Arlene KushnerArlene Kushner, an investigative journalist working in Jerusalem, provides material, including major reports, for the Center for Near East Policy Research and does regular postings on the political/security situation of Israel. Her work can be found at: www. arlenefromisrael. info.
Within many quarters of the North American Jewish community, which in the main is "politically correct," the notion is sustained that Israel has unmet obligations towards the Palestinian Arabs, and that eventually we must give them a state, because it is the right thing to do.
This notion is founded on some very mistaken ideas.
The Palestinian Arabs have no automatic "entitlement" to their own state.
The erroneous concept that the Palestinians are "entitled" to a state has been promoted for over 13 years. But several times they have actually rejected opportunities to have a state. Having a state is not their first priority, weakening and attacking Israel is.
Since 1994, when the Palestinian Authority was created as a temporary entity that was to lead to a state, there has been no focused effort towards building a civil society or attaining self-sufficiency. The Palestinians - the most heavily endowed by international assistance of any people - have instead turned much of their money towards war. Textbooks produced by the PA prepare students to venerate jihad. Violence is rampant, and groups at odds kill and kidnap each other. Death is openly celebrated.
It is the height of folly - a very dangerous folly - to imagine that if the Palestinians were given a state, then they would be motivated to suddenly morph into responsible citizens of the world, prepared to make positive cont
Having a state is not the PA's first priority, weakening and attacking Israel is.
Having a state is not the PA's first priority, weakening and attacking Israel is.
Palestine Arab claims of deep and distinctive roots in the land are baseless.
That they are a separate people with a long and distinct history in Palestine is a myth that has been carefully promulgated by modern-day Palestinian Arabs to give validity to their claim to the land.
For close to 2,000 years, Palestine was no more than an appendage to various empires. Ruled from outside, it was not peopled by one distinct group; rather, different peoples came and went. Arabs, who were migrants or shepherds, certainly came into Palestine, but they also moved about in broader Arabia and Syria. Nothing marked the Arab in Palestine from the Arab in Syria or Arabia.
The Palestinian Arabs are self-defined as a distinct people only relatively recently. In culture and language they do not differ substantively from other Arab peoples of surrounding areas.
While certainly there are some Palestinian Arabs whose family history in the land dates back generations, this is not true of the population as a whole. There is documentation for the fact that Arabs moved into Palestine with the advent of Jewish settlers in the late 1800s and the first half of the 20th century, seeking work where development was taking place. There is evidence, as well, of Arab migration from elsewhere even more recently.
Israel is not an "occupier".
The term "occupation" is utilized routinely by the Palestinians, who are masters at generating spin. It is also used by those in the international community and Israel who favor a Palestinian state. "Occupation" is a morally loaded term implying that Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian areas is imperative.
But "occupation" is a term that is used improperly in this context.
Occupation occurs only when one sovereign state moves into a region of another sovereign state. Judea and Samaria were not part of any sovereign state. They were certainly not part of a Palestinian Arab state, as such a state has never existed.
Judea and Samaria constitute, at most, "disputed territory." Israel's claim is as strong, if not stronger, than the Palestinian Arab claim. The land technically remains part of the Mandate for Palestine, which has never been superseded. The partition proposed in 1947 by the UN General Assembly carried no weight in international law. In any event, it was rejected by the Arabs.
When the Arab League attacked Israel in 1948, Jordan gained control of Judea and Samaria. In 1967, Israel acquired control in the course of fighting yet another war - that it was a defensive war strengthens Israel's claim. International law says Israel may administer this territory until such time as the jurisdiction of the land is determined via negotiations. Nothing in international law or in agreements struck renders the settlements in Judea and Samaria illegal.
Some say the Israeli occupation is not of the land, but of the people. But in accordance with the understandings of the Oslo Accords, Israel withdrew from Palestinian population centers and permitted local autonomy. It became necessary to move back into these areas in 2002 because of security concerns. The situation in which the Palestinians find themselves is a function of their refusal to eradicate terrorist infrastructure.
Israel will not be depriving Palestinian Arabs of civil rights by retaining the land.
Inside of Israel, thoughtful and serious persons are addressing the issue of Palestinian Arab civil rights, and a number of scenarios are being discussed. Once it is understood that it is possible to legitimately attend to those civil rights outside of the paradigm of a Palestinian state, several potential solutions arise.
If Israel extends civil administration to Judea and Samaria, the Arab residents might be accorded full citizenship; or they might be provided with residency cards similar to those of Arabs in Jerusalem; or there might be yet another resolution.
It is time to address and protect Jewish rights, unabashedly and without apology.
It is important to differentiate between a national right and individual human rights. Those promoting a state are focused on a national right, which, as it turns out, it is non-existent: the Palestinian people, as a people, does not have a "right" to a state. Those concerned with the human rights of individual Palestinian Arabs are able to perceive that these rights might be far better addressed within Israel than within a Palestinian state. Daily, Palestinians within areas under PA jurisdiction suffer abuse of their basic rights. To consign them to continued existence within such a system is not necessarily to work on their behalf.
Jews in Israel have rights in the land.
This basic fact is ignored by hosts of Jews, inside and outside of Israel, who are so eager to do right on behalf of the Palestinian Arabs that they are hesitant to advance the Jewish agenda - or have forgotten that a legitimate Jewish agenda exists.
It is time to address and protect these Jewish rights, unabashedly and without apology.
The region of Judea and Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem, has an ancient Jewish history. It is part of the heritage of the Jewish people to a degree that supersedes the Jewish connection to Israel within the Green Line. This fact is broadly obscured today for two reasons.
There is the misleading PR that emanates from the PA propaganda machine, which denies the Jewish connection to the land. There is, as well, the residual effect of the 19 years during which Jordan controlled the region and made it Judenrein. Areas that had been traditionally Jewish were suddenly exclusively Arab. This is the reason that eastern Jerusalem is sometimes referred to as "Arab Jerusalem." The fact is that from the late 1800s, Jews comprised the majority of the population of Jerusalem. In eastern Jerusalem are located the Temple Mount, the very heart of ancient Jewish religious experience, and the Western Wall. Palestinians now claim there was no Temple on the Mount and that the Wall is Muslim.
Within Judea and Samaria are the ancient city of Hebron, with the Tombs of the Patriarchs dating back to Abraham, Rachel's Tomb and Shilo, where the Tabernacle rested. Archaeological evidence for Jewish presence abounds.
Jews are not upstart newcomers to the land of Israel, but are returning to their ancient homeland. The proof of this lies, in good part, in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. For the Jewish people to now voluntarily relinquish this heritage would be a tragedy of immeasurable dimensions.
© A. Kushner 2007