Thursday, October 29, 2009

What Happens When Countries Start Wars (and Lose)?

People on the Huffington Post frequently demand that Israel be "punished" for "crimes" against the Palestinians. The fact that the Palestinians do not currently have a state, the fact that the eventual Palestinian state will be smaller than the one given to them by the UN in 1948, and the fact that Israel has expanded beyond it's given 1948 borders are all seen as crimes on Israel's part and evidence of Israel's "aggression" and "land-stealing".

There is no doubt among people who are educated about this conflict that the Arabs started the 1948 war, both from inside the borders of the Mandate and invading states from the outside. But when Israel fights back and takes territory, those actions are condemned and ruled unfair by Israel's detractors. The occupation is, of course, an incredible crime worse than anything the Palestinians have done. Fast forward to today, where Netanyahu's hope of a demilitarized Palestinian state is considered ridiculous by the HuffPosters and many others. But let's compare all of those complaints in the context of another war, World War II.

Germany and Japan started World War II, Germany by invading Poland and Japan by bombing Pearl Harbor. No one contests this, just as no one contests the Arabs started the fighting in 1948. When the Allies eventually defeated the Axis, there were some consequences on the states that had caused the war. Germany had to give up some of its own territory, some of which was given to other states like Poland, and was itself partitioned. Both countries had to demilitarized for a period of decades after the war, as well as be occupied by Allied troops for an indefinite period. American soldiers are still stationed in Germany and Japan today, 60+ years after the conflict!

Does this sound familiar? The Palestinian Arabs started an aggressive war, just like Germany and Japan, and lost, also like Germany and Japan. Shouldn't it stand to reason, therefore, that they should suffer identical consequences? The loss of territory, demilitarization, and occupation should be the direct results of the war they started, not a crime committed by the mean Israelis against the innocent Arabs. The Palestinians could create a vibrant independent state in spite of the Israeli occupation, not use the occupation as a crutch to prevent themselves from taking responsibility. The sooner people look at Israeli actions as the logical and understandable response to Arab aggression, the sooner we can all move away from the conflicts of the past and towards the peace of the future.

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