Following on my February 10, 2017 blog, Original Sin: Hatred of Israel, I received several replies and comments. Their common point was: “Your refutation of the morality of Arab refusal to accept Israel doesn’t hold because even you agree that the Arabs have been there for over 1500 years and large scale Jewish immigration is less than 100 years.
But this “refusal” was, is, not just “cold shouldering” or diplomatic maneuvering; the refusal was an act of war and ongoing terror. It started in the late 19th century, before there was any idea of a Jewish State; the first Jewish immigrants were killed for being Jewish immigrants in the 1880s. The intensity of this hatred built through the early 20th century with the notable slaughter of 67 Jews in Hebron in 1929: this Hebron enclave was of continuous Jewish presence since antiquity. The 1947-48 war was initiated by the Arabs with the end-game objective the total destruction of all Jewish claims and most Jewish lives.
Any reader who disputes the above should go to original sources, not a cleansed current textbook, nor the current NY Times; go to Israeli archives; go to the newspaper stories from reporters on site between 1925 and 1947. You will read a crescendo of stories from the Arab and Palestinian world calling for the destruction of the Yishuv. These culminate in the 1948 invasion of the new State of Israel by the armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. Although the invaders’ purpose was not a new Palestine but rather to carve from the Mandate additional real estate for themselves, nonetheless the invasion was supported by the local Arab leadership to the purpose of murdering and expelling the Jews. If there is a reader who does not know about Haj Amin al Husseini then now is your time to google the name. It should not surprise or enrage anyone that given this reality the Yishuv occasionally retaliated and definitely armed itself for what it saw as a looming existential war.
What is the proper response by a victor State after winning a war started by opponents who had in mind the annihilation of the attacked population and State? Does the UN opposition to the acquisition of property by war apply to both sides or only to the aggressor? By any ordinary standard of justice, including an Islamic one, the aggressor party loses all claims. For example, if I am in dispute with a neighbor, and if he then comes at me with a flamethrower to burn my house and a dagger to kill me, and if I manage to kill him first, then I am not responsible to pay compensation to his family for their loss of his presence.
The forgoing is argument that the long-resident Arabs of the Mandate lost their moral claim when, rather than negotiating with incoming Jews, or by accepting very favorable terms for Statehood* they refused all opportunities to countenance their new neighbors as people with both a historic and current claim of their own.
The current belief of the Palestinians is unchanged from that of 1918: the land is ours and Israel is an interloper; Hamas articulates this specifically as did the Palestine Liberation Organization. Fatah, by making no public statement of settlement that will cease all subsequent claims and by refusing all offers made to them by Israel, tacitly shows it is in agreement.
The Israeli government has not helped either. That is, the 1967 decision to yield the Temple Mount back to the control of the Waqf and the 1993 decision to return Arafat with 7000 soldiers are interpretable as Israeli agreement with much of the Arab claim. Israel may think these decisions simply show maturity and a willingness to compromise, but the Arabs and their supporters remind the world of King Solomon’s decision between the two women claiming motherhood of the child.
The Netanyahu government fails to understand that is losing, has lost, the public relations war. The USA Democratic Party has a large segment actively hostile to Israel and another segment pushing Israel for major concessions. Anti-Israel sentiment in Europe is evident with Europe pushing for major Israeli concessions and seeming to agree that the Palestinians have given enough. Against this, Israel seems to think that time is in its favor and that outside events will establish a favorable modus-vivendi for Israel between itself and the PA. This is the place for me to stop writing.
*Notably the Peel recommendations of 1938: 80% of the Mandate was to go to the Arabs when Jews were already some 30% or more of the population; the Jews would get basically Tel Aviv and environs. This was accepted for negotiation by the Yishuv but rejected out of hand by the Arabs.