Monday, October 19, 2009

Mythbusting #1: Continued

Part 2: The way Palestinians have behaved in the past

Continuing with the theme of analyzing whether Palestinian anger is due to Israel’s actions toward them, we move to the past. Sooner or later these discussions always come back to the creation of Israel and the events preceding it, so it’s better just to jump there right from the start.

Many on the HuffPo claim that Palestinian anger is due to two major things: The occupation (and all the violence that entails) and the “theft of Palestinian land” (aka building settlements). The logical thing to do, therefore, would be to take away those factors and see if the Palestinian anger remains. And lo and behold: It does.

Let’s travel all the way back to 1929. I’m not going to go into much details about the Hebron Massacre (you can read about it for yourself), but suffice to say, the very idea that Jews might have their own state in Palestine was enough to provoke their Arab neighbors to violence.

This was repeated again in 1937 with the Peel Commission Plan. Britain was looking for a way to divide the land to satisfy the nationalist aspirations of both the Jews and the Arabs. If you look at the map, you would see that Israel would have been about one fifth the size it is today, and an international force would have Jerusalem. The Jews debated but eventually accepted it. The Arabs would not, and again responded with violence. As you can see, their problem is not about Israel’s borders (they would not accept it when it was this small), but about Israel’s existence. This is not something that Israel can change, unless they commit collective suicide. Only the Palestinians and their Arab allies can change their mentality toward the Jewish state, unless they want to continue a conflict that has brought them nothing but sorrow.

To this you might say: “Okay, I’m willing to accept that the Palestinians hated Israel before the occupation and the settlements, but Israel was created on their land! They were going to be forced out by foreign invaders, of course they are going to fight!”

We’ll get to some of those misconceptions a little bit later, but let me remind you of a couple important points.

1) To the Arabs who were living on the wrong side of the border, they would be allowed to remain in their homes as Israeli citizens. No one would have been disenfranchised by either Peel or the later UN Partition Plan in 1948. How do I know this? The Jews were forbidden from forcing Arabs out of their new state by the Balfour Declaration. It stated that the British government

"view[ed] with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

History backs this up. Those Arabs who did not leave or were expelled in 1948 became citizens of Israel.

2) The Palestinian Arabs did not own the region as a whole, although individual people owned individual plots. They had no legal claim to say that all of Palestine belonged to them. They would have been granted land under the Plans, the same way the Jews were. But because they did not accept the plans, they received nothing. And in fact they have nothing today.

So to conclude: The Palestinians and their Arab allies have shown a desire to destroy Israel utterly, not simply to get Israel to stop fighting them. They have demonstrated this desire before all of the very convenient excuses have cropped up, and indeed before Israel even existed. What else can we conclude except that Israel’s occupation and other defensive measures are a result of that hatred and aggression, and not their cause? As harsh as it may sound, there is hatred among the Palestinians that will not cease with anything less than total Israeli capitulation. It is the responsibility of the Palestinians and no one else to diffuse this hatred. Making excuses for them, as the posters on HuffPo love to do, solves nothing.

1 comment:

  1. Zach,

    Great points. It's very clear that the whole Palestinian sentiment towards their land ownership is not because they want to have thier own land to prosper. It's not because they are attached to the land (they were nomads). Rather, they simply don't want non-Arabs from having land (I say "non-Arab" because they were also very violent against the British).

    Just to further illustrat this point... after the 1948 war, Jordan and Egypt actually took land from Palestine (Jordan took the West Bank, including Eastern Jerusalem, and Egypt took Gaza). When Egypt and Jordan stole land, the Palestinians never protested, but when Jews legally earned land, the Palestinians encite violence.

    To those who say that the violence towards Israel is tangential to geopolitics, I think it's very clear from Zach's points and my own that it's more of a reflection of greed and anti-infidel.