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From the Right Side ...

To be or not to be?

The question of a Palestinian state

I cannot imagine what I would do if someone were to forcibly evict my family from our home and move in, but I&

m certain a fight would ensue. In that regard, I can relate to the crisis in which the Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip currently find themselves.

Israel is reporting that all of the settlements have been evacuated, despite some stragglers who were intent on battling it out with armed forces. I&

m not sure what they hoped to accomplish, but it is apparent the stakes are very high.

For most Americans sitting in the comfort of our nicely furnished homes, built well within the safety of the shadow of the world&

s most powerful military, the chaos that has continued between the Israelis and Palestinians seems surreal, as though it is merely a long boring movie with lots of senseless acts of violence and a plot that no one can understand. But when we boil it down to a single solitary idea, every one of us can relate.

The Israeli settlers are fighting for their homes and their land. It is the exact same position in which the Palestinians found themselves in 1948.

According to the May/June 1998 Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, the Jews were the ones considered &

terrorists&

prior to the establishment of the state of Israel. The report claims that &

since the end of World War II, Britain had lost 338 citizens at the hands of Jewish terrorists.&

While the British were in charge of the land of Palestine, which they acquired after the Arabs helped them defeat the Turks in World War I, Jewish immigration increased, but Palestinians were still the predominant population in the area &

until they were driven from their homes in 1948.

According to the Washington Report:

&

Arabs living in West Jerusalem accounted for more than half of the Arabs in the city, between 50,000 to 60,000 of the 101,000 total in 1948. They were undefended and either fled or were killed, leaving behind only those residing inside the Old City and three nearby districts. Jewish troops tried to capture the Old City &

they attacked Jaffa Gate, Damascus Gate, New Gate, Nebi Daoud Gate &

but failed to penetrate them.

&

When the fighting for Jerusalem finally stopped in the autumn, Israeli forces occupied 12 of the 15 Arab districts in new, western Jerusalem: Deir Abu Tor, Greek Colony, German Colony, Katamon, Lower Bakaa, Mamillah, Musrarah, Nebi Daoud, Sheikh Bader, Sheikh Jarrah, Talbieh and Upper Bakaa.

&

No Palestinians were left. The conquest of these Arab districts provided Jewish immigrants with some 10,000 homes, most of them fully furnished.

&

Indicative of how the demographics of Jerusalem changed was the ratio between Jews and Arabs over the next two decades. The Jewish population increased from 99,690 in 1947 to 194,000 in 1967, while the Arabs went from 50,000 to zero in Jewish West Jerusalem and from 50,000 to 70,000 in the Old City and its environs.&

When one takes a moment to give some thought to the timeline of establishment of the state of Israel, and the circumstances which brought it about, it is striking to think that it was only 57 years ago when Palestinians were being driven off of their land and out of their homes. One man described the scene in this manner:

&

One Palestinian resident, Naim Halaby, reported &

145;an orgy of looting&

by Jews. He saw &

145;one group bring a horse and a cart up to his next-door neighbor&

s abandoned home and systematically strip it bare. Down the street other looters carried away tires, furniture, kerosene and heaps of clothing from another house.&

It is difficult for me to imagine that on one day I am living comfortably, and the next I am packing my family and fleeing to an undetermined location in order to save our lives. I can understand why the Palestinians would be angry at a world that tells them they ought to simmer down and shut up. What right does the United States or Great Britain have to arbitrate peace among a people who have received no justice?

But then someone will ask, &

Does Israel have the right to exist?&

I asked myself that question.

In searching for an answer, it became rather apparent that the continuing conflict we see today between the Israelis and Palestinians was caused by Great Britain. Several searches provided the same answer:

&

: Aided by the Arabs, the British captured Palestine from the Ottoman Turks. The Arabs revolted against the Turks because the British had promised them, in correspondence with Shareef Husein ibn Ali of Mecca, the independence of their countries after the war. Britain, however, also made other, conflicting commitments in the secret Sykes-Picot agreement with France and Russia (1916); it promised to divide and rule the region with its allies. In a third agreement, the Balfour Declaration of 1917, Britain promised the Jews a Jewish &

145;national home&

in Palestine.&

I can understand why the Arabs have some hostility toward Zionism, given that while the Arabs were seeking to regain control over their lands from the British, Zionists were secretly negotiating with the same Brits to secure portions of Palestine for themselves. And I can understand the Arab hostility toward the West, specifically Great Britain, which has a long history of involvement in Middle East affairs.

I wonder how receptive the Western powers would be to the influence of Islamic governments in the affairs of our nations, and the undermining of our governments. I wonder where is the outrage from those American and British people who claim to care so much for the oppressed, while our governments make deals and trade nations and peoples like pawns on a global chessboard.

It seems to me that by inserting a country (Israel) where none exists (Land of Palestine), one must take into account that indigenous people reside in the region. But not-so-great Britain failed to take that into account when establishing the New World on the North American continent. And the United States didn&

t seem to mind killing or corralling the natives living in the way of progress in this country either. So, why would either the Brits or Americans be concerned over a few Palestinians who lost their homes or lives?

OK, actually a few hundred thousand.

After reading a history of the Zionist movement and discovering its origin in 1897 by Theodore Herzl, as a political movement to restore the state of Israel somewhere on the planet (including consideration of regions in Uganda), it strikes me that the Arab movement against Zionism isn&

t railing against the Jewish religion, but rather against the political ambitions of Jews conquering Arab lands.

I gotta tell ya, during the time period before the state of Israel was established, I don&

t understand the rationale for supporting the approaching date when kicking Palestinians out of their homes and taking over the place would be considered an acceptable method of creating God&

s chosen nation. And in each year since, I find it difficult to see the legitimacy of the propaganda that is founded upon the notion that the obsolete League of Nations oversaw the delineation of land and power in the Middle East, divvying it up between European nations. I wonder what handful of people were involved in such negotiations?

Today when I read of the Jewish settlements being evacuated by force, it makes me wonder how long have they actually been there and what prompted the building of Jewish settlements in areas that have long been considered places of potential Palestinian statehood? A Web site called provided the answer.

1970-72:

&

In 1970, Kfar Darom &

a Jewish community in the Strip evacuated in 1948 &

is re-established as a para-military Nahal outpost. In 1972, Netzer Hazani, the first civilian Jewish community in the Gaza Strip, is founded. And Netzarim and Morag are founded as para-military Nahal outposts.&

1978:

&

Israel and Egypt sign the Camp David Accords, in which they pledge to try to reach an agreement on Palestinian autonomy in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. In response, Jewish settlement groups start to establish more settlements to ensure Jewish presence in the Gaza Strip. Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip grows in the 1980s.&

While I do not condone suicide bombings and violence of the sort as seen committed by both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I understand why there is so much violence in that region. Israel is fighting to establish something that cannot be undone by its enemies, while the Palestinians are refugees fighting to regain what was taken from them and struggling with the thought of having to settle for a portion of what they see as fully, rightfully theirs.

Although I have no answers for the dilemma facing those who seek compromise through the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, I can see why the effort is being made. Given that the state of Israel was created through conquest of Palestinian land (made possible through some back-door dealing by not-so-great Britain), it may never see peace until it provides the Palestinians at least a portion of what was taken in order that future generations may begin the process of peaceful coexistence.

Looking at the withdrawal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip in the light of the past six decades, and the fact that most all of the families are receiving $200,000 to $300,000 to relocate in contrast to the devastating eviction the Palestinians experienced, as well as the possibility for Israel to live in peace, the question now becomes, &

What are those Jewish settlers whining about?&