George Jochnowitz: Essays/Reviews/Compositions
In 2005, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that Israel would withdraw from almost all of the West Bank. He was offering a gift to the Palestinians: a state of their own.
The Palestinians reacted by directing rocket fire against Israel. Then they voted Hamas into office. They chose a political party committed to the destruction of Israel. Perhaps they understood that Palestinian independence, now as before, could be achieved only with the Israelis, not against them. Accepting independence would be a tacit recognition of Israel’s right to exist alongside a Palestinian state. They could not be bribed with independence. They wanted to do what they felt was virtuous, to die in a jihad while killing Israelis.
Once Israel no longer controlled Gaza, rockets aimed at Israel were launched regularly. The goal, one has to assume, was to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state limited to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. When the rockets produced only minor retaliations, tunnels to Israel were dug, soldiers were killed, and an Israeli hostage, Gilad Shalit, was captured. He is still in captivity.
Israel negotiated a cease-fire agreement with Hamas. Hamas never fully abided by the agreement, but the rocket fire went down. The agreement expired a short time ago. Hamas did not renew it. The rockets began falling in ever greater numbers. They were provoking Israel to respond with force.
Israel responded with more force than Hamas had expected. The level of violence is greater than anything Hamas had anticipated. They were caught off guard despite the fact that it was they who had provoked the violence in the first place.
Time and again, anti-Zionism has prevented the creation of a Palestinian state. The first time was on November 29, 1947. The United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181, dividing Palestine into six areas, arranged in a checkerboard pattern, three of them having a Jewish majority, the other three with an Arab majority. The partition resolution, had it been accepted by both sides, would have created a Jewish and an Arab state in Palestine.
Representatives of the 600,000 Jews then living in Palestine accepted partition. The six Arab states in the UN at that time--Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Yemen--rejected the resolution. Palestinian Arabs weren't asked. Would they have wanted a state in half of Palestine at that time? Their actions must speak in the absence of words. On November 30, the day after the UN vote, a bus in Palestine was fired on and five Jews were killed.
On May 14, 1948, Israel became independent. That night, Tel Aviv was bombed by Egyptian planes. Iraq (which doesn't even share a boundary with Israel), Syria, Lebanon and Transjordan joined the war. Israel, which a day earlier had had no government, no taxes, and no military conscription, won the war. Transjordan and Egypt won too. Transjordan acquired the West Bank, which is why it later changed its name to Jordan; Egypt gained the Gaza Strip. The question of Palestinian sovereignty did not arise. The Palestinian refugees who found themselves in Egypt (Gaza), Syria and Lebanon were neither granted citizenship in the states they had fled to nor recognized as Palestinian nationals.
Why did five Arab states invade Israel on May 15? They did not do it to gain territory, although Egypt and Transjordan did not offer to give up the land that came into their possession during the war. They did not do it for the Palestinians; indeed, the Arab states, including oil-rich Saudi Arabia, did nothing to alleviate the plight of the refugees. Refugee camps have existed for 60 years now, since 1948. The Arab world, with the assistance of the United Nations, acting with unprecedented cynicism, has kept these refugees homeless in order to delegitimize Israel.
The 1948 invasion of Israel ended forever the possibility of an independent Arab state occupying an area as large as half the land of Palestine. Indeed, had there not been a Zionist movement, the question of Palestinian independence would never have arisen. What was true in 1947 is true now. To the extent that the Palestinians can achieve sovereignty, it can only be done with the Israelis, not against them.
A hatred as intense and violent as anti-Zionism is too strong to have a tangible, comprehensible reason. This passion has to take priority over the goal of creating and building a state. Hamas is not only violent, it is gratuitously violent. Its only conceivable victory is the death of Israeli citizens.
Hamas is not alone. A de facto Marxist-Islamic alliance has existed for 40 years, opposed to freedom—which is incompatible with both Marxism and Islam—and to Zionism. Crazies from around the world have chosen Israel as a target. Members of the Japanese Red Army Faction, on May 30, 1972, went to Israel so that they could achieve martyrdom while killing Jews. Seventeen of those killed were Puerto Rican Christian pilgrims, but that is beside the point. The Japanese Red Army was willing to risk killing innocent Christian bystanders so that they could kill innocent Jews.
Israel's Arab citizens, a vulnerable minority if ever there was one, continued to live in peace—in a country at war—and enjoy as far as possible the benefits of democracy. Their position is not an enviable one; nevertheless, there is no other place where a minority ethnically related to an external enemy has experienced comparable security. Anti-Zionism hurts the Arab world as much as it hurts Israel. Jihadists, however, are totally selfless. They are willing to suffer, to pay pay any price, in order to act out their hatred for Israel.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
George Jochnowitz: Essays/Reviews/Compositions