Israelis play checkers in a bomb shelter in the southern city of Ashkelon December 31, 2008. Hamas rockets hit the major Israeli city of Beersheba on Wednesday and Israel described as unrealistic a French proposal for a 48-hour truce that would allow more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. from Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.
Do you support Israel's right to exist? Assuming that your answer is probably "yes," how do you feel about Israel's "occupation" of the Gaza Strip? Perhaps your answer is "everything would be much easier if Israel were not an "occupier," but still...you support Israel's right to exist.
Are you a bit queasy about Israel's "disproportionate response" to Palestinian aggressions; aggressions which include years of firing thousands of rockets and mortars into Israeli border towns? You probably acknowledge that Hamas should not be digging tunnels under the border into Israel...kidnapping Israeli soldiers, secreting arms through those tunnels from Egypt and Iran... to use on Israel, but still...Israel has a fearsome military, and after all, Gaza is a terribly poor area, filled to bursting with refugees existing for years in loathsome refugee camps - and don't forget that Gaza is historically Palestinian - you might say. You support Israel's right to exist, but still...it would be so much easier if the poor and oppressed of Palestine were not the victims of Israeli military.
Do you tend to ignore the fact that during any one of the many cease fires between Palestine and Israel, Palestine continues to fire into Israel? Have you fallen into the trap of thinking it must be okay because much of the world has no outrage about continued Palestinian shelling during cease fire periods?
Are you conflicted about Israel abiding on Palestinian soil?
Everything in the Middle East tends to be complicated, but some things can be understood by the Western mind. Here are a few facts that should ease your mind about "Israel the occupier:"
The original Mandate for Palestine, agreed to unanimously by the League of Nations in 1920, designated 124,466 sq. km. for the Jewish National Homeland, to be known as Israel. Here's the map of that area:
Two years later, that 120,466 sq. km. had been reduced to 28,166 sq. km., as requested by the British trustees and approved by the League of Nation. The remaining 77% of the land originally proposed for the Jewish homeland was to become the Arab state of Jordan.
The creation of an Arab state in eastern Palestine (today Jordan) on 77 percent of the landmass of the original Mandate intended for a Jewish National Home in no way changed the status of Jews west of the Jordan River, nor did it inhibit their right to settle anywhere in western Palestine, the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
These documents are the last legally binding documents regarding the status of what is commonly called “the West Bank and Gaza.”The Jewish homeland was to consist of all the land west of the Jordan River, stretching to the Mediterranean Sea - and including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The the Arabs would not have it. The League of Nations dissolved into the United Nations and the problem was handed over to the U.N., including the trusteeship of the British mandate to make a Jewish state a reality. The Mandate stood.
U.N. Resolution 181, known also as the U.N. 1947 Partition Resolution, was passed by the U.N. General Assembly, and implemented but never accepted by the Arabs. The Iraq spokesman took to the podium and put on record "Iraq does not recognize the validity of this decision." From Syria: "My country will never recognize such a decision [Partition]. It will never agree to be responsible for it." From Yemen: "...the Government of Yemen does not consider itself bound by such a decision,..."
The U.N. partition began. More land was taken from the Jewish homeland.
The Partition Plan was met not only by verbal rejection on the Arab side but also by concrete, bellicose steps to block its implementation and destroy the Jewish polity by force of arms, a goal the Arabs publicly declared even before Resolution 181 was brought to a vote.
Arabs not only rejected the compromise and took action to prevent establishment of a Jewish state but also blocked establishment of an Arab state under the partition plan not just before the Israel War of Independence, but also after the war when they themselves controlled the West Bank (1948-1967), rendering the recommendation ‘a still birth.’The UN itself recognized that 181 had not been accepted by the Arab side, rendering it a dead issue: ...
The partition plan took on a checkerboard appearance. This was largely because Jewish towns and villages were spread throughout Palestine. This did not complicate the plan as much as the fact that the high living standards in Jewish cities and towns had attracted large Arab populations. This demographic factor insured that any partition would result in a Jewish state that included a substantial Arab population. Recognizing the need to allow for additional Jewish settlement, the majority proposal allotted the Jews land in the northern part of the country, Galilee, and the large, arid Negev desert in the south. The remainder was to form the Arab state.The map now looked like this:
These boundaries were based solely on demographics. The borders of the Jewish State were arranged with no consideration of security; hence, the new state's frontiers were virtually indefensible. Overall, the Jewish State was to be comprised of roughly 5,500 square miles and the population was to be 538,000 Jews and 397,000 Arabs. The Arab State was to be 4,500 square miles with a population of 804,000 Arabs and 10,000 Jews. Though the Jews were allotted more total land, the majority of that land was in the desert.Israel's land which was originally mandated at 126,000+ sq. km., was now to be a mere 14,245 sq. kms. In addition to limiting Jewish lands, the immigration of Jews was also limited so that a majority of Jews in the land would never be accomplished. Arab immigration had no immigration restrictions.
Israel accepted the partition, but in reality, it did not change or diminish the legality of the lands mandated for Israel - which still included the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - BECAUSE, the Arabs would agree to nothing which facilitated Jews in Palestine.
Creating the Arab state of Jordan in no way affected or "changed the status of Jews west of the Jordan River, nor did it inhibit their right to settle anywhere in western Palestine, the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea." Nothing from the time of the Mandate until today, changes the fact that under international law, the West Bank and Gaza is open to Jewish settlement.
Under international law, neither Jordan nor the Palestinian Arab ‘people’ of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have a substantial claim to the sovereign possession of the occupied territories.The UN Charter's Article 80 implicitly recognizes the “Mandate for Palestine” of the League of Nations. The International Court of Justice has reaffirmed the validity of Article of 80.
In other words, neither the ICJ nor the UN General Assembly can arbitrarily change the status of Jewish settlement as set forth in the “Mandate for Palestine,” an international accord that has never been amended.
All of western Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, including the West Bank and Gaza, remains open to Jewish settlement under international law.
The new Jewish state was to have the right to self-determination of political, civil and religious rights. "Not once are Arabs as a people mentioned in the Mandate for Palestine. At no point in the entire document is there any granting of political rights to non-Jewish entities (i.e., Arabs)."
The Arabs accepted nothing. They wanted no Jews in Palestine, under any circumstance - there would be, to this day, no acceptable plan to which Arabs would agree to living next door to Jews.
On May 14th, 1948, a temporary legislature of the soon-to-be Israel, accepted the U.N. partition and declared statehood.
Eleven minutes after, the United States recognized the State of Israel. On May 15th, 1948 Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria invaded the sovereign nation of Israel, crossing international frontiers, and the Arab-Israeli War (Israeli War of Independence) began.
By July 24, 1949, Syria had signed an armistice agreement and Israel had increased it's land area by almost 50% over the U.N. partition plan. The resulting armistice determined Israel's borders for nineteen years. Egypt gained Gaza in the armistice. This document offers good discussion and links to maps that your browser may find satisfactory (mine did not).
By Fall 1949, Jordan had control of Gaza and East Jerusalem.
The odd and secretive 1956 War began. The short but incomplete story is that Israel took Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, and then under threat by the U.S., gave it back.
Then came the 1967 Six Day War. In the Spring, Syria conducted terrorist raids against Israel, water was diverted by Syria, from Israel and irrigation projects for south and central Israel, although approved by Arab engineers as non-detrimental to Arab lands, were not approved by the Arab governments. In May, Egypt blocked the Strait of Tiran to Israeli ships. "Lebanon, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia all activated their militaries. Iraqi troops reportedly approached the Syrian and Jordanian borders while Jordan moved tanks towards the West Bank."
Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia formed a "defense pact." Egyptian President Nasser said "Our basic objective will be the destruction if Israel. The Arab people want to fight...." This link is an excellent map of the areas of attack on Israel from the "pact." Click to enlarge the map. The tiny nation of Israel was surrounded by "some 500,000 troops, more than 5,000 tanks, and almost 1,000 fighter planes." France, Israel's major arms supplier, issued a "complete ban on weapons sales and transfers to Israel."
Under the leadership of Moyshe Dayan, Israel decided to go to war on June 5, 1967.
After a three days of fierce fighting, especially in and around Jerusalem, Israeli forces defeated the Jordanians and gained control of all of Jerusalem as well as the West Bank, the historical heartland of the Jewish people known to Israelis as Judea and Samaria. Following an air attack by the Syrians on the first day of the war, Israel dealt a shattering blow to the Syrian air force. ...on fifth day of the war, the Israelis mustered enough forces to remove the Syrian threat from the Golan Heights. This difficult operation was completed the following day, bringing the active phase of the war to a close.Israel now looked like this:
The areas shown in bright green (Sinai, Golan Heights, Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem) were occupied by Israel during the 6-day war. Israel has since returned all of Sinai to Egypt in return for peace. Most of Gaza is currently under the jurisdiction of the autonomous Palestinian Authority (2002). Parts of the West Bank (see Map of Israel and Palestinian territories following Oslo II) had been ceded to the Palestinian authority, but these areas are currently re-occupied by Israel. Following the 6 day war, Israel began building settlements in these areas. Click for a map of the settlements.The aftermath of the war was complicated, but one fact was all too simple: Arabs rejected all diplomatic attempts.
Some of [the] displaced people were able to return to Israeli-controlled West Bank and, along with their neighbors, witnessed unprecedented economic growth over the course of the next two decades. Israeli investment into the infrastructure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, coupled with policies that allowed Arabs to move freely increased the standard of living of Palestinians, who were now able to work both in Israel and in the oil rich countries in the Middle East.After years of relative prosperity followed but Palestinians and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) insisted that they would replace Israel, not co-exist with her.
With continued PLO agitation of the people, violence became common. Israel made peace with Egypt and returned the Sinai. The 1993 failed Oslo Peace Accord had Israel giving up the Gaza Strip and the West Bank - which was accomplished with Israel's withdrawal, including the ejection of Jewish residents in the area in 2005. Once out of Gaza, nothing changed. The terrorists of Gaza Strip became slumlords and violence against Israel has continued.
Palestinian militants—with the support of their Hamas-led government—have used the evacuated territory to launch rockets into Israel’s pre-1967 borders, shelling residents of Sderot and other neighboring communities and causing death, injuries and damage within Israel. Since Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the territory has also become the site of deadly internecine violence among Palestinian factions, kidnapping of journalists, vandalism, looting and general mayhem. Far from bringing peace to the Gaza Strip, the withdrawal has resulted in less secure borders for Israel.In the 1973 War (Yom Kippur War), again the Arab world came against Israel, as Egypt sought to regain territories lost to Israel in 1967. After two days of trying to recover from the surprise attack, Israel's IDF blocked Syrian, Egyptian and Iraqi assaults and once again took the Golan Heights. By the time a U.N. ceasefire was implemented, "Israel had completely surrounded the Egyptian Third Army."
How could they succeed when Palestinian leadership remained and remains committed to the destruction of Israel? For those deluded into thinking that Palestinians will accept "peace" with Israel, and co-exist next door to her - if only Israel will remove all settlements from wherever they may be...that just doesn't wash. The issue is not the Jews in the settlements. The issue is the Jews in Palestine.
No discussion of the Israeli-Arab conflict is complete without taking a look at the Palestinian people. Who are they? Who did they evolve from?
The area known as Palestine was and is a geographic area, not an ethnic people. In other words, Arabs living in the area are not ethnically Palestinian. To say it another way: Palestinians are not a native people. "The word Palestine is not even Arabic."
Palestine is a name coined by the Romans around 135 CE from the name of a seagoing Aegean people who settled on the coast of Canaan in antiquity – the Philistines. The name was chosen to replace Judea, as a sign that Jewish sovereignty had been eradicated following the Jewish Revolts against Rome.Tagging the Arabs in Palestine as Palestinian was a mission fabricated by Arabs to attempt to assert the Arab right to the Jewish holy lands at the time when Jewish statehood was becoming a reality - but history shows that Arabs were never identified as Palestinians:
In the course of time, the Latin name Philistia was further bastardized into Palistina or Palestine. During the next 2,000 years Palestine was never an independent state belonging to any people, nor did a Palestinian people distinct from other Arabs appear during 1,300 years of Muslim hegemony in Palestine under Arab and Ottoman rule. During that rule, local Arabs were actually considered part of, and subject to, the authority of Greater Syria ( Suriyya al-Kubra).
Archeologists explain that the Philistines were a Mediterranean people who settled along the coast of Canaan in 1100 BCE. They have no connection to the Arab nation, a desert people who emerged from the Arabian Peninsula.
This is substantiated in countless official British Mandate-vintage documents that speak of the Jews and the Arabs of Palestine – not Jews and Palestinians.Other examples:
The Jerusalem Post, founded in 1932, was called The Palestine Post until 1948.Fifty-one countries acknowledged that Israel had an historic connection to the land eventually known as Palestine:
The United Jewish Appeal (UJA) was established in 1939 as a merger of the United Palestine Appeal and the fund-raising arm of the Joint Distribution Committee.
Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.Furthermore:
The rhetoric by Arab leaders on behalf of the Palestinians rings hollow. Arabs in neighboring states, who control 99.9 percent of the Middle East land, have never recognized a Palestinian entity. They have always considered Palestine and its inhabitants part of the great “Arab nation,” historically and politically as an integral part of Greater Syria...The population of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq did not "evolve," but were created by "colonial powers." No "Palestinian DNA exists!
The Arabs never established a Palestinian state when the UN in 1947 recommended to partition Palestine, and to establish “an Arab and a Jewish state” (not a Palestinian state, it should be noted). Nor did the Arabs recognize or establish a Palestinian state during the two decades prior to the Six-Day War when the West Bank was under Jordanian control and the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian control; nor did the Palestinian Arabs clamor for autonomy or independence during those years under Jordanian and Egyptian rule.
Unlike nation-states in Europe, modern Lebanese, Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi nationalities did not evolve. They were arbitrarily created by colonial powers.
In 1919, in the wake of World War I, England and France as Mandatory (e.g., official administrators and mentors) carved up the former Ottoman Empire, which had collapsed a year earlier, into geographic spheres of influence. This divided the Mideast into new political entities with new names and frontiers.The conclusion: don't waste your energy and your angst blaming Israel for stealing the homeland of the Palestinians. Don't obsess over the dead and dying in Palestine. The time has come to recognize that Palestinian leaders have gravely failed their own. The millions of dollars of aid to feed and clothe the poor and oppressed seldom get to the people. Philanthropy buys weapons and means to attack Israel.
The prevailing rationale behind these artificially created states was how they served the imperial and commercial needs of their colonial masters. Iraq and Jordan, for instance, were created as emirates to reward the noble Hashemite family from Saudi Arabia for its loyalty to the British against the Ottoman Turks during World War I, under the leadership of Lawrence of Arabia. Iraq was given to Faisal bin Hussein, son of the sheriff of Mecca, in 1918. To reward his younger brother Abdullah with an emirate, Britain cut away 77 percent of its mandate over Palestine earmarked for the Jews and gave it to Abdullah in 1922, creating the new country of Trans-Jordan or Jordan, as it was later named.
Westerners supporting Palestine believe that if Israel will only turn over their settlements to Palestine, Israel and Palestine will live side-by-side in peace. This is inane and vacuous thinking. It is the willing suspension of disbelief. It is pure anti-semitism. Serious thought cannot arrive at such a conclusion.
The Fatah Constitution Articles 12 and 19: Complete liberation of Palestine and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence."Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic, and the Palestinian Arab People's armed revolution is a decisive factor in the liberation fight and in uprooting the Zionist existence, and this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated."
The PLO Charter Article 15 calls the liberation of Palestine a national (qawmi) duty to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the "liquidation of the Zionist presence" in Palestine.
The Hamas Charter: "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees....Hamas Charter Article 15 (a portion): "The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In face of the Jews' usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised. To do this requires the diffusion of Islamic consciousness among the masses, both on the regional, Arab and Islamic levels. It is necessary to instill the spirit of Jihad in the heart of the nation so that they would confront the enemies and join the ranks of the fighters."
How does a non-Muslim supporter of Palestine ignore a terrorist-led government, terrorist aggression against Israel, and government Constitutions and Charters with a clear goal of wiping Israel off the face of the earth?
Tell me, how does a Westerner give half-hearted support to Israel?