One of the reasons I so deeply appreciate the open comments here is that sometimes, my critics bring up a valid point. (It’s kind of a blind squirrel/broken clock thing.) Other times, they’ll challenge one of my beliefs in such a way that makes me re-examine it — and reaffirm it.
The other day, one of those critics took issue with my support for Israel in the current fighting with the Palestinians. They said that it seemed, to me, that “Israel can do no wrong.” Normally I just blow off such twits, but it got me thinking.
When there is a conflict one is not directly involved in, there are three positions one can take: support side A, support side B, or refuse to take sides. (Yes, there are gradations and variations, but they boil down to those three choices.)
Neutrality tends to come in three flavors itself: 1) “a pox on both your houses”/why can’t both lose, the sentiment I had during the Iran/Iraq war; 2) both sides have valid points, it’s a shame they can’t work it out peacefully; 3) I refuse to get involved on principle/it doesn’t affect me.
Now, I don’t believe neutrality is a valid option here. We have too many ties, too many interests, too much history invested in the region to simply sit by. Besides, in such cases, regardless of the eventual outcome, those who did nothing tend to lose any respect and credibility in the aftermath.
So that leaves us with just two choices: which side should we support?
Now, obviously Israel isn’t perfect. We have had pretty good relations with the modern-day incarnation of the Jewish state, but with a few bumps here and there. Overall, though, Israel has been a pretty consistent friend and ally. And their contributions to the world are not to be underestimated — that hunk of desert (apparently the only one NOT sitting on top of vast amounts of oil) is a high-tech center of the universe, their economy is thriving, and they’ve been willing to share the bloody lessons they’ve learned in decades of conflict with the rest of the world. We now know far more about treating horrific shrapnel wounds, for example, than we would have known otherwise — and that’s a lesson they paid for in blood.
They are also a stable, functioning democracy, with actual protections for minorities. Hell, in some cases, it’s better to be a non-Jewish Israeli than a Jew — only Jews are required to give military service. Non-Jews can do pretty much everything a Jew can in Israel, including serving in the armed services and the government.
On the other hand, we have the Palestinians.
Someone once described them as a people “who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” At every crossroad, they look carefully down both paths to see which will cost them less heartache, grief, and blood — and inevitably turn away from it.
As another person put it, after the 1948 Partition that established Israel, “the Jews took the deal and made a nation. The Palestinians took the deal and made a war.” And promptly lost it. And have lost every single war since. It never occurs to them that perhaps war is not the way to get what they want.
People always bring up the 800,000 Palestinian refugees created with the founding of Israel. But they don’t mention a few other details surrounding that number:
1) Many of those refugees willingly sold their land to Jews and moved away.
2) Many of those refugees listened to the Arab world’s promise that if they just got out of the way, the Arabs would drive the Jews into the sea, and then they could return to their homes. It’s been about 60 years, and the Arabs haven’t kept that promise.
2a) Nor have those Arab nations done much to help the refugees who took them at their word. Instead,they’re denied citizenship, shoved into “refugee camps,” and kept as pathetic as possible for use as propaganda tools.
3) That number of 800,000 is woefully low. There were 1.6 million refugees created at the founding of Israel. While 800,000 Palestinians left Israel for Arab lands, another 800,000 Jews were flowing in the opposite direction, leaving behind nearly all their worldly possessions. But they didn’t sit around on their asses and whine about it. As I said before, they were handed lemons, but they didn’t make lemonade. They started a lemonade franchise that grew into a huge conglomerate, and never looked back. You’ll find very little sentiment among those refugees and their descendants to go back to their “ancestral homes” in Egypt, Syria, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, or any of the other places. They GOT OVER IT.
3a) Those refugees were so successful partly because their new host government welcomed them, made them citizens, and helped them get on their feet — something not a single Arab nation did for their “Palestinian brethren. In fact, it’s worth noting that Muslim nations have killed far more Palestinians than Israel has — Jordan killed between 3,000 and 5,000 alone in September 1970, and in subsequent months the death toll from that struggle most likely broke 10,000.
4) The Palestinians have repeatedly constructed elaborate fantasies and charades, and demanded the world buy into them. They tout their “historic ties” to the region, but it’s utterly fabricated. Challenge a Palestinian supporter to cite some of the ancient Palestinian rulers. Or some noted events in Palestinian history. Or how it got along with some of its ancient neighbors. For god’s sake, ask them what ancient Palestine called its currency. They will have no answers, because there are none.
What is known as “Palestine” was a Roman corruption of “Philistine,” the name they gave to the region after they oppressed and tried to drive out the Jews. As part of their plan to erase the Jews’ ties to the land by naming it “Syrian Palestine.” It didn’t take, though. Even as late as the 1920’s, news accounts of “Palestinians” referred to Jewish residents of the region.
4a) The Palestinians, while saying they don’t embrace violence and terrorism, nevertheless seem to do so at every opportunity. Hamas stole an idea from the Irish and established “militant” and “political” wings, much like the IRA and Sinn Fein, but didn’t even bother to name them differently. And do a search on the name “Wafa Idris” — the last time I did so, the first 20 results were all about the first female suicide bomber. #21 mentions how the Palestinians, in cooperation with UNICEF, named a girls’ summer camp in her honor.
5) The Palestinians, virtually alone among the Arab world, cheered Saddam Hussein’s 1991 invasion of Kuwait. While the rest of the Arab world looked nervously at their own defenses and made a deal with The Great Satan (i.e., the USA) to save their own asses, the Palestinians lauded Saddam’s move and predicted massive defeats for those who challenged him.
Then, after the war, the Palestinians found themselves extremely unwelcome in newly-liberated Kuwait. Gee, nobody coulda seen THAT one coming…
6) After the 9/11 attacks, Palestinians were seen celebrating wildly and dancing in the streets. It was only when someone clued Yassir Arafat into the PR disaster brewing that he publicly extended his sympathies (and disease-ridden blood in a horrifically-staged photo op) and condemned the attack his very people were rejoicing over.
7) The Palestinians have had many, many “peace accords” with Israel, and made several agreements that were designed to lead to peace and an independent state. And by my reckoning, they have not kept a single element of a single one of those pacts. Instead, they make their demands, make a few promises, wait for Israel to make a few concessions, announce they can’t fulfill their end, arrange for a few horrific terrorist attacks, announce that Israel’s retaliation has “destroyed” the pact, and start a new round of negotiations — with Israel’s concessions from before as the new starting point.
8) When Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip, some of the settlers planned to dismantle and take their greenhouses with them. Bill Gates (anonymously at the time) ponied up big bucks to buy them, then turned them over to the Palestinian people. Instead, the instant the settlers left, the Palestinians descended on their new property and looted, vandalized, pillaged, and destroyed it. They didn’t just kill the goose that laid the golden eggs, they ripped it apart and threw it on the trash heap.
9) In the latest outburst of violence, Hamas — the legally elected government of the Palestinian people — all but formally admitted its role in the recent invasion of Israel, the killing of two Israeli soldiers, and the kidnaping of a third. By any standard, this was an open act of war. Now they are complaining when Israel is actually returning war with war.
No, over the years, the Israelis haven’t taken every single opportunity for peace, understanding, and justice towards their Palestinian neighbors. But over those same years, I haven’t noticed the Palestinians taking even a single opportunity for the same. Instead, at every turn, they demand what they see as “theirs,” and they repeat that they will get all they demand, or they will fight and kill with every means at their disposal.
So be it.