Listening to news coming out of the Middle East, it's nearly impossible to hear reports about terrorist atrocities against Israeli civilians without also hearing some journalist justifying them in the name of alleged Arab grievances. When Israel targets the deliberate murderers of women, children, and other innocents, this somehow becomes equated with the next Arab 'revenge' attack against additional Israelis civilians. Or, when Israel puts its sons in danger by going house-to-house in hunting terrorists in their strongholds to purposely avoid civilian casualties, it gets accused of massacres anyway - while the real massacres, deliberately committed against Jewish civilians both in Israel and elsewhere, are virtually ignored. When faced with their own 'problems,' Arabs have gassed, bombed, and shelled their enemies from afar--a la Assad's 'Hama Solution' in Syria, Saddam's gassing of Kurds in Iraq, Hussein's 'Black September' in Jordan, etc... and with no calls for investigations by the United Nations either.
That Arabs consider the rebirth of Israel a catastrophe - their 'nakba' - is, in reality, merely par for the course. Having conquered and forcibly Arabized millions of non-Arab peoples and their lands in creating most of the twenty-two states they now possess on some six million square miles of territory, at no time did Arabs ever consider that anyone else but themselves had any political rights in the region. This was so when what was to become an independent Kurdistan after World War I was turned into Arab Iraq instead (due mostly to the collusion of British petroleum politics with Arab nationalism). So thirty million Kurds remain stateless to date... often at someone else's mercy. Millions of Berbers in North Africa resisted the Arab onslaught for centuries. Their language and culture are outlawed today. Millions in Black Africa have died resisting this forced Arabization as well. The fight goes on in the Sudan as this piece is being written, with millions of Blacks having been killed, maimed, enslaved, turned into refugees and the like.
You see, in Arab eyes, theirs is the only justice. Read the Kurdish nationalist Ismet Cherif Vanly's book, "The Syrian 'Mein Kampf' Against The Kurds" (Amsterdam 1968), for further insight into this. The only safe Copt or Nubian in Egypt is one who knows his place. Ditto for the native Semite, but frequently non-Arab, Christian Lebanese. The concept goes like this: Once a land has been conquered on behalf of the Arab nation and the Dar ul-Islam, it can never revert back to its former status, the Dar al-Harb (realm of war).
Now for some comparisons. Following media coverage in recent years regarding Israel's rebirth, much of this has increasingly been devoted to the Arab reaction to what they call 'the catastrophe.' That it represents for Wandering Jews in their long and painful history in the Diaspora the Hebraic prophesies of their resurrected nation come true - the phoenix rising from the ashes of either Ezekiel's 'Valley of the Dry Bones' or Auschwitz - frequently does not seem to enter into the picture at all.
'Perfect justice' exists nowhere in the world community. It wasn't present when scores of millions of people became refugees when the Indian subcontinent was divided into Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India (look what's happening over Kashmir today), or when millions of Greeks, Bulgars, and Turks exchanged populations, or when half of Israel's 5 million Jews fled Arab/Muslim lands around the same time Arabs were fleeing in the opposite direction during Israel's war of independence. They're the other side of the Middle East refugee problem the media never talks about. All of these examples - and many more not mentioned - represented imperfect attempts to arrive at compromise solutions so that the rights of both parties to any given conflict could be addressed.
In 1922 Colonial Secretary Churchill, to reward Arab allies in World War I, chopped off 80% of the original Palestinian Mandate issued to Great Britain on April 25, 1920 - all the land east of the Jordan River - and created the purely Arab Emirate of Transjordan, today's Jordan. Emir Abdullah, who received this gift on behalf of the Hashemites of Arabia, attributed the separation of this land from the area promised to the Jews to an 'act of Allah' in his memoirs. Sir Alec Kirkbride, Britain's East Bank representative, had much to say about this as well. The Jordan-Palestine connection is just one of many well-documented facts (not 'Zionist propaganda') completely ignored or distorted by Arab spokesmen and, unfortunately, little known by the rest of the world. In a Washington Post piece by the PLO's Marwan Barghouti, for example, he claimed Jews got 78% of all of the land, the standard Arab line. Leading newspapers typically prepare segments on the Middle East ignoring this Jordan-Palestine connection as well.
In reality, not only do Arabs today have twenty-two states, but they've had one in most of 'Palestine' for well over half a century. What's now being debated is the creation of a 23rd Arab state, their second one in 'Palestine.' And for this to occur, they expect Israel to consent to national suicide. Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat 97% of the territories, half of Jerusalem, etc. for the sake of peace. U.S. chief negotiator Dennis Ross, who was present at Camp David and subsequent negotiations at Taba, revealed that a $33 billion fund was also to be made available to the Palestinian Arabs as well in a contiguous state... not 'disconnected cantons' as the latter now claim.
This, of course, all begs the question: What compromises did Arabs make with any of their non-Arab competitors mentioned above? Did Kurds get a state in at least part of Iraq?? Are Blacks in the south of the Sudan to be free of forced Arabization? (Surely you jest!) The Arab response to Barak and Clinton was to tell Israel to agree to take in millions of Arab refugees, real or alleged, so that the Jews would be overwhelmed.
Keep in mind that if Arabs had agreed to the 1947 partition, which divided the 20% of Palestine left after Arabs had already received the lion's share in 1922 into another Arab and a Jewish state, there would not be one Arab refugee today. Instead, five Arab states immediately attacked a reborn Israel, told their people to clear the way for a quick victory. The rest is history.
It should also be noted that tens of thousands of so-called 'native Palestinians' were themselves recent immigrants into Palestine. The records of the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission and other sources give ample testimony to this. Sheikh Izzadin El-Qassam, for whom Hamas' militant wing is named, was from Aleppo, Syria. Salah Shehade, the leader of this group who had the blood of hundreds of Israelis on his hands, was recently killed while tragically (and in violation of the Geneva Conventions) hiding amid his human shields in Gaza. A good amount of evidence exists which points to Egypt as the birthplace of Arafat himself. We know for sure that thousands of Egyptians settled in the land in the wake of Muhammad Ali's invasion in the 19th century when Jews were starting to pour millions of dollars into it for development.
While it is simply considered to be the natural right of the Arab to settle anywhere in the 'realm of Islam', when hundreds of thousands of native Middle Eastern Jews did likewise - coming from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and other lands as well - Arabs considered this to be an 'injustice.' How dare anyone else but Arabs, especially 'their' kelbi yahudi - 'Jew Dogs' - want a degree of national dignity in the region.
To understand the meaning of reborn Israel to the Jew, one needs to know what Jewish history was like for two thousand years after the Jews dared take on the conqueror of the world for their independence. A reading of the contemporary Roman-sponsored historians - Tacitus, Dio Cassius, Josephus, etc. - gives a 'non-Zionist' account of the fervor with which Jews fought for the freedom of their land. Listen to Tacitus: 'Vespasian... succeeded to the command... it inflamed his resentment that the Jews were the only nation that had not yet submitted.' This was during the first revolt in 66-73 C.E. The Arch of Titus stands in Rome to this very day to commemorate this victory over the Jews. Josephus's account of Eliezer ben-Yair's speech to his troops atop the fortress of Masada urging them to die as free men by their own hands rather then falling into the hands of the Romans still sends chills up one's spine. Masada overlooks the Dead Sea today, a symbol of Israel's resolve. The emperor Hadrian became so enraged at their persistence that in 135 C.E., after the second major (and even more costly) revolt, he renamed Judaea 'Syria Palaestina' - Palestine - after the Jews' historic enemies, the Philistines, in an attempt to end the Jews' hopes once and for all. Forced conversions, being branded the 'deicide people,' inquisitions, demonization, dehumanization, ghettos, blood libels, massacres, expulsions, the Holocaust, and existence as perpetual stranger in someone else's land became the plight of the 'Wandering Jew,' his own nakba.
Is a victim any less a victim because his tragedy has been the longest enduring? Would that he had possessed twenty-two other states like Arabs have, there would have been no need for the rebirth of Israel. But he did not possess even one state, let alone almost two dozen. Since 'perfect justice' never existed in the community of nations but is only demanded of Jews, does relative justice demand no state for Jews (as miniscule as that state is, Israel is a mere 9-miles wide by the pre-'67 armistice line) and twenty three for Arabs? If the answer is 'yes' to this, then such media bias against Israel as is frequently experienced on or in CNN, the BBC, National Public Radio, written publications, etc. might be understandable. But if one disagrees with this one-sided vision of justice, then how can one justify much of the media's (and others') apparent acceptance of what the Arabs call their 'nakba' - Israel's rebirth - a catastrophe primarily of their own making due to their unwillingness to grant anyone else even a tiny fraction of the rights they so fervently demand for themselves?
Again, is targeting the known murderers of innocents really the moral equivalent of deliberately murdering those innocents? That the likes of Mr. Barghouti & Co. see it this way is not surprising. But for the media to buy into this is sickening. There is currently a growing backlash against this throughout the United States. It seems that for much of the media - as well as for the rest of the world - sympathy for dead Jews is the most that can be expected... forget about empathy for live ones. The Washington Post's Richard Cohen and others have written that Israel itself is responsible for the suicide bombings by transforming the Arabs and offering them 'no alternatives' ?!?!
This conflict continues for one reason only: Arabs are fighting the 1948 war for Israel's rebirth all over again. Even the Palestinian model 'moderate,' the late Faisal Husseini, openly admitted that an Arab Palestine 'from the River to the Sea' was the real goal. Hence the problem with talk about the creation of a "provisional" Palestinian Arab state: the Arabs have repeatedly said since their "one fell swoop" strategy failed as of the '67 War that they would adopt a "destruction in stages" strategy instead. They will accept any land diplomacy will yield - making their real, final goal easier to achieve. While we all want peace, our aim is not the peace of the grave. Israel should not be expected to sacrifice itself on the petroleum-greased altar of international hypocrisy so that the Arabs' 23rd state - and second one in "Palestine" - can be born.Gerald A. Honigman is a contributing writer for Jewish Xpress Magazine, a monthly publication based in southern Florida. This article originally appeared in their July 2002 print edition.