Quotes About "Palestine"

Remember: Israel is bad! Its existence keeps reminding Muslims what a bunch of losers they are.
"There will be no peace until they will love their children more than they hate us."

-Golda Meir-
'If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more ‎violence. If the Jews put ‎down their weapons ‎today, there would be no ‎more Israel'‎

~Benjamin Netanyahu~
"Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all out war, a war which will last for generations.

~Yasser Arafat~
"The Palestinian people have no national identity. I, Yasser Arafat, man of destiny, will give them that identity through conflict with Israel."

~ Yasser Arafat ~
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel. For our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of Palestinian people, since Arab national interest demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism".

~ Zahir Muhse'in ~

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Arab-Israeli Conflict, Part III: The Core of the Conflict

A 2010 poll of the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, taken among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, shows that given the choice between:

a) Ending the occupation, establishing a Palestinian state, signing a peace treaty with Israel, and declaring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict


b) Continuing the struggle until the destruction of the Jewish state (at the expense of not establishing a Palestinian state)

The vast majority of Palestinians (81.7%) chose to continue the struggle until the destruction of the Jewish state. Only 14% of Palestinian chose to end the conflict and establish a state.

Given the fact that any peace deal Palestinian leaders sign with Israel would have to pass a Palestinian referendum, it is clear that for Palestinian and Arab leaders “peace” negotiations with Israel are merely the continuation of war by other means.

While the Middle East is unfortunately on a path to another war, maybe it is time to stop and ask: why is there such deep Arab hatred toward the Jewish state, and is this hatred justified? What is really at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict?

The Arab side claims that the main grievances they have with Israel are the following:

- Israeli atrocities against Arabs and Palestinians
- the occupation and brutal treatment of Palestinians by Israel
- the denial of the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees into Israel

Yet, the Arab side claims that there is an issue that is more deeply at the core of the conflict. Namely, the fact that the Jewish homeland was established – with the help of Western powers – without considering the wishes of Palestine’s Arab inhabitants.

This post will demonstrate that Arab hatred toward the Jewish state has nothing to do with Israeli atrocities against Arabs and Palestinians.

It has nothing to do with the occupation and brutal treatment of Palestinians by Israel.

It has nothing to do with the denial of the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees into Israel.

And it has nothing to do with the fact that the Jewish homeland was established – with the help of Western powers – without considering the wishes of Palestine’s Arab inhabitants.

What is really at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a clash of ideologies!

Rhetoric vs. Reality

While the issues raised by the Arab side may be legitimate in themselves, it is far from evident that the Arab side does not merely use these issues as tactical ploys; cynically exploiting humanitarian and political grievances to advance a political agenda – the destruction of the Jewish state – at the expense of innocent people on both sides of the conflict.

Exploiting legitimate grievances to advance national interests is not uncommon throughout history. The most glaring example of this is the “concern” of the German Nazi Party over the plight of Germans in the Sudetenland:

In August 1938, UK Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, sent Lord Runciman to Czechoslovakia to see if he could obtain a settlement between the Czechoslovak government and the Germans in the Sudetenland. His mission failed because the Sudeten German Party refused all conciliating proposals (on Hitler’s command). Runciman reported the following to the British government regarding Czech policy towards the German minority in the preceding decades:

“Czech officials and Czech police, speaking little or no German, were appointed in large numbers to purely German districts; Czech agricultural colonists were encouraged to settle on land confiscated under the Land Reform in the middle of German populations; for the children of these Czech invaders Czech schools were built on a large scale; there is a very general belief that Czech firms were favoured as against German firms in the allocation of State contracts and that the State provided work and relief for Czechs more readily than for Germans. I believe these complaints to be in the main justified. Even as late as the time of my Mission, I could find no readiness on the part of the Czechoslovak Government to remedy them on anything like an adequate scale … the feeling among the Sudeten Germans until about three or four years ago was one of hopelessness. But the rise of Nazi Germany gave them new hope. I regard their turning for help towards their kinsmen and their eventual desire to join the Reich as a natural development in the circumstances.” (Wikipedia)

On September 21, Czechoslovakia capitulated to British and French demands to cede the Sudetenland to Germany. The next day, however, Hitler added new demands, insisting that the claims of ethnic Germans in Poland and Hungary also be satisfied. On September 30, 1938, the Munich Agreement was signed. On the same day, UK Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain delivered his famous “peace for our time” speech to delighted crowds in London.

In March 1939, the German army conquered the rest of Czechoslovakia, and on September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland and World War II began.

Certainly, there is no equivalence between the actions of Arab leaders and Nazi Germany. The example above was used because it clearly illustrates the geopolitical dynamics of conflict: peace can only be achieved if there is a sincere desire on both sides to resolve differences. If, however, a side in a conflict is exploiting grievances for political ends, any signed agreement would be nothing but a temporary ceasefire – a strategic victory for the aggressing side that puts the region on the path to more violence and war.

Is the Arab side genuinely concerned about the issues it presents? Or is it merely manufacturing outrage among the public by exploiting these legitimate grievances to promote its political agenda?

Let us consider the issues raised by the Arab side one by one:

Are Arabs genuinely concerned over alleged Israeli atrocities against Arabs and Palestinians?

Atrocities against Arabs and Palestinians

Since the establishment of the state of Israel, some 60,000 Arabs, including several thousand Palestinians, lost their lives in wars with Israel – wars which Arab states themselves instigated.

The killing of thousands of Arabs in wars with Israel would certainly create animosity toward Israel. However, that is not the issue we are dealing with here.

The issue we are dealing with is the following: with the exception of Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and former Soviet republics with Muslim majority – the vast majority of Arab and Muslim countries (which number 22 and 57 respectively) refuse to recognize, and are openly hostile to, the State of Israel. If the reason for this hostility is Israel’s killing of thousands of Arabs and Palestinians in wars, then we should expect these states to be hostile to other countries that killed thousands of Arabs. On the other hand, if Arabs apply a double-standard toward Israel, then we must conclude that Arabs do not genuinely care about Israel’s treatment of Arabs and Palestinians. In that case, the hostility of Arab masses toward Israel is the result of manufactured outrage generated by Arab political and social elites, and Arab leaders are exploiting the situation to promote their political agenda: the destruction of the Jewish state.

Do Arab states apply a double-standard in their approach toward Israel when there are Arab casualties? Let’s compare the Arab response to the Gaza War in 2009 to it’s response to the Syrian protests of 2011:

Gaza War

Between December 27, 2008, and January 18, 2009, Israel conducted Operation Cast Lead against the Hamas terror organization in Gaza, as a response to Hamas’ firing of hundreds of rockets on Israeli cities. During the conflict some 1400 Palestinians were killed – about half of which were civilians, and the rest were Hamas militants.

On January 1, 2009 – five days into the fighting, by which time about 320 Palestinians were killed (mostly Hamas militants) – Libya has presented a draft resolution from the Arab League (representing 22 Arab countries) to a UN Security Council emergency meeting. The resolution “strongly condemn[ed] all military attacks and the excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by Israel…” and called for an immediate ceasefire.

Syrian Protests

Since March 15, 2011, pro-democratic demonstrations took place in major cities across Syria. The Syrian regime responded by brutally suppressing the demonstrations, and firing life ammunition into crowds of protestors. By the end of May 2011 – some two months after the bloodshed started – over a 1000 Syrians have been killed by the Syrian army. Around that time Britain, Portugal, Germany and France have circulated a draft resolution to the UN Security Council condemning the Syrian government for the brutal crackdown.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) – representing 57 Muslim-majority countries, including 22 Arab countries – declared the following in response to the UN draft: “There are no grounds to consider this issue in the UN Security Council… …We will not even read the text [of the draft resolution].”

In other words, when Israel is concerned the killing of 320 Arabs (mostly militants) warrants an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Otherwise, the indiscriminant killing of over a 1000 Arabs (almost all civilians) does not even warrant looking at the draft resolution after two months of violence. This is a clear case of an Arab double-standard toward Israel, which indicates that Arab states are exploiting the situation for political gain.

But perhaps we need to get a broader perspective on Israel’s killing of Arabs and Palestinians. How does Israel’s killing of some 60,000 Arabs in wars since 1947 compare with the death toll of Arabs and Muslims in other conflicts?

Arab and Muslim Death Toll

The following map shows the death toll from internal conflicts in the Islamic World since the end of WWII to the present.

The map specifically excludes the death toll in conflicts that involved foreign non-Arab or non-Muslim forces (for example the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s, or the U.S. invasion of Iraq in the 2000s). Which means that the death toll on the map is solely the result of conflicts, wars, and genocide campaigns within or among Arab or Muslim majority countries.

It is evident that far more Arabs and Muslims were killed by other Arab or Muslim countries than by Israel – in fact, about 100 times more!

Yet, no other country’s actions are delegitimized by Arab countries like Israel’s. No other country’s right to exist is challenged and threatened by Arab countries like Israel’s. No other country’s actions are called “blood-thirsty“, “genocidal“, “terrorist“, or “Nazi” by Arab countries like Israel’s actions are.

This means that the Arab public’s outrage over Israel’s treatment of Arabs and Palestinians is not an objective response to the situation on the ground. Rather, this outrage is manufactured by the Arab media, and Arab political and social elites.

All these point to the conclusion that Arab leaders are not interested in resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Rather, they are exploiting the situation to promote their political agenda: the destruction of the Jewish state.

Let’s consider the next issue:

Occupation and Brutal Treatment of Palestinians

Is Arab support for Palestinian statehood and self-determination genuine? Are Arabs truly concerned over Israel’s alleged brutal treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories?

While Arab states show vehement and unanimous support for the Palestinian struggle against occupation, including armed “resistance” (which manifests itself in terror attacks and mass murder of Israeli civilians), this support only began to manifest itself when Israel became the occupying power in 1967.

Between 1948 and 1967 the West Bank and Gaza Strip were occupied by Jordan and Egypt, respectively. Yet, during that time period no Arab state supported Palestinian self-determination, and no Arab state supported Palestinian statehood. What is more interesting though, is that Palestinians themselves did not demand self-determination or statehood when they were under Jordanian and Egyptian occupation. Instead, the Palestinian National Liberation Movement – Fatah, founded in 1959 – called for “complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.”

In fact, the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 was not Israel’s initiative – it came as a direct result of the attempts by Arab states to annihilate Israel. On May 30, 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced:

“The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel … to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not of more declarations.”

In the 1967 War, Israel defeated the armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, and captured the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan, and the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.

Following the war the Arab League met in Khartoum, in September 1967, to discuss the Arab position toward Israel. It reached a consensus that there should be no recognition, no peace, and no negotiations with the State of Israel. In addition, it urged the continued state of belligerency with Israel.

Does this mean that Arab support for Palestinian statehood and self-determination is insincere? Is this another instance where Arab leaders are exploiting the suffering of the Palestinian people as a weapon in the conflict against Israel? Not necessarily. It is possible that Arab support for the Palestinian opposition to Israeli occupation stems from the situation on the ground. Perhaps life under Israeli occupation is more difficult than it was under Jordanian and Egyptian occupation? It is also possible that Arab states decided to change their policy toward the self-determination of stateless people. Let’s consider these possibilities:

Brutal Treatment of Palestinians

Arab leaders constantly accuse Israel of “bulldozing homes, reservoirs, wells and water pipes,” of “destroying crops and orchards” and of the “deliberate starvation and holding 3.2 million people under lock and key.” The Gaza Strip, under Israeli siege, is often referred to by Arab leaders as a “massive jail” or a “concentration camp.”

But do these accusations reflect the reality on the ground? Are Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza Strip truly experiencing a humanitarian catastrophe because of Israel? All Human Development evidence seems to point to the contrary:

Today life expectancy in the Gaza Strip is 73.92 years, while infant mortality is at 17.12 deaths per 1,000 live births. In the West Bank life expectancy is 75.01 years. Infant mortality is at 14.92 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The average life expectancy for Arab states is 69.1, while the world average is 69.3. Average infant mortality for Arab states is 38, while for the world it is 41.61. In other words, living standards for Palestinians under Israeli occupation are higher than the living standards for most Arabs in the Arab world! At the same time about 97% of Palestinians live under the direct rule of the Palestinian Authority – not Israeli rule.

But is life under Israeli occupation more difficult than it was under Jordanian and Egyptian occupation?

Again, the evidence points to the contrary:

During 20 years of Arab occupation Palestinian male life expectancy grew from 42 to 44. During the next 20 years of Israeli occupation Palestinian male life expectancy grew from 44 to 63.

During 20 years of Arab occupation Palestinian female life expectancy grew from 45 to 46. During the next 20 years of Israeli occupation Palestinian female life expectancy grew from 46 to 67.

Now let’s consider the other possibility; is it possible that Arab states simply decided to change their policy toward stateless people?

Support for Self-Determination of Stateless People

Palestinians are not the only stateless people in the Middle East. In fact, the Middle East is home to the largest stateless people in the world, which number some 30 million people – the Kurdish people. The indigenous homeland of the Kurdish people – Kurdistan – is divided against their will between four sovereign states – Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey – none of which recognizes the lawful rights of Kurds for self-determination.

The Kurdish people experienced much devastation in their struggle for self-determination. During WWI the Turk government deported some 700,000 Kurds from their ancestral homeland in an attempt to eliminate Kurdish identity. Some 350,000 of these Kurds perished in death marches. In 1937–1938, approximately 50,000–70,000 Kurds were killed in the suppression of the Dersim Rebellion. In the 1980s an estimated 3,000 Kurdish villages in Turkey were virtually wiped from the map. Tens of thousands of Kurds were killed, and more than 375,000 were displaced.

During the Iran-Iraq war, between March 1987 and April 1989, the Iraqi army carried out a genocidal campaign against Iraqi Kurds, which included the use of chemical weapons. Some 2,000 villages were completely destroyed, at least 120,000 Kurds were killed, and more than a million became refugees.

The unimaginable suffering endured by the Kurdish people should inspire sympathy and admiration from every person who values freedom and human dignity. Yet, the Arab public shows no support for Kurdish self-determination, and no Arab state supports Kurdish self-determination or statehood.

How can this absurd situation be explained? Arab leaders did not call for Palestinian statehood when Palestinians were under Jordanian and Egyptian occupation. Yet, as Palestinian standard of living significantly improved under Israeli occupation, suddenly Arab leaders are concerned with the plight of Palestinians?

How can Arab leaders decry Israel’s alleged brutal treatment of the Palestinian people under occupation, and at the same time be completely silent about the mass murder and displacement of Kurds in Turkey and the genocide of Kurds in Iraq?

Yet again, Arab leaders are exposed for their hypocrisy. Certainly, the Palestinian people have a legitimate right for self-determination and statehood. Life under Israeli occupation is difficult and replete with injustice. However, Arab support for Palestinian statehood and self-determination has nothing to do with the plight of Palestinians. Instead of working to bring peace and stability to the region, Arab leaders are exploiting the suffering of the Palestinian people to manufacture outrage, and use it as a weapon in their war against Israel.

“Right of Return” for Palestinian refugees

The question of a Palestinian “Right of Return” into Israel has already been discussed in Part I of the series: The Arab-Israeli Conflict : Why Peace is Impossible. However, it may be worth repeating.

Let us consider the question of Palestinian refugees from a historic perspective:

During the 1948 War – a war which began with Palestinian rejection of the UN Partition Plan, and the subsequent invasion of Arab armies into Israel – between 650,000 and 730,000 Palestinian Arabs were expelled or fled from the area that became Israel, and became refugees. At the same time, around 10,000 Jews were forced to leave their homes in Palestine. In 1949, Israel signed separate armistices with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. By the end of the war territory under Israeli control encompassed approximately three-quarters of Mandate Palestine. Today, over 1.25 million Arabs are citizens of Israel.

From 1948 to 1970 between 750,000 and 1,000,000 Jews were expelled or fled from Arab countries. Today, fewer than 7,000 Jews remain in Arab countries. It is estimated that Jewish-owned real-estate left behind or confiscated in Arab countries covers a total of about 100,000 square kilometers – more than four times the size of the state of Israel. Additional 200,000 Jews from [non-Arab] Muslim countries left their homes due to increasing insecurity and growing hostility since 1948. Today over 60% of Israeli Jews are the descendants of displaced Jews from Arab countries.

Jewish refugees from Arab countries were absorbed by Israel and became equal citizens. Israel does not demand a “right of return” for Jews into Arab countries, nor does it demand compensation for confiscated Jewish land and property from Arab countries.

On the other hand, Palestinian refugees were not absorbed by Arab countries. Instead, for over 60 years Palestinian refugees have been confined to impoverished refugee camps by Arab states; denied the opportunity for a meaningful life, and cynically exploited by Arab states as a political weapon against Israel. For over 60 years Palestinian refugees have been told that only Israel is responsible for their suffering, and that one day they will return to their villages and homes.

The demand for a “Right of Return” for Palestinian refugees into Israel is an Arab attempt to distort history, and shift the entire responsibility for the Arab-Israeli conflict to Israel. There is nothing just or equitable about this demand.

Thus, the “Right of Return” is synonymous with the destruction of the Jewish State.

Finally, let us consider what the Arab side claims to be at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict: the claim that the Jewish homeland was established – with the help of Western powers – without considering the wishes of Palestine’s Arab inhabitants.

Establishment of the Jewish homeland

On January 3, 1919, Emir Faisal Ibn al-Hussein – the son of the “King of all Arabs,” Hussein bin Ali – and Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann signed the Faisal–Weizmann Agreement as part of the Paris Peace Conference following World War I.

The agreement called for an Arab-Jewish cooperation on the development of a Jewish homeland in Palestine and an Arab nation in a large part of the Middle East.

Article IV of the Faisal–Weizmann Agreement stated that:

All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil. In taking such measures the Arab peasant and tenant farmers shall be protected in their rights and shall be assisted in forwarding their economic development.

(1918. Emir Faisal and Chaim Weizmann; left, also wearing Arab outfit as a sign of friendship)

In a March 3, 1919, letter to the president of the Zionist Organization of America Emir Faisal wrote:

“We feel that the Arabs and Jews are cousins in race, having suffered similar oppressions at the hands of powers stronger than themselves, and by a happy coincidence have been able to take the first step towards the attainment of their national ideals together.

The Arabs… look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organisation to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate and proper. We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through; we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home… I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in which we are mutually interested may once again take their places in the community of the civilised peoples of the world.”

On March 23, 1918, Hussein bin Ali himself wrote in the daily newspaper of Mecca, Al Qibla, that Palestine was:

“a sacred and beloved homeland of its original sons [the Jews]; the return of these exiles to their homeland will prove materially and spiritually an experimental school for their [Arab] brethren.”

He also called on the Arab population in Palestine to welcome the Jews as brethren and cooperate with them for the common welfare.

What went wrong?

As Emir Faisal stated, Arab leaders were fully acquainted with Zionist aspirations for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and viewed them as “moderate and proper.” They openly supported large scale immigration of Jews to Palestine, and encouraged Palestine’s Arab population to welcome the Jews.

What then brought such a sharp reversal in the Arab position toward Zionism and the Jewish homeland? To understand what caused this change we must take a brief historic overview of the Middle East:

Since the Arab-Muslim conquest in the 7th century AD, the Middle East has been under the rule of successive Islamic empires (these included, among others, the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Ayyubids, the Mamluks, and the Ottomans). And while Europe languished in the Dark Ages, the Muslim world thrived as the center of trade, science, and culture, and as a dominant force in the world.

However, all that began to change during the time of the latest Islamic empire – the Ottoman Empire. While Muslim science and technology had been highly regarded in medieval times, by this period the influence on learning became conservative and regressive, and innovation was largely suppressed. As Europe was on the rise following the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, the Ottoman Empire was in a steady state of decline.

Arab Nationalism and Islamic Modernism

Toward the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century the Ottomans were struggling to hold the empire together. Internal conditions were rapidly deteriorating, and in many parts of the Middle East the Ottomans became rulers in name only.

At the same time, a sense of Arab nationalism was developing in Arab intellectual circles throughout the Middle East. Arab nationalism was strongly influenced by European thought – a result of Arab admiration for the technological successes of Western Europe, and the heavy influx of Christian missionaries and educators from Western countries into the Middle East.

In the view of Arab patriots at the time, European modernism itself was of Islamic origin. The Arabs, on the other hand, had deviated from true Islam and thus suffered decline. Arab nationalists believed that “an Islamic governments should revive true Islam that would… …pave way for the establishment of constitutional representative government and freedom which was manifested in the West at the time.”

Muhammad Abduh, the founder of Islamic Modernism, has said: “I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam.” He believed in and promoted a form of Islam that “would liberate men from enslavement, provide equal rights for all human beings, abolish the religious scholar’s monopoly on exegesis and abolish racial discrimination and religious compulsion” – the exact opposite of Islamism, which is the most powerful ideological force across the Muslim world today.

(for more on Islamic Modernism, see Mustafa Akyol’s excellent TED talk, “Faith versus tradition in Islam”)

World War I

What finally brought the demise and dissolution of the empire was the Ottomans’ fatal decision to join the Central Powers in World War I.

While the Ottomans were fighting alongside the Central Powers, the British were already preparing for the post-war era, and deciding the fate of the lands that were under Ottoman control in the Middle East. At the time there were two entities that contended for territory in the Middle East – the Sharif of Mecca, who sought to establish an Arab state over the entire Middle East, and the Zionist movement which sought to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The British made territorial promises both to the Zionist movement and to the Sharif of Mecca in exchange for their support in the war effort.

The Sharif of Mecca

Hussein bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca, claimed to have direct descent from the Prophet Muhammad, and acted as the traditional guardian of Islam’s most holy sites of Mecca and Medina. The Sharif agreed to help the British by leading an Arab revolt against the Ottomans. In return he demanded to become the ruler of an Arab state spanning the entire Middle East. The British agreed to grant to the Sharif territories from Egypt to Persia, with the exception of “imperial possessions and interests in Kuwait, Aden, and the Syrian coast” (which, according to the British, includes Palestine). In June 1916 Hussein launched the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans, and in October he declared himself “King of all Arabs.”

Arab Authoritarianism

By the end of 1918, the Ottoman Empire was defeated, and in 1919, the Paris Peace Conference convened.

In the conference the Allied Powers set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers. The League of Nations was established. And diplomats from over 29 countries came up with a series of treaties that reshaped the map of Europe and the world.

Also in the conference, Emir Faisal – representing Hussein bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca – and Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann signed the Faisal–Weizmann Agreement. The agreement called for an Arab-Jewish cooperation on the development of a Jewish homeland in Palestine and an Arab nation in a large part of the Middle East.

However, Faisal conditioned his acceptance on the fulfillment of British wartime promises to the Arabs. The Faisal-Weizmann Agreement survived only a few months.

Although the Sharif of Mecca was promised a state spanning from Egypt to Persia (with the exception of some territories), the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France divided the Middle East between the two imperial powers. Arabs leaders felt betrayed. They expected to gain independence immediately, but instead the Allied Powers carved up the Middle East, and set up provisional British and French mandates of administration over these territories.

As a result, Arab nationalism – which previously admired Western Europe – now grew increasingly hostile to the Western presence in the Middle East, and consequently hostile to Western ideals.

In the 1920s Arab nationalism became increasingly authoritarian; drawing inspiration from the Fascist movements in Italy and Germany.

In the 1940s – following the dafeat of Nazi Germany – Arab authoritarianism lived on, and began to draw inspiration from Socialism in the Soviet Union.

Islamic Imperialism

Over the past few decades an Islamist element was added to the mix. This was bolstered by the Islamist revolution in Iran of 1979, and with the increasing popularity of religious political movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, throughout the Middle East.

Islamism presented a challenge to secular authocratic Arab regimes. In response, these regimes often chose to ban political opposition to the regime from these groups. At the same time, Arab regimes subordinated elements of the Islamist ideology to the state; thus maintaining internal stability for the regime.

This meant that Islamist movements could operate as social organizations and openly spread their ideology – as long as they did not challenge the ruling party. Any political aspirations were brutally crushed, sometimes with the use of deadly force. Yet – with the notable exception of Jordan – no Arab or Muslim regime has challenged Islamist ideology. This reality has allowed Islamism to become the most powerful ideological force across the Muslim world.

Thus, at the time when Arab nationalists believed in individual liberties and establishing a constitutional government they wished the Jews “a most hearty welcome home” to Palestine, and supported “Arabs and Jews … attain[ing] their national ideals together.”

But as Arab aspirations became increasingly authoritarian and imperialistic, Zionism became a bitter enemy. In the Arab view, Zionism and the Jewish homeland now represent both Western presence in the Middle East and Western ideals.

The Core of the Conflict

This post demonstrated that Arab hatred toward the Jewish state has nothing to do with Israeli atrocities against Arabs and Palestinians.

It has nothing to do with the occupation and brutal treatment of Palestinians by Israel.

It has nothing to do with the denial of the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees into Israel.

And it has nothing to do with the fact that the Jewish homeland was established – with the help of Western powers – without considering the wishes of Palestine’s Arab inhabitants.

What is really at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a clash of ideologies!

On the one hand you have Zionist ideology, which promotes freedom and equality, and working for the good of humanity:

“Every man will be as free and undisturbed in his faith or his disbelief as he is in his nationality. And if it should occur that men of other creeds and different nationalities come to live amongst us, we should accord them honorable protection and equality before the law”

“We ourselves will use and carry on every new attempt in our Jewish land . . . for the good of humanity, so we shall proceed in everything else in the same humane spirit, making of the new land a land of experiments and a model State”

- The Jewish State, Theodor Herzl, 1896

On the other hand you have Islamist ideology, which promotes oppression, violence, and imperialism:

Fight those [among Jews and Christians] who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

- Quran 9:29

The Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer, and pay Zakat and if they do it, their blood and property are guaranteed protection on my behalf except when justified by law, and their affairs rest with Allah.

- Hadith: Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53:386

Previous Articles:

The Arab-Israeli Conflict, Part I: Why Peace is Impossible

The Arab-Israeli Conflict, Part II: Why the Middle East is on a Path of War?

1918. Emir Faisal and Chaim Weizmann; left, also wearing Arab outfit as a sign of friendship

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More Quotes About "Palestine"

"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".

- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -

"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".

- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -

"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".

- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -

Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".

"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".

- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -

"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".

- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -

"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".

- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -

"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".

- Count Constantine Fran├žois Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -

"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".

- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -

"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".

- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -

"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".

- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -

"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".

- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -

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