Israel Report

1st Quarter 2005         

"Bantustan" Revisited

by Gerald A. Honigman - February 06, 2005
Newly confirmed American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently held a press conference in which she emphasized the need for the emergence of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.

Previously, both President George Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell made the same point very clearly at earlier "Roadmap" summits: the emerging 22nd Arab state -- and the second, not first, Arab one to be created within the borders of mandatory Palestine as Britain received it on April 25, 1920 -- was to be no "Bantustan".

Many have since repeated this in voicing concerns that Israel's security fence (being built to keep Arabs from deliberately blowing up Jewish innocents) does not follow the "Green Line", which demarcated Israel's pre-'67, nine-mile wide, Auschwitz -- I mean armistice -- line existence. The original Bantustan was a disconnected entity created for Blacks under the apartheid regime in South Africa and no substitute for a real state.

Before we proceed, it would be most useful to first find a regional map of the Middle East and North Africa. Try to find Israel without the aid of a magnifying glass. And if you can only find a map of the world, better use a microscope.

All people should be able to live in dignity, and this applies to Jews also. This, unfortunately, proved often to be impossible both in the Christian West, where Jews were considered to be the Deicide people (and treated accordingly), as well as in the Muslim East, where they were considered to be kilab yahud -- "Jew dogs" -- and killers of prophets. Hence, the necessity of the rebirth of Israel on less than one half of one percent of the territory of the Middle East and North Africa..

In creating those "Arab" states on over six million square miles of territory, millions of non-Arabs -- Berbers, Copts, Kurds, Black Africans, Jews and others, as well -- were conquered and forcibly Arabized, often having their own native cultures and languages outlawed, suppressed and so forth.

While Arabs and their supporters use 1947 as the starting point for discussion about the partition of "Palestine", this is blatantly dishonest for reasons already cited. The land called "Palestine" by then represented only about 20% of the original Mandate as it existed in 1920, before the separation of Transjordan - all the land east of the Jordan River - as a reward to Britain's Hashemite Arab allies in 1922. An Arab state has thus existed on some 80% of Palestine since 1922 - today's Jordan - regardless of the distastefulness of this fact to the Israel-bashers. In his memoirs, Transjordan's ruler, Emir Abdullah, attributed the Arab acquisition of this land to an act of Allah.

Are there local differences between Arabs? Sure, like there are differences between North Carolinians and New Yorkers. But just as Jews didn't ask for dozens of different states because their people came from dozens of different countries (including Jews whose families never left the land of Israel since the Roman wars), Arabs are not entitled to dozens of states at the expense of one for Jews, Kurds, or others as well. Yet, that is what Arabs expect.

Despite all of this, Arabs rejected the 1947 partition plan, even though the Jews would have wound up with about 10% of the original area. Then, as now, for far too many Arabs, it's not how big Israel is that is the crux of the issue - it's that Israel is that poses the problem. And it still does, even with the emergence of the so-called "moderate", Mahmoud Abbas. The new Palestinian Arab leader ran on a platform of Israel's destruction, but by "other" means.

So, Mr. Bush and his two Secretaries of State's comments have been largely misdirected.

It's not Jews who rejected fair and honorable solutions over the decades. And similar compromise partitions and such between competing national movements elsewhere have not been uncommon, involving population exchanges, and the like. The one which created Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan at the same time Arabs rejected the 1947 partition plan for Palestine especially comes to mind.

Israel was never meant to be a rump state. But at the close of hostilities after the invasion by Arab states of a nascent Israel in 1948, the United Nations-imposed armistice lines made Israel a mere nine miles wide at its waist, a constant temptation to its enemies. Most of Israel's population and industry lies in that vulnerable, narrow waistband.

In the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, which Israel was forced to fight after it was blockaded at the Straits of Tiran and other hostile acts, UN Resolution 242 did not demand that Israel return to the status quo ante. It called, instead, for the creation of "secure and recognized borders" to replace those fragile post-'48 armistice lines.

Jews lived and owned land in Judea and Samaria (renamed the West Bank only during the last century as a result of British imperialism and Transjordan's illegal seizure of the land) until they were slaughtered by Arabs in the 1920s and 1930s. Thousands of years before the Arabs burst out of the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century CE and advanced their imperial conquests into the area, the Jews' ancestors made Hebron and other places on the "West Bank" known to the world via the Hebrew Bible. Why is it that one million Arabs can live without fear in Israel, but lands where both Jews and Arabs have historic ties must become Judenrein? Should Israel give eviction notices to its Arabs? I can hear the UN screams already....

Any such settlement regarding renewed "Roadmap" discussions must continue to take all of this into account. Keep this in mind regarding the path of the security fence, as well.

Israelis have no desire to rule over several million Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza. But they also don't want a good cop/bad cop, Arafatian/Hamas state set up in their backyards; a state that only temporarily allows quiet to further its still retained "destruction in stages" goals.

Abbas offers a temporary ceasefire -- a hudna, not peace -- to his Jewish neighbors, designed merely to strengthen his own position. Both he and the other Abu -- Ahmed Qurei' -- now running the show are on record refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish State. Their admitted intent is to insist on Israel being swamped by millions of "returning" real or fudged Arab refugees. Half of Israel's Jews were refugees from Arab/Muslim lands - but without some two dozen other states to call their own.

Let's face some obvious, if politically incorrect, facts.

There really is no room in that miniscule space between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River for another state. But if the world insists that yet another Arab one indeed pop up there -- in addition to the state Arabs already have east of the Jordan on some 80% of the original Palestinian Mandate -- then its birth must cause Israel the least amount of risk as possible. And there will be plenty of risk, regardless.

More than lip service is required to grant an extremely vulnerable Israel the security any other nation would demand. What other nation would permit the emergence of a state openly committed to its destruction to be set up right in its own backyard? So, this means that Arabs are not going to be able to get all that they want on the West Bank and Gaza. That's what is meant by "compromise." And that compromise must have a territorial component to it, whether Dr. Rice and the rest of the world like it or not.

America toppled Noriega in Panama, thousands of miles away from home, in the name of its national interests. Likewise, the British fought the Falklands War off the coast of Argentina. Etc., etc. and so forth. This means that the 22nd Arab state that the world insists upon -- while telling thirty million truly stateless, endangered, used and abused Kurds that they are still undeserving of one -- will not be very large and will have to have some restrictions placed upon it.

The contiguity of that 22nd Arab state must not come at the expense of the security of the sole, miniscule state of the Jews, one half of whom, again, were refugees themselves from so-called "Arab" lands. And that's the missing half of Mr. Bush, Mr. Powell and Dr. Rice's statements about viability and Bantustans that those of us who care about the long-term health of Israel worry about.

While a reasonable compromise, like UN Resolution 242, is in order, a unilateral retreat forced upon Israel to the '49 Auschwitz/armistice lines by its "friends", a la Munich 1938, is not.

Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs. He has created and conducted counter-Arab propaganda programs for college youth, has lectured on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has publicly debated many Arab spokesmen. His articles and op-eds have been published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, academic journals and websites all around the world.

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