Israel's Right to Exist II 1-10-09

Israel’s Right to Exist II

January 10, 2009


Israel has as much right to the land they occupy as any one. In fact, they have a greater right. The Arabs, as a whole, are an impoverished, backward, and venal group. Only a few of their vast numbers have the guts to stand up and say what is right. Brigands, and their tribal blood feuds lead them, and their religious insanity makes them the bane of the current world. The Orthodox Jews, whether they be Lubavitcher or Satmar, can be quite different and difficult to understand. They may be impossible to like or even deal with, but they are not a warlike, violent, or an evangelical group. They have their arcane customs and so be it. They certainly are not the picture or profile of Israel. With regards to the borders, what makes ownership of the land start at 70 AD, 1919, 1947, 1948, or 1967? In fact, the Arabs never owned the land. They owned, as individuals, parts of the land just like the Jews who had lived there. Jews always occupied some part of the land since before antiquity. There was always a Jewish presence in Jerusalem, Safad, Hebron, and Tiberias since Biblical times. Jews lived all over the Arab world, under their domination and thumb for almost two millennia. But in the so-called Holy Land, the Turks controlled that area from 1516 to 1918. So the land was never “Arab.” They lived there, along with the Jews as the subjects of the Ottoman Empire as they were to become subjects of the British Empire.


But as the renown historian, and Churchill’s official biographer, Martin Gilbert has written, in Tunisia there were 110,000 Jews in 1948, was life easy? No! In 1881, as a French Protectorate, conditions improved for the Jewish Community, but in 1917 Tunisian troops pillaged the Jewish quarters of many towns. Mobs attacked Jews in 1932 because of European immigration to Palestine. Eventually with independence in 1956 conditions worsened for the Jewish population and by 1974, 2000 Jews remained. In Yemen the Jewish population went from 55,000 in 1948 to 500 in 1974. Jews had lived there for over 2000 years in 1900. In Aden there were 8000 Jews in 1948 and almost none in 1974. Anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist laws were introduced in Yemen in 1905. For example there was a re-introduction of laws that Jews could not build houses higher than those of Muslims, or to raise their voices in front of a Muslim, or engage in religious discussion with Muslims, or be in any traditional Muslim trade or occupation. Even laws were enacted that forced the conversion of Jewish orphans to Islam. In Morocco the Jewish population was 285,000 in 1948, and 20,000 in 1974. There were Muslim attacks in 1903, 1907, and 1912 and after WWII many riots leading up to the general immigration of Jews from that land. As late as 1965, the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” were published and disseminated again in Morocco. The Jewish population of Egypt in 1948 was 75,000, but by 1974 it had been reduced to 350. In 1844, 1881, and 1902 there were anti-Jewish riots emanating from accusations regarding the ritual use of blood. In 1882, 1919, 1921, 1924, Jews were attacked in anti-foreigner riots. In 1945 there were “Balfour Day” riots leading up to confiscation of lands, abrogation of rights and outright expulsions through the 1950's and up to 1967. In Syria, the population of Jews shrunk from 29,770 in 1943 to 4000 in 1974. The kind of anti-Jewish laws in Syria were and are unbelievable. But, historically in 1936-9, Nazi officers from Germany institutionalized violence against Jews after a visit. The story of Syria is too sick to even repeat here.   



The saga of persecution, discrimination, prejudice and violence is unending. Therefore Palestine/Israel became the refuge of 100's of thousands of Middle Eastern Jews, no less the ones who wished to flee from Europe where they were not welcome. FDR met with King Ibn Sa'ud, of Saudi Arabia on February 14, 1945 in the Great Bitter Lake, which is located in the Suez Canal. He conferred with Rabbi Stephen Wise and his cabinet before he left for Yalta, and told them that he would “try to settle the Palestine situation.” He had discussed the concept of a Jewish homeland with Stalin at Yalta and said that he was a Zionist, but he recognized the difficulty of the Jewish problem. After meeting with Sa'ud on the USS Quincy, and through much discussion, the suggestion from Sa'ud was that the choicest lands in Germany be given to the Jews. Of course there is much more to the story. That issue was a non-starter, as much for the fact that no one could be positive that German anti-Semitism would not arise in the future and make life impossible again for the Jews.


FDR tried to convince Sa'ud with all of his charm, and with the promise of economic aid, irrigation projects and improved living standards, about the need for a Jewish Homeland, but Sa'ud wanted none of it. He had little cares for any improvements regarding the lives of his own people. Sa'ud said, “Arabs would choose to die, rather than yield their land to the Jews.” What else in new? So the Arab world, for better or worse, did not want an avalanche of European Jews into Palestine. They also wanted to dominate and abuse the 800,000 plus Jews spread under their control throughout Arab lands, and they certainly did want those Jews to move to Palestine to create their own homeland. They wanted it both ways! They also full understood that once there was a Jewish Homeland, the Jews in their lands would leave and they would lose a valuable source of tax revenue and intellectual acumen. They relied on this dependent and servile community for many things. It kept them as a convenient scapegoat, and it allowed them to be used as a type of permanent “guest” class of advisors, middlemen and professionals. Out of these many thousands, a number prospered no doubt.


Therefore, with all that in mind, I assume that if Israel was a country of evangelical Christians, I would guess or imagine there would be similar problems. But, then again, the problem of the Middle East is not only the one of control between the more western-leaning secular Sunnis versus the more religiously extreme Shi'ites, but the problem of modernism versus tribalism. The Islamic Arab and Non-Arab oligarchs from the Fertile Crescent to North Africa are not comfortable with a republican form of democracy or what it brings. They have yet to enter the age of enlightenment, and the specter of education, equality for women, religious freedom, and personal rights is still far beyond their ken and political interests. Israel, and the Jews, represents the freethinking pluralism of the West and the Islamists fear all of that, in the same way that Sa'ud would not accept the offer, given by FDR in 1945, to uplift his people. He told FDR that he was an uneducated Bedouin and was comfortable with his values.


As to the Middle Eastern Islamic World, which is divided between the oil oligarchs who assuage their population with a form of petro dollar socialism, and the non-oil producing states who are basically poor, over-populated, and cannot depend on the Soviet Union anymore for arms and technical support, the area is a cauldron of unhappiness and despair. As oil revenues drop, support for Hezbollah, Hamas and the madrass, (or Saudi orthodox educational) system throughout Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Muslim areas may start to dry up.


 The existence of a vibrant growing, and well-off, western-oriented Israel is a constant sore point and irritant to the hypocritical leadership that abounds in the Arab World. Whether one supports our ill-conceived effort in Iraq or our clumsy under-supported effort in Afghanistan, one reality is for sure, Sadaam Hussein, his family, and the Baathists were a horrible and despicable bunch who ruled by terror and mayhem. In Afghanistan the religious zealots of the Taliban, who enslaved the people with their religious bigotry, and their alliance with the Al Quaida terrorists were no better.  



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