dirty rag

International - Deserting an Old Friend - Jonathan Ida

Early Israel

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.

Relations among 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.

Throughout this 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 the same.

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.