3. Refugees: Jewish and Arab
As a result of the annexation and the continuing state of war, the Arab refugees who had fled the Israeli slivers did not return. There was a refugee flow into Israel, but it was a flow of Jews who had been expelled from the Arab countries. All over the Middle East, Jews were forced to leave lands they had lived on for centuries. Although Israel was a tiny geographical area and a fledgling state, its government welcomed and resettled 600,000 Jewish refugees from the Arab countries.
At the same time, the Jews resumed their work of creating a new nation in what was now a single sliver of land. Israel, had annexed a small amount of territory to make their state defensible, including a land bridge that included Jerusalem.
In the years that followed, the Israelis made their desert bloom. They built the only industrialized economy in the entire Middle East. They built the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. They treated the Arabs who remained in Israel well. To this day the very large Arab minority, which lives inside the state of Israel, has more rights and privileges than any other Arab population in the entire Middle East.
This is especially true of the Arabs living under Yasser Arafat’s corrupt dictatorship, the Palestine Authority, which today administers the West Bank and the Gaza strip, and whose Arab subjects have no human rights. In 1997, in a fit of pique against the Oslo Accords, Palestinian spokesman Edward Said himself blurted this out, calling Arafat “our Papa Doc” – after the sadistic dictator of Haiti – and complaining that there was “a total absence of law or the rule of law in the Palestinian autonomy areas.”
The present Middle East conflict is said to be about the “occupied territories” – the West Bank of the Jordan and the Gaza strip – and about Israel’s refusal to “give them up.” But during the first twenty years of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel did not control the West Bank. In 1950, when Jordan annexed the West Bank, there was no Arab outrage. Nor did the Middle East conflict with the Jews subside.
The reason there was no Arab outrage over the annexation of the West Bank was because Jordan is a state whose ethnic majority is Palestinian Arabs. On the other hand, the Palestinians of Jordan are disenfranchised by the ruling Hashemite minority. Despite this fact, in the years following the annexation the Palestinians displayed no interest in achieving “self-determination” in Hashemite Jordan. It is only the presence of Jews, apparently, that incites this claim. The idea that the current conflict is about “occupied territories” is only one of the many large Arab deceits — now widely accepted — that have distorted the history of the Middle East wars.
4. The Arab Wars Against Israel
In 1967, Egypt, Syria and Jordan attacked Israel for a second time and were again defeated. It was in repelling these aggressors that Israel came to control the West Bank and the Gaza strip, as well as the oil-rich Sinai desert. Israel had every right to annex these territories captured from the aggressors – a time honored ritual among nations, and in fact the precise way that Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan had come into existence themselves. But Israel did not do so. On the other hand, neither did it withdraw its armies or relinquish its control.
The reason was that the Arab aggressors once again refused to make peace. Instead, they declared themselves still at war with Israel, a threat no Israeli government could afford to ignore. By this time, Israel was a country of 2 or 3 million surrounded by declared enemies whose combined populations numbered over 100 million. Geographically Israel was so small that at one point it was less than ten miles across. No responsible Israeli government could relinquish a territorial buffer while its hostile neighbors were still formally at war. This is the reality that frames the Middle East conflict.
In 1973, six years after the second Arab war against the Jews, the Arab armies again attacked Israel. The attack was led by Syria and Egypt, abetted by Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and five other countries who gave military support to the aggressors, including an Iraqi division of 18,000 men. Israel again defeated the Arab forces. Afterwards, Egypt – and Egypt alone — agreed to make a formal peace.
The peace was signed by Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, who was subsequently assassinated by Islamic radicals, paying for his statesmanship with his life. Sadat is one of three Arab leaders assassinated by other Arabs for making peace with the Jews.
Under the Camp David accords that Sadat signed, Israel returned the entire Sinai with all its oil riches. This act demonstrated once and for all that the solution to the Middle East conflict was ready at hand. It only required the willingness of the Arabs to agree.
The Middle East conflict is not about Israel’s occupation of the territories; it is about the refusal of the Arabs to make peace with Israel, which is an inevitable by-product of their desire to destroy it.