Contentions commenter Maines Michael points us to Bat Ye’or’s incisive article in the November New English Review, entitled “The Palestinization of UNESCO” (which follows Robert Wolfe’s equally incisive article in the August NER, entitled “Settlements Are the Issue”). Taken together, the two articles cut to the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Bat Ye’or’s article focuses on the claim “that Jewish existence in its ancestral homeland, Judea and Samaria, is an ‘occupation’ – a colonization:”
In this way, Israel has become a state that is occupying its own historical homeland. In Orwellian language propagandists speak of “the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land” that is called Judea, and not of the ethnic and religious cleansing of Jews from their homeland through wars, expulsions, dispossession and the dehumanizing apartheid rule of dhimmitude.
Wolfe’s article focuses on the fact that the “settlers” in Hebron are the descendants of Jews who lived there for a very long time:
[P]rior to 1949 there were numerous Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. In particular there was a large Jewish community in Hebron which dated back to the 16th century. But in 1929, this entire community was destroyed by the Arabs and its inhabitants massacred. … So when the Palestinians now argue that Jews have no right to live anywhere beyond the 1949 armistice lines, what they are actually saying is that Jews have no right to return to areas where they were previously murdered or driven out by the Arabs.
Wolfe also observes it is “neither just nor reasonable to expect Israel to maintain Judea and Samaria in the same Judenrein condition in which the Arabs left it in 1967”:
Judea and Samaria formed the heartland of the ancient Jewish kingdoms of Judah and Israel, and Jews have every right to settle there while waiting for the time, perhaps many years from now, when the democratization of Arab society has proceeded to the point where the Palestinians are ready to make peace with Israel. If the Palestinians are concerned that the progress of Jewish settlement will gradually shrink the area available for a future Palestinian state, they have only to make peace now in order to stabilize the situation.
The area Israel has tried to give the Palestinians three times is properly described as “disputed” rather than “occupied.” In 1922, the League of Nations designated it as the national home of the Jewish people. In 1937, in response to Arab pogroms, the Peel Commission proposed two states, which the Jews accepted and the Arabs rejected. In 1947, the UN proposed another two-state solution; the Jews accepted and the Arabs rejected it. When the Arabs started a war, Jordan illegally occupied a portion of Palestine — an occupation never recognized by the UN, U.S., Soviet Union, or any Arab country. In 1967, when it joined still another war against Israel, Jordan lost the land it unlawfully held. It is currently held by the only entity with even a shadow of a legal claim to it: the Jewish state.
With the demise of the peace process – the victim of too many Palestinian rejections of a state, too many wars after withdrawals from disputed land, too many years of Palestinian refusals to negotiate without pre-negotiation concessions designed to pre-determine the issues to be negotiated – it is time to return to first principles.
One is that the U.S. has no conceivable interest in supporting an apartheid Palestinian state, much less one in which terrorist groups remain not only undismantled but part of the Palestinian polity, currently run by unelected leaders unable even to organize Potemkin elections, whose declared goal is not an end-of-claims agreement but an entity to pursue further claims against the state Arabs tried to destroy in 1948 and 1967 and still refuse to recognize as a Jewish state.