Israel and the Middle East
Since 1967, Jerusalem's Arab population has grown faster than its Jewish population. In the period from 1967 to 1996, the city's Jewish population grew by 113.1 percent, while its Arab population grew by 163.7 percent. Similarly, home construction in the Arab sector of Jerusalem outpaced home construction in the Jewish sector.
The Oslo Agreements gave the Palestinians control of 40 percent of the West Bank and Gaza, where 96 percent of Palestinians live. The accords did not require Israel to dismantle or stop expanding Jewish settlements in the territories. The settlements did expand after Oslo, as did Arab housing within Israel. Polls show that the majority of Israelis would accept the "transfer" of settlers, and the dismantling of settlements, if this would help bring about peace. It is seldom asked in such dialogues why Jewish villages and citizens do not have a right to exist in safety and security in Palestinian territories -- or any other Arab-majority land. To similarly require the "transfer" of Arabs out of Israel as a basic component of "peace negotiations" is univerally unthinkable. To forcefully remove any group of civilians other than Jews from a land would be identified as "ethnic cleansing."
The international bias against Israel, reflected in media throughout the world, has been supported by Israeli academics who call themselves the “New Historians.” These academics achieved instant international celebrity by backing pan-Arabist claims of Israel’s historical wrongdoing toward Arabs. London-based history scholar Efraim Karsh methodically demonstrates in Fabricating Israeli History that these "New Historians" have based their claims on forgery, distortion, and reliance on (and distortion of) secondary texts as their main sources, while avoiding altogether documents crucial to the issues they address, including all documents in Arabic. For example, Benny Morris claimed that the founders of Israel wanted the “transfer”, or expulsion, of Arabs, when all documented evidence demonstrates the Zionist leaderships' resistance to the British suggestion. Morris claimed Israel's first prime minister David Ben-Gurion wrote in a letter that “we must expel Arabs and take their places.” In fact, the original letter reads: “We do not wish, we do not need to expel Arabs and take their place ... All our aspiration is built on the assumption ... that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs.” Avi Shlaim, for his part, argued that Zionists colluded with Transjordan’s King Abdullah to carve up Palestine following the exit of Britain. In fact, according to the informal (and only) documentation of an informal November 1947 meeting between Abdullah and Zionist leaders -- the meeting which all of Shlaim’s “evidence” is based on -- Abdullah proposed to annex Palestine and allow a “Hebrew Republic” within it. The Jewish leaders rejected this idea. Abdullah then proposed to capture the territory designated for the state of Palestine, rather than allow the creation of a new Arab state “which would upset my plans and enable the Arabs to ride on me.” The documents Shlaim refers to indicate, in fact, that Golda Meir told Abdullah that the Jews would acquiesce to this idea if he avoided war with the Jewish state and if he declared that his intent was only to temporarily maintain law and order until the UN could establish a new government. Obviously this is not collusion, or even cooperation, at an informal meeting at which major diplomatic decisions could not, in any case, be made. Unfortunately, Morris, Shlaim, and other leftist Israeli academics have given formal legitimacy to anti-Semitic campaigns against Israel, and in doing so, have succeeded in seriously misinforming the international public. For their efforts, these shoddy academics have been treated by the media as the foremost “authorities” on Israel, and are embraced, rather than targeted, by the anti-Semitic left.
U.S. annual aid to Israel is about the same as what it spends to defend South Korea, and far less than what it spends annually to defend Western Europe.
One third of the UN's condemnations of individual countries have been directed solely against Israel. Twenty UN resolutions were directed against Israel during 2002 (up slightly from the annual average of 19), while no resolutions addressed human rights in countries such as Syria, Saudi Arabia or China. At the end of 2002, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on Palestinian children -- the only children in the world subject to the specific concern of a General Assembly resolution. The resolution was drafted on November 15, the same week a Palestinian gunmen shot to death two children -- Noam, 4, and Matan, 5 -- on an Israeli kibbutz. (Responsibility was claimed by Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is associated with Arafat’s organization Fatah.) On April 27, 2002 a Palestinian gunmen broke into a home west of Hebron, found five-year-old Danielle Shefi hiding under her parents’ bed and shot her in the head. On May 9, 2001, Israeli students Kobi Mandell, 13, and Yossi Ish-Ran, 14, were stoned to death and their bodies mutilated in a cave south of Jerusalem. Palestinian suicide bombers have routinely directed attacks at places where children gather, such as buses, discos and pizza parlors. More than 100 Israeli children have been murdered and 900 wounded or maimed in the past two years. The General Assembly resolution, however, made no mention of Israeli children. Also missing from the resolution supposedly on behalf of Palestinian children was any reference to the Palestinian Authority’s practice of encouraging Palestinian children to participate in the armed conflict; the endemic anti-Semitism in Palestinian children's textbooks used in schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency; and the use of Palestinian children as human shields by terrorists operating from densely populated civilian areas.
The same day this resolution passed, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on racism, after a two-month negotiation over the inclusion of the word "anti-Semitism" as a form of racism. For the past four years, a racism resolution has included "anti-Semitism" as a specific subject of study of the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. This year, the reference to anti-Semitism as part of the mandate was deleted. Only the United States, Israel and Palau voted against the resolution.
During the UN’s World Conference on Racism in Durban in September 2001, Jews were targeted with hate speech, taunting, and physical intimidation on the streets and in the NGO forums, as well as open anti-Semitism at the Government Conference. The hate literature distributed during the NGO conference included caricatures of Jews with hooked noses, Palestinian blood on their hands, surrounded by money, and Israelis wearing Nazi emblems. At the Government Conference, there was daily distribution by NGO participants of literature reading "Nazi-Israeli apartheid." Inside the drafting committees, states such as Syria and Iran objected to the inclusion of anti-Semitism as a form of racism on the grounds that it was a "complicated," "curious," and "bizarre" concept, and maintained that any reference to the Holocaust would be unfair. At one point, thousands of South African Muslim demonstrators marched bearing banners proclaiming "Hitler should have finished the job." Jewish NGOs from around the globe finally walked out when the NGO Forum voted to delete from its concluding agreement only the proposal of the Jewish caucus. The international human rights community, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, stood silently by. The Jewish proposal read: "We are concerned with ... attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel through wildly inaccurate charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and apartheid, as a virulent contemporary form of anti-Semitism. [We are concerned with the] armed assaults ... and murder of ... Jews for their support for the existence of the State of Israel, the assertion of the right to self-determination of the Jewish people, and the attempts, through the State of Israel, to preserve their cultural and religious identity." The NGO Forum included instead: "Anti-Arab racism is another form of anti-Semitism ... that has led to violence and hate crimes." The forum added, Zionism is racism. Israel was the only nation criticized at this global gathering.
At the UN International Women’s Year Conference in Mexico City in 1975, the final resolution condemned Zionism, but not sexism, as an “enemy of all women.” Later that same year, the UN General Assembly passed by 72 to 35, with 32 abstentions, a resolution denouncing Zionism as “a form of racism.” The resolution was used by anti-Semites around the world who disguised their anti-Semitic activity as anti-Zionist, hence anti-racist. In Britain, anti-Semitic university groups tried to expel Jewish student groups from British campuses on the grounds that they were pro-Zionist. The UN resolution was repealed in 1991. Some Arab states, along with Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam, opposed the repeal.
Israel is the only member state of the UN that is prohibited from standing for election to the Security Council, or to the Commission on Human Rights. Standing for election to the vast majority of UN bodies requires full membership in one of the UN's five regional groups and Israel alone is excluded from full membership of all five -- in direct contradiction of the UN Charter which requires the "equality of nations large and small." Israel is geographically suppose to be in the Asia Group, but is denied a seat. Israel has had temporary status (with less privileges and power) in the Western Europeans and Others Group since 2000.
The left and the mainstream media depict terrorism against Israeli civilians as a spontaneous, desperate response of the indigenous poor to Israel’s military occupation of the territories. However, this terrorism is highly organized and funded by fundamentalist Islamists that are explicit about their intent to wage war so long as the Jewish state exists. The terrorism is funded by anti-Semitic regimes and networks outside the Palestinian territories. The recruits for suicide bombing are young boys and men who have been formally schooled in anti-Semitism. They are not taught that terrorism will help free the territories from Israel. They are taught their murder-suicide will serve to eradicate Israel and the Jews in “Palestine,” and that for their sacrifice they will be glorified and rewarded as martyrs in paradise. The families of suicide bombers are paid handsomely by the external sponsors of terrorism, and the suicide bombers themselves become heroes after their death.
Throughout the Oslo peace process, Arafat’s school system continued to indoctrinate Palestinian children in the belief that Israel is illegitimate, that Jews are foreign to the region and have no historical or religious claims to the land, and that Palestinian youth are honor-bound to eject the “conquering thieves” from Jerusalem and “Palestine.”
As a result of the Oslo Agreements, more than 96 percent of the Palestinian population has been under Yasser Arafat’s jurisdiction. The Palestinian Authority controls virtually every aspect of Palestinian life -- schools, medical institutions, civic and political establishments. Palestinians now have passports, a flag, an international airport, and a sea port is underway.
Arafat's main responsibility in the Oslo accords is to arrest and extradite terrorists. He has since claimed to be unable to stop terrorism. A March 14, 2002 article published in USA Today, however, quoted leaders in terrorist organizations who do not hesitate to admit they are under the command of Arafat. Hussein A-Sheikh, a Fatah political leader in the West Bank (who, according to the article, appeared insulted when asked whether the brigade was under Arafat's control), said, “Of course, there is control. What do you think? That we are just a bunch of gangs?” The article also describes Palestinian Authority officials as verifying that most members of the brigade receive salaries from Arafat's Palestinian Authority. While Arafat exercises authoritarian control over the media, and decimates his enemies, he has treated terrorist groups, their production of explosives, and their recruitment of youngsters with leniency and protection. Arafat has arrested some members of terrorist groups, as Oslo requires, but he routinely releases them as soon as the international media spotlight disappears. Palestinians who support cooperation with Israel are likely to be executed. Hanan Ashrawi asserts that “life has become worse under the peace process.” If so, this seems a logical consequence of the authoritarian violence with which Arafat and Islamic militants now rule after Israel’s partial withdrawal from the territories.
Hanan Ashrawi, internationally viewed as a peace and human rights activist, said of the extradition of terrorists required by Oslo Agreements, “It has never happened and will never happen ... It has never happened that the Palestinian security or military forces have extradited a Palestinian ... It is unthinkable and is not even being considered.” (August 12, 1997, Voice of Palestine Radio)
Toward the end of the peace talks in 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat an independent Palestinian state that included more than 97 percent of (contiguous) territory of the West Bank, 100 percent of Gaza, and East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. He also offered to dismantle some of the settlements, and to compensate and resettle Palestinian refugees, with a “right of return” offered to a limited number. According to U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross, Arafat responded to the offer by asserting that the Temple Mount, considered the holiest site in Judaism, does not exist. This rebuff came as the Israelis offered to allow Palestinian control of the surface of the Temple Mount, but asked for Jewish rights to the subterranean areas of the expanse on which the ancient Jewish temples stood. Israel's foreign minister at the time and negotiator at the talks, Shlomo Ben-Ami, who is known as particularly dovish, described in an extensive interview in Israeli’s liberal paper Ha'aretz in September the “total contempt” with which the Palestinian negotiators rejected even a “minimal” affirmation that the Temple Mount is a site “sacred to the Jews.” He also said in this interview, “Never in the negotiations between us and the Palestinians was there a Palestinian counterproposal. There never was and there never will be. So the Israeli negotiator always finds himself in a dilemma: Either I get up and walk out because these guys aren't ready to put forward proposals of their own, or I make another concession. In the end, even the most moderate negotiator reaches a point where he understands that there is no end to it.”
The left, along with the media, depict the second “intifada” as a spontaneous response to Ariel Sharon’s “provocative” visit in September 2000 to the Temple Mount. (They sometimes claim that he visited the Al-Aksa Mosque). In fact, the violence had been planned for months. According to Imad al-Faluji, the Palestinian Authority Communications Minister, the violence had been planned since July, far in advance of Sharon’s September visit to the Temple Mount. “Whoever thinks that the intifada broke out because of the despised Sharon's visit to Al-Aksa Mosque is wrong ... The intifada was planned in advance, ever since President Arafat's return from the Camp David negotiations,” he said.
As reported in Al Hayat al-Jadidya on July 20, 2000, “The Fatah movement [Arafat’s] announced a general call-up in its ranks as a preparation for the next stage. The movement announced the opening of registration for boys until the age of 16, for weapons training ... The individual responsible for the movement made it clear that the movement will offer military weapons training to all boys under the age of 16, and noted that there is a strong response on the part of the boys.” The Palestinian Authority closed the schools and bused Palestinian children to the organized riots. Palestinian TV contributed to the militarized atmosphere by running broadcasts of military parades and violence against Israeli soldiers. In the program “Fathers and Sons,” the announcer directed the voice-over of the soldiers on air: “Oh Satan’s agents, oh enemies of mankind. I am Man the son of Man, I have been robbed, I have been pursued, I am frightened, every day I die ... and in my death, is life; I am the flame of life.”
Thousands of Arabs began throwing bricks and rocks at Israeli police and the Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall. Twenty eight Israeli police were injured, and three were hospitalized. Four Palestinians were injured that day. The next day, the riots spread throughout the region. The Israeli peace movement, which had long argued that all that the Palestinians wanted was Israeli withdrawal from the territories and to live in coexistence, was devastated. Soon afterward, Sharon was elected by a landslide. On January 28, 2003, his party again swept to victory, despite the fact that most Israelis, unlike Sharon, favor the dismantling of the settlements, the transfer of the settlers, and the formation of a two-state solution as a means to peace. The Labor party, which campaigned on the promise to unconditionally return to negotiations with Arafat, won only 19 seats, the fewest ever in that party, and nearly half those won by Likud, Sharon's party. Many voters felt they had no one to vote for. Only 69 percent of voters turned out for the election, a historic low in Israel.
On October 27, with the intifada in full swing, Hafez Bargutti, Editor-in-Chief of the official PA newspaper Al Hayat al-Jadidya, called parents who attempt to keep their children away from the violent clashes a “fifth column,” and accused them “of the most severe transgressions.” Some parents, especially mothers, continued to resist. On December 8, 2000, USA Today reported that Palestinian mothers in the Tulkarm Women's Union called on the Palestinian Authority “to issue instructions to your police force to stop sending innocent children to their death.”
- Political groups, including the PLO, were allowed to organize with minimal interference during Israel's occupation. Israel allowed the free flow of PLO-controlled funds, a policy justified by Minister of Defense Ezer Weizmann who said in 1978, “It does not matter that they get money from the PLO, as long as they don’t build arms factories with it.” Israel allowed pro-PLO propaganda to appear in the local press, and allowed anti-Israel activity that did not directly incite violence. Israel did little to encourage the formation of Palestinian political institutions to serve as a counterweight to the PLO. Despite the PLO's access to outside funds, and its efforts to dominate and direct Palestinian society, Palestinian sentiment did not quickly fall into line with the PLO agenda. While the PLO claimed to be the “sole representative of the Palestinian people,” most terrorist activities still emanated from the outside -- from Jordan in the late 60s, and then from Lebanon.
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Sources used: Efraim Karsh’s “What Occupation?”, “Israel’s War”, “Rights and Wrongs: History and the Palestinian ‘Right of Return’”, “Benny Morris and the Reign of Error”, “Debating Israel's Early Years”, and Fabricating Israeli History: The ‘New Historians’ (London: Frank Cass, revised second edition, 2000) ; Mitchell Bard’s Myths and Facts(American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, 2001); the outstanding research of CAMERA; Anita Shapira’s “The Past is Not a Foreign Country: The failure of Israel’s ‘New Historians’ to explain war and peace”; Anne Bayefsky’s “Gentleman's Agreement at the UN”; “Terrorism and Racism: The Aftermath of Durban”, “Since Durban: An Entrenchment of Hatred”, and "What about Anti-Semitism" ; Jewish Virtual Library; and JIMENA