When the First World War brought the collapse of the decadent Ottoman Empire, a number of new states were carved out in the area, including a British protectorate called “Palestine.” Palestine was finally divided into two fully independent states in 1948. By far the largest piece of the territory became a Palestinian Arab state known as Trans-Jordan -- later Jordan. In a much smaller piece, the Jews declared an independent state of Israel.
The Arab world immediately attacked a nation that they outnumbered 100-to-1, and which they knew was faced with an arms embargo by the United States and the rest of the world, except for lonely Czechoslovakia.
Incredibly, the Arabs lost.
How inept. How humiliating.
Again in 1967 the Arab nations massed their armies for a fresh attack -- and lost again, so badly that Israel’s territory actually expanded by a factor of four, so far that a popular poster of the time advertised “Visit Israel: See the Pyramids.”
I own some of the rifles the Egyptians carried in that war. Everyone who collects them knows most were poorly cleaned and maintained. How inept. How laughable. How humiliating.
Why weren’t the remaining Palestinian Arabs simply made welcome in the Palestinian Arab state of Jordan?
First, the Arab nations saw a potential for political gain in maintaining a permanent population of Palestinian “refugees” clustered in bitterness and squalor around Israel’s borders. For one thing, ongoing rhetoric about the “Great Satans” of Israel and its sometime protector, the United States, distracts popular attention from the dismal failure of the Arab kleptocracies to establish modern, prosperous, pluralistic states. (They had one: Lebanon. But the “Paris of the mideast” became a casualty not of Israeli destruction but of Arab extremism and fascist Syrian ambition.)
But secondly, Yasser Arafat tried to overthrow Jordan’s King Hussein in the “Black September” of 1970. (That’s right, the most celebrated martyrdom of Palestinian history came in a war against their fellow Arabs, not against Israel.)
According to recently declassified documents (www.library.cornell.edu/colldev/mideast/blksept.htm), Hussein asked the British if the Israeli Air Force could help him with an air strike. The British decided not to pass the request along. In the end, Hussein prevailed, and Arafat and his fighters were exiled from Jordan.
So it’s not true that there “is no Palestinian state.” Those who now cluster outside the borders of Israel simply got thrown out of it, by an Arab king who sought Israeli help against them.
For 40 years, the Arabs have insisted their ongoing grievance against Israel was based on Israel’s insistence on holding the buffer zones captured in 1967, which they dubbed the “occupied territories.”
So Israel gave them up.
Most of the territories overrun by Israeli arms -- all the way to the Suez Canal -- were turned back immediately, in the hopes a good-will gesture of generosity in land could salve Arab humiliation and win the peace. Perhaps it worked with Egypt -- or perhaps the Egyptians just enjoy their huge annual payoff from Washington.
Israel withdrew entirely from Lebanon in 2000, asking the U.N. to verify the exact frontier. This “blue line” was approved by the Security Council, which declared that Israel had fully complied with resolutions demanding its withdrawal from Lebanon. Since Hezbollah was created with the purpose of achieving this goal, why does this outfit still exist?
Then, last September, Israel withdrew from Gaza entirely, dismantling or abandoning Jewish settlements and declaring the Gaza border an international border.
Finally, the Arab grievances were satisfied. Did they celebrate the arrival of peace and turn their thoughts to economic development?
Deadly rocket attacks on Israeli civilians have continued, daily, endlessly, launched both from Gaza and from Lebanon.
On June 25, Hamas guerrillas tunnelled across the border into Israel, killed Israeli soldiers, kidnapped Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, and brought him into Gaza. Then, this week, the Shia terrorist group Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers near the Lebanese border and brought them back into Lebanon.
Israel has responded to these provocations militarily, as any sovereign nation would. And who is condemned for breaking the peace? Why, Israel, of course.
At a triumphant news conference Wednesday, Hezbollah’s leader, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, said his group would not bow to pressure from the Lebanese government or the world community to release his two Israeli hostages, unless Israel agrees to a prisoner exchange.
“What do they want us to do? Hand over the soldiers and apologize?” he asked. “What kind of world are they living in?”
The kind of world we are living in, is one in which kidnappers hand over their hostages ... and are sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Failing that, such provocations can lead to war, an endeavor which never seems to accomplish much for the Arab fans of endless war, except to allow them to beat their chests and wail over their dead and play “victim” some more.
The world press covers the funeral of every Arab “victim,” as though anyone really believes the Israelis have launched a war of unprovoked aggression in hopes of driving all the Arabs out of Lebanon and Syria, to turn the place into a giant orange grove.
Meantime, where are the coverage and the condemnations of the torture and maiming and murder and beheading of civilians and charity workers and newsmen -- some Christian, mostly Jews -- by wild-eyed, ululating Islamic fundamentalists from Pakistan to Iraq to the streets of Israel itself?
“If the occupying regime of Jerusalem attacks Syria, it will be equivalent to an attack on the whole Islamic world and the regime (Israel) will face a crushing response” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by IRNA this week. (Syria and Iran are the main backers of Hezbollah.)
It seems unlikely Israel will find any immediate cause to go to war inside Syria. Nor are strutting and posturing and threatening unnecessary war the acts of any sane and sober adult. War is never to be wished -- though it’s still preferable to slavery and death.
It is tempting, however, to ask what on earth this latest strutting clown can possibly have in mind. Would he like to march an Iranian army to Syria, across Kurdistan? Who would he find on his left flank? Does he plan to bomb Israel? Again, sane and sober individuals will resist the temptation to urge him to try it -- out of concern for the fate of the civilian population of Iran.
“The crushing response of the whole Islamic world”? Does this character believe he can speak for the people of Indonesia and Mauritania?
The world saw “the crushing response of the whole” Arab world, in 1948, and again in 1967. We were not impressed.
Like a sleeping dog that seeks only peace, Israel has backed away so as to give no offense, until there is no further room to retreat. This week, a Hezbollah missile -- possibly manufactured in Iran -- hit Haifa, on the seacoast. Israel now has every right to do whatever proves necessary to stop her tormentors. Nor have they any remaining right to complain about her bite.
Because no matter how laughable and pathetic and inept they may be, there are still quite a lot of them, and they are still barbaric murderers of civilians -- women and children whose only offense is to be Jewish.
It is now clear what the Arabs mean by “occupied territories” -- to anyone who didn’t get it, long ago. If the population of Israel were reduced to 10, and those 10 Jews were living on a houseboat moored in Haifa harbor, the Arabs would bemoan their ongoing victimization by the Zionists, and demand that the Israelis “withdraw from this occupied houseboat immediately.”
The world has been patient with such murderous lunacy long enough. Maybe it’s time to condemn someone new, for a change.