If the Arabs laid down their weapons there would be no more war. If the Israelis laid down their weapons, there would be no more Israel.
That is the subject of today’s 15 minute episode.
Let’s start with a quick look at the history of the Middle East starting in 1948, when the UN created Israel by partitioning Palestine. Prior to that, many Jews had emigrated to Palestine, the ancestral home of both Israelis and Palestinians.
- Following the announcement of an independent Israel, five Arab nations—Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon—immediately invaded the region in what became known as the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The five attacking countries announced their intention to, “Drive Israel into the sea.” Heavily outmanned and outgunned, Israel stunned the world by not only surviving but capturing 1,900 sq. miles of Arab land, including East Jerusalem; the Israelis had been granted West Jerusalem in the partition. The attacking countries had promised the Palestinians that they would win, drive the Israelis out, and that at the very least the Palestinians would be able to keep their homes. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians became homeless as a result of the defeat. Shockingly, no Arab country volunteered to take them in–despite their failed promises. Jordan would have been the logical choice given the geography and the Jordanian ancestry of many Palestinians.
- During the Six Day war in 1967, Israel defeated the combined armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, which had massed along its borders, capturing the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. For Israel, it was a stunning triumph; for the Arabs, a humiliating defeat.
- On October 6, 1973, hoping to win back territory and dignity lost in 1967, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a coordinated attack against Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Once again, Israel survived.
- In 1981, Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty, with Israel giving up the Sinai Peninsula in return for peace.
- In 2005, Israel unilaterally gave up the Gaza Strip, hoping to trade land for peace again.
- The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the ruling party in the West Bank, last held elections in 2005. The PLO, notably under the late Yassar Arafat, has repeatedly rejected peace agreements, including the one that President Bill Clinton thought he had successfully brokered in July of 2000.
- Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization, was elected to rule Gaza in 2006. No elections since.
Today’s Key Point: If the goal is to have lasting peace in the Middle East, with as much economic success and freedom as possible for both Israelis and Palestinians, a one-state solution is the best way to achieve those goals.
Modern history in the Middle East began with the final collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WWI. They had sided with the Kaiser, and the Ottomans suffered fatally when Germany lost. Post WWI, Jews began to immigrate, in small numbers, from various countries to Palestine, then a British Mandate country. After almost thirty years in control with some serious waffling about the right of Jews to immigrate to Palestine, the British Mandate in Palestine ended in 1948 with the UN partition which created the new state of Israel.
The many and powerful forces arrayed against Israel, with the relatively recent exception of Egypt, don’t want peace with their enemy, Israel. Their long held position has been to refuse to even recognize Israel’s existence, and to repeatedly call for its extinction. Their commitment is to drive every Israeli, man, woman and child, into the Mediterranean. The problem, to Hamas, the recognized terror group that runs the Gaza strip, and the PLO, the should-be-recognized terror group in charge of the West Bank, is not that Israel is not cooperating with them in the way it should. To them, Hamas and the PLO, the problem is that Israel exists at all. The people who lead and are paid by these terrorist groups would have nothing to do if there was peace. They would lose their coveted place in the “resistance” and have to go get a job. Simple truth: Activists Don’t Want Peace. And that’s true in more places than just the Middle East. Egypt, a far larger, more diverse and successful country than either the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, was not filled with terrorist leaders and high-ranking followers who needed to avoid peace at all costs to maintain their positions. Egptian leaders knew the benefits of peace, and were confident enough in themselves to make it happen. They signed a separate peace deal with Israel. And have honored it.
Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. And there are precious few democracies in Muslim countries around the world. Arabs in Israel have more freedoms and have far better standards of living than the average person living in either Arab countries or Iran (Iranians are Persians, not Arabs). What is the benefit of having a two-state solution where Israel would continue to be successful and free, and a combined Gaza and a West Bank that would be ruled by the terrorist coalition of Hamas and the PLO? While their citizens continued to live in poverty and under autocratic rule.
The claim that the Israelis “made the desert bloom” has a solid foundation. With no oil, and having been attacked by multiple countries, with the announced intention of annihilating them in 1948, 1967 and again in 1973, Israel has literally made the desert bloom. Everything from massive desalination plants providing vitally needed water to the creation of a thriving tech industry, Israel has made its tiny part of the world blossom. All while needing to have the largest standing military per capita in the world. Remember, Israel, the defender, needs to win every war, every time, or be eliminated. As counterpoint, when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip after Israeli troops and citizens evacuated in the hope that they could exchange “land for peace”, Hamas destroyed all of the thriving greenhouses the Israelis had built. And Hamas is using repeated rocket attacks on Israeli civilian populations as their part of any land for peace deal. Israel is a tiny country, about the size of New Jersey. Rockets fired from Gaza can hit hundreds of Israeli cities, including the capitol, Tel Aviv, which is less than 50 miles away. This current round of rocket attacks started over 6, yes, 6, houses in Jerusalem that have been in a legal battle for over 50 years. The case is with the Israeli Supreme Court, that serves both Palestinians and Israelis and has Muslim and Jewish judges.
Question: Where is the locus of anti-Israeli sentiment, and why is it there? Answer: The progressive left hates anything that is successful, either militarily or economically. Capitalism is unarguably the most successful wealth building engine on the planet, so they hate capitalism. Israel, this tiny, almost utterly defenseless, startup of a country in 1948, has succeeded beyond all odds, beyond all imagination, both militarily and economically, so they hate Israel. The left has been open about their pro-Arab, anti-Israel stance since the 60s. The Chicago Seven and The Squad have at least that in common.
But Will, doesn’t a one-state solution mean that millions of people would lose “title” to their ancestral home? Yes. And they would be far better off.
Let’s look at an analogy. In the Mexican American war of 1846 to 1848, the US took New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, Texas and Western Colorado from Mexico. And the US and Mexico are both the better for it. As is the rest of the world. By picking–and winning–the fight, the US added huge amounts of land and resources, bringing them into a prosperous democratic, capitalist society with relatively little corruption and organized crime. And, at the same time, the US took that land away from Mexico, preventing the land, the people on the land, and the resources from winding up as part of a country, Mexico, with a failed economy, rampant government corruption and massive organized crime–the drug cartels. With its fortuitous defeat, Mexico became smaller, and the US bigger. A key benefit is that fewer people now need to escape from a smaller Mexico, and have a larger US to escape to. If Mexico had the lack of foresight to lose and managed to win, a much larger number of people would be trying to escape into a smaller US.
It is the same with Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. In the end, after the Palestinians swallowed a bitter pill, the expanded nation of Israel would provide degrees of freedom and economic success to millions of Palestinians that would be entirely unattainable under Hamas and the PLO. After swallowing the bitter pill of defeat in the War, Mexico and the Mexicans in the conquered territories are dramatically better off today than they would have been had Mexico won the war. In exactly the same way, after swallowing the bitter pill of being absorbed into one state, the State of Israel, the people of Gaza and the West Bank would be far better off. During the war that threatened the new State of Israel in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled their homes. Those who stayed in what became Israel, and their descendants, have been granted citizenship and are known as Israeli Arabs, comprising 18% of the voters in Israel. This voting block may very well play a key role in tilting elections toward either Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud Party, or its equally strong opponent, Herut, the Liberal Party.
If you think this is too much of a bitter pill to swallow, or believe this to be too flawed to be acceptable, what is your solution, and how do you get there? I would be very interested in hearing from you.
Where do you stand? What are you going to do? Remember, it does not matter where you stand if you don’t do anything.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:14
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.