Deniers of the Jewish state’s right to exist repeatedly place Israel on the defensive to obscure their own untenable positions. Rarely are Palestinian Arabs challenged about the falsehoods they spew or do they justify the unconscionable way in which their leadership exploits their people.
To counter these attempts, we must demand Palestinian Arabs prove their accusations. Below are three significant issues that must be addressed.
When have the Palestinian Arabs ever embraced the two-state solution? From the moment the Peel Commission in 1937 recommended establishing a separate Arab and Jewish state, the Arabs rejected every opportunity to create their own state.
When Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasir Arafat 94 percent of Judea and Samaria, he refused, and then launched the second Intifada. Ten years later, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Palestine Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas 93.6 percent of Judea and Samaria with a one-to-one land swap. This meant that expansion did not significantly reduce the land available for establishing a Palestinian Arab state.
Why do the Palestinian Arabs believe they have the right to determine the conditions of a peace agreement? Undoubtedly, they are painfully aware they lost all the wars against Israel and, therefore, are not in position to dictate the terms of a peace treaty. Yet this did not deter them from presenting outrageous demands including the “right of return” of the Arab refugees from the Israeli War of Independence 1948-49, and all their descendants, which can never be taken seriously.
Refugees or Displaced Persons?
Even Amos Oz, one of Israel’s foremost writers, social critics and peace activists understands the danger this poses to the Jewish state. “Implementing the Palestinian ‘right of return’ amounts to abolishing the Jewish people’s right to self-determination,” he said in an article for the British newspaper The Guardian. “It will make the Jewish people a minor ethnic group at the mercy of Muslims, a ‘protected minority,’ just as fundamentalist Islam would have it. It would mean eradicating Israel.”
Oz’s assumption is that Israel is obligated to create a way for them to return to Israel. This is not correct. After the war, UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) of December 18, 1948 stated, “The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”
The operative words are “and live in peace with their neighbors.” Their return was supposed to be right after the war, not years later, and surely not generations of latter-day progeny piggybacking on the success of the state they tried to destroy in its infancy.
A.B. Yehoshua, an Israeli novelist, essayist, playwright and peace movement activist, suggested a more realistic view of the “refugee” question. Jews and Palestinian Arabs, he said, who fled or were expelled, should not be called refugees, but displaced persons. A refugee flees or has been expelled from his country; a displaced person flees or is expelled from his home, but remains within the boundaries of his homeland. The Jews who fled or were expelled by Arabs into Israeli territory were never refugees but only displaced persons, who were provided with new homes in Israel.
Palestinian Arabs were referred to as refugees, even though most remained in Palestine and lived no more than 20 to 40 km from their homes. The Arabs of Ashdod and Ashkelon relocated to Gaza, only 20 km from their homes. The Arabs from Lod and Ramle moved to the Ramallah area, about 30 or 40 km from these towns. Some Palestinian Arabs who fled or were expelled, went to Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, where, except for Jordan, they were refused citizenship and remain refugees.
During the 19 years in which Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip were under Palestinian Arab, Jordanian and Egyptian control, “these refugees could have at least returned home becoming displaced persons rather than refugees,” and built themselves a new life.
As noted, the Arab nations are responsible for the Arabs wallowing in refugee camps, not the Israelis. An entirely reasonable question to ask is: Why do the Arabs nations and the Palestinian Arabs allow this misery?
To solve the problem now, historian Daniel Pipes suggests we use the US government’s “definition of a refugee: being at least 69 years old, stateless and living outside the West Bank or Gaza.” This would reduce the number of legitimate refugees by more than 99 percent.
What is also hardly ever mentioned are the 850,000 Jews who left, fled or were expelled from the Arab and Muslim countries, not because of war, but because they were Jews.
Retreating to June 4, 1967 Lines
Insisting Israel retreat to the June 4, 1967 borders is an equally absurd demand. This is not a child’s game where you ask for a do-over because you lost the war. If you don’t want to lose land, don’t start a war. And if you do lose, don’t expect the victor to give up territory you forfeited.
Expecting Jerusalem to be divided is another non-starter. Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence of Jewish dominion is undisputed. There has never been a Palestinian state. Why should the city be divided now?
Eli Hertz reminds us that prior to Jews referring to themselves as Israelis in 1948, the term Palestine applied almost entirely to institutions established by Jews: The Jerusalem Post, founded in 1932, was called The Palestine Post; Bank Leumi L’Israel, incorporated in 1902, was called the Anglo Palestine Company until 1948; Israel Electric Corporation, founded in 1923, was initially called The Palestine Electric Company; and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1936, was originally called the Palestine Symphony Orchestra.
Barriers to Peace
How can there be peace when:
(1) Article 15 of the Hamas Covenant of August 1988 states that the destruction of Israel is not negotiable; it is a religious imperative?
“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…. It is necessary to instill in the minds of the Moslem generations that the Palestinian problem is a religious problem, and should be dealt with on this basis.”
The same question should be asked of the Palestinian Authority. The justification for refusing to recognize Israel is found in Articles 15 and 19 of the Palestinian National Charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Article 15: “The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine.”
Article 19: “The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and to their natural right in their homeland, and inconsistent with the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations; particularly the right to self-determination.”
(2) Your alleged peace partners continue to advocate the destruction of Israel?
The Palestinian Media Watch reported: “The official Facebook page of Abbas’ Fatah Movement celebrated Fatah’s 53rd anniversary by glorifying eight terrorist murderers from its ranks, four of them female suicide bombers.”
One Final Note
Instead of being on the defensive, Israel must take the offense against Palestinian Arab lies. What type of people, they should ask, entice young vulnerable boys and girls to commit suicide bombings or use civilians, and particularly children, as human shields? “Is it moral to launch missiles from hospitals, from schools, from bedrooms, from mosques and from the roof of a church, where thousands of Gazans found refuge?” asked American-Egyptian writer Magdi Khalil.
If Israel is such an oppressive and racist country, why, when given the chance, would the majority of Israeli Arabs never elect to live under Palestinian Arab regime? (https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4119/israeli-arabs-palestinian-state)
By Alex Grobman, PhD
Alex Grobman, a Hebrew University-trained historian, has written a number of books on Israel including “BDS: The Movement to Destroy Israel,” “Erosion: Undermining Israel Through Lies and Deception,” “Cultivating Canaan: Who Owns the Holy Land?” and “The Palestinian Right to Israel.”