Saturday, July 26, 2014

About Gaza

The good news is that most Americans seem to understand that Hamas is the bad guy and aggressor in the war currently being waged in and from Gaza.

The bad news is that: a) the American media continues to report about Gaza in ways that imply Israel is the bad guy, and b) the way the media reports things can have tremendous influence on the uneducated. So with that in mind, I first want to point out what has happened in recent weeks.

1) Hamas started launching missiles directly at Israel's largest city without targeting any specific building or installation. Clearly, their intention was to kill civilians.

2) The attacks proved ineffective because Israel's Iron Dome defense system intercepted most of the missiles and shot them out of the sky.

3) However, knowing that Iron Dome is not infallible and that there is a risk some of Hamas's missiles will slip through and kill civilians, Israel eventually retaliated by launching missiles into Gaza when Hamas refused to stop firing.

4) And rather than launching their own missiles at Gaza in general, Israel targeted specific houses that were known to be hiding Hamas missiles.

5) Before firing, Israel placed phone calls to the targeted houses and warned those inside that the attacks were coming. When no one answered, they left the warning on answering machines and did so in Arabic.

6) Then, when no one was observed leaving the houses after those calls, Israel fired warning shots before launching the real ones.

7) Yet, the Hamas terrorists inside those homes responded not by evacuating their family members but by sending them onto the rooftops in the hope that their presence would cause the Israelis to roll over, call off the dogs, and let the terrorists have their way. In other words, Hamas deliberately used human beings as shields -- their own kin to boot.

That chain of events makes it obvious who the good guys and bad guys are. Still, I know that some well-meaning individuals are swayed by the claim that Hamas represents a people (aka the Palestinians) whose ancestors were kicked out of their homeland...and I know that many of the people who are swayed by that claim believe we should consider the Palestinians to be the good guys...therefore, I feel compelled to point out that there is currently a Palestinian state, even though there never was one at any time in history until after World War II.

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The ancestors of the people currently referred to as Palestinians were mostly nomadic; and despite the fact they are Arabs, the people referred to as Palestinians have rarely been welcome in Arab nations.

The very idea of a Palestinian national identity did not originate until the early 1900's, and It was not until the 1960's that it picked up significant steam, due largely to the founding of the PLO in 1964 and the voluntary exodus that followed the Six-Day War of 1967.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, Britain had owned a big chunk of the Middle East that was referred to as Transjordan. As the first half of the century unfolded, there was a great deal of back-and-forth concerning how Britain would step away and how Transjordan would be divided between the Jewish and Arab populations that resided there. But "back and forth" might not be the correct term, because the Arabs rejected every proposal that involved Jews being allowed to have any part of the 26,700 square miles. The Arabs wanted everything or nothing, even though Jews had lived in the region since time immemorial and even though Judaism predates Islam, the religion which does more to glue Arabs together than any other aspect of Arab culture or history.

In 1937, the Peel Commission proposed that Transjordan be split in two with an Arab state covering more than 81 percent of the territory and a Jewish state covering less than 19 percent. The "Zionist" segment of the Jewish population believed the Jews deserved a larger share, but rather than reject the proposal, they offered to negotiate. On the other hand, the Arabs rejected it outright -- not because 81+ percent was small, but because they wanted nothing less than 100.

Two years later the Arabs rejected another proposal. Known as the British White Paper, it would have placed major restrictions on Jewish immigration to the region for a period of five years, followed by five years' worth of even stricter limitations, after which "no further Jewish immigration will be permitted unless the Arabs of Palestine are prepared to acquiesce in it." (emphasis mine)

Again, the Arabs' problem couldn't have been that the British White Paper was not tilted heavily in their favor, for it was tilted so heavily it would have been fair to call it anti-Semitic. What the Arabs objected to was the fact that it did not call for having Jews excluded from their own homeland in toto.

In 1947 the UN recommended the establishment of a small Jewish state and a large Arab one, with Jerusalem remaining apart from both and instead being administered as a purely international zone (I'm unsure of the specific square miles proposed for each nation). The Jews accepted this despite being unhappy about having been offered a percentage of the land that was significantly less than their percentage of the population, but once again, the Arabs rejected it. Arab League Secretary Azzam Pasha wrote a letter to Jewish Agency reps David Horowitz and Abba Ewan in which he said "the Arab World is not in a compromising mood" and "it's too late to talk of peaceful solutions."

On May 14, 1948, modern Israel finally came into existence with a total land area of 5,600 square miles, which was less than 21 percent of Transjordan and roughly the size of ConnecticutThe remaining 79+ percent of Transjordan became the country now known as Jordan, which, as we all know, is an Arab country.

Remember that the terms "Arab" and "Palestinian" were used interchangeably at that time, because Palestinians are Arabs after all and the dispute was about how Transjordan would be divided. In other words, Jordan came into being as a Palestinian state and nothing has changed in that regard. The world's intelligentsia and Israel-haters like to say that no such state exists, but they are either ignorant or lying.

Jordan remains home to Palestinians and it welcomes Palestinians from elsewhere,  which is something no other Arab nation does. Combine that with the fact that Israel allows Palestinians to be citizens and affords them every single right that all the other Israelis enjoy -- and combine it with the fact that Israel turned Gaza over to complete Palestinian control 20 years ago -- and you should realize it is bogus for anyone to claim that today's Palestinians are without a homeland and are subject to Israeli oppression.

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One day after modern Israel came into existence, it was attacked by the armies of six surrounding Arab nations. Fortunately it prevailed in the ensuing war, and as part of the treaties which ended that war, it acquired land that was to be used as a buffer against future attacks. Israel used the land as intended, and in later years it returned some of the land to the nations that had attacked it.

As the decades went by, Israel continued to be "officially" attacked by standing armies and "unofficially" attacked by terrorists.

In 1969, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said: "We hate war. We do not rejoice in victories. We rejoice when a new kind of cotton is grown, and when strawberries bloom in Israel." In 1970 she said: "When peace comes, we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons."

In the same year that Meir reflected on the moral anguish of killing Arabs in self-defense, PLO leader Yasser Arafat remarked: "We don't want peace, we want victory. Peace for us means Israel's destruction and nothing else." Four years later he said: "All our moves are based on four general principles: continued use of the rifle, no waiving of historical rights, no peace, and no negotiations."

During the 1972 Summer Olympics, Palestinian terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes. Can you imagine that happening to athletes from any other country?

In subsequent decades, Palestinian terrorists engaged in suicide bombings that indiscriminately murdered Israeli civilians -- civilians who were doing nothing but minding their own business, eating in restaurants, walking on sidewalks, etc.

Palestinians, led by Hamas, continue to encourage their children to kill themselves as long as they kill Jews in the process. Can you imagine telling your daughter to strap grenades to herself, walk to a random intersection in the Muslim-laden city of Dearborn, Michigan, and explode herself to death because doing so will also kill pedestrians who are likely to practice a different religion than yours? 

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Today Israel is smaller than New Jersey, which means it is slightly smaller than it was after that first war 66 years ago. It is one-sixteenth of one percent the size of the 21 Arab nations that surround it. It allows Arabs to vote and has an Arab on its Supreme Court. At this very moment, 12 Arabs are members of its national legislature, which is called the Knesset.

Conversely, 20 of the 21 Arab nations deny their citizens the right to vote, and none of them have Jews holding positions of power in their governments.

The Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas to lead them, much like the Germans of the 1930's elected Hitler to lead them. So that you may chew on what it means to be led by Hamas, I refer you straight to Hamas's very own charter, which was drafted in 1988 and serves as its reason for being.

Much of the charter is fogged by rhetorical flourishes about "forgiveness we beseech" and "cross(ing) all hurdles." However, much of it is crystal clear and not fogged at all, and it would be foolish to ignore or minimize those sections. One of them is Article Eight, which speaks of the Islamic Resistance Movement and declares that "Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes."

Article Seven states that "the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realization of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, 'O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'"

Article Thirteen states: "Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movemement...There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

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How is it that any fair-minded person could consider Israel to be the bad guy? For anyone who supports the ideals of tolerance, peace, justice, and freedom -- in fact, for anyone who supports only one of those ideals -- this conflict provides what might be the most obvious choice history has ever offered.

Note: I read the Hamas Charter before publishing this post, and you can do the same by going here. Also, much of the information referenced in this post came from my own brain, where it wound up as a result of previous research, though I did re-verify some of it at Jewish Virtual Library. 

1 comment:

Scott Friedersdorf said...

Nice read. Thanks for the background..