Earlier this month at the United Nation’s (UN) annual General Assembly gathering, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in addressing the Assembly. Abbas accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” and charged that Israel was targeting Palestinians for assassination, racist annexation wall, and carrying out excavation that he alleged threatened Islamic holy places. Naturally, Abbas failed to mention that his incitement against Israel and his false charges about the threat to the Al-Aksa mosque has resulted in Palestinian knifing and car ramming of Jewish-Israeli civilians and soldiers. Israelis, in a pure case of self-defense, have shot their Palestinian assailants.
The so called “racist annexation wall” Abbas grumbled about, is nothing less than a life saver for Israeli civilians against terrorist infiltration. Prior to the construction of the barrier in Gaza and the West Bank, terrorist infiltration caused a spike in terrorist attacks. Since the protective barrier was constructed, terrorist infiltration into Israel has declined precipitously. True, there has been a recent spike in Palestinian terrorist attacks by individuals against Israelis, with knifes or in the form of car ramming, but few large scale attacks have occurred due to the protective barrier.
Abbas’ most ironic of charge however, was his reference to Israel’s “ethnic cleansing.” Anne Bayefsky reported on September 14, 2016 for Fox News that Abbas’ “ethnic cleansing mantra is frequently accompanied by Palestinian charges of ‘apartheid,’ ‘racism,’ and Judaization.” It is the same Mahmoud Abbas who has promoted a Palestinian state that is “Jew Free.” On a visit to Cairo in July, 2013 Abbas said that “no Jew, civilian or otherwise, would be permitted to live in the future Palestinian state he envisions.” Abbas stated, according to Reuters that, “In the final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli - civilian or soldier - on our lands.”
In a case of clear double standards bordering on anti-Semitism, the State Department chastised Netanyahu for a video he posted on September 9, 2016 in which he pointed out that the Palestinian effort to purge all Jews from the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) amounts to ethnic cleansing, and that ethnic cleansing for peace is absurd.” As far as the State Department is concerned, Netanyahu’s claim is “inappropriate and unhelpful,” but Abbas’ “no Jews” in the future Palestine is fine. In so far as Netanyahu’s critics are concerned, removing “Jewish settlers” is “natural and appropriate” because their presence in a Palestinian state would cause tension and problems, and they should not have been there (in Judea and Samaria) in the first place.
We can thus conclude that as far as the U.S. Administration and other Netanyahu critics are concerned, a “judenrein” Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Palestine are an acceptable matter. The fact that Jews are not permitted to reside on Saudi soil, or considering Mahmoud Abbas’ pre-condition that the future Palestinian State must be “judenrein”- does not constitute “ethnic cleansing” in the critics minds. However, if we use the rational for approving the removal of Jewish settlers as “natural and appropriate,” the presence of close to two million Arabs living as citizens in Israel, is by the same definition, a “cause of tension and problems,” that would also constitute a reason for their removal. To expect a double standard from the UN, and its obsession with scapegoating the Jewish state is one thing, but for the U.S. government to do that, as it relates to the Jews of Judea and Samaria, is another story.
The assertion that the Jewish settlers “should not be there in the first place,” is a gross distortion of history and reality. Law professor Eugene Kontorovich wrote (September 15, 2016), “Jews lived throughout what would later be called the West Bank until its conquest by Jordan in 1949. The Jordanians expelled every single Jew from the area they controlled. Unlike the flight of Arabs from Israel, the purge was clearly coercive by the fact that not one Jew was left in the Jordanian occupied territory. This expulsion was clearly ethnic cleansing, and indeed it left the area clean (of Jews-JP).” Moreover, the 1920 Palestine Mandate was set up to secure a Jewish homeland in Palestine that included the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, including the West Bank.
As a matter of fact, the Arab world has ethnically cleansed its Jewish population since 1948. Iraq’s Jewish population goes back to biblical times. The 1941 pogrom or “farhud” as it is referred to in Arabic, was the beginning of the end for this ancient Jewish community. In Egypt, Lebanon, and Libya, the ancient Jewish communities were ethnically cleansed. No Jews were allowed to live in Saudi Arabia, since the Prophet Mohammad cleansed Arabia of Jews in the early seventh century CE. Mahmoud Abbas is conforming to an established anti-Jewish pattern in the Arab-Muslim world.
Abbas is fond of using such terms as “apartheid” and “racism” when referring to Israel, terms that the malevolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has borrowed to slam Israel on European and American campuses. In a Ynet-News opinion piece (August 4, 2010), Jonathan Dahoah Halevi, a senior researcher and Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs wrote: “The term ‘Israeli’ used by Abbas means ‘Jew,’ as the Palestinian Authority (PA) sees Israeli Arabs, Muslims and Christians alike as an integral part of the Palestinian people. The future State of Palestine, according to Abbas, must resist any Jewish presence in its territory. In other words, the PA embraces a racist policy – Palestinian apartheid – directed at Jews, based on the denial of Jewish history and the cultural and religious linkage of the Jewish people to the land.” In Abbas’s case, it is ‘the pot calling the kettle black.’
Professor Kontorovich suggested that “There is simply no support in international practice for the expulsion of settlers from occupied territories. In many situations involving settlers around the world, the international community has never supported expulsion, and has consistently backed plans allowing the settlers to remain in a new state. Settlement activity is the rule rather than the exception in situations of belligerent occupation around the world. In places like Western Sahara and northern Cyprus, the settlers now make up a majority of the population. In most other places, they account for a much higher percentage of the territory’s population than Jews would in a potential Palestinian state.”
If the idea of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to have any validity, Mahmoud Abbas must recognize the historical connection Jews have to the land of Israel. It implies, recognizing the Jewish historical and religious attachment to the biblical sites in Judea and Samaria, the heart of the two Jewish Commonwealths that existed there. He should likewise recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. Most importantly, if Abbas truly seeks a peaceful solution for both Israelis and Palestinians, he must reject the notion of a ‘Judenrein’ Palestine that he currently upholds. He must be willing to integrate Jews who chose to live in a future Palestinian state, and guarantee their security and equality under the law, just as Israel has provided full integration and equal rights for its large Arab minority.