I don't want to be an apologist for the Israelis, but I find it very difficult to ignore the shameless twisting and fabrication of facts and history to meet bizarre theories propounded initially by the Arab Nationalists and now by Neo Fascist Islamic Fundamentalists which essentially suggest that Jews from the West stole land from Arab Moslems thus making Israel an illegitimate sham of a nation.
This theory of how the Palestinians became refugees is a “creation myth” that has formed the basis for the entire political fabric of the modern Middle East. The fact that these theories have been widely accepted by “intellectuals” in the West is in large measure due to the strange appeal of the Palestinian movement on a deeply emotional level. Perhaps the love for the Palestinian movement developed because it "seemed" to be a socialist organization at a time when socialism was very fashionable. Also, the Palestinians were portrayed as outcasts and underdogs by most of the media, and who does not have a sentimental attraction to such iconic images? But in fact the roots of the PLO and the entire Arab Nationalist movement are founded on Fascism from the early 20th century, and, like most fascist movements, the entire belief system is built on falsehoods.
First to the false claims that Israel has no right to the land that they stole from innocent Arabs. A brief timeline for the region may help to dispel these charges:
- Mid 1st Century AD Rome sacks Jerusalem and expels the Jews;
- Within a decade after the sack of Jerusalem Jews begin to return in small numbers;
- For about 500 years “Palestine” is inhabited in growing proportion by Christians and controlled by Romans/Byzantines;
- In the 7th Century Islamic forces conquer the Persian Empire and defeated the Byzantine Empire "liberating" the Holy Land and placing Palestine under Islamic control;
- During period of Arab Islamic control Palestine is inhabited primarily by Christians and Jews and a small but important class of Moslems who probably converted to Islam from Christianity and Judaism;
- In the 11th Century European Crusaders come and re-conquer the Holy Lands and the population remains roughly the same with the exception of a mass exodus of Moslems who were a minority;
- After the Crusaders were defeated in the 12th and 13th Centuries, Islam takes over again, Moslems return to the area, but still the area is primarily Christian and Jewish;
- In the 16th Century, the Turks take over and nothing really changes...
- until the 18th century -- in an effort to compete with Western Colonial efforts Turkish rulers encourage the creation of large European style plantations that were supposed to copy the methods of Western nations. Local Christians and Jews simply did not want to participate in these plantations, so large numbers of impoverished peons from Syria and Egypt were brought in to work the plantations. For one reason or another these plantations never really took off, and the land owners essentially abandoned the projects leaving the Moslem peons to work the land for nominal rents which often were never even collected.
During this entire time Jews were essentially welcome to move to Palestine, and any other part of the Arab/Turkish World. In the 19th Century, a movement grew up among European Jews called Zionism. The goal of Zionism initially was simply to encourage Jews to move to Palestine since the Turks treated them so much better there. As time passes the goal of some kind of autonomous state within the Turkish nation was bandied about along with some really strange ideas such as using wastelands in Africa, jungles in South America and Central America, etc. However, whether by organized effort or just by individual choice, Jews continued to "return" to Palestine/Israel and were generally welcomed by the local population and by the Islamic government, but only in small numbers as individuals and family groups. They caused no problems, were honored as People of the Book, and brought useful skills.
Not until the early 20th century did a problem emerge. And the problem really had nothing to do with the Jews of Palestine so much as the Arabs of the Arab World who were very frustrated by the Turkish hegemony over them. The initial leaders of the Arab world tended to admire the European Progressive/Fascist movements. When the Arabs "won" independence during World War I to only have it taken away from them by the European powers, the Arab Nationalists chose to side with the Fascist and Nazi movements. It was during this time that the latent anti-semitism among the Arab population was encouraged and utilized by the Fascist Arab Leaders to rally the the Arab people, much as the Nazis were doing in Germany. The Jews of Palestine were a very convenient group for much of the same reasons as they were in Europe, but in addition, the Jews had been greatly favored by the Turks who were hated by the Arab Fascist Leaders.
This all coincided with a marked increase in Jewish immigration to Palestine during the 1920s and 1930s. Although there were some riots by Arab Nationalists citing Jewish immigration as yet another example of foreign colonial powers ignoring Arab wishes, most people welcomed them and there were no serious problems. Most of the Arabs resented the British occupation more than the Jews, but the colonial issue did increase anti-Jewish feelings. Then during WWII the Arab Fascist Leaders sided with the Axis powers and the anti-Jewish feelings were inculcated into the Arab people who had never really had any reason to hate anyone, but who did resent the British occupation. Then the Nazis and the Arab Leaders lost WWII, and the resulting stream of Jewish refugees started pouring in.
Probably at this point everyone could have lived together in peace if the Arab Leaders had shown the smallest degree of reason and diplomacy. There probably should have been some sort of effective regulations to control Jewish immigration. But instead of working with their former neighbors and friends, the Arab Fascist Leaders decided obstinacy was the only course since their true goal had nothing to do with regulations of immigration and/or the proper management of Palestine.
The true goal of the Arab Nationalists was creating a Pan-Arab Union that could goose-step through the Arab world and revive and unite a sagging culture. The arriving Jews used this to their benefit and essentially won a marketing campaign concerning the control of Palestine in the United Nations - they quite correctly painted the Arab Leaders as outright Fascists who refused to acknowledge the fact that the Nazis had been defeated.
The Jews would probably have been quite happy to live in peace within a Moslem country – after all they had been doing so for almost 1500 years. However, these Arabs were not the old Arabs of antiquity. They were Fascists who wanted to use the issue to rouse the Arab People to Revolution!!!! And so they did. Instead of supporting the "one nation" proposal which the early Zionists would have been happy to accept (at the time the Zionists promoted the Two Nation Solution, but there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that the Israelis were willing to accept a One Nation Solution if the Arabs had offered it), they demanded removal of all Jews from Palestine, even those communities that were more ancient than the Moslem Arabs who only arrived in the 18th and 19th centuries. This was to be a great revolution that would once and for all unite the Arab World within the structure of a Fascist system. So what if a small number Jews had to suffer?
And so the 1948 War began. The Israelis were forced into a small sliver of land and they were then attacked by armies from their Arab neighbors. The fact that they won is why Israel still exists. If Israel ever loses a war, they will all be murdered and slaughtered, and Israel will cease to exist.
Now these are the facts. Jews did not steal any land, nor did they start the war. When it became obvious that the Arabs were going to fight them with the sole goal of exterminating them, they used every trick in the book to survive. Did they use clever marketing ploys to make the Arabs look brutal and unreasonable??? Unfortunately it didn't take too much effort. And did they fight tenaciously and bravely against often unmotivated Arab soldiers who really had no deep seated hatred??? Yes, they did. It really is no great surprise that the Arab soldiers who had never had any reason to hate anyone should not be eager to fight to the death to remove the Jews from Palestine.
Also, in regards to the poor Palestinians who lost their lands during the 1948 War: They were not evicted by the Jews. They were ordered out of their houses and cities by the Arab Fascist Leaders. One need only look at Israel to see that this is true. Those Arabs that refused to leave their homes became Israeli citizens and were given all the same rights of an Israeli citizen. Those who chose to obey their Arab Fascist Leaders became pawns in a cruel game orchestrated by the same Arab Fascist Leaders who had lead them so astray. Oh there were clearly refugees caused by fighting, but even after the fighting was over the Israelis offered to allow the Palestinians to return to their homes and live in peace. None returned. There is no doubt that the Israelis made the offer hoping none would return. But the truth is that if they had returned, Palestinians would have become the majority of Israel, and Israel would only have survived if the various groups could have found a way to live in peace together. But this would not have suited the Arab Fascist Leaders who now stood discredited and distrusted by their own people.
The Arab people asked themselves, “How could our leaders have so miscalculated and mishandled the situation???” Releasing the Palestinians back to Palestine would have surrendered their one ace-in-the-hole that made it possible for them to continue to reign in power. They would ignore the complaints and accusations of their own people, and just call for a crusade/jihad to restore the poor Palestinians to their land. Indeed in regards to using propaganda to control their own people, the Arab Nationalists had learned from the Germans well. Soon the Arab people had completely forgotten why they had gone to war, and why they had lost, and why the Palestinians now lived in refugee camps: All they knew is what they were fed by the Propaganda machines of the Arab World.
So where does this leave us? Do the Palestinians have a right to their own nation even though they have never had one in the past? Do the hardships imposed on the Palestinian people by their fellow Arab leaders justify the ongoing hatred and conflict with Israel and the West? Is there a way that Israel, the Palestinian people, and the Arab World can live together in peace? These answers cannot be found solely by understanding the historical background of the situation, regardless of how much I enjoy total immersion in history. However, allowing lies to be perpetuated only creates ignorance which feeds fanaticism. Israel did not steal anything from the Palestinians. Whether or not Palestinians should have their own nation and government rests more with the neighboring Arab nations than with anyone else, and to date the Arabs have chosen to use the Palestinian situation as a political tool, thus leaving the Palestinians in a painful and isolated situation. A situation that has lead to the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism and the perpetuation of the same falsehoods of the past.
Before there can be any progress among the Arabs of the Middle East, at least progress that involves a peaceful coexistence with the rest of the world, the Arabs must abandon the “creation myth” foisted upon them by Arab Nationalists and further propagated by Islamic Fascism. The Palestinians and the Arabs are not victims of some strange Jewish/Western Conspiracy. If anything, they are victims of their own corrupt leaders. Furthermore, it is vitally important that the Myth of Palestinian Dispossession not be accepted in the West without thorough evaluation and review. To do so only encourages and supports propaganda over the truth.