Some historical realities
I wonder if Sue Gray has ever considered that the root cause of the problem is not Israeli intransigence, but Arab refusal to accept the reality of Israel’s existence.
An example of this is Gaza, from which Israel withdrew leaving a perfectly functioning infrastructure, a gem of an agricultural establishment and the potential of creating a phenomenal tourist resort. But Hamas destroyed everything in the name of their warped fundamentalism!
I suggest anyone interested in a rational look at the subject read “Time Immemorial” by Joan Peters, which details the historical realities that Israel’s detractors continue to ignore. These include the fact that there has been a continuous Jewish presence in the area the Romans called Palestine since biblical times, and that there was never a national entity composed of Arabs known as Palestine. The term was an administrative one, for both the Roman Empire and the British Mandate.
As many Jews were displaced from their homes in Arab countries in 1948 as were Arab inhabitants of the Palestine area. These displaced Jews were officially expelled from places in which their families had lived for a few thousand years; the Arab inhabitants of the area that currently comprises both Israel and the occupied territories chose to flee because the Arab armies massed against the infant state of Israel promised them that they would soon return behind a victorious army that would “drive the Jews into the sea” as they put it.
Jewish refugees from Arab countries were within a decade fully assimilated into Israeli society, which today is 70 percent comprised of Jews whose origins are Middle Eastern and North African rather than European. Arabs who chose not to flee during Israel’s War of Independence, accepting the invitation of the fledgling Jewish state to remain, are now Arab citizens of Israel, comprising 20 percent of that country’s population. They have representatives in the Israeli parliament and enjoy more educational opportunity, health care, civil rights and religious freedom for a minority religion than exists in any other country in the Middle East.
The Arabs now inhabiting the West Bank and Gaza were from 1948-67 under Jordanian and Egyptian respectively administration where they were granted no civil rights but kept in an abysmal condition with very few allowed to shed their refugee status for citizenship in neighboring Arab countries. Israel occupied these areas after winning a war started by Arab nations still determined to drive Israel into he sea. Sudanese refugees newly arrived in Israel will within about five years (60 months) become Israeli citizens. The great majority of Arab refugees in the territories have been denied citizenship in any Arab nation for nearly 60 years.
Seven years ago at Camp David, Israel offered to return these territories. Arafat turned his back on that offer. Now Arafat’s Fatah and the fundamentalist Hamas are engaged in what amounts to a civil war in the territories. Is it any wonder that Israel questions whether this is the time to end the occupation?
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