There is a political case on both sides
of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Both sides do have grievances that need to be addressed.
It is very hard though
to sympathise with the Palestinians
because of: (a) their absurd and immoral goals
setting up an Islamic state),
and: (b) their immoral conduct of the war
(deliberately killing civilians).
During World War 2,
when Israel still did not yet exist,
the Palestinian leadership attempted to get the Germans
to exterminate the entire Jewish population.
In the event of Nazi victory over
the Palestinian leadership planned to run an extermination camp for the Jews
The conflict is not really about territory at all.
Rather it is driven by Muslim bigotry,
which cannot tolerate the existence of a non-Muslim state in the region.
The conflict cannot be ended by any territorial concessions,
but only by change
in the Arab Muslims.
A few points in defence of the existence of Israel:
When Israel was set up in 1947, the area designated was a clear
majority Jewish area
(538,000 Jews and 397,000 Arabs).
(or via here).
This UN report
gave 498,000 Jews and 407,000 Arabs
- but still a Jewish majority.
This Jewish majority had developed peacefully (not through warfare)
over the previous 70 years.
Setting this area up as a state was reasonable because:
(a) the Jews (the majority in the area) wanted it,
(b) the state would be a free democracy,
whereas the alternative was
within some standard Arab Muslim tyranny.
Setting up this area as a state
does not need to be justified by "making up" for the crimes
of the Holocaust
(with the Palestinians paying for European crimes).
It was nothing to do with the Holocaust at all.
The area was majority-Jewish already, and had become so peacefully over the previous 70 years,
with no Palestinians evicted by force.
This area in 1947 had a right to self-determination,
totally independent of the Holocaust.
I see nothing wrong with setting up the majority-Jewish area
as Israel in 1947, therefore.
Whether it was sensible for Jews fleeing persecution to go to the Middle East
in the first place, however
- as opposed, say, to America -
is another question.
(though I'd like to see a bit
British Foreign Secretary 1919-24,
said about the idea of the Jews going to live in the Middle East:
"I cannot think of a worse fate for an advanced and intellectual community".
Still, once brave, embattled democrats are in the Middle East,
it is our duty to support them against non-democrats.
The Arabs rejected this state purely because it was Jewish.
Had it been just another Muslim group,
a separate state would have been accepted without controversy.
But it was intolerable to allow the
to set up a state.
Even worse, one in which dhimmis would rule over some Muslims.
This problem - and nothing else - is the root cause of the conflict.
Hence for the future:
No solution that allows the existence
of a Jewish (or any non-Muslim) state
in any form
can possibly end the conflict.
The only thing that will end the conflict
is a change of mind by the Arabs,
such that they will tolerate the existence of a non-Muslim state,
and non-Muslims in general.
The root cause of the conflict is, and always has been, Muslim bigotry.
The left and the existence of Israel:
Interestingly, the western left did not always agree that setting up Israel was wrong.
"The collective amnesia of the Left in this regard is especially striking since in the late 1940s, most Communists and socialists in the West enthusiastically hailed the "anti-colonialist" nature of the Israeli war of independence. Indeed they followed the USSR in strongly supporting the establishment of Israel as a blow against "Anglo-American domination of the Middle East." . . .
What today is eulogized as the Palestinian "struggle against Zionism" was considered by most Communists or Socialists in 1948 as utterly reactionary."
A traitor to the West:
Sir John Glubb,
commander of the Arab Legion 1939-56
in its wars against Israel.
All Westerners should defend Israel, because it is a democracy.
Photo from here.
Glubb claims that Khaled was humane, and determined
"that her hijackings would not result in loss of human life, especially not in injury to children.
And in fact no one was ever hurt on these enterprises, except her own companion. The object, she explains,
was to show the world that the Palestinians were still alive".
Immediately after the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948,
a combined Arab army of
Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi, Jordanian, and Lebanese forces invaded
to try to destroy the dhimmi state and
exterminate the Jews.
Israel - because it is based on
western principles of freedom
rather than pre-scientific tribalism
- managed not only to beat the combined Arab armies
but in fact expanded its territory.
Many Palestinians were expelled, others fled voluntarily,
during the 1948 war that established Israel.
Clearly there has been Palestinian suffering.
Though much of it
Had the Arabs never tried to destroy Israel,
the Palestinians would never have been displaced.
They would now live either within Israel
(and therefore would be free and prosperous),
or would be next door, as peaceful trading neighbours
(and quite likely a thriving Arab democracy due to Israel's example).
Maybe they shouldn't have tried to destroy Israel?
It is usually forgotten that Israel is home to
over 1 million descendants of Jews
expelled from the Arab countries around the Middle East.
Who on the Palestinian side cares about their rights?
Who in the western left cares about them?
On their lost world:
"We would have liked to be Arab Jews. If we abandoned the idea, it is because over the centuries the Moslem Arabs systematically prevented its realization by their contempt and cruelty.
Never, I repeat, never - with the possible exception of two or three very specific intervals ... did the Jews in Arab lands live in other than a humiliated state, vulnerable and periodically mistreated and murdered, so that they should clearly remember their place."
On why Israel makes Arabs angry:
"They have not yet recovered from the shock of seeing their former underlings raise up their heads, attempting even to gain their national independence! They know of only one rejoinder: off with their heads!
The Arabs want to destroy Israel."
Was it wrong for Israel to expand its territory in the 1948 war?
No, not necessarily.
There is a long-standing principle that
those who start an aggressive war
should lose territory.
The Arab states have started repeated aggressive wars,
and should suffer for it.
It is almost impossible to define where any country's borders should be anyway,
so there is some rough justice in this.
Certainly, any Arab who finds himself within Israel's borders is lucky,
since they have the chance to live in freedom and with full human rights,
which they won't get in any Arab country.
since Israel is the only free country in the region,
I would broadly support expanding its borders
and reducing those of neighbouring countries,
in order to maximise the space of freedom in the Middle East.
For example, I think Israel should permanently acquire part of the
The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan (2006)
presents the left's view of Israeli-Palestinian history.
I love the one that says this is a "balanced" debate between
a left wing Israeli Jew
"who does nothing but "question" Israeli conduct and history"
a far right Palestinian Arab
"who does nothing but "question" Israeli conduct and history".
"The notion that the Palestinians want to rule themselves, that they could do it successfully, that they really accept a two-state solution is one of the most grotesque deceptions ever foisted on the West. Alas, the entire conflict centers around the Palestinian/Arab/Muslim need to restore their lost honor by destroying that which has humiliated them, the autonomous Jewish state in the heart of Dar al Islam."
- Richard Landes
sums up the right-wing view of the Israel conflict,
which contrasts dramatically with the left-wing view that the Palestinians
are rational actors with rational grievances.
I used to unthinkingly believe the left-wing view.
Now I know it is a misunderstanding of the situation.
"Whoever studies the nature of the conflict between the Muslims and the Jews understands an important fact, [namely that] this is a religious conflict, not a dispute about politics or nationality, or a conflict between races or tribes, or a fight over land or country, as some describe it".
- Saudi schoolbook
tells the truth.
But the West isn't listening.
"That is actually one of my red flags when taking in the argument of someone who claims to have the solution to the Israel/Palestine problem. I ask, how have they factored in Islam. If they haven't, their solution has no real world application."
- Blog entry (unknown author) on
"5 Minutes For Israel" sums it up, Dec 2012.
"Our enmity towards Hindus is not due to the Kashmir issue; our enmity towards America is not due to Iraq and Afghanistan;
the enmity between us and the Jews is not due to the Palestine;
the real cause is that they do not accept our system and Islam.
Our enmity towards them (the non-believers) will continue even if they renounce all their crimes." Al Qaeda, Sept 2013, explains the root cause of the Israeli conflict.
But the left isn't listening.
Bruce Thornton, 15 Dec 2011:
"The truly "ignorant," however, are those who have bought the "Palestinian homeland" propaganda. Where was all this talk about a homeland for the Palestinians in 1948, when the Arab armies invaded Israel? Their aim was not to create a Palestinian state, but rather to carve up the rest of British Mandatory Palestine ... "Abdullah [ruler of Transjordan] was to swallow up the central hill regions of Palestine . . . The Egyptians would get the Negev. The Galilee would go to Syria, except that the coastal part as far as Acre would be added to the Lebanon." Until 1967, the so-called "West Bank" was part of Jordan, but none of the Arab nations agitated for the creation of a Palestinian state. The "Palestinian homeland" became a tactical weapon after violence failed to achieve the real aim, the destruction of Israel."
Robert Spencer, 9 Dec 2011:
"The Palestinian nation was invented as a tool of the jihad against Israel. Instead of tiny Israel surrounded by huge and hostile Arab states, the picture suddenly changed to the powerful Israeli war machine victimizing an even tinier people."
Who Really Cares About the Palestinians? by Mitchell Bard, 19 Feb 2013.
On the Arab world's indifference to the oppression, expulsion and
slaughter of Palestinians
if it cannot be blamed on the Jews.
And the Arab world's indifference to a Palestinian state
PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen
tells the truth in 1977 about the invention of
"Palestine" as part of the struggle against Israel:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. ... In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.
For tactical reasons, Jordan ... cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan."
David Pryce-Jones, Dec 2013,
State Of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State (2013)
by Jonathan Schanzer.
David Pryce-Jones says:
"The thrust of his book is that Palestine is neither a country nor a state, but only a cause with the one-track purpose of getting rid of the Jews. By definition, a cause is not open to negotiation and compromise but has to be satisfied by absolute victory. A Palestinian ruler who struck a genuine bargain with Jews could expect to lose power and probably his life as well, as Anwar Sadat did.
Yasser Arafat .. had the chance to transform Palestine into a state and a country but decided instead that the rewards from organising a cause would be greater."
explains how the West Bank is not "occupied" territory.
Rather it is disputed territory, like many other places in the world.
It did not belong previously to a country called "Palestine".
Rather it belonged to Jordan, an aggressor state
whose claim on it was itself dubious.
"Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel."
- Egyptian thug Nasser
in May 1967.
"We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants,
and as for the survivors - if there are any - the boats are ready to deport them."
PLO head Ahmed Shuqayri
at the start of the Six-Day War
in June 1967,
when the Arab world tried yet again to finish the Holocaust.
"Oh Allah, vanquish the Jews and their supporters.
Oh Allah, vanquish the Americans and their supporters.
Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them all, down to the very last one."
- Sheik Ahmad Bahr,
Acting Speaker of the
Palestinian Legislative Council
and top Hamas official, Apr 2007 (just in case anyone thought the situation was any different today).