By Daniel Greenfield (Canada Free Press)
Boycotts only harden Israeli opinion
How did Israel become the new South Africa?
Gaza: Why I think Israel is right
The day Israel beat mainstream media bias
Myth 1: “Israel was created because Europe felt guilty about the Holocaust.”
This left wing myth has been widely repeated, most recently by Desmond Tutu. While blatantly false on a level that even the most serious anti-Israel historian can recognize, it persists because its function is to delegitimize as the product of post-war colonial guilt, rather than longstanding Israeli national aspirations.
Israel was not created in 1947. By 1947, Israel already was a functioning country with a language, culture, agriculture, universities, newspapers and military forces which proved capable of defending against the armies of several Arab nations. The only thing that happened after the Holocaust was a UN vote in 1947 was for a partition plan that was never implemented because the Arab world instead chose to try and destroy Israel. Israel however would have declared independence and fought for its own survival, with the same exact outcome, regardless of UN Resolution 181. This vote is often described as creating Israel, but it was more accurately an attempt to settle the borders of Israel that failed because of Arab genocidal hostility that expressed itself not only toward Israel, but toward the Jews living in Arab lands.
Nor did post-war European colonialism create Israel. Britain, which was the colonial power in the region, was against Israel’s independence and abstained in the UN vote. The majority of votes for Resolution 181 came from non-European countries, primarily in Latin America and Eastern Europe, such as Bolivia, Brazil, Panama, Peru and Poland, Ukraine and the Soviet Union. 7 European countries voted Yes, most of them Northern European states such as Sweden and Denmark, which experienced only a limited impact of the Holocaust. 12 Latin American countries voted Yes. Twice the number. And all of them countries that had their own national aspirations and had fought against colonialism.
Post-Holocaust guilt was not the reason Resolution 181 passed. Less than a third of the 33 votes came from countries where the Holocaust had taken place. The reasons were varied and different. Some Latin American countries identified with Israel’s national aspirations and some sought economic ties. Truman was influenced by the desire for Jewish votes in an upcoming election. The Soviet Union wanted to sabotage Britain’s colonial program. The motives of different countries were varied and complex. Iran for example voted against the resolution and yet became the second country to recognize the new State of Israel.
Left wing activists may insist that Resolution 181 was a racist act, but in fact half the countries who voted for it were non-white, and most of the countries who voted for it were non-European. Therefore the myth that Israel was created after the Holocaust by guilty Europeans, a myth that has been bandied about by everyone from Desmond Tutu to Wallace Shawn to Barack Obama is just that, a myth. Israel would have existed regardless of the Holocaust or UN Resolution 181, which was voted for primarily by non-European countries in any case. Those who repeat the myth are therefore demonstrating either extreme ignorance or extreme deceptiveness.
Myth 2: “European Nations Gave the Jews a Land Already Inhabited by a People.”
This is one of the more common myths that seeks to strike at the legitimacy of the creation of the modern state of Israel, and treats the Jews as a foreign body within the land. This is a continuation of the anti-semitic stereotypes of the Jews as eternal wanderers and eternal foreigners.
The fact of the matter is that Jews had an ongoing presence in the land going back thousands of years, that was only interrupted by massacres and expulsions, after which the Jews population would once again attempt to reestablish itself. Greek, Roman, Arab and Ottoman colonialism expelled Jewish populations and attempted to replace them with their own populations in order to gain a foothold in the land. Unlike them however the Jews remained the land’s indigenous population.
Throughout history Jews struggled to achieve independence with armed revolts from Roman and Byzantine rule. The last such revolt took place somewhat more than a thousand years before the creation of the modern State of Israel, rather than two thousand as most people believe. Jewish attempts to revive the State of Israel were repeatedly and brutally suppressed, in at least one case by outright genocide. Nor was that the only genocide that Jews in Israel experienced.
Nevertheless attempts at a fledgling Jewish state continued even after the Crusader genocide of the Jewish population in the 1500’s with an attempt to create a Jewish autonomous territory under Selim I by Don Yosef Nassi, as Lord of Tiberias. Further negotiations for the creation of a Jewish state continued in the 18th and 19th centuries. After Ottoman obstinacy made it clear that statehood was hopeless, Jewish freedom fighters in the form of the NILI group and the Jewish Legion aided in the British conquest of the region hoping to receive their own state.
While indeed much of the population of Israel came from outside the land, that was because thousands of years of massacres and warfare had depopulated the area. When Western observers visited Israel in the 19th century, they found that the land was barren and had a low population, both Jewish and Arab. In fact Israel was so sparsely populated, that its entire population in 1850, a mere 350,000 people, could fit into modern day Tel Aviv with room to spare. This is all the more striking when you consider that we are talking about a territory several times the size of modern day Israel.
Alphonse de Lamartine visited Israel in 1835 and wrote; “Outside the gates of Jerusalem we saw indeed no living object, heard no living sound, we found the same void, the same silence ... as we should have expected before the entombed gates of Pompeii or Herculaneam a complete eternal silence reigns in the town, on the highways, in the country ... the tomb of a whole people”. 30 years Mark Twain wrote, “There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent – not for thirty miles in either direction. ...One may ride ten miles (16 km) hereabouts and not see ten human beings.”
In 1857 the British Consul James Finn wrote a book called Byeways in Palestine that chronicled his journeys across the region. In his introduction he wrote rather prophetically, “These notices will show that the land is one of remarkable fertility wherever cultivated, even in a slight degree—witness the vast wheat-plains of the south; and is one of extreme beauty—witness the green hill-country of the north; although such qualities are by no means confined to those districts… Thus it is not necessary, it is not just, that believers in the Bible, in order to hold fast their confidence in its predictions for the future, should rush into the extreme of pronouncing the Holy Land to be cursed in its present capabilities. It is verily and indeed cursed in its government and in its want of population; but still the soil is that of “a land which the Lord thy God careth for.” There is a deep meaning in the words, “The earth is the Lord’s,” when applied to that peculiar country; for it is a reserved property, an estate in abeyance, and not even in a subordinate sense can it be the fief of the men whom it eats up. (Numb. xiii. 32, and Ezek. xxxvi. 13, 14.) I have seen enough to convince me that astonishing will be the amount p. viiiof its produce, and the rapidity also, when the obstacles now existing are removed.” Finn repeated this theme when writing to the Earl of Clarendon, “the country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population.” That population would and did have to come from abroad.
Two generations later in 1920, after the British conquest, the Arab population had hardly doubled. Yet in only a generation after that it had reached 1.3 million, primarily from Arab immigrants to Israel from Egypt attracted by growing Jewish industry. Those immigrants would in turn make up the bulk of the “Palestinian cause” with prominent Palestinian Arabs such as Yasser Arafat and Edward Said stemming from Cairo. Then there was the Lebanon born original chief of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Ahmed Shukairy.
Cairo, unlike Jerusalem, had been a booming center under the Ottoman Empire, with a bulging population. From the 1880’s to the 1930’s, Cairo’s population tripled. The resulting stresses vastly overpopulated the area leading to the extreme slum conditions that European visitors would often describe. And part of that excess population came Israel’s way.
While Jewish immigration to Israel was visible, Arab immigration was invisible, requiring only that a Syrian or Egyptian get on a donkey and ride in the right direction. But the rising role of Israel produced both Arab and Jewish immigration to the land, for economic and political reasons.
Those same critics of Israel did not and do not object to Arab immigration, even though it was part of a colonizing process that displaced the native Jewish population. Instead they show their double standard by objecting only to Jewish immigration. Ironically enough today it is the Arab migration to Europe that occupies the countries of many of those same critics as the newfound populations begin taking over countries that “already have a people.”
In Australia and elsewhere, Muslim immigrants has already begun laying out a new history, claiming that the land belonged to them all along. In France, the riots have been described as a French Intifada. Both processes demonstrate how ethnic and national groups can create a mythology of ownership from square one in countries where they never had much of a presence. That same mythology is behind the claim that the Palestine territory administered by the Romans was actually some sort of unique Arab nationality whose rights have been denied.
Europeans did not “give” Israel a land already inhabited by the Arabs. The Arabs were simply one of the regional populations, and were in the majority because they had conquered and displaced local populations. And while there are numerous oppressed indigenous populations in the Middle East, including the Assyrians, the Kurds, the Copts, the Gypsies of the Middle East (the Dom), the Azeri and the Zoroastrians. Arab Muslims are not on that list except in the minds of Western liberals. Instead Arab Muslims rule all but two countries in the Middle East and 99 percent of the region. 11 million square kilometers to Israel’s 20,000.
Myth 3. “The Creation of Israel Denied the National Rights of the Palestinian People”
Palestine is a region, not an Arab nationality. It is not an Arab word, but a corruption of a word meaning Philistine. At no time has there been a Palestinian Arab kingdom, state or political entity, until it was created by Israel as part of a treaty with Arafat. Palestinian nationhood is a fraud that none of the Arab powers who endorse it believe, as they themselves proved when they annexed or ruled the land that would become the so-called “Occupied Territories”, once Israel recaptured it in the Six Day War in 1967. Over two decades, no Palestinian state was ever created when Judea, Samaria and Gaza were in the hands of Egypt and Jordan. Only after two major military defeats caused the Arab powers to abandon future wars with Israel, did they decide to endorse that particular bit of mythology.
Furthermore it was the Arab powers who rejected the 1947 UN Partition plan that would have created two states, one Jewish and one Arab. It was the Arab side that rejected the plan and chose war, and then urged Arabs in Israel to leave so that they would be out of harm’s way when the Jews were driven into the sea, thereby creating the refugee camps. If anyone denied the “National Rights of the Palestinian People”, it was the Arab powers. But then the national rights card has always been a fraud, as can be demonstrated when the PLO’s founding chairman, Ahmed Shukairy, proclaimed in the UN in 1956, “It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria”. The PLO did not call for a state until after the Yom Kippur War in 1973 made it clear that brute force alone would not allow the regional Arab powers to seize Israel by force.
Since 1992 when the PLO received an autonomous territory, it has made no serious effort to actually run a country. Instead virtually all of its resources have been poured into its militias which it has used to carry out terrorism against Israel, and its propaganda corps which tours the world complaining about Israel. That is because none of the so-called Palestinian leaders have any interest in actually creating a state, as Clinton finally discovered to his shame and humiliation when Yasir Arafat turned down his grand 99 percent peace plan. If the Egyptian and Jordanian Arabs camped out in Israel’s backyard actually wanted to exercise their “National Rights”, they could have done so over the past 17 years. Instead all they’ve done is try to kill Israelis on behalf of their Arab and Persian backers. After billions of dollars in international aid, the only thing that works in the Palestinian Authority are the AK-47’s.
Time and time again there were repeated opportunities to create a Palestinian state. Whether it was in 1947 by accepting UN Resolution 181, or in 1948 through 1967 at the hands of the Arab powers, or in 1992 through 2009 in cooperation with Israel and the US—there were nearly four decades in which a Palestinian state could have been created. Compare that to the mere 25 years of the so-called Occupation from 1967 to 1992 by comparison. The reason there is no “Palestinian State” is because no one actually wants one. Palestinian Nationalism has as much substance as any piece of wartime propaganda. Its one and only goal is to rally Arabs, Muslims and fellow travelers to complete the goal that was frustrated in 1947—the destruction of Israel.
Myth 4. “Israel is an Artificial Entity and Racist Jewish State.”
The same “European Imperialist Colonialists” whom left wing historians and activists pretend to despise, even though they themselves are nothing more than another generation of the same, turned most of the Middle East into Arab Muslim states, creating artificial countries such as Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the latter ruled by a failed Saudi royal family, named after historical nations. Yet somehow none of the historians and activists object to any of these countries, they object only to Israel. Somehow condemning the Kurds, Assyrian Christians, Copts and the region’s numerous other minorities to be ruled by intolerant Arab rulers is perfectly acceptable in their book.
The myth of Arab Muslim victimhood is cheap propaganda stemming from the failed Arab attempt to destroy Israel and drive its Jewish population “into the sea.” It is funded by the wells of oil money flowing from wealthy Arab Muslim dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia, and perpetuated by leftist activists repeating an Anti-Israel Soviet line, which is itself an outdated relic from the Communist support of Arab Nationalist dictatorships in Egypt, Syria and Iraq.
Israel offers more freedom to its citizens and non-citizens than every Arab state in the region. That is why African migrants try to make their way through Egypt to get to Israel. Israel hosts believers from many of the persecuted religions in the region, most notably the Bahai. It has given shelter to a wide variety of peoples from around the world, even down to the Vietnamese boat people. All of them get along, except for Arab Muslims, whose anger is driven by their belief that only they should be able to rule in Israel, as in every other part of the Middle East.
If leftist activists really wish to agitate on behalf of oppressed and displaced peoples in the Middle East, perhaps instead of following the despicable example of Human Rights Watch in panhandling for Saudi money with which to slander Israel, they should take a look at the situation in trendy fashionable Dubai, a country where most of the population consists of guest workers who are treated as slaves and who die by the thousands. Or perhaps to Iran, where a Persian Muslim minority rules over an Azeri majority, and suppresses their culture, langauge and national aspirations. And then there is the matter of an independent Kurdish state and the rights of the Kurdish people to reclaim Kirkuk, after Saddam’s ethnic cleansing. There is the plight of the Copts in Egypt, who are denied basic human rights.
But instead the left continues to pander to the irrational bigoted demands of the region’s Arab Muslim majority to suppress the region’s only non-Muslim state, in favor of yet another Arab Muslim country. That blatant disregard for the rights of anyone who is not an Arab Muslim is precisely the reason why the Jews of Israel had to fight for national independence. It is likely why the Kurds in Iraq will have to fight for independence as well.
The cult of orientalism insists that only Arab Muslims have national rights in the Middle East. Israel serves to deny that, and to instead proclaim the national rights of the indigenous population of Israel, a country and a people that predate Arab colonialism, and will outlive it as well.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
By Daniel Greenfield (Canada Free Press)