The Real History of The Middle East
By Jack Kinsella
We are constantly amazed at the number of people who write in complaining that we are too pro-Israel and ‘what about the Palestinians — are you ever going to stand up for them?’ It is hard to do when they haven’t a leg to stand on historically. And even harder when they take the stand that killing Jews for being Jews isn’t racist, but that Israel fighting back is genocide.
But Hal asked me to do a little digging and see what’s what. Does Israel have a right to exist? Who owns the land? Is it Arab land? What is historical Palestine? This is what I ended up with.
The Palestinian Authority has never revised its Charter calling for Israel’s destruction or denying its right to exist. Oh, they convened a meeting to discuss it. Then they said they had a meeting and agreed to change it. That was as far as they went.
Like going out to dinner with a friend and saying, ‘how’s business?’ and then trying to take a tax deduction for the bill as a business expense.
The Arab world claims Israel is an ‘occupying power’. The Durban Conference, in it’s modified declaration, makes the same explicit statement.
What about the claims of the Arabs to their homelands? The same British government that created the modern Arab world in 1920 at the San Remo Conference in Italy — by decree — also created a Jewish homeland the same way at the same conference.
And the Jewish Palestine of the Balfour Declaration as confirmed at San Remo encompassed a much bigger chunk of ground than Israel claims today.
We saw the global reaction when Iraq tried to undo the British freehand redrawing of the map of the Middle East when he reclaimed ‘Province 19’, or what the British have called ‘Kuwait’ since 1899.
It’s important to remember also that Iraq was both ‘Mesopotamia’ and ‘Palestine’ until the British created the modern state Iraq, carving it out of a number of different Arab ‘provinces’ – there were no countries, just provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The British completely forgot to draw borders for Kurdistan.
The Kurds were no happier about it than were the Arabs of the Ottoman Empire that the world now refers to as the ‘Palestinians’. Nobody at the UN is calling for the redrawing of that map.
Three fourths of what became Iraq were Assyrians of Mesopotamia who woke up one morning as ‘Iraqis’. And where is the UN’s indignation at Saddam’s ethnic cleansing of the Kurds? Israel never wiped out any villages [Kurdish, Palestinian or otherwise] with poison gas.
Or is this all Jewish propaganda? Better tell the Arabs. Most of this is on the Arab-Net website, as well. They’ll want to revise that.
And Jordan was created by the British in 1921 as Trans-Jordan. Is it not really Jordan at all.
What is really hard to find in history is a nation of Palestine. If we use Palestine as it was under the Ottoman Turks from 1517 to 1917, there is no Jordan, Syria, or Lebanon. I haven’t heard those countries offering to dissolve themselves and give the land to Arafat.
At the beginning of the 20th century, ‘Palestinian’ cities included Acre, Jerusalem, Amman, Damascus and Baghdad.
Syria was created by the British and subsequently given to France as the French Mandate. The Syrians declared independence after the British left in 1946, two years before Israel did the same thing. How are they different? They are both historically ‘Palestinian’.
Either both the Arab Middle East and the Jewish homeland are equally valid, or equally invalid, since both were created by the same power at the same time. You can’t have it both ways. But facts don’t seem to bother the UN or the Arabs much. It seems when facts get in the way, they are dismissed as ‘Jewish propaganda’.
The Palestinians chose Arafat to stand up for them. They don’t need our help. Arafat’s done quite a job at Durban. Israel was the only nation singled out for condemnation for its ‘racist, genocidal practices’.
Maybe the concept that Jews practice ‘racial superiority’ doesn’t bother the UN, but since I know Jews of virtually every single race — including those from Arab countries, it does me. The main argument against Israel, from the Arab perspective, is that the Israelis stole the land from the ‘native’ people of the region.
First, the question of the ‘native’ people of the region. The Book of Psalms, chapter 137, penned three thousand years ago by a Jew [actually an ‘Israelite’ — a play on words? I think not], says,
“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” — Psalm 137:5-6
The Jewish sacred writings of antiquity refer to Jerusalem some 767 times, compared to the Koran, which does not mention it once.
Americans don’t like to remind themselves that we stole the land from the Indians, but nobody denies what a ‘native American’ is.
One would guess it’s all in how you define ‘native’ but I wouldn’t try that one on the Apaches — or even the Mexicans, when referring to most of the American Southwest.
The only reason we aren’t behaving as the Israelis are is because the Mexicans aren’t setting off bombs in Safeway supermarkets across California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico because we ‘stole’ them from Mexico.
But what do you think America’s response would be if they did? Would the UN call Americans a single ‘race’ in order to lay charges of genocide, racism and ethnic cleansing against the Mexicans?
America is the ‘great melting pot’ consisting of every race, creed and religious perspective under the sun. So, too is Israel.
Melchior’s statement that the Jews are being castigated on race when they are people ‘of a particular birth, irrespective of their faith, and those of a particular faith, irrespective of their birth’ is accurate.
And therefore hardly ‘racist’.
Any Arab argument about Arabs being second-class citizens in Israel is immediately counter-balanced by the record of human rights extended to Jews in Muslim countries.
The radical Islamists claim to be ‘People of the Book’ – the ‘Book’ being the Bible, including the Old Testament. Yet they say Israel has no right to exist as a nation. They should take a look into the ‘Book’ they claim to follow.
“Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.” Jeremiah 31:35-36
I am not one to say Israel is right no matter what. But the starting point for discussion is that Israel has a right to exist, and they have a right to determine the terms of their own existence. As we do in America. Until that happens, one cannot begin to discuss the Palestinian claim.
Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia said in a news conference, speaking of the ongoing suicide attacks in Jerusalem, “Nothing can justify terrorist attacks against civilians”. Apparently, the UN believes some things do. I am surprised to find myself in agreement with the Russians, but there is a first time for everything.
(The Omega Letter Volume #1 Issue #1 – originally published October 14, 2001 – the more things change, the more they stay the same – ed.)