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Editorial correspondence | Back to Politics | Back to the world news
TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

Articles on Israel after 2008
Negotiating with the winners
Making peace with Israel
Israel under siege
Why Hamas is right
The history of the world as a history of Jewish persecution
The population of pre-Israel Palestine
Articles on Israel till 2007

  • (june 2008) Negotiating with the winners. The public opinion in the Middle East (including Israel itself) is widely convinced that both Hamas and Hezbollah (the two Iranian-backed and Syrian-backed movements that the USA considers terrorist organizations) are fundamentally winning.
    Hezbollah was not destroyed by the Israeli invasion of 2006. In fact, it now owns more weapons (and more deadly weapons) than at any point in the past.
    Hamas was not weakened by the economic and political blockade imposed by Israel and the USA. In fact, it seems to have strengthened. Polls indicate that the Gaza population blames Israel, not Hamas, for the economic crisis, and that Hamas is gaining in the West Bank too. (I have repeatedly written that it was a mistake not to recognize the outcome of the democratic elections that Hamas won fairly and clearly, e.g. in Hamas and democracy vs Fatah and the West and in Why Hamas is right).
    Israel's decision to negotiate with both (not to mention their master Syria) is simply a recognition of their acquired strength. Israel only has to blame its own incompetent leaders (and the USA's incompetent Bush administration) for this situation. Hamas and Hezbollah have done very little to win: they kidnapped a few Israeli soldiers and threw a few rockets into Israel (that killed less people than car accidents do). Not recognizing the winner of the Palestinian elections turned a colossal tide against Israel and the West in general (when I told an Egyptian that the Middle East had only two democracies, Iraq and Israel, he replied that there is only one democracy, and that's the Gaza strip). Killing hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians and soldiers with cluster bombs and indiscriminate shelling in the 2006 invasion only made Hezbollah look like the heroic defender of the Lebanese nation, so much so that it went on to bargain veto-power in the new government.
    Both Hamas and Hezbollah outsmarted Israel and the USA. But, honestly, it was not too difficult to outsmart them: they made just about every possible mistake they could have.
    The only good news for Israel is that the winner usually stops being a clandestine organization once it becomes a winner. Almost invariably, "terrorist" movements that win want to transition to respectable political entities. The one thing that their leaders don't want anymore is... dying. Hence the current negotiations, aimed, first and foremost, at protecting the lives of the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah. This time Israel has been smart enough to negotiate with Syria too. Syrians are tired of decades of poverty and isolation. Their own president probably misses the good old days when he lived happily in Europe. And very few Sunni countries (such as Syria) or movements (such as Hamas) are proud of receiving help only from the largest Shiite country in the world (Iran).
    Israel should remember that the people who live under these regimes are human beings. Humiliating them on a daily basis is a good way to make these regimes more and more popular, more and more deadly.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (may 2008) Making peace with Israel. These days the most popular refrain in the West is the "two-state solution" advocated by Condi Rice. The most popular refrain in the Islamic world remains the one that wants Israel destroyed, but the leaders of the Islamic world are keener and keener to accept Rice's "two-state solution". Hence there is now a broad consensus that a Palestinian state living in peace next to Israel is the ultimate solution of the 60-year old conflict.
    Very few of these self-appointed protagonists ask what the Palestinians want. Only a tiny percentage of Palestinians want to recognize Israel. And a shrinking percentage of Palestinians identifies with other Palestinians. Al Fatah (the faction of president Abbas) and Hamas (that won the elections and now rules Gaza) are only the two most famous factions, but there are literally dozens. Neither Al Fatah nor Hamas can claim to control any major portion of territory within the tiny strip of Gaza or the slightly bigger West Bank. Divisions among Palestinians are colossal. One wonders if a democratic Palestinian state isn't simply a recipe for an Iraqi-style civil war. After all, each and every country that has a sizeable Shia minority has been torn by a bloody civil war (Pakistan, still going on, Lebanon, still going on, and Iraq, still going on). And each and every Arab country that has experimented with democracy has gone through a civil war too (Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine itself). It is not clear what makes Condi Rice so sure that Palestine would be the exception to both rules.
    One wonders if we shouldn't just admit that the "Palestinian people" was a British invention that never existed before. There never was a Palestinian state or even a Palestinian province under the Umayyads, Abbasids, Mameluks, Ottomans that ruled over this land (the Islamic powers that preceded Britain). In 1948 the Arab countries that attacked Israel simply wanted to split the land among themselves (not a single Arab country was talking of the Palestinians as a separate people). Even in the 1960s there still was no talk of the Palestinians. The Palestinians were "invented" only in 1967 after Israel took Gaza from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan. We never heard Egyptians or Jordanians demand an independent Palestine when they owned Gaza and the West Bank, did we?
    Therefore one wonders if we shouldn't just give Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan. Exactly the situation before the 1967 war. When people like Condi Rice claim that Israel should go back to the 1967 borders, they are not really telling the truth. In 1967 there was no Palestinian state, nor any talk of a Palestinian state. Why not "really" go back to the pre-1967 situation, i.e. no Palestinian state but Gaza to Egypt and West Bank to Jordan? (See also A two-province solution for Palestine).
    The obvious objection is that neither Egypt nor Jordan want to rule over the Palestinians. Then say it loud and clear. The problem is not only Israel's problem, but everybody's problem. Just like nobody really likes Hezbollah in Lebanon, even if they screamed when Israel tried to wipe it out. The one thing that is abundant in that region is hypocrisy.
    There is also an attitude that has to change towards Israel. No question Israel has been deliberately humiliating the Palestinians and is guilty of several atrocities (in particular, the policy of collective punishment that they learned from the Nazists). However, the Arabs must be educated and must look at the mirror: the Arab countries never gave back an inch of land that they conquered in a war. Never in 14 centuries. So why should Israel give back what they conquered in a war if the Arabs never ever did that?
    The current attitude among the Arab public opinion is to assume that Israel "must" morally return the lands it occupied in 1967 (which somehow includes granting independence to the Palestinians). That is not the right attitude. Israel has no obligation to return those lands just like the Arabs are under no obligation to return Syria to Greece and the Iranians are under no obligation to return Iran to the Zoroastrians. Is Morocco giving back the Western Sahara to the Polisario? Is Turkey giving back Istanbul to Greece and Turkey itself?
    The Arab countries should publicly and openly recognize that they are asking Israel to do something that they (the Arabs) never ever did or even dreamed of doing. It takes the right attitude: not "Israel get out of occupied land" but "Israel show us that you are a superior kind of state". Right now very few Israelis feel reassured by the tone of the Arabs. If you were an Israeli, you too would distrust these people who ask you to do something that they would never do themselves.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (may 2008) Israel under siege. Iran has been rearming both Hamas and Hezbollah. De facto, Israel is surrounded by two divisions of the Iranian army, while Iran is also building rockets and presumably nuclear weapons. In a few years, the two Iranian divisions called Hamas and Hezbollah could attack Israel while Iran could threaten Israel with nuclear war if Israel uses excessive force against them. Israel has no choice but to strike first. Iran is counting on the fact that the USA may not want another war in the Islamic world to further tarnish its reputation in that part of the world, but Iran may miscalculate badly, as precisely the fact of being bogged down in Iraq makes the USA more likely to accept an Israeli strike against Iran (as in "let Israel do the dirty job that we should be doing").
    Iran may also miscalculate the effects on the region. It is no mystery that the Arab countries are wary of Iran's superpower ambitions, especially after the USA accidentally removed Iran's two main enemies (the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq) and after Iran has sponsored (if not directed) the Shiite militias that are massacring Sunnis in Iraq.
    Iran's strategy is weak in Palestine itself. If Hezbollah is a faithful ally, it is debatable how faithful Syria is. By all accounts Syria has helped the Sunni insurgents, while Iran was helping the Shiite militias: de facto, they have been fighting a proxy war of sorts in Iraq while being allied in Lebanon and Palestine.
    Hamas is finding itself in the embarrassing situation of being treated like a Shiite renegade by its own Palestinian people (who are overwhelmingly Sunni). Hamas supporters are scorned as "Shia" by their Al Fatah rivals. Hamas is unlikely to find much sympathy among the Arab regimes for as long as it is perceived to play into Iran's hands. Hamas may have come to realize Iran's ambitions and this may explain its suddent unilateral "truce" and its sudden desire to negotiate with Israel.
    Hamas' attitude has subtly changed also towards the Western audience. Hamas is almost turning the tables on Israel. It used to be clear that Hamas was targeting random civilians. But now Hamas is targeting Israeli soldiers. In retaliation, Israel kills Palestinian civilians. Hamas is outsmarting Israel. Now it is Israel that looks like the terrorist organization. While this has little effect on Israel's standing itself, it may eventually rehabilitate Hamas in the yes of some Western governments while not exposing Hamas to the accusations of having "surrendered" to Israel. The easiest explanation for Hamas' change of mind is that it is now eager to do precisely what it pledge to never do: negotiate a peace treaty with Israel.
    Hezbollah in Lebanon is not faring much better. This Iran-funded Shia group is now fighting a civil war not only against the Christians but also against the Sunnis. Christians and Sunnis are allied in the USA-backed government that won the elections, and refuse to yield to Hezbollah's request for more power. Syria has expressed the desire to negotiate peace with Israel, something that must have greatly disappointed Iran, but could be the direct result of Iran's meddling into Iraq's affairs, and could be the reason that Hezbollah suddenly finds itself isolated within Lebanon. Many in Lebanon now regret that they did not help Israel when Israel tried to wipe out Hezbollah.
    At the end of the day, the region that hates Israel so deeply may view Iran as a worse and more dangerous enemy. After all, Israel is predictable: leave it alone, and it will leave you alone. The ayatollahs of Iran are far less predictable. After all, the Jews never had an empire, whereas Iran had several empires that ruled over the lands from Egypt to Afghanistan. The Arabs know that it is unlikely that Israel will never want to rule over them, while someone in Iran may be tempted to do just that: reconstitute the old empires.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (march 2008) Why Hamas is right. I have no sympathy for the hard-line Islamic movements of the Middle East that take advantage of naive Arab masses to drive their own agendas and keep those Arab masses poor and ignorant using Israel as a scapegoat, but the situation in Palestine is a good example of why those "naive" masses would rather follow a hard-line Islamic movement like Hamas than trust the West.
    After the USA invaded Iraq, it made a big deal of fostering democracy throughout the Middle East. The first democratic elections happened to take place in Palestine. Guess what: the USA never recognized the winner. Nor did Israel. Nor did any of the major democracies of the world.
    The Arab world has correctly interpreted this as: the West wants democracy only if we vote the way they like us to vote.
    Not only has this hurt the reputation of the West (that was never particularly good in this part of the world), but it has also strengthened Hamas' position, because it proved the very point that Hamas was trying to make: that the West is biased against the Palestinians. The West does accept the result of an election in Israel that puts into power a right-wing extremist, but does not accept the results of an election in Palestine that puts into power an Islamic extremist: where's the difference?
    The result is that the world has encouraged the West Bank (controlled by Al Fatah) to split from Gaza (Hamas' center of power) and then has condoned Israel's blockade of Gaza. Hamas, encircled in the tiny territory of Gaza, has responded by launching rockets against Israel. Admittedly, this is the old tribal Arab concept that you kill a couple of random citizens of a country when you want to fight their government. How many centuries will it take before the Arab masses understand that deliberately targeting ordinary citizens only makes ordinary people angry and therefore strengthens the government (that those people may not have voted for, and may actually not like at all)? When Jews were persecuted, they sent their children to school. Now that Palestinians are persecuted, they send their children to blow themselves up. Maybe this explains why Jews have won so many Nobel Prizes and obtained their own country of Israel, while their Arab neighbors still live in poverty and don't even have a country. But i digress.
    The point is that, after letting them choose their government, the West didn't give Gaza too many options. The only option is: starve. The result was that young unemployed, brainwashed and West-betrayed Gazans started throwing rockets into Israel. The Israeli government was probably just waiting for such a provocation (extremists have helped each other on both sides of the border since the trouble started 60 years ago) and launched an incursion into Gaza that killed more than 100 people. How many decades before the Israeli people understand that when their government kills innocents it only makes ordinary Palestinians angry and therefore creates even more unemployed, brainwashed and West-betrayed Gazans? But that's another digression.
    Think what you would do if you were encircled by the enemy and your family's situation was getting worse by the day, and all of this because your great sin was to exercise the right to vote that that very enemy had granted you as the ultimate gift of a superior civilization.
    Now the leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniya, has offered a truce of sorts. He demanded a lifting of economic sanctions and the reopening of border crossings, so that the people of Gaza can breathe. Gaza has been a virtual prison for two years.
    Haniya is actually in a strong position. The Palestinian public opinion has never been so hostile to peace negotiations (See Poll shows most Palestinians favor violence over talks). Hezbollah never tried to negotiate with Israel and now controls its own territory and is even vying for control of the Lebanese government. Abbas, who has negotiated for years, has obtained much less. If Haniya lets the violence continue, he will be supported by the vast majority of Palestinians, even in the West Bank. He may even regain the West Bank from Abbas simply on the basis of popularity. Therefore his offer of a truce is actually generous.
    Haniya did not tell his people what is probably his main concern: his own life. First in the list of demands is that Israel stops the "assassinations". He pretends that Israel assassinates innocents for fun, but knows well that Israel kills innocents by accident when it is in fact targeting the leaders of Hamas. After all, the rocket attacks escalated after Israel declared its intention to go after the Hamas leadership.
    But fairness and humanity must prevail over whatever opinion one has of the leaders of Hamas (coward and corrupt politicians abound everywhere and they are not a justification for exterminating their electorates). It is fair to accept the will of Gaza: if Hamas is what they want, the West (Israel, USA, the European Union) should simply recognize Hamas the same way that they grudgingly recognize Chavez in Venezuela or, for that matter, will soon recognize Berlusconi in Italy. Second, is is humane to reopen the border crossings and lift the sanctions that mainly hurt the Gazan people.
    The Bush administration was hoping to achieve a comprehensive peace treaty between Israel and Palestine, including the creation of a Palestinian state. How in heaven do they happen to achieve that if they convince the Palestinians that everything they say about democracy is a joke and that they have no compassion for ordinary people?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (february 2008) The history of the world as a history of Jewish persecution. After the 1492 holocaust in Spain, Jews moved to Eastern Europe where they made fortunes colinizing new lands, fortunes that allowed them to expand their business all over Europe. After the 1648 holocaust in Poland, Britain removed the ban against the Jews and allowed them to emigrate to the USA, an event that (centuries later) gave them an evolutionary advantage. After the 1881 and 1906 holocausts in Russia, the Jews started emigrating to the Ottoman vilayet of Saida by the thousands, founding cities (Tel Aviv) and buying land. After the 1945 holocaust in Germany, the Jews obtained the state of Israel inside the British protectorate of Palestine, that was a piece of the old Ottoman vilayet of Saida ("Palestine" never existed under the Arabs or the Ottomans as a separate entity).
    In each case the enemies of the Jews got a short-term victory (a big one), but the Jews won long-term. Basically one has to blame the other people's stupidity (and, of course, cruelty) more than one can credit Jewish cleverness. Jews can be credited for surviving and never giving up, but the rest was really a reaction to the actions of their persecutors. Jews lived pretty much the only history that was possible for them given the way they were treated.
    The question is whether this process is still underway today in the only place where they are still persecuted: the Middle East.
    One can easily argue that the actions of their Arab enemies have made Israel stronger. If the Arab states had not made a big deal of it, Israel would have remained a symbolic state with no real independence (as it was intended in 1937) and eventually absorbed into some larger federation. By swearing to destroy Israel, the Arabs forced it to become a militaristic power. By allying with the Soviet Union, they forced the USA to ally with Israel. By inventing Palestinian nationalism (that had never existed in history), they turned Israel into a right-wing country. The whole transformation of Israel from a poor socialist utopia to what it is today was caused by the actions of the Arabs.
    The Jewish factor also works the other way around, as it seems to determined the fortures of the countries where they live or where they are expelled from.
    One thing you notice while reading the history of the Jewish people is how the superpower was almost always the country that had the largest population of Jews (Romans, Arabs, Ottomans) or that had the lowest discrimination against them (Britain, USA). The countries that persecuted them and eventually had small numbers of them (Spain, France, Italy) are the ones that declined rapidly. Coincidence or not, the decline of Islamic civilization parallels the exodus of Jews out of the Islamic world. Countries such as Poland and Ukraine and Russia itself became regional powers after the influx of Jews expelled from Spain, Italy and France in the 16th c. Germany's peak was between 1881 and 1914, when they had the largest Jewish community in Europe and the best integrated. For a while (before the creation of Israel) the USA held both records (largest community in the world and lowest discrimination). Second after the USA was the Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union happened one decade after the mass exodus of Soviet Jews to Israel.
    Today the most unfriendly lands for Jews are the Islamic lands.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (february 2008) The population of pre-Israel Palestine. Few topics arise so much animosity in the Arab world than the history of Israel.
    Generally speaking, it is always dangerous to compare reliable data with unreliable data. We have very detailed and reliable data on Jewish life, whether in Europe or in the Middle East, because Jews were literate and documented their stories. On the contrary we have very sketchy and fuzzy data on Arab life that was not accurately documented.
    As usual, it all depends on "when" ones start counting and "where" one counts. In ancient times, there was a Jewish state and of course there were mainly Jews. They were expelled by the Romans in the second century. It is the Romans who called it "Palestine". The Arabs invaded it in the seventh century, taking Palestine from the Greeks of Byzanthium/Constantinople (today's Istanbul). Initially the Arabs largely allowed the existing communities to continue their life undisturbed. Islam did not become an oppressive religion until very recently. At the beginning it was not even a separate religion (the Arabs were called "immigrants" by the Greek-speaking people). Throughout the centuries that Palestine was under Arab control there never existed a separate Palestinian entity. Therefore there never was a census of its population, and of which religion they were. The Ottoman Turks took over in 1516. They were by far the friendliest nation to the Jews who had been expelled from Spain. Most likely the Ottoman conquest of Palestine led to the first influx of Jewish immigrants into Palestine since Roman times. However, not even the Ottomans created a separate Palestinian entity. The land that today we call Palestine was part of other "vilayets" (Ottoman provinces). Neither the Arabs nor the Ottomans ever recognized a "Palestinian nation" or a "Palestinian people". Therefore we don't know how many people lived in the land that today we call Palestine, how many were Muslims, Christians and Jews. Estimates vary wildly, depending on sources and on "what" exactly is considered as Palestine. It is a fact, though, that the only people who had a concept of "Palestine" were the Jews: for everybody else there was no such a thing, just an Arab and then Ottoman region that at different times was part of this or that province.
    After the 1881 and 1906 holocausts in Russia, the Jews started emigrating to the Ottoman vilayet by the thousands, founding cities such as Tel Aviv and buying land from the local people. There is virtually no record of any violent take-over of land. The European Jews bought land legally (from Muslim, Christian, Jewish and bedouin families), the same way that immigrants to the USA (including many Muslims) buy houses there.
    The first census was done by the British when they took over the region from the Ottomans, after World War I. The British were probably the only country in Europe sympathetic to the Jews. Jewish immigration to Palestine accelerated under British rule. The British were, de facto, the first imperial rulers since the Romans to think of Palestine as a separate entity. A fact that is often neglected by Jewish propaganda is that the British probably undercounted the local inhabitants because many of them were not registered (and many of them were nomads with no formal claim to any land). A fact that is often neglected by Arab propaganda is that Jewish communities brought a higher standard of living that in turn attracted many Arabs: there was Arab immigration into Palestine just like there was Jewish immigration. Many of today's "Palestinians" have Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian and even Iraqi names. The difference is that Jewish immigration tended to be well documented whereas nobody on the Arab side documented the movement of Arab people from surrounding areas into Palestine.
    Having studied both sides of the argument, i find that Arab figures are usually wildly exaggerated. They routinely claim that there were only a few thousand Jews in Palestine, without quoting any source and without defining what they mean by "Palestine" (again, such a political entity never existed throughout the centuries of Islamic domination). They also routinely consider "Palestinian" anybody who was not Jewish, when in fact there were many Christians (possibly as many as in nearby Lebanon, i.e. about 50%) and many Bedouins. On the other hand, Jewish sources routinely underestimate the non-Jewish population but not so wildly.
    My unbiased guess is that in the land that today is called Palestine and that includes the state of Israel, during the British mandate Muslims were less than 50% of the total, Jews were less than 15%. The issue, again, is "where" you count. Not even the most radical Zionists were claiming the whole of Palestine. The Jews were eventually assigned a small part of Palestine, the part in which they probably outnumbered every other ethnic and religious group. The British carved out the Jewish territory based more on demographics than on historical/religious claims.
    An important footnote, though. All the evidence we have of the early Jewish settlements in Palestine of the 19th century shows that Jews lived in peace with the Arabs. The Jewish immigrants had virtually no way to defend themselves (the Ottoman rulers would not have risked one soldiers to protect the Jewish communities in Palestine). If the Arabs had wanted, they could have exterminated them. Instead, there were precious few incidents. The Jews bought the land from Arabs who not only were willing and eager to sell it, but even welcomed the richer and more educated Jews back to Palestine. The peaceful coexistence lasted until Britain made a colossal mistake. The year after Britain seized Palestine from the Ottoman Empire they recognized Mohammed Amin al-Husseini as the Muslim authority in Palestine. He was Palestine's biggest landowners and viscerally hated Jews. Not only did he start a campaign of smear against the Jews that predated the one launched by Hitler a decade later, but he also began a campaign of systematic elimination of Arab moderates. This had a tremendous impact on future relations between Arabs and Jews (and eventually between Arabs and the West) because it effectively silenced any Arab who wanted peaceful coexistence, and created the stereotype that a Muslim should assassinate anyone who cooperates with the infidels. To this day this is still a widely-held belief in that region. Suicide bombers would not exist without that stereotype.
    The Arab mantra that "Jews invaded Palestine before 1948" is a bit misleading. There never was a military invasion of Palestine by armed Jews. On the other hand, Arabs did invade that land with violence in the 7th century, and so did the Ottomans in the 16th century, and so did the British in the 20th century.
    Arabs (and now also Iranians) claim that Jews were given a state by Europeans who wanted to be forgiven for the Holocaust. However, there is no evidence that the Holocaust accelerated the creation of the state of Israel. There is evidence that Jewish terrorism did. The British had wanted to get rid of Palestine since at least 1937. Jewish terrorism during the 1940s made the British even less eager to control that land. The British were just waiting for an opportunity to do so without losing face. The mass immigration of Jews from Western Europe into Israel took place after the creation of Israel, not before.
    Another stereotype that has little historical foundation is that the USA was biased towards Israel from the beginning. The statement is certainly true today but was not true at the beginning. Jews had very little support in the USA: both president Roosevelt and general Patton had been openly anti-Semitic (Roosevelt even justified Hitler's grievances against the Jews, and Patton called them "less than human"). At the end of World War II the USA was far from enthusiastic about the creation of Israel, since the Arabs (close USA allies) were opposed to it. Israel was armed by the Soviet Union and its allies. When the Arabs attacked Israel, the USA didn't do anything to defend Israel. When in 1956 Israel, Britain and France attacked Egypt, the USA voted a United Nations resolution condemning the attack, siding with Egypt against Israel.
    Another contentious issue is the Palestinians who were reportedly expelled by Israel. Before 1948 Israel supported the creation of one or more Palestinian states. The Arab countries opposed it. During the first Arab-Israeli war, the Arab countries called for Palestinians to evacuate their areas in order not to get hurt. Each Arab country claimed part of Palestine. No Arab country viewed those people as "Palestinians" but simply as their own (future) subjects. At the end of the war many more Palestinians left the villages that had been occupied by the winning army (Israel's) or destroyed by the war (they may have been destroyed by either army). After the war there is evidence of Israeli activities to further "encourage" Palestinian emigration. Israelis routinely underestimate the latter, that amounted to ethnic cleansing (although relatively few Palestinians were killed in the process). Arabs, on the other hand, routinely ignore the fact that at the same time, and in a much more explicit way, the Arab countries expelled massive numbers of Jews. The best estimates i could come up with is that at least 600,000 Palestinians (Arabs who lived in what Jews called Palestine) lost their homes and that at least 500,000 Jews were expelled from various Arab countries, from Morocco to Iraq. Jews were again expelled in the following decades, peaking with the mass expulsion from Iraq under Saddam Hussein that required a spectacular Israeli air lift.
    The difference between Jewish and Arab refugees is simple: Jewish refugees were welcome by the state of Israel that did everything it could to integrate them, whereas Arab refugees were dumped by Arab countries into refugee camps to make sure they would not integrate (to this day, many of them are not considered citizens of the country in which they live).
    Today Israel is opposed to the repatriation of Palestinian refugees for precisely the opposite reason of what Arabs claim. Arabs claim that Israel is an apartheid state, but Israel is a democracy. Arabs vote and have the same rights as Jews. In fact, Arabs in Israel have a lot more rights than Arabs in Arab countries. That's the real reason why Israel is opposed to the repatriation of the refugees: the Arabs would become the majority, and majority rules. South Africa, a real apartheid system, never opposed immigration of blacks because blacks did not have civil rights. Arabs, instead, have the same rights as Jews under the Israeli constitution. That is what creates the problem.
    The Palestinians are certainly victims. But the Arabs (including the Palestinians themselves) may fail to identify who they are victims of. It was the Palestinians themselves who sold land to the Jews. It was the Arab countries that opposed the creation of a Palestinian state. It was the Arab countries that dumped the Palestinian refugees in refugee camps instead of integrating them into their societies. Last but not least, no Arab country hass invested as much as Israel in education. Now the gap between educated Jews and non-educated Arabs is just too large to think that they could coexist in the same state. Most Jews are interested in science, technology and business. Most Arabs are only interested in the Quran. A century of progress separates them.

    See also: Arab immigration to Palestine in the 1920s (Middle-East Quarterly, Winter 2003, by Fred Gottheil).

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • Articles on Israel before 2008
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