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Gary Epstein
And now for something completely different . . .

A Remedial Primer For The Laggard Student

 

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Before I start: Not a single casualty would have occurred in Gaza or its environs had Hamas not intentionally, with malice aforethought, violating a ceasefire to which it had agreed, invaded Israel on October 7 and perpetrated barbaric crimes, including rape, torture, kidnaping, murder, and arson, directed against both military personnel and civilians, including the elderly, women, and children. Hamas could have ended the war at any time by releasing the hostages it held in violation of international law, and surrendering. Hamas, intentionally or recklessly, increased civilian casualties by using human shields, establishing and conducting military operations in hospitals and civilian areas, launching missiles indiscriminately at civilian targets, and by denying Palestinian civilians shelter in its extensive network of tunnels.

Every single drop of blood that has been shed since October 7 is at or on the hands of Hamas.

Every. Single. Drop. Of. Blood.

Some other things that I would like to say to the students who have set up tents on college campuses. Perhaps their education has been deficient in some (or all) areas.  Perhaps climate change is indeed more insidious than I had imagined and has subliminal deleterious effects on judgment, common sense, ethics, and morality.  Perhaps they do not fully understand the nature of the Hamas cause they are espousing. Perhaps they have been unduly influenced by radical professors, paid provocateurs, and career nihilist demonstrators. Clearly their comprehension of history does not extend beyond the last simplistic slogan that was shouted at or provided to them.

Whatever the cause, I am confident that if they just listened for a bit, they would come around to the right side.

  1.  In 1947, India was partitioned. Eventually, three countries emerged: India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. While Gandhi would have preferred that it remain unified, Ali Jinnah, the Muslim leader, insisted on a separate Muslim entity, arguing that two peoples of such divergent faiths could not peacefully co-exist.  In August 1947, 4.7 million (4,700,000) Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India from what became the new Pakistan. Overall, it is estimated that 14-18 million (14,000,000-18,000,000) people moved. Guess how many of them are currently classified as refugees? Zero (0).
  2. In 1947, Israel was created out of the British Mandate in Palestine.  The vote contemplated the partition of the Mandate into two entities, one Jewish and one Arab, on the theory that the Jews were the indigenous inhabitants of the land with centuries and millennia of residency and sovereignty and the Arabs had emigrated to the land, primarily from Arabia and Egypt, and had also established residency. The Arabs rejected partition and, declaring war, attacked en masse on the day the Israeli State was established.  Five Arab armies, plus Palestinian militias, waged war against the tiny new State and were defeated.  Armistice lines were established.  The lands that were conquered by, and maintained under the control of, Arabs became parts of Jordan and Egypt, which held the West Bank of the Jordan and Gaza, respectively, from 1948-1967, but did not create a Palestinian State, because . . . well . . .  because there had never in history been a Palestinian people or a Palestinian polity, and no one was demanding self-determination for a Palestinian people that . . . well . . . did not exist.  During the years 1947-1949, approximately  0.8 million (800,000) Jews were expelled from Arab lands and their property was expropriated.  They made their way to Israel.  Guess how many of them are currently classified as refugees?  Zero (0).
  3. During that same period, approximately 0.75 million (750,000) Arabs left Israel either voluntarily, because the Arab armies had urged them to leave in anticipation of the Jewish bloodbath that was to ensue, or involuntarily, because of strategic policies and considerations of the new Israeli government and army. They were, for the most part, placed in refugee camps in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria.  Guess how many are currently classified as refugees? SIX MILLION (6,000,000).
  4. In 1948, only about 0.15 million (150,000) Arabs remained in Israel.  They became Israeli citizens, with the right to vote, as well as a full suite of other equal rights and privileges.  Currently, a bit more than 2.1 million (2,100,000) Arabs live in Israel proper.  They serve in the Knesset (Parliament), receive free government-provided education, vote in municipal and national elections, attend universities and professional schools, are represented on the Supreme Court, and enjoy more civic rights than residents of any Arab country in the Middle East.  Anyone who knows what apartheid actually means could not reasonably ascribe it to Israel with a straight face. Significantly, when, in the context of negotiations, politicians discussed population swaps between Israel and a proposed new Palestinian State, in order to create contiguous boundaries and compensate for Jewish communities occupying land in the West Bank, almost no (0) Israeli Arabs were willing to exchange their Israeli status to become citizens of the new Palestine. It has always been assumed that Jewish residents will not be welcome in any Palestinian State, just as they are not welcome in any of the Arab States.  Arabs may live freely in Israel, but Jews will not be welcome in free Palestine.  Did you ever wonder why that is?
  5. The Palestinians have enjoyed numerous opportunities to have a state of their own.  In each case, the Palestinians rejected the proposal (for the purpose of brevity, hereafter “TPRTP.”)  In 1937, the Peel Commission proposed a partition establishing an Arab State.  TPRTP.  In 1939, a British White Paper proposed the creation of an Arab State.  TPRTP.  In 1947, the UN Partition Plan proposed an Arab State that was significantly larger than the tiny Jewish entity.  TPRTP.  The Palestinians were offered autonomy during the 1979  peace negotiations with Egypt.  TPRTP.  The Oslo agreements of the early 1990s established a path to Palestinian independence, which was derailed when Palestinians launched a bloody Intifada, thus TPRTP in the most violent way.  In 2000, Ehud Barak offered all of Gaza and 97% of the West Bank for a Palestinian State.  TPRTP.  In 2008, Ehud Olmert offered Gaza, substantially all the West Bank and an equitably shared Jerusalem, based on demographics. TPRTP.  Of course, prior to 1967, there was nothing stopping Egypt and Jordan from ceding their occupied land in Gaza and the West Bank to the Palestinians for self-determination.  Israel would not and could not have prevented that from happening.  When you speak of “occupation,” did you ever wonder about that?  Maybe there is no Palestinian juridical entity because . . . THE PALESTINIANS REJECTED THE PROPOSAL.
  6. This all might come as a surprise to the post-adolescent campus campers who believe that colonial forces have been the leading cause of the absence of a Palestinian State.  But this is probably because they were as yet unborn in 1967, when the 4th Arab League Summit met in Khartoum to consider a response to the crushing defeat the Arabs had suffered at the hands of the Israeli entity in a war precipitated by Arab aggression. The Arab leaders emerged, unanimous, with three sweeping principles that have guided the Arab strategy (or lack thereof) to this day: NO PEACE. NO NEGOTIATIONS. NO RECOGNITION. When your mentors speak of Israeli intransigence, Israeli occupation, Israeli racism, perhaps you might entertain a glimmer of doubt as to which party is blameworthy here.  You should keep in mind that to most outside observers, you appear to be frequently wrong, but never, never, never, uncertain.
  7. After 1967, Israeli built settlements on vacant land in Gaza, which they developed into beautiful, thriving agricultural communities. In 2005, Ariel Sharon decided that the reputational costs, as well as the security obligations, of maintaining the settlements were unjustified and he ordered the settlements uprooted. The agricultural and industrial infrastructure was left behind, but every single Jew was removed, many of them forcibly by the Israeli Army in one of the most traumatic episodes in Israeli history.  Even the cemeteries were emptied of Jews.  There are still open wounds resulting from the controversy over the Gaza withdrawal.  But the result was that the Palestinians had their Jew-free area in which to demonstrate their responsibility and commitment to building a viable state.  Unlike many fledgling states, they had almost no financial problems. Because the Palestinians have been blessed by forever refugee status, UNRWA provided education and food.  European governments and NGOs provided massive financing for numerous projects, infrastructure, and improvements. The Gulf States contributed enormous amounts of money.  And the Palestinians took the billions of dollars and built a paradise.  Just kidding. The Palestinians took the billions of dollars and turned paradise into hell.  They destroyed the hothouses, burned the synagogues, stole the copper pipes for conversion to weapons.  Hamas won control in an election (the one and only election in “Free Gaza”) and proceeded to violently expel the PA, killing and torturing a number of them.
  8. And what actually happened to the billions of dollars that were to have paid for this model Palestinian state? The residual amount not misappropriated by Hamas leaders were allocated to: an elaborate tunnel system to wage war with Israel; arms factories for the eternal war with Israel; and an educational, camping and paramilitary training system designed to foster persistent and malignant enmity and hatred of Israel. The nearby Israeli communities, primarily leftist in politics, tried to be good neighbors. They hired Palestinian workers. When Gaza residents needed medical care not available in Gaza, they were transported to Israel. And still, at every opportunity, Hamas violated repeated ceasefires by indiscriminately shooting missiles at Israeli civilian populations. Children in Sderot and other nearby towns had seconds to find shelter from rockets launched haphazardly.  When, periodically, Israel retaliated in an attempt to secure the quiet it had hoped to attain by evacuating, the Palestinians complained about disproportionate collective punishment. And they dreamed of the day when they would win just one of the wars they were repeatedly starting.  It would only take one victory.  They could afford to start and lose as many conflicts as necessary, confident that the world would keep Israel from securing a decisive victory.  So they waited.  And dreamed.  And built tunnels.  And accumulated missiles and launchers. And set up military installations in hospitals and civilian population centers.

And waited.  And dreamed.

In case you have forgotten: Not a single casualty would have occurred in Gaza or its environs had Hamas not intentionally, with malice aforethought, violating a ceasefire to which it had agreed, invaded Israel on October 7 and perpetrated barbaric crimes, including rape, torture, kidnaping, murder, and arson, directed against both military personnel and civilians, including the elderly, women, and children. Hamas could have ended the war at any time by releasing the hostages it held in violation of international law, and surrendering. Hamas, intentionally or recklessly, increased civilian casualties by using human shields, establishing and conducting military operations in hospitals and civilian areas, launching missiles indiscriminately at civilian targets, and denying Palestinian civilians shelter in its extensive network of tunnels.

Every single drop of blood that has been shed since October 7 is at or on the hands of Hamas.

Every.  Single.  Drop.  Of.  Blood.

Now go back to class. You can apologize later.

About the Author
Gary Epstein is a retired teacher and lawyer residing in Modi'in, Israel. He was formerly the Head of the Global Corporate and Securities Department of Greenberg Traurig, a global law firm with an office in Tel Aviv, which he founded and of which he was the first Managing Partner. He and his wife Ahuva are blessed with18 grandchildren, ka"h, all of whom he believes are well above average. He currently does nothing. He believes he does it well.
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