Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Victims of their Own Making

Dr. Earl Tilford

As Israel celebrates its 60th anniversary, there are voices raised accusing Israel of victimizing the Palestinian Arabs and “running them out” of the Jewish state. Ironically, some 1,300,000 Arab-Israeli citizens live and work in Israel. They worship freely in mosques from Haifa to Gaza and from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Arab-Israeli citizens enjoy full civil rights, study at Israeli universities, serve in the Knesset, every department of the Israeli government and even in the armed forces. Meanwhile, the 4,000,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and in refugee camps in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are largely victims of their own making.

Whereas hundreds of thousands of Palestinian-Arabs remained in Israel to live unmolested in the Jewish state, Jews throughout the Arab world have been victims of pogroms like those in Baghdad in 1941 and in Cairo and Tripoli in 1948, incited by the Muslim Brotherhood and abetted by Muslim regimes.

The vast majority of Arab residents of Palestine who fled in 1948 did so because Arab leaders urged them to flee, promising the lands and homes of Jewish-Palestinian residents would be theirs if they joined in expelling the “Zionist invaders.”

Given the history of Arab animosity toward pre-1948 Jewish residents of Palestine, had the six Arab armies that attacked Israel in 1948 prevailed, the Jews of the Yeshuv-Palestine community would have been butchered. The Mufti-Haj Amin el Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who allied with Adolf Hitler during World War II providing a Muslim SS division to fight in the Balkans, planned to exterminate Palestine’s Jewish population as his personal contribution to the Holocaust. The Mufti’s popularity among Palestinian-Arabs and throughout the Arab world acquired heroic proportions.

Few peoples have squandered opportunities for self-determination and independence as have Palestine’s Arab population. In 1937, the British Peel Commission provided for a large Arab state in Palestine, larger than the one planned for Jews. Palestinian-Arabs rejected the plan and then launched the Arab Revolt of 1936-37 killing thousands of Jews. In 1947 when United Nations Resolution 181 offered to partition Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, Israelis accepted the plan while Arabs rejected it, urging Palestinian-Arabs to join their jihad against the fledgling Jewish state. Why the jihad? The Islamic concept of the Dar al-Islam (House of Islam) precludes any non-Muslim entity in lands ever ruled by Muslims.

If Palestinian-Arabs were content to live peacefully with their Jewish neighbors, there would be no refugee problem. If Hamas, al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade and Palestinian Jihad, terrorist groups coddled by most Palestinian-Arabs, had not participated in the Second Intifada initiated by Yassir Arafat in June 2000, there would be no separation barrier. If terrorist snipers had not fired consistently into Israeli homes and businesses from West Jerusalem there would be no wall running through the city. If suicide bombers had not murdered over 800 Israeli citizens since 2000, checkpoints and the inconvenience caused the Palestinian-Arabs would not be necessary. If the Palestinian people rejected rather than embraced Hamas and its stated objective of annihilating Israel, peace and a viable Palestinian state co-existing—and co-prospering—with Israel could be achieved.

Palestinian-Arabs and their descendants crowded into refugee camps have survived for nearly two generations on the largesse of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) created specifically to relieve their distress. Additionally, millions in U.S. taxpayers’ dollars support what have become centers for terrorist recruitment. Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and the oil-rich sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf could provide permanent homes to their Arab kinsmen, except keeping these fellow Muslims in misery provides the “Jewish boogeyman” and the “Day of Catastrophe” vital to distracting the attention of their own peoples from the misery and poverty in which their wealthy oligarchs keep them. Meanwhile, Arab-Israeli citizens live, work and prosper in Israel, the region’s only democratic state.

Dr. Earl Tilford is Professor of History at Grove City College and enjoyed an extensive military career in the U.S. Air Force. He is former director of research at the U.S. Army's Strategic Studies Institute, where he worked on a project that looked at future terrorist threats. He also authored three books on the Vietnam War and co-edited one book on Operation Desert Storm.

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