Despite the fact that I have engaged in discussing politics here previously, I always hesitate to do so. This blog’s focus is not politics or the world at large but (tries) to restrict itself to a narrower focus on things that are fun.
However, I feel compelled to weigh in on the current situation in Gaza and particularly the coverage that it has been receiving from the press at large. And to cover a few points that some folks might need to be reminded of.
First: folks need to get off the idea that there is any real legitimate claim on the land by a ‘Palestinian entity’. Without going into all of the details, the oldest records we have for the region indicate that it was Caananite land and that the semitic tribe known as Hebrews either were or merged with the Caananites in the far distant past.
Those people went on to found what were essentially city-states – Judah and Israel and to control the surrounding valleys. This is the same land that was conquered by the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Romans, etc.
The region eventually fell under the control of the Ottoman Empire, was then taken by the French and British in the form of UN mandates following World War I. The British promised the indigenous arabic tribes self-rule and didn’t deliver. Eventually they evolved a plan to divide the area up into a Jewish state and an Arabic state; the Jews accepted the UN resolutions, the Arabs didn’t and we essentially arrive at where we are today.
If you look at historical maps of the region (they’re online and freely available) you’ll find that there was NEVER a country called Palestine. There were political boundaries – satrapies, mandates, regions, call them what you will – that had a name based on the Roman designation for the region that was similar – Palestina – but the region referred to as such was the land of the Jews. (Dereivation information at wikipedia)
However, (unfortunately), that particular argument – no matter how true and historically correct – has been lost in the political wranglings that have gone on since at least the first world war.
Second – the various tribes that now refer to themselves as Palestinians are mostly refugees of their own making. When the arabs refused to accept the UN resolutions that would have created an arab state and an Israeli state in the region they did so because the leaders of the Arab League promised them that they would destroy the new state of Israel and that the entire region would be their land. Entreaties from the new Israeli government went unheeded.
Of particular note is that the Mufit of Jerusalem – an arabic political leader with ties to Nazi Germany – attempted to get the Arab League to recognize a separate region, called Palestine, that he would essentially rule: this attempt to create an entirely new country/political entity for personal gain was REJECTED by the the Arab League.
Following the War of Independence – which Israel won – the arabs who had fled the region (rather than remaining as Israeli citizens) had no where to return to.
It should also be noted that under the many plans for two-states in the region that preceded Israeli independence, every single plan gave more land to the arabs than to the jews, the jews accepted every single plan, the arabs rejected every single plan.
Third. Those arab refugees fled to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran and other surrounding countries where they formed large refugee communities and, rather than moving back to the non-Israeli lands remaining, chose to agitate within those countries. They subsuquently had to be kicked out of Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan following attempts at insurrection and coup.
Four. Whether the refugees have any legitimate claim to lands now within the borders of Israel is essentially moot, since those people have become political fodder for politico-military organizations that have been declared terrorist organizations by the US, many European countries and, in some cases, the UN. We are not dealing with an homogenous displaced people – we are dealing with terrorists who have repeatedly stated their unwillingness to come to any political accomodation in the region. The refugees – victims of their own decisions initially – are now being victimized by radicals who claim to speak for them.
Those terrorist organizations – from those organized by Arafat as the PLO, down to the current Iranian-funded and backed Hamas and Hezbollah, are not interested in any way whatsoever in seeking peace in the region. They have as their creed the destruction of the state of Israel – which is only a small part of their goal of establishing a world-wide Islamic Caliphate.
Five. If you study the history, regardless of any of the specific details, you will note that EVERY SINGLE TIME Israel has agreed to accomodate their demands, rather than waiting for a political process to work itself out, they have once again resorted to violence. When they said they wanted autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza, their capital in East Jerusalem and would work towards creating a two-state solution in the region – they did not mean that receiving such would satisfy them. They meant that this would be only a step towards their ultimate goal of the elimination of the state of Israel.
Which brings us (once again) to where we are essentially today, leaving me only one final point to make.
Israel is a democratic country that enjoys wide personal rights, a free press, elected representatives, open education and all of the other trappings that those of us in the west are used and accustomed to.
This is not true of Hamas. One particular incident bears this out. Israel has been accused of firing tank shells at UN relief workers. The world’s press outlets have taken statements to that effect from Hamas and from the UN (which itself admits that it does not posess the full story) – without corroboration. Israeli sources state that the relief workers were shot, rather than shelled and that those wounded workers are now in Israeli hospitals being treated.
Yet the international press insists on running with the Hamas/UN version of the story – again, without having it confirmed.
It certainly is possible for both sides to be telling stories – but Israel has offered up the location of the people wounded in the incident. It would be a relatively easy task for ‘international reporters’ to visit that hospital and obtain the facts themselves – yet none of them have done so as of this writing.
There is no doubt in my mind that collateral damage is occurring in Gaza – some of it the responsibility of Israel. But the international press seems bent on showing Israeli actions in the worst possible light – even to the point of maintaining uncertainty about a wide-spread story that could be easily resolved.
Read the press coverage that you want to, but make sure to check in with the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz as well (both English language papers) – you just might gain a different perspective on what is going on.
SF content here today? suffice it to say that if the above were the plot of a novel you were reading – you wouldn’t buy it.