Thursday, April 10, 2014

Israel's Worst Enemy: Lies and Myths

> > By Bruce Thornton, FrontPage Magazine > April 8, 2014 > > The Washington Post reports that some members of Secretary of State > John Kerry's senior staff think it's time to say "enough" of Kerry's > futile and delusional attempts to broker peace between the Israelis > and Arabs and implement the "two-state solution." That's a revelation > one would think the chief diplomat of the greatest power in history > would have experienced decades ago. Since the failed 1993 Oslo > Accords, it has been obvious to all except the duplicitous, the > ignorant, and the Jew-hater that the Arabs do not want a "Palestinian > state living in peace side-by-side with Israel," something they could > have had many times in the past. On the contrary, as they serially > prove in word and deed, they want Israel destroyed. > > As Caroline Glick documents in her new book The Israeli Solution, the > "two-state solution" is a diplomatic chimera for the West, and a > tactic for revanchist Arabs who cannot achieve their eliminationist > aims by military means. But the "Palestinian state" is merely one of > many myths, half-truths, and outright lies that befuddle Western > diplomats and leaders, and put the security and possibly the existence > of Israel at risk. > > First there is the canard that Israel is somehow an illegitimate > state, a neo-imperialist outpost that Westerners created to protect > their economic and geopolitical interests. In this popular myth, > invading Jewish colonists "stole" the land and ethnically cleansed the > region of its true possessors, the indigenous "Palestinian people." > This crime was repeated after 1967 Six Day War, when Israel seized the > "West Bank," occupying it as a colonial power and subjecting its > inhabitants to a brutally discriminatory regime. The continuing power > of this lie can be seen in the frequent comparison of Israel to > apartheid South Africa. And this false historical analogy in turn > drives the "Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions" movement, which is > attempting to make Israel even more of a pariah state in order to > duplicate the success of those tactics in dismantling white rule in > South Africa. > > Every dimension of this narrative is false. The state of Israel came > into being by the same legitimate process that created the other new > states in the region, the consequence of the dismantling of the > Ottoman Empire after World War I. Consistent with the traditional > practice of victorious states, the Allied powers France and England > created Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Jordan, and of course Israel, to > consolidate and protect their national interests. This legitimate > right to rewrite the map may have been badly done and > shortsighted--regions containing many different sects and ethnic > groups were bad candidates for becoming a nation-state, as the history > of Iraq and Lebanon proves, while prime candidates for nationhood like > the Kurds were left out. But the right to do so was bestowed by the > Allied victory and the Central Powers' loss, the time-honored wages of > starting a war and losing it. Likewise in Europe, the Austro-Hungarian > Empire was dismantled, and the new states of Austria, Hungary, > Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia were created. And arch-aggressor > Germany was punished with a substantial loss of territory, leaving > some 10 million Germans stranded outside the fatherland. Israel's > title to its country is as legitimate as Jordan's, Syria's and > Lebanon's. > > Then there is the melodrama of the "displacement" of the > "Palestinians," who have been condemned to live as stateless > "refugees" because of Israel's aggression. This narrative of course > ignores the fact that most of the Arabs fleeing Palestine left > voluntarily, the first wave, mainly the Arab elite, beginning in > November 1947 with the U.N. vote for partition. At the time it was > clear to observers that most of the Arabs chose to flee their supposed > ancestral homeland. In September 1948 Time magazine, no friend of > Israel, wrote, "There is but little doubt that the most potent of the > factors [explaining the Arab flight] were the announcements made over > the air by the Arab Higher Committee urging the Arabs to quit." These > were followed in 1948 by 300,000 others, who either were avoiding the > conflict, or were induced by the Arab Higher Committee with the > promise that after victory they could return and find, as Arab League > Secretary-General Azza Pasham said in May 1948, "that all the millions > the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy > booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw Jews into the > Mediterranean." Indeed, the withdrawal of Israelis from Gaza in 2005 > confirmed the prediction that failed in 1948. The Gaza greenhouse > industry, which American Jewish donors purchased for $14 million and > gave to the Palestinian Authority in order to help Gaza's economy, was > instead destroyed by looters. > > But from a historical perspective, it is irrelevant how the Arabs > became refugees. When in 1922 the Greeks lost their war they fought > against the Turks in order to regain their sovereignty over lands > their ancestors had lived in for nearly 3000 years, 1.5 million Greeks > were transferred out of Turkey in exchange for half a million Turks > from Europe. After World War II, 12 million Germans either fled or > were driven from Eastern Europe, with at least half a million dying. > In both cases, whether justly or not, the wages of starting a war and > losing included the displacement of the losers. Yet only in the case > of the Palestinian Arabs has this perennial cost of aggression been > reversed, and those who prevailed in a war they didn't start been > demonized for the suffering of refugees created by the aggression of > their ethnic and religious fellows. > > In still another historical anomaly, in no other conflict have > refugees failed to be integrated into countries with which they share > an ethnic, religious, and cultural identity. Most of the some 800,000 > Jews, for example, driven from lands like Egypt and Iraq in which > their ancestors had lived for centuries, were welcomed into Israel, > which footed the bill for their maintenance and integration into > society. The Arab states, on the other hand, kept their brother Arabs > and Muslims in squalid camps that have evolved into squalid cities, > their keep paid for by the United Nations Relief Works Agency, the > only U.N. agency dedicated to only one group of refugees. Thus the > international community has enabled the revanchist policy of the Arab > states, as Alexander Galloway, head of the UNRWA, said in 1952: "It is > perfectly clear that the Arab nations do not want to solve the Arab > refugee problem. They want to keep it an open sore, as an affront > against the United Nations, and as a weapon against Israel. Arab > leaders don't give a damn whether the refugees live or die." > > This brings us to the chief myth: that there exists a distinct > Palestinian "people," the original possessors of the land who have > been unjustly denied a national homeland. In the quotes above notice > that no Arab ever refers to these people as "Palestinians," but as > "Arabs," which is what most of them are, sharing the same religion, > language, and culture of their Arab neighbors in Jordan, Lebanon, and > Syria. In fact, as Sha'i ben-Tekoa documents in his book Phantom > Nation, the first U.N. resolution referencing "Palestinians" instead > of "Arabs" occurred 3 years after the Six Day War, marking > international recognition of a "Palestinian people" and nation as yet > another Arab tactic in gaining support in the West by exploiting an > idea alien to traditional Islam. Before then "Palestinian" was a > geographical designation, more typically applied to Jews. Numerous > quotations from Arab leaders reveal not a single reference to a > Palestinian people, but numerous one identifying the inhabitants of > the geographical entity Palestine as "Arabs." > > For example, in 1937, Arab Higher Committee Secretary Auni Abdel Hadi > said, "There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a country > the Zionists invented. 'Palestine' is alien to us." The Christian Arab > George Antonius, author of the influential The Arab Awakening, told > David Ben-Gurion, "There was no natural barrier between Palestine and > Syria and there was no difference between their inhabitants." Later in > his book he defined Syria as including Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan. > In testimony to the U.N. in 1947, the Arab Higher Committee said, > "Politically the Arabs of Palestine are not independent in the sense > of forming a separate political identity." Thirty years later Farouk > Kaddoumi, then head of the PLO Political Department, told Newsweek, > "Jordanians and Palestinians are considered by the PLO as one people." > After the Six-Day War a member of the Executive Council of the PLO, > Zouhair Muhsin, was even more explicit: "There are no differences > between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all > part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully > underline our Palestinian identity... Yes, the existence of a separate > Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a > Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against > Israel." > > Such examples can be multiplied, which makes all the talk of a > separate Palestinian "people" deserving of their own nation nothing > but propaganda supported by a bogus history that claims the Arabs who > came to Palestine in the 7th century A.D as conquerors and occupiers, > or later as migrant workers and immigrants, are the "indigenous" > inhabitants descended from Biblical peoples like the Canaanites or the > shadowy Jebusites--a claim unsupported by any written or > archaeological evidence. Meanwhile, of course, abundant evidence > exists showing that the Jews have continuously inhabited the region > since 1300 B.C. Once more the logic of history is turned on its head, > with the descendants of the original inhabitants deemed alien > invaders, while the descendants of conquerors and occupiers are > sanctified as victims. > > Such an inversion is worthy of Orwell's 1984. Yet these lies and > myths--and there are many more-- have shaped and defined the conflict > between Israel and the Arabs, and set the parameters of diplomatic > solutions. But we should heed the Biblical injunction about the > liberating power of truth. And the truth is, for a century fanatics > filled with genocidal hatred have violently and viciously attacked a > liberal-democratic nation legitimately established in the ancient > homeland of its people. Until our diplomacy and foreign relations in > the region are predicated on this truth, the "two-state solution" will > continue to be a dangerous farce. > > > > Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, > a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of > Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the > author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its > influence on Western Civilization.

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