Now There's a Shocker

The headline of the Associated Press report in The Daytona Beach News-Journal on April 16, 2004 spoke of widespread rage among the Arabs following President Bush's positive reaction to Prime Minister Sharon's Gaza disengagement plan. Papers all over the world were carrying similar stories.

Gerald A. Honigman

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The headline of the Associated Press report in The Daytona Beach News-Journal on April 16, 2004 spoke of widespread rage among the Arabs following President Bush's positive reaction to Prime Minister Sharon's Gaza disengagement plan. Papers all over the world were carrying similar stories.

There is plenty of rage in Israel as well over Sharon's plan, although I don't see it making the mainstream media's headlines. Many Jews (and others as well) see Sharon's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the "West Bank" as a reward to Arab rejectionist terrorism. Indeed, the main thing the Arabs were supposed to do for their part on the "Roadmap" -- fight terrorism -- they not only did not do, but they actually financed and supported more such terrorism.

The vast majority of Arabs refuse to accept a nine-mile wide, microscopic Israel. So why is there a surprise, why is it "headline news", when they refuse to accept a revision of that suicidal existence for the better?

An earlier Cox News Service article, which appeared on April 14th as an "Analysis" piece, entitled "Bush, Sharon meet as Iraq fighting flares", read like a press release provided by either Hamas' or Arafat's press secretary - and was about as factually reliable as well. While it was fair to write about perceptions equating Israel's conflict with the Arabs with America's fight in Iraq, the unquestioning way the article was written simply made the case for that equation. It belonged more on the op-ed pages, not the "news." Where was the "analysis" of this important issue? The article was simply a restatement of standard Arab propaganda. Unfortunately, it was not too different from many other "news" reports offered elsewhere covering Arab-Israeli issues.

Repeating the Arab line that Bush is allowing Israel to grab "Arab" land on the West Bank is one very important example.

Seldom, if ever, does it appear in the mainstream media (except in the words of angry readers' or listeners' responses) that those lands in Judea and Samaria -- known as the "West Bank" only in this past century due to British imperialism and Transjordan's illegal seizure of the west bank of the Jordan River in its attack on a reborn Israel in 1948 -- were unapportioned areas of the original Mandate for Palestine, open to settlement by all peoples, not just Arabs. These lands were mostly state lands, passed on from the Ottoman Turkish Empire (which ruled it for over four centuries) to the British after World War I, and then on to the Jordanians and Israel after 1967.

Purely Arab Jordan was created itself from some 80% of "Palestine's" original post-World War I land. The British separated the Mandate's territory east of the River in 1922 in the creation of Transjordan, partially as a reward to their Hashemite Arab allies.

The name "Palestine," itself, was the name Rome gave to Judaea after the Judaeans' (Jews') second of two major revolts, recorded by the Roman historians themselves, for independence in 133-135 C.E. Tacitus, Dio Cassius, etc. speak of Judaea, not Palaestina, in their accounts. Listen to this one telling quote from Tacitus:

"It inflamed Vespasian's resentment that the Jews were the only nation who had not yet submitted." (Works of Tacitus, Vol. II)

To squash their hopes supposedly forever, Emperor Hadrian renamed the land after the Jews' historic enemies, the Philistines (of David and Goliath fame), a non-Semitic sea people from the eastern Mediterranean or Aegean area.

There never was an Arab country of Palestine. When the Arabs ruled the land -- as a result of their own imperial conquests of the region from the 7th through the 9th centuries C.E.-- it was from out of their two imperial Caliphal capitals, Damascus and Baghdad.

Furthermore, Jews lived on the disputed lands currently in question until their massacres by Arabs in the 1920s.

Many, if not most, so-called "native" Palestinian Arabs moved into those territories from other Arab countries. Indeed, Hamas "patron saint," Sheikh Izzedine Al-Qassam, was from Aleppo, Syria. Strong evidence exists that Yasser Arafat was from Egypt, although he claims his birth records "got lost." Due to the Jews, there was booming economic development going on in the Mandate, so Arabs poured in from all over.

The Records of the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission show scores of thousands of Arabs entering just from Syria alone over just a few months' time; that is, Arab settlers setting up Arab settlements. The British chose not to officially record Arab immigrants, just Jewish ones. But they did record this Arab movement in numerous private and secret correspondence files and other Mandatory correspondence. Evidence for this abounds, and it was preceded just a bit earlier, in the latter 19th century, by many thousands of soldiers with Muhammad Ali's army from Egypt staying and settling in the area after their invasion.

Listen to just a few of many quotes:

"In the last few months, from 30,000 to 36,000 Hauranese (Syrians) entered Palestine and settled there." (Tewfik Bey El-Hurani, 8/12/1934, La Syrie)

"It is certain that many of the inhabitants of Syria and the Lebanon enter Palestine without formality." (Palestine Royal Commission Report, pp. 291-292)

Countering the Arab claim that the Jewish presence was detrimental to them, Winston Churchill responded in 1939: "...So far from being persecuted, Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied...."

It's been estimated that many more Arabs entered Palestine under the cover of darkness and were simply never recorded.

So the lands in Judea and Samaria that Jews came to "occupy" as a result of war being forced upon them in June 1967 (having been blockaded by Nasser's Egypt, a casus beli, etc.) were not "purely Arab lands." That Arabs call it that is no shock. They call Berber North Africa, Africa's Sudan, Kurdish lands in Iraq and Syria, etc. "purely Arab patrimony" as well -- not to mention all of Israel proper. But the Western media doesn't have to promote this chauvinistic lie, as the 4/14 Cox report and others have done. When you don't offer a counter to the claim, or simply repeat as fact Arab "truths," that is what essentially happens.

Israel was never expected to be a nine-mile wide rump state. Yet that's how the U.N.-imposed armistice lines left it in 1949 -- a constant temptation to those who would destroy it. And Arabs repeatedly tried to do just that over the years. As a result of the Arabs' attempt in 1967, things backfired for them bigtime. And Israel found itself in the "occupied territories."

U.N. Resolution #242 was hotly debated after the '67 war. The final draft refused the Arab demand that Israel be forced to withdraw to the artificially-imposed armistice lines of 1949. On the contrary, 242 states that those armistice lines were to be replaced by "secure and recognized borders." Most of the settlements have been established on non-Arab, strategic high ground areas to provide just what 242 envisioned -- a bit more of a buffer separating Israel from its would-be executioners.

The Arab claim that those settlements are "illegal" is simply wrong, and only for a brief period of time -- during Jimmy Carter's term in office -- did the U.S. buy in to that claim. The Arab use of the Geneva Conventions' Article 2 as "proof " falls apart, because that article pertains only to "cases of... occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party" by another such party. The occupations by Egypt and Transjordan (subsequently renamed "Jordan" since it now held both banks of the River) of Gaza and the West Bank were illegal and neither country had lawful or recognized sovereignty. The last legal sovereignty over these territories was that of the League of Nations Palestine Mandate, which stipulated the right of the Jews to live in the whole of the Mandated territory.

President Bush's recent endorsement of Israel's right to something better than a nine-mile wide existence -- while also supporting the Arabs' right to a 23rd state and second one in Palestine -- is consistent with the United Nations Security Council resolutions dealing with this issue - whether his own State Department's Arabists like it or not.

While I welcome President Bush's recent remarks about Israel not having to return to those 1949 armistice lines (and, for the first time, in public, I heard him call them just that, not "borders"), I wish he would have explained this to the world that was watching him on television in these terms, not simply as "new facts on the ground." The territorial adjustments which Israel deserves has to do with justice, not simply the imposition of power. Any 23rd Arab state that might be created -- and second, not first, Arab one within the original 1920 borders of "Palestine" -- must not emerge at the expense of the security of the sole, miniscule state of the Jews.

The other issue of Arab "rage" -- that dealing with their expectation to overwhelm the Jews in their sole, microscopic state with real or alleged Arab refugees -- was also, at long last, dealt with openly by an American President for all to clearly hear.

Half of Israel's Jews were refugees themselves from "Arab" /Muslim lands, and they didn't have two dozen other states to potentially choose from. Not a single Arab refugee would have been created in the first place had Arabs not attempted to violently nip a nascent Israel in the bud after 1947. So, like hundreds of millions of other refugees who have been resettled elsewhere, the Arabs will finally have to deal with their own refugee problem -- which they themselves created -- via another solution besides using their own people as pawns in their anti-Zionist games or expecting Israel to commit national suicide. Furthermore, is an Arab moving from one part of Mandatory Palestine to another part of Mandatory Palestine really a "refugee?" Is he the same as a Jew, for example, literally fleeing for his life (many having been butchered, hanged, etc. in Arab pogroms) from Arab Yemen, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, etc. -- as half of Israel's population did?

Predictable Arab anger must be dealt with delicately but unabashedly, and not pandered to.