Normally, when I respond to my readers’ comments, I do so in a sentence or two. However, a reply even longer than my usual articles is called for this time, because the issue of the so-called Palestinian refugees comes up time and again.
This is what my reader had to say: “It’s not easy to sort through the conflicting and biased information from both sides. Curious on your views on this perspective.” ‘This perspective’ was represented by a link to a flagrantly propagandistic and mendacious pro-Palestinian video.
Among its other lies, the video claims that Israeli Arabs only became citizens in 1967, not 1949 when it actually happened. But what’s a couple of wrong numerals among friends? It’s the thought that counts.
First a bit of history. Following the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War, Britain received the League of Nations mandate to administer Palestine, a territory carved out of southern Syria.
Under the mandate, Britain ran Palestine from 1920 to 1948. The critical consideration here is the mandate’s wording, which incorporated the declaration issued in 1917 by Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour:
“His Majesty’s government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object…”
It was specifically because of the Balfour Declaration that the Arabs fought the British tooth and nail. Their official motive was striving for national self-determination. But the anti-Semitism prescribed by Muslim scripture and sanctified by Islamic history played a significant role.
“Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends…,” dictated Mohammed in his Koran (5:51), and he started his reign when, upon moving from Mecca to Medina, he had 900 Jews massacred, beheading many of them with his own trusted sabre.
It’s no wonder that Palestinian Arabs, so inspired, resisted any kind of Jewish home in Palestine. In 1936 they rose in violent revolt, and the mandate became unworkable. Instead the British government proposed the creation of two separate states, one Arab, the other Jewish.
It was understood that the two states would be separate politically but united economically, with each housing and treating well a minority of the other group. Yet, inspired by their fire-eating leaders, the Arabs turned the proposal down and continued their revolt until 1939, when Britain became otherwise engaged.
One of the most prominent of those leaders was Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Al-Husseini, whose movement was from the very beginning funded by the Nazis. During the war Husseini collaborated with both Hitler and Mussolini in producing incendiary radio broadcasts. He also led the drive to recruit Bosnian Muslims in the Waffen-SS. (Incidentally, both Egypt’s president Nasser and his successor Sadat also served the Nazis well during the war.) The Mufti’s meeting with Hitler established the common goal: extermination of Jews.
After the war, this distinguished gentleman played a major role in helping the ODESSA network to find refuge for SS murderers. Many of them settled in Arab countries.
It was then, after the world had gasped with horror at the Holocaust, that the UN revived partition plans. In 1947 the UN vote for partition was carried with the majority of 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions and one absent. The Arabs stated immediately that they wouldn’t abide by the resolution and, for once, they were as good as their word.
In the subsequent war, only the heroism of the early Israeli settlers, aided by arm supplies from the US and especially Czechoslovakia (the Czechs provided weapons of both their own and Soviet manufacture), that prevented an extension of the Holocaust – something the Arabs openly craved.
They acted on those cravings at least twice again: in 1967 and 1973. The video I saw refers to the lands occupied by Israel in 1967 after the Six-Day War, modestly forgetting to mention why the war happened. It was then that the Soviet-backed Nasser-led coalition of Arab states set out to re-enact the Holocaust by “driving Israel into the sea”. It amassed vast forces on Israel’s borders, leaving her no option but to beat it to a punch with a textbook display of modern warfare.
In 1973, during the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the Israelis didn’t launch such a preemptive strike, either out of negligence or, more likely, reluctance to find themselves yet again on the receiving end of worldwide anti-Semitic propaganda, masquerading as anti-Zionism.
The Arabs were allowed to strike first, and the Yom Kippur War was touch and go for a while. But the Israelis triumphed yet again, with Gen. Sharon matching the armoured heroics of the Six-Day War general Tal.
(The Israelis’ war effort was augmented no end by their contemptuous rejection of my attempt to volunteer: my Soviet military training was deemed grossly inadequate. I was then, and still am now, wary of any state founded, like Israel, or for that matter the US, on an ideological premise. Yet I considered it my duty to help the bulwark of my Judaeo-Christian civilisation desperately trying to fight off its mortal enemies.)
In 1982, following the peace treaty with Egypt, Israel returned the lion’s share of her 1967 gains, specifically the Sinai Peninsula. That had no effect on either the worldwide anti-Israel (or, to be more exact, anti-Semitic) propaganda inspired by the Soviets or the on-going Muslim attempts to murder as many Israelis and their supporters as possible. Then again, anti-Semitism is never affected by anything Jews do or don’t do.
The video proceeds to state that the one million Israeli Arabs (the actual figure is almost twice as high, representing 20 per cent of the country’s population) enjoy few political rights. That’s another lie.
They boast equal voting privileges and their own political parties represented in the Knesset. Some limitations to their political rights do exist, mostly those involved in military service. Yet the civil rights enjoyed by Israeli Palestinians are infinitely greater than in any other Middle Eastern country, which is why 77 per cent of them would rather live in Israel than anywhere else.
Those sentiments are fully shared by the Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia. They remember the hell into which Palestinian Arabs plunged the Muslim countries that tried to accommodate them, namely Jordan and Lebanon and, for a short while, Saudi Arabia herself.
This brings us to the main reason for the unprecedented three generations of ‘Palestinian refugees’. Practically none of those who were adults in 1948 survive, and few of those who were alive at all. Since then, tens of millions of refugees from elsewhere (including millions of Russians, of whom I was one) have made a successful home for themselves in other countries, including some that didn’t particularly want them, like Britain.
So why do five million Palestinians, representing three generations, still live in West bank camps and shanty towns, a situation unique in history? The main reason is precisely that Muslim countries don’t want the Palestinians, except as the vanguard of their own hostility towards Jews in general and Israelis in particular.
The Arabs could easily have used their petrodollars to find homes for the Palestinians. Yet they chose instead to radicalise them and make them unacceptable to act in any capacity other than suicide bombers or rocket firers.
Israel has tried to be as accommodating as humanly possible, offering one peace initiative after another. The response came in the shape of suicide bombings, knifings, shootings and thousands of rockets. These, and any attempts by the Israelis to defend themselves, proceed to the accompaniment of leftie bleating the world over.
Some are inspired by traditional Marxist anti-Semitism, so amply manifested by the British Labour party. Others are animated by an emotion of more recent provenance: the leftie hostility to Western civilisation that leads to championship of any Third World cause. Hence its hatred of Israel, the only Middle Eastern country close to us culturally and politically.
Yes, there are two sides to this, or any other, story. Yet there’s always only one truth and, with a modicum of effort, it’s never very difficult to tell it apart from lies.
Born in Russia and educated at Moscow University, Alexander Boot lectured on English literature, wrote art and film criticism, and made a nuisance of himself with the authorities. Pursued by the KGB, he emigrated in 1973, first to the USA and then, in 1988, to the UK. For a long time he combined writing for various publications with a successful business career. When this became difficult, he retired as company director in 2005 and began to write full-time. Alexander Boot is the author of How the West Was Lost (2006), God and Man According to Tolstoy (2009), The Crisis Behind Our Crisis (2011), How the Future Worked (2013), Democracy as a Neocon Trick (2014) and co-author of A Nation That Forgot God (2010). He divides his time between London and Burgundy, working on his next book.
For all of his witty commentary on world news & events, you can visit his website at: AlexanderBoot.com