In 1947, when
Britain announced its partition plan for the Trans-Jordan area,
all of the surrounding Arab nations attacked and the War for Israeli
Independence was begun. During the year long conflict, Israel expanded
its borders to roughly those that are currently accepted, not including
the Golan Heights, Gaza Strip, or West Bank. Subsequent attacks
by Arab states led to the acquisition of these territories, and
further fueled the hatred of these nations toward Israel. As is
unfortunate in any military campaign, many civilians did suffer
in these conflicts, Israeli and Palestinian, and many Palestinians
were driven by violence to the refugee camps of Lebanon, and many
(currently one million, or so) remained to become residents and
citizens of the new Jewish state, and have seen their lives vastly
improved by the development of the state. Before the Jewish settlers,
the area was a barren strip of desert and swamps that was uninhabitable
at best. Now it has a thriving economy with a self-sufficient agricultural
sector as well as a successful diamond-cutting industry, a large
technology sector, and an immense tourist industry.
Israelis and Palestinians have long been strained. The intifada
coupled with dozens of terrorist attacks and the deaths of many
soldiers and civilians in these organized riots through the '80's
and '90's have escalated the strain to Israel's breaking point,
also known as the "Peace Process." This current 8-year process of
Israel succumbing to international pressures regarding concessions,
while receiving little in return, in no way even resembled a compromise.
In fact, the Palestinian Authority was extremely close to receiving
its own land with autonomous rule. This was achieved by peaceful
negotiation and cooperation, until the outbreak of violence by the
Palestinian populous, once again denying themselves the opportunity
to live in a peaceful land, possibly their own.
process and during the recent violence in Israel, the world has
witnessed an unprecedented and alarming onslaught of political antagonism
toward Israel, a nation whose foreign policy has been devoted to
national security and the promotion of democracy in the Middle East.
Early in October, for example, the UN passed a condemnation of Israel
for excessive use of force against the Palestinian rioters. Worst
of all, the United States failed to support the only ally it has
had in the Middle East for the last 50 years by abstaining in that
same vote. Why has such a barrage of criticism fallen upon Israel
for the way it handles violent riots?
The fact is that
many in our society look at the situation from a Western/North American
perspective. There is no understanding of the sociology of Arab
culture as well as the facts behind what is happening. People do
not realize that Israel and the U.S. are the only countries that
Arab nations hate more than each other and that their only opportunity
to unify is against Israel. Nobody cares to acknowledge the burning
of photographs of Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright. Nor does
anyone care to understand what Benjamin Netanyahu (ousted from office
for resisting accelerations in the peace process) meant when he
said, "This is a tough neighborhood, and you have to play by the
rules." Indeed, a Jewish nation the size of New Jersey stuck in
the middle of Lebanon, Syria, Lybia, Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Iraq,
and Saudi Arabia does not have very good odds of survival.
CNN's early coverage
of the conflict was centered around one film reel of a Palestinian
father and son caught in the crossfire of armed Palestinians and
IDF soldiers, and the two were eventually killed. What the tape
does not transmit (nor did CNN for that matter) was that there is
a very good chance that the two were killed by Palestinian bullets,
not the rubber bullets that the IDF was most likely using. And did
anyone bother to ask why a man would take his son into the center
of an area of conflict? I have a sneaking suspicion he wanted to
teach his son how to hurl stones at 20-year-old Israeli soldiers.
On the other hand, we know exactly who was responsible for the lynching
of two Israelis by Palestinian police. We also know that there was
only one video (the one we all saw) that made it out of the PA,
because the mob responsible made a point of destroying nearly all
of the cameras around.smart propagandizing.
Let us also not
forget The New York Times report of an Israeli standing over a bloody
body pointing his rifle at a crowd of Palestinians (with accompanying
photograph) declaring the murder of a Palestinian by an armed Israeli.
When word got out that the photo was of an Israeli soldier that
had just fought off a crowd of Palestinians who had pulled an American
from a taxi and stabbed him, The New York Times made several apologies
and rescinded its claim. Yet another example of careless, reckless
journalism, with no regard for facts or the impact that they make.
Many people have
trouble understanding the death tolls involved in this conflict.
It is not difficult to look around the Internet and find photographs
of Palestinian 10-year-olds learning to fire M-16s (see below).
This brings into perspective just one of the reasons that Palestinians
are dying in this conflict. What exactly should an IDF soldier do
when he sees a Palestinian with an automatic weapon firing on Israeli
school children? The IDF has a responsibility to keep the citizens
of Israel safe, and an armed rioter firing off shots is a threat
to that safety.
It is also important
to remember the history of Palestinian actions. The PA grew out
of the PLO, an organization absolutely dedicated to the destruction
of the state of Israel. Now the PA has removed that clause from
its ideology and changed its name; both are symbolic moves. However,
symbolic changes mean nothing in the face of overwhelming support
for the old ideology, particularly when the "leader" of the movement
has no support. Arafat has consistently demonstrated that he has
no support among his own people, who have often turned on him, and
has also consistently demonstrated his two-faced approach to the
peace process. How can a leader justifiably condemn the lynchings
in the West Bank while releasing over 100 known Hamas and Hezbullah
terrorists from prisons in the PA? Asking the prisoners to return
to prison during the following few days was supposed to be some
sort of reconciliation? Do not be fooled, the ultimate goal remains
Finally, it is
important not to forget a few things. Recently, an Arab American
named Joseph Farrah has written several articles decrying Palestinian
claims to any territory in Israel. The land that comprises Israel
was handed over by Britain but was originally taken from Jordan.
Essentially, he claims, the Palestinian people were squatters on
Jordanian land. In addition, the Qu'ran never once mentions the
city of Jerusalem.it is not a holy city in Islam except in that
Islam accepts the Old and New Testaments as true precursors to its
own holy book. Jerusalem is a prospective trophy for the Palestinian
people, and the designation of Jerusalem as a holy city in Islam
is simply a political ploy for leverage against Israel, which would
obviously be supported by any other Muslim nations.
Recently the U.N.
resolved to begin an investigation of Israel regarding War Crimes
against the Palestinian people, which was urged and supported by
the convention of Arab nations that met in Egypt. The very people
whose history is intimately linked with the creation of a War Crimes
Tribunal will now be under the direct scrutiny of that committee
regarding the deaths of 119 armed, rioting Palestinians who threatened
the security of the people of Israel. What about the several hundreds
of Israeli (and American) men, women, and children - innocent civilians
- who died from Palestinian terrorist attacks in shopping malls
and public buses over the last twenty years? Will these perpetrators
be brought up on charges for crimes against humanity? Has the West
forgotten who its allies are? I heard a statement recently that
said, "The Palestinians want all or nothing, that's why they always
end up with nothing." The last month has been very traumatizing
for Israel. People were excited about the prospect of finally settling
the dispute, and moving ahead into the future, two young nations
living side by side. Then came the violence, a horrific reminder
of the people with whom they are dealing and why there has not been
peace. The Palestinians were very close to getting what they wanted,
but once again they have resorted to violence. They blew it, and
Israel is not likely to forget again for a very long time.