record -- a chronicle of obsessive aggressions first by Arab nationalists and then by Muslim jihadists, this pamphlet brings the story up to date by showing the systematic way in which the fanatical Islamic parties, Hamas and Hezbollah, sponsored by Iran, have subverted peace in the Middle East.
As Shillman Fellow Daniel Greenfield notes in his insightful Foreword, this pamphlet “tells us why we should reject the ‘Blame Israel First’ narrative that has so thoroughly saturated the mainstream media… It confronts the myth of Palestinian victimhood… and it delivers a rousing restatement of the true history of the hate that led us to all this.” America needs to be Israel’s protector, for as George Gilder has observed, "If the United States cannot defend Israel, it cannot defend itself." Instead, under the leadership of Barack Obama, it has become Israel's prosecutor with ominous portents for the future.
In “Why Israel is the Victim” David Horowitz tells the ugly tale of the war against Israel, laying bare the sordid hypocrisies and deceits behind its campaign of violence. No volume can contain the full story of Islamic terrorism or the courageous ways in which the ordinary Israeli confronts it in the streets of his cities. What this essay does tell is the story of the lies behind that terror.
Propaganda precedes war; it digs the graves and waits for them to be filled. The war against the Jews has never been limited to bullets and swords; it has always, first and foremost, been a war of words. When bombs explode on buses and rockets rain down on Israel homes, when mobs chant “Death to the Jews” and Iran races toward the construction of its genocidal bomb; the propaganda lies to cover up these crimes must be bold enough to contain not only the murders of individuals, but the prospective massacre of millions.
The lie big enough to fill a million graves is that Israel has no right to exist, that the Jewish State is an illegitimate entity, an occupier, a warmonger and a conqueror. The big lie is that Israel has sought out the wars that have given it no peace and that the outcomes of those wars make the atrocities of its enemies understandable and even justifiable. That is the big lie that David Horowitz confronts in “Why Israel is the Victim”.
From the latest outburst of violence to its earliest antecedents under the Palestine Mandate, “Why Israel is the Victim” exposes the true nature of the war and wipes away the lies used by the killers and their collaborators to lend moral authority to their crimes. It shows not only why Israel must exist, but also why its existence has been besieged by war and terror.
“Why Israel is the Victim” tells us why we should reject the “Blame Israel First” narrative that has so thoroughly saturated the mainstream media. It challenges the false hope of the Two State Solution in sections such as “Self-Determination Is Not the Agenda” and “Refugees: Jewish and Arab”. It confronts the myth of Palestinian victimhood in “The Policy of Resentment and Hate” and delivers a rousing restatement of the true history of the hate that led us to all this in “The Jewish Problem and Its ‘Solution’”.
Recent history shows us that it was not an Israeli refusal to grant the Palestinian Arabs the right of self-determination that led to their campaigns of terror, but that Palestinian self-determination empowered a people steeped in the hatred of Jews to engage in terrorism.
With the peace process each new level of Palestinian self-determination led to an intensified wave of terror against Israel, as chronicled in this pamphlet. In 2006 when the Palestinian Arabs were able to vote in a legislative election for the first time in ten years, they chose Hamas, a genocidal terrorist organization that drew its popularity from its unwillingness to even entertain the thought of peace with the Jewish State.
The 2006 election showed once again that the root cause of terrorism lay in a culture where political popularity came from killing Jews, not from bringing peace.
Hamas’ ability to carry out more spectacular terrorist attacks, employing motivated Islamist suicide bombers, gave it the inside track in the election. Where Western political parties might compete for popularity by offering voters peace and prosperity, Palestinian factions competed over who could kill more Jews. And Hamas won based on its killing sprees and its unwillingness to water down its platform of destroying Israel.
Hamas’ victory cannot be viewed as an isolated response to Israeli actions. Hamas leaders have stated that they were the vanguard of the Arab Spring, and the 2006 elections foreshadowed the regional downfall of Arab Socialists and the rise of the Islamists. The outcome of the elections in Egypt could have been foreseen from across the border in Gaza.
The defining test of any political philosophy in the Middle East is its ability to defeat foreign powers and drive out foreign influences. Israel has been the target of repeated efforts by both Arab Socialists and Islamists to destroy it because it is the nearest non-Arab and non-Muslim country in the region, but the regional ascendance of Islamists in the Arab Spring forces us to recognize that this phenomenon is not limited to Israel.
War is the force that gives Islamists meaning. During the last Gaza conflict, Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV broadcast the message, “Killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah.” Palestinian Arabs who define themselves through conflict, constructing a conflict-based national identity, were destined to become the vanguard of regional Islamization.
The ascendance of Hamas has made it clearer than ever that Palestinian terrorism is not the resistance of helpless people who only want autonomy and territory, but the calculated choice of determined aggressors.
If occupation were the issue, then the less territory Israel “occupied”, the more peace there would be. But the real world results of the peace experiment have led to the exact opposite outcome.
Israel’s withdrawals from Gaza and Lebanon did not lead to peace, they led to greater instability as Hamas and Hezbollah exploited the power vacuum to take over Gaza and Lebanon, and used that newfound power to escalate the conflict with Israel. The less territory Israel has occupied, the more violence there has been directed against her.
The goal of the terrorists has never been an Israeli withdrawal and a separate peace, but the perpetuation of the conflict, and the elimination of the Jewish state.
Half a year after Israel withdrew from Gaza, Hamas swept the Palestinian legislative elections. Another half a year after that, a Hamas raid netted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit as a hostage. Barely a year after Israel had withdrawn from Gaza; Hamas had found a way to bring Israeli soldiers back into Gaza for a renewal of the conflict.
Cut off from attacking Israel directly by a blockade, Hamas deepened its investment in long-range weapons systems, even while complaining that its people were going hungry. After its takeover of Gaza, it significantly improved its weapons capabilities. In 2004, it had achieved its first Kassam fatality killing a 4-year-old boy on his way to a Sderot nursery school, but by 2006, its capabilities had so dramatically improved that it was able to launch its first Katyusha rocket at Ashkelon, the third largest city in Israel’s south with a population of over 100,000.
As the volume and range of Hamas’ rockets increased, Israel was forced to take action. In 2004, Israel suffered 281 rocket attacks. By 2006, that number had increased to over 1,700. In 2008, the number of rocket and mortar attacks approached 4,000 triggering Operation Cast Lead, also known as the Gaza War.
Operation Cast Lead destroyed enough of Hamas’ stockpiles and capabilities to reduce rocket attacks down to the 2004 and 2005 levels, but another dramatic increase in attacks in 2012, with over 2,000 rockets fired into Israel, combined with the smuggling of Fajr 5 rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, forced Israel to carry out a series of strikes against Hamas in Operation Pillar of Defense.
Both times Israel did not choose a conflict of opportunity, but reacted to a disturbing level of Hamas violence, and had nothing to gain from the conflict except for a temporary reduction of violence.
War is a choice. Hamas has chosen war over and over again and the Palestinian Arabs have chosen Hamas. After six years of fighting, in a recent poll 9 out of 10 Palestinian Arabs agreed with the tactics of Hamas proving that their violence is not a reflexive response to occupation, but a choice. The violence does not spring from the occupation. The occupation springs from their violence.
By choosing Hamas in 2006 and today, the Palestinian Arabs were not rejecting peace, for they had never chosen peace. The difference between Hamas and Arafat’s Fatah lay not in a choice between war and peace, but between overt war and covert war. Both Hamas and Fatah had dedicated themselves to the destruction of the Jewish State. The practical difference between them is that Hamas refuses to even pretend to recognize Israel’s right to exist for the sake of extracting strategic territory through negotiations.
By choosing Hamas, the Palestinian Arabs were sending the message that they felt confident enough to be able to dispense with Fatah’s dissembling and strong enough to no longer need to lie to Israel and America about wanting peace.
The ascendance of Hamas is the logical progression of the entire history of the conflict that you will read about in this pamphlet. It is the inevitable outcome of a war of destruction based on race and religion. It contains within it the inescapable truth that peace is farthest away when the terrorist groups who would destroy Israel are strongest.
Israel’s attempt to make peace with the Palestinians has not ushered in an era of peace; instead it has served as a microcosm of the first fifty years of the conflict chronicled in “Why Israel is the Victim.” A slow bloody recapitulation of the unfortunate truth that the Israeli-Arab conflict is not a war of land, but a war of blood, that is not being fought to settle the ownership of a few hills or a few miles, but to exterminate the nearly 6 million Jews living among those miles and hills.
Looking down on the earth from space, Israel appears as only a tiny strip of land wedged at an angle between Africa, Europe and the Middle East against the Mediterranean Sea. From up here there is little to distinguish the otherwise indistinct land and no way to conceive of the terrible life and death struggle taking place in the hills, deserts and cities below.
The Jewish State, like the Jewish People, is small in size but great in presence. The scattered people that half the world has tried to destroy have formed into a nation that half the world is trying to destroy again. Only four years separated the Nazi gas chambers of 1944 from the invading Arab armies of 1948, who, along with the Nazi-funded Muslim Brotherhood, were bent on wiping out the indigenous Jewish population along with the Holocaust survivors who had made their way to the ports and shoals of the rebuilt Jewish State.
Before 1948, the Jews of Israel lived in a state of constant victimization at the hands of Islamic leaders such as Haj Amin al-Husseini, Hitler’s Mufti, and Izz ad-Din al-Qassam of The Black Hand gang, after whom Hamas’ Qassam rockets are named. After 1948 they were forced to live in a state of constant vigilance against the invasions of armies and the bombs, bullets and shells of terrorists.
Once Israel had won its independence hardly a single decade passed without another war of aggression against her. From 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 to 1982, the coming of each new decade meant a new war. Nor was there peace between these wars. When Gaza and the West Bank were in Egyptian and Jordanian hands, Fedayeen terrorists used them as bases to invade Israel and carry out attacks within the 1948 borders. When Israel turned these territories over to the Palestinian Authority, they once again became bases of terror.
At no point in time, regardless of the date, the prime minister or the policy, did Israel enjoy peace. Whether Israel was led by the right or by the left, whether it made war or peace, the violence of its enemies remained unchanged. No matter how often Israel changed, how it was transformed by waves of immigration, by political and religious movements, by peace programs and technological booms, its enemies remained unwaveringly bent on its destruction.
As a nation of wandering exiles, Jews had lived with the knowledge that they had no rights that could not be taken away at a whim and no certainty of safety that would endure beyond the next explosion of violence. That is still how Israel lives today, no longer as a wandering people, but as a nation alone.
The way that a majority treats a minority is a test of its character. Nazi Germany showed what it intended for Europe with its treatment of the Jews. As did the Soviet Union. The Muslim world has likewise shown its intentions toward the rest of the world with its treatment of Israel; the only non-Muslim country in the region.
Europe’s apathy toward Hitler’s depredations in the 1930s foreshadowed its unwillingness to halt Nazi territorial expansionism. The apathy of the international community toward the war against Israel warns us of a similar apathy in a conflict that will extend as far beyond the borders of the Jewish State, as Nazi atrocities extended beyond the broken windows of the synagogues of Berlin.
Within the pages of this pamphlet you will find the story of this new war against the Jews, as a people, and against Israel, as a Jewish State.
The old saying, “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on,” is truer than ever in the age of the Internet when the speed of lies has become instantaneous. The pamphlet that you are about to read represents an equally instantaneous response to those lies with the best possible weapon; the truth.
Arm yourself with it.
Daniel Greenfield, Shillman Fellow.
Why Israel is the Victim
by David Horowitz
The Gaza Strip is a narrow corridor of land, 25 miles long and about twice the area of Washington, D.C. situated between the State of Israel and the Mediterranean Sea, and has a small southern border with Egypt. When the U.N. created the State of Israel out of the ruins of the Turkish Empire, in 1948, eight Arab countries launched an attack on the infant regime with the stated goal of destroying it. The attackers included Egypt whose tanks invaded Israel through the Gaza land bridge. In its defensive war against the invaders, Israel emerged triumphant but did not occupy Gaza.
In 1949, Egypt annexed the Strip. In 1967, the Egyptian dictator Gamel Abdel Nasser massed hundreds of thousands of troops on the Israeli border with Gaza and closed the Port of Eilat in an attempt to strangle the Israeli State. Israel struck back and in a “Six Day War” vanquished the Egyptian armies and drove them out of Gaza. After the war, Israel refused to withdraw its armies from Gaza and the West Bank because the Arab invaders, which included Iraq, Jordan and several other states refused to negotiate a formal peace treaty. In the years that followed, a few thousand Jews settled in Gaza.
By 2005 they numbered 8,500, a tiny community compared to the 1.4 million Palestinian Arabs. While they lived in Gaza, the lives of the Jewish settlers were in constant danger, particularly after the formation in Gaza of one the world’s leading terrorist organizations, Hamas, whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic state “from the [Jordan] River to the Sea.”
After the rejection of the Oslo Peace process in 2001 by Yassir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinians launched four years of unrelenting terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. The attacks were led by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an arm of the Palestinian Authority. As a result of the Palestinian rejection of the peace process and the unrelenting terrorism, the Israeli government decided that a secure peace could probably not be negotiated with its Palestinian antagonists. It therefore built a fence along its borders both on the West Bank and Gaza to prevent further infiltration by suicide bombers, a measure which dramatically reduced the attacks. The Israeli government further decided to remove all Jews living in the Gaza Strip and to withdraw the Israeli Defense Forces which protected them. By September 2005, the Israeli government evacuated every Jew who had been living in the Gaza Strip.
Forget for a moment all the strategic and geopolitical rationales for the Gaza pullout and consider only the reason that the Jewish settlements in Gaza were an issue at all: Palestinian Arabs and indeed all the Arab states of the Middle East hate Jews and want to dismantle the Jewish state. They hate Jews so ferociously that they cannot live alongside them. There is not an Arab state or Arab controlled piece of territory in the Middle East that will allow one Jew to live in it. This is why in 1948 the Arab states rejected the two- state solution that would have created a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza alongside the State of Israel. They wanted to destroy the Jewish state more than they wanted to create a Palestinian one.
In contrast to the hostility of all Arab states to any Jew, Israel has welcomed Palestinian Arabs to its communities. There are more than a million Arabs living safely in Israel where they enjoy more citizen rights than the Arabs living in any Arab country, or for that matter the Muslims living in any Muslim country. If Arabs treated Jews half as well, there would be no Middle East “problem.”
But the ethnic cleansing of the Jews has always been the objective of Arabs and Palestinians. The real goal of Arab nationalism has always been an Islamic Arab Middle East with no competing nationalities or cultures. Palestinians have shown twice in 1948 and again in 2001 that they want to kill Jews more than they want a Palestinian state.
The tiny Jewish population of Gaza created an agricultural industry in fruits, vegetables and flowers. During their years in Gaza, they constructed greenhouses that produced an abundance of vegetables. In just this industry alone, Jews, representing less than one-hundredth of the Gaza population, produced nearly 20% of its gross domestic product. Now, the entire gross domestic product of Gaza is only $770 million.1 If the Palestinian inhabitants of Gaza weren’t consumed with ethnic hate, they would have done everything in their power to import more Jews rather than agitate to get rid of them. With 50,000 Jews – still a small minority in a population of 1.4 million they could have doubled their economy.
When the Jews left, there remained the problem of what to do with the existing greenhouses. A Jewish philanthropist in America stepped forward to solve the problem. Mortimer Zuckerman, the publisher of U.S. News and World Report,’ raised $14 million to buy the greenhouses from their Jewish owners and give them to the Palestinians in Gaza. It was a gesture of peace, an effort to encourage the Palestinians to look on the withdrawal from Gaza as a step in the process of ending the fifty year war of the Arab states and the Palestinian Arabs against Israel.
The Palestinian answer to this peace offering was unambiguous and swift. As soon as the Israeli troops left, Palestinians rushed in to loot the greenhouses that had been given to them, stripping them of the pumps, hoses and other equipment that had made them so productive.2
The withdrawal from Gaza is an emblem of the entire Middle East conflict. It is not a conflict of right versus right. It is a conflict inspired by ethnic hate, by the unwillingness of the Arabs of the Middle East to live as neighbors with a people that is democratic, non-Arab and non-Muslim. The cause of the conflict is that the Arabs hate Jews more than they love peace.
The Jewish Problem and Its “Solution”
Zionism is a national liberation movement, identical in most ways to other liberation movements that leftists and progressives the world over—and in virtually every case but this one—fervently support. This exceptionalism is also visible at the reverse end of the political spectrum: In every other instance, right-wingers oppose national liberation movements that are under the spell of Marxist delusions and committed to violent means. But they make an exception for the one that Palestinians have aimed at the Jews. The unique opposition to a Jewish homeland at both ends of the political spectrum identifies the problem that Zionism was created to solve.
The “Jewish problem” is just another name for the fact that Jews are the most universally hated and persecuted ethnic group in history. The Zionist founders believed that hatred of Jews was a direct consequence of their stateless condition. As long as Jews were aliens in every society they found themselves in, they would always be seen as interlopers, their loyalties would be suspect and persecution would follow. This was what happened to Captain Alfred Dreyfus, whom French anti-Semites falsely accused of spying and who was put on trial for treason by the French government in the 19th Century. Theodore Herzl was an assimilated, westernized Jew, who witnessed the Dreyfus frame up in Paris and went on to lead the Zionist movement.
Herzl and other Zionist founders believed that if Jews had a nation of their own, the very fact would “normalize” their condition in the community of nations. Jews had been without a state since the beginning of the diaspora, when the Romans expelled them from Judea on the west bank of the Jordan River, some 2,000 years before. Once the Jews obtained a homeland—Judea itself seemed a logical site— and were again like other peoples, the Zionists believed anti-Semitism would wither on its poisonous vine and the Jewish problem would disappear.
But something altogether different happened instead.3 In the 1920s, among their final acts as victors in World War I, the British and French created the states that now define the Middle East out of the ashes of the empire of their defeated Turkish adversary. In a region that the Ottoman Turks had controlled for hundreds of years, Britain and France drew the boundaries of the new states, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Previously, the British had promised the Jewish Zionists that they could establish a “national home” in a portion of what remained of the area, which was known as the Palestine Mandate. But in 1921, the British separated 80% of the of “Transjordan.” It was created for the Arabian monarch King Abdullah, who had been defeated in tribal warfare in the Arabian peninsula and lacked a seat of power. Abudllah’s tribe was Hashemite, while the vast majority of Abdullah’s subjects were Palestinian Arabs.
What was left of the original Palestine Mandate—between the west bank of the Jordan and the Mediterranean sea—had been settled by Arabs and Jews. Jews, in fact, had lived in the area continuously for 3,700 years, even after the Romans destroyed their state in Judea in 70 AD. Arabs became the dominant local population for the first time in the 7th Century AD as a result of the Muslim invasions. These Arabs were largely nomads who had no distinctive language or culture to separate them from other Arabs. In all the time since, they had made no attempt to create an independent Palestinian state west or east of the Jordan River and none was ever established.
The pressure for a Jewish homeland was dramatically increased, of course, by the Nazi Holocaust which targeted the Jews for extermination and succeeded in killing six million, in part because no country—not even England or the United States— would open their borders and allow Jews fleeing death to enter. In 1948, the United Nations voted to partition the remaining portion of the original Mandate, which had not been given to Jordan, to make a Jewish homeland possible.
Under the partition plan, the Arabs were given the Jews’ ancient home in Judea and Samaria—now known as the West Bank, and the “Gaza Strip” on the border with Egypt. The Jews were allotted three slivers of disconnected land along the Mediterranean and the Sinai desert. They were also cut off from the slivers, surrounded by Arab land and under international control. Sixty percent of the land allotted to the Jews was the Negev desert. The entire portion represented only about 10% of the original Palestine Mandate. Out of these unpromising parts, the Jews created a new state, Israel, in 1948. At this time, the idea of a Palestinian nation, or a movement to create one did not even exist.
Thus, at the moment of Israel’s birth, Palestinian Arabs lived on roughly 90% of the original Palestine Mandate— in Transjordan and in the UN partition area, but also in the new state of Israel itself. There were 800,000 Arabs living in Israel alongside 650,000 Jews (a figure that would increase rapidly as a result of the influx of refugees from Europe and the Middle East). At the same time, Jews were legally barred from settling in the 35,000 square miles of Palestinian Transjordan, which eventually was renamed simply “Jordan.”
The Arab population in Israel had actually more than tripled since the Zionists first began settling the region in significant numbers in the 1880s. The reason for this increase was that the Jewish settlers had brought industrial and agricultural development with them, which attracted Arab immigrants to what had previously been a sparsely settled and economically destitute area.
If the Palestinian Arabs had been willing to accept this arrangement in which they received 90% of the land in the Palestine Mandate, and under which they benefited from the industry, enterprise and political democracy the Jews brought to the region, there would have been no Middle East conflict. But they were not.
Instead, the Arab League—representing five neighboring Arab states— declared war on Israel on the day of its creation, and five Arab armies invaded the slivers with the aim of destroying the infant Jewish state. During the fighting, according to the UN mediator on the scene, an estimated 472,000 Arabs fled their homes and left the infant state. Some fled to escape the dangers, others were driven out in the heat of war. They planned on returning after what they assumed would be the inevitable Arab victory and the destruction of the infant Jewish state.
But the Jews—many of them recent Holocaust survivors— refused to be defeated. Instead, the five Arab armies that had invaded were repelled. Yet there was no peace. Even though their armies were beaten, the Arab states were determined to carry on their campaign of destruction and to remain formally at war with the Israeli state. After the defeat of the Arab armies, the Palestinians who lived in the Arab area of the UN partition did not attempt to create a state of their own. Instead, in 1950, Jordan annexed the entire West Bank and Egypt annexed the Gaza Strip. There were no international protests.
Refugees: Jewish and Arab
As a result of the annexation and the continuing state of war, the Arab refugees who had fled the Israeli slivers did not return. There was a refugee flow into Israel, but it was a flow of Jews who had been expelled from the Arab countries. All over the Middle East, Jews were forced to leave lands they had lived on for centuries. Although Israel was a tiny geographical area and a fledgling state, its government welcomed and resettled 600,000 Jewish refugees and made them citizens.
At the same time, the Jews resumed their work of creating a new nation. Israel had annexed a small amount of territory to make their state defensible, including a land bridge that included Jerusalem.
In the years that followed, the Israelis made their desert bloom. They built the only industrialized economy in the entire Middle East. They built the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. They treated the Arabs who remained in Israel well. To this day the very large Arab minority, which lives inside the state of Israel, has more rights and privileges than any other Arab population in the entire Middle East. This is especially true of the Arabs who lived under Yasser Arafat’s corrupt dictatorship, and live presently under the the Palestine Authority, which inherited his totalitarian rule and today administers the West Bank.
The present Middle East conflict is said to be about the “occupied territories”—the West Bank of the Jordan and the Gaza strip—and about Israel’s refusal to “give them up.” But during the first twenty years of the Arab Israeli conflict, Israel did not control the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. When Jordan annexed the West Bank and Egypt annexed the Gaza strip after the 1948 war, there was no Arab outrage. But the war against Israel continued.
The Arab Wars Against Israel
In 1967, Egypt, Syria and Jordan—whose leaders had never ceased to call for the destruction of Israel—massed hundreds of thousands of troops on Israel’s borders and blockaded the Straits of Tiran, closing the Port of Eilat, Israel’s only opening to the East. This was an act of war. Because Israel had no landmass to defend itself from being overrun, it struck the Arab armies first and defeated them as it had in 1948. It was in repelling these armies that Israel came to control the West Bank and the Gaza strip, as well as the oil rich Sinai desert. Israel had every right to annex these territories captured from the aggressors—a time honored ritual among nations, and in fact the precise way that Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan had come into existence themselves. But Israel did not do so. On the other hand, neither did it withdraw its armies or relinquish its control.
The reason was that the Arab aggressors once again refused to make peace. Instead, they declared themselves still at war, a threat no Israeli government could afford to ignore. By this time, Israel was a country of 2 to 3 million surrounded by declared enemies whose combined populations numbered over 100 million. Geographically, Israel was so small that at one point it was less than ten miles across. No responsible Israeli government could relinquish a territorial buffer while its hostile neighbors were still formally at war. This is the reality that frames the Middle East conflict.
In 1973, six years after the second Arab war against the Jews, the Arab armies again attacked Israel. The attack was led by Syria and Egypt, abetted by Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and five other countries who gave military support to the aggressors, including an Iraqi division of 18,000 men. Israel again defeated the Arab forces. Afterwards, Egypt— and Egypt alone—agreed to make a formal peace.
The peace was signed by Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, who was subsequently assassinated by Islamic radicals, paying for his statesmanship with his life. Sadat is one of three Arab leaders assassinated by other Arabs for making peace with the Jews.
Under the Camp David accords that Sadat signed, Israel returned the entire Sinai with all its oil riches. This act demonstrated once and for all that the solution to the Middle East conflict was ready at hand. It only required the willingness of the Arabs to agree.
Even to this day, the Arabs claim that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are the obstacle to peace. But the Arab settlements in Israel—they are actually called “cities”—are not a problem for Israel so why should Jewish settlements be a problem for the Arabs? The claim that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are an obstacle to peace is based first of all on the assumption that the Jews will never relinquish any of their settlements, which the Camp David accords proved false. It is really based, however, on the assumption that Jewish settlements will not be allowed in a Palestinian state—which is an Arab decision and is the essence of the entire problem: the unwillingness of the Arabs to live side by side with “infidel” Jews.
The Middle East conflict is not about Israel’s occupation of the territories; it is about the refusal of the Arabs to make peace with Israel, which is an inevitable byproduct of their desire to destroy it. This desire is encapsulated in the word all Palestinians – “moderates” and extremists – use to describe the creation of Israel. They call the birth of Israel the “Nakhba,” the catastrophe.
Self Determination Is Not The Agenda
The Palestinians and their supporters also claim that the Middle East conflict is about the Palestinians’ yearning for a state and the refusal of Israel to accept their aspiration. This claim is also false. The Palestine Liberation Organization was created in 1964, sixteen years after the establishment of Israel and the first anti-Israel war. The PLO was created at a time the West Bank was not under Israeli control but was part of Jordan. The PLO, however, was not created so that the Palestinians could achieve self determination in Jordan, which at the time comprised 90% of the original Palestine Mandate. The PLO’s express purpose, in the words of its own leaders, was to “push the Jews into the sea.”
The official “covenant” of the new Palestine Liberation Organization referred to the “Zionist invasion,” declared that Israel’s Jews were “not an independent nationality,” described Zionism as “racist” and “fascist,” called for “the liquidation of the Zionist presence,” and specified, “armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine.” In short, “liberation” required the destruction of the Jewish state.
For thirty years, the PLO covenant remained unchanged in its call for Israel’s destruction. Then in the mid 1990s, under enormous international pressure following the 1993 Oslo accords, PLO leader Yasser Arafat agreed to revise the covenant. However, no new covenant was drafted or ratified. Moreover, Arafat simultaneously assured Palestinians that the proposed revision was purely tactical and did not alter the movement’s utlimate goals. He did this explicitly and in a speech given to the Palestine Legislative Council when he called on Palestinians to remember the Prophet Muhammad’s Treaty of Hudaybiyah. The Prophet Muhammad had entered into a 10 year peace pact with the Koresh tribe back in the 7th century, known as the Hudaybiyah Treaty. The treaty was born of necessity. Two years later, when he had mustered enough military strength, Muhammad conquered the Koresh who surrendered without a fight. Arafat was signaling that whatever he might say, he intended to follow the example of the Prophet.
Even during the “Oslo” peace process—when the Palestine Liberation Organization pretended to recognize the existence of Israel and the Jews therefore allowed the creation of a “Palestine Authority”—it was clear that the PLO’s goal was Israel’s destruction, and not just because its leader invoked the Prophet Muhammad’s own deception. The Palestinians’ determination to destroy Israel is abundantly clear in their newly created demand of a “right of return” to Israel for “5 million” Arabs. The figure of 5 million refugees who must be returned to Israel is more than ten times the number of Arabs who actually left the Jewish slivers of the British Mandate in 1948. Moreover, a poll of Palestinian refugee families in the West Bank conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the spring of 2003 revealed that only 10% of those questioned said they actually wanted to return.
In addition to its absurdity, this new demand has several aspects that reveal the Palestinians’ genocidal agenda for the Jews. The first is that the “right of return” is itself a calculated mockery of the primary reason for Israel’s existence—the fact that no country would provide a refuge for Jews fleeing Hitler’s extermination program during World War II. It is only because the world turned its back on the Jews when their survival was at stake that the state of Israel grants a “right of return” to every Jew who asks for it.
But there is no genocidal threat to Arabs, no lack of international support militarily and economically, and no Palestinian “diaspora” (although the Palestinians have cynically appropriated the very term to describe their self inflicted quandary). The fact that many Arabs, including the Palestinian spiritual leader—the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem— supported Hitler’s “Final Solution” only serves to compound the insult. It is even further compounded by the fact that more than 90% of the Palestinians now in the West Bank and Gaza have never lived a day of their lives in territorial Israel. The claim of a “right of return” is thus little more than a brazen expression of contempt for the Jews, and for their historic suffering.
More importantly, it is an expression of contempt for the very idea of a Jewish state. The incorporation of five million Arabs into Israel would render the Jews a permanent minority in their own country, and would thus spell the end of Israel. The Arabs fully understand this, and that is why they have made it a fundamental demand. It is just one more instance of the general bad faith the Arab side has manifested through every chapter of these tragic events.
Possibly the most glaring expression of the Arabs’ bad faith is their deplorable treatment of the Palestinian refugees and refusal for half a century to relocate them, or to alleviate their condition, even during the years they were under Jordanian rule. While Israel was making the desert bloom and relocating 600,000 Jewish refugees from Arab states, and building a thriving industrial democracy, the Arabs were busy making sure that their refugees remained in squalid refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, where they were powerless, rightless, and economically destitute. Despite economic aid from the UN and Israel itself, despite the oil wealth of the Arab kingdoms, the Arab leaders have refused to undertake the efforts that would liberate the refugees from their miserable camps, or to make the economic investment that would alleviate their condition. There are now 22 Arab states providing homes for the same ethnic population, speaking a common Arabic language. But the only one that will allow Palestinian Arabs to become citizens is Jordan. And the only state the Palestinians covet is Israel.
The Policy of Resentment and Hate
The refusal to address the condition of the Palestinian refugee population is—and has always been—a calculated Arab policy, intended to keep the Palestinians in a state of desperation in order to incite their hatred of Israel for the wars to come. Not to leave anything to chance, the mosques and schools of the Arabs generally—and the Palestinians in particular—preach and teach Jew hatred every day. Elementary school children in Palestinian Arab schools are even taught to chant “Death to the heathen Jews” in their classrooms as they are learning to read. It should not be overlooked, that these twin policies of deprivation (of the Palestinian Arabs) and hatred (of the Jews) are carried out without any protest from any sector of Palestinian or Arab society. That in itself speaks volumes about the nature of the Middle East conflict.
There are plenty of individual Palestinian victims, as there are Jewish victims, familiar from the nightly news. But the collective Palestinian grievance is without justice. It is a self -inflicted wound, the product of the Arabs’ xenophobia, bigotry, exploitation of their own people, and apparent inability to be generous towards those who are not Arabs. While Israel is an open, democratic, multi-ethnic, multicultural society that includes a large enfranchised Arab minority, the Palestine Authority is an intolerant, undemocratic, monolithic police state with one dictatorial leader, whose ruinous career has run now for 37 years.
As the repellent attitudes, criminal methods and dishonest goals of the Palestine liberation movement should make clear to any reasonable observer, its present cause is based on Jew hatred, and on resentment of the modern, democratic West, and little else. Since there was no Palestinian nation before the creation of Israel, and since Palestinians regarded themselves simply as Arabs and their land as part of Syria, it is not surprising that many of the chief creators of the Palestine Liberation Organization did not even live in the Palestine Mandate before the creation of Israel, let alone in the sliver of mostly desert that was allotted to the Jews.
While the same Arab states that claim to be outraged by the Jews’ treatment of Palestinians treat their own Arab populations far worse than Arabs are treated in Israel, they are also silent about the disenfranchised Palestinian majority that lives in Jordan. In 1970, Jordan’s King Hussein massacred thousands of PLO militants. But the PLO does not call for the overthrow of Hashemite rule in Jordan and does not hate the Hashemite monarchy. Only Jews are hated.
It is a hatred, moreover, that is increasingly lethal. During the Second Intifada 70% of the Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza approved the suicide bombing of women and children if the targets were Jews. There is no Arab “Peace Now” movement, not even a small one, whereas in Israel the movement demanding concessions to Arabs in the name of peace is a formidable political force. There is no Arab spokesman who will speak for the rights and sufferings of Jews, but there are hundreds of thousands of Jews in Israel— and all over the world—who will speak for “justice” for the Palestinians. How can the Jews expect fair treatment from a people that collectively does not even recognize their humanity?
A Phony Peace
The Oslo peace process begun in 1993 was based on the pledge of both parties to renounce violence as a means of settling their dispute. But the Palestinians never renounced violence and in the year 2000, they officially launched a new Intifada against Israel, effectively terminating the peace process.
In fact, during the peace process—between 1993 and 1999—there were over 4,000 terrorist incidents committed by Palestinians against Israelis, and more than 1,000 Israelis killed as a result of Palestinian attacks—more than had been killed in the previous 25 years. By contrast, during the same period Israelis were so desperate for peace that they reciprocated these acts of murder by giving the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza a self-governing authority, a 40,000 man armed “police force,” and 95% of the territory their negotiators demanded. This Israeli generosity was rewarded by a rejection of peace, suicide bombings of crowded discos and shopping malls, an outpouring of ethnic hatred and a renewed declaration of war.
In fact, the Palestinians broke the Oslo Accords precisely because of Israeli generosity, because the government of Ehud Barak offered to meet 95% of their demands, including turning over parts of Jerusalem to their control—a possibility once considered unthinkable. These concessions confronted Yassir Arafat with the one outcome he did not want: Peace with Israel. Peace without the destruction of the “Jewish Entity.”
Arafat rejected these Israeli concessions, accompanying his rejection with a new explosion of anti-Jewish violence. He named this violence—deviously— “The al-Aqsa Intifada,” after the mosque on the Temple Mount, giving his new jihad the name of a Muslim shrine to create the illusion that the Intifada was provoked not by his unilateral destruction of the Oslo peace process, but by then hardline opposition leader Ariel Sharon’s highly publicized visit to the site. Months after the Intifada began, the Palestine Authority itself admitted this was just another Arafat lie.
In fact, the Intifada had been planned months before Sharon’s visit as a followup to the rejection of the Oslo Accords. In the words of Imad Faluji, the Palestine Authority’s communications minister, “[The uprising] had been planned since Chairman Arafat’s return from Camp David, when he turned the tables on the former U.S. president [Clinton] and rejected the American conditions.” The same conclusion was reached by the Mitchell Commission headed by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell to investigate the events: “The Sharon visit did not cause the al-Aqsa Intifada.”
In an interview he gave after the new Intifada began, Faisal Husseini—a well-known “moderate” in the PLO leadership, compared the Oslo “peace process” to a “Trojan horse” designed to fool the Israelis into letting the Palestinians arm themselves inside the Jewish citadel in order to destroy it. “If you are asking me as a Pan-Arab nationalist what are the Palestinian borders according to the higher strategy, I will immediately reply: ‘From the river to the sea’”— in other words, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean, with not even the original slivers left for Israel. Note too, Husseini’s self identification as a “Pan-Arab nationalist.” Just as there is no Palestinian desire for peace with Israel, there are no “Palestinian” Arabs.4
In assessing the reasons for the Middle East impasse one must also pay attention to the moral distinction between the two combatants as revealed in their actions. When a deranged Jew goes into an Arab mosque and kills the worshippers (which happened once) he is acting alone and is universally condemned by the Israeli government and the Jews in Israel and everywhere. But when an Arab suicide bomber wades into a crowd of families with baby strollers leaving evening worship, or enters a disco filled with teenagers or a shopping mall crowded with women and children and blows them up (which has happened frequently), he is someone who has been trained and sent by a component of the PLO or the Palestine Authority; has been told by his religious leaders that his crime will get him into heaven where he will feast on 72 virgins; his praises will be officially sung throughout the Arab world; his mother will be given money by the Palestine Authority; and his Arab neighbors will come to pay honor to the household for having produced a “martyr for Allah.” The Palestinian liberation movement is the first such cause to elevate the killing of children—both the enemy’s and its own—into a religious calling. Even Hitler didn’t think of this.
It is not only the methods of the Palestine liberation movement that are morally repellent. The Palestinian cause is itself corrupt. The “Palestinian problem” is a problem created by the Arabs themselves, and can only be solved by them. The reason there are Palestinian “refugees” is because no Arab state— except Jordan—will allow them to become citizens and the organs of the PLO and the Palestine Authority, despite billions in revenues, have let them to stew in refugee camps for 50 years. (In contrast, Israel has been steadily absorbing and settling Jewish refugees over the same time period). In Jordan, Palestinians already have a state in which they are a majority but which denies them self determination. Why is Jordan not the object of the Palestinian “liberation” struggle? The only possible answer is because it is not ruled by the hated Jews.
The famous “green line” marking the boundary between Israel and its Arab neighbors is also the bottom line for what is the real problem in the Middle East. It is green because plants are growing in the desert on the Israeli side but not on the Arab side. The Jews got a sliver of land without oil, and created abundant wealth and life in all its rich and diverse forms. The Arabs got nine times the acreage but all they have done with it is to sit on its aridity and nurture the poverty, resentments and hatreds of its inhabitants. Out of these dark elements they have created and perfected the most vile antihuman terrorism the world has ever seen: Suicide bombing of civilians.
If a nation state is all the Palestinians desire, Jordan would be the solution. (So would settling for 95% of the land one is demanding—the Barak offer rejected by Arafat.) But the Palestinians want to destroy Israel. This is morally hateful. It is the Nazi virus revived. Despite this, the Palestinian cause is generally supported by the international community with the singular exception of the United States (and to a lesser degree Great Britain). It is precisely because the Palestinians want to destroy a state that Jews have created—and because they are killing Jews—that they enjoy international credibility and otherwise inexplicable support.
The Jewish Problem Once More
It is this international resistance to the cause of Jewish survival, the persistence of global Jew-hatred that, in the end, refutes the Zionist hope of a solution to the “Jewish problem.” The creation of Israel is an awe-inspiring human success story. But the permanent war to destroy it undermines the original Zionist idea.
More than fifty years after the creation of Israel, the Jews are still the most hated ethnic group in the world. Islamic radicals want to destroy Israel, but so do Islamic moderates. Hatred of Jews is taught in Islam’s mosques; in Egypt and in other Arab countries Mein Kampf is a bestseller; the anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, is promoted by the government press throughout the Arab Middle East, and Jewish conspiracy theories abound, as in the following statement from a sermon given by the Mufti of Jerusalem, the spiritual leader of the Palestinian Arabs in the al-Aqsa mosque on July 11, 1997: “Oh Allah, destroy America, for she is ruled by Zionist Jews …”
For the Jews in the Middle East, the present conflict is a life and death struggle, yet every government in the UN with the exception of the United States and sometimes Britain regularly votes against Israel in the face of a terrorist enemy who has no respect for the rights or lives of Jews. After the al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center, the French ambassador to England complained that the whole world was endangered because of “that shitty little country,” Israel. This caused a scandal in England, but nowhere else.
All that stands between the Jews of the Middle East and another Holocaust is their own military prowess and the generous, humanitarian support of the United States. Even in the United States, however, one can now turn the TV to channels like MSNBC and CNN to see the elected Prime Minister of a democracy equated politically and morally with terrorists and enemies of the United States such as the leaders of Hamas.
During the first Gulf War, Israel was America’s firm ally while Arafat and the Palestinians were Saddam Hussein’s staunchest Arab supporters. Yet the next two U.S. administrations—Republican and Democrat alike—strove for evenhanded “neutrality” in the conflict in the Middle East, and pressured Israel into a suicidal “peace process” with a foe dedicated to its destruction. Only after September 11 was the United States willing to recognize Arafat as an enemy of peace and not a viable negotiating partner. And now the pendulum has swung back with the ascension of Barack Obama to the Presidency.
In terms of the “Jewish problem” that Herzl and the Zionist founders set out to solve, it is safer today to be a Jew in America than a Jew in Israel. This is one reason why I, a Jew, am an unambivalent, passionate American patriot. America is good for the Jews as it is good for every other minority who embraces its social contract. But this history of the attempt to establish a Jewish state in the Middle East is also why I am a fierce supporter of Israel’s survival and have no sympathy for the Palestinian side in this conflict. Nor will I have such sympathy until the day comes when I can look into the Palestinians’ eyes and see something other than death desired for Jews like me.
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3 These and most of the other facts in this article are available in Mitchell G. Bard, “Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict” which is online at www.JewishVirtualLibrary.org.
4 David Remnick, In A Dark Time,The New Yorker, March 18, 2002, p. 51; The Case Against Arafat: The Campaign By Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to Destroy Israel, Introduction by Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, published by the Zionist Organization of America, NY 2002, p. 5
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