Michael Kohler

It’s still 1948

My son currently serves as a lone soldier in the paratrooper brigade that last week helped rid Kibbutz Be’eri of Hamas terrorists who massacred dozens of innocent civilians.  Who knows what he will face in the days and weeks to come, but I pray for the day when this is over, and I can hug him and tell him how incredibly proud I am for him fighting in Israel’s War of Independence.  Because, while the calendar has moved forward 75 years, Israel is still fighting for her right to exist just as it did in 1948.  The problem Israel continues to face is that there remains Palestinians (though not all), radical Islamic groups and countries that have believed all along that it is still 1948 and have never moved on from that mindset. Perhaps naively, Israel has year after year moved forward, progressed and advanced to become the thriving, modern country we know today without fully remembering the neighborhood in which they live, the rules by which her neighbors play and the language which they speak.

It remains 1948 because to this day Hamas is not fighting FOR the existence of a Palestinian State, they are fighting AGAINST the existence of a Jewish state.  The 1947 U.N. Partition Plan was rejected by the Arabs, under which a Palestinian State could have been created, because they could not accept the existence of a state for the Jewish people on any of its ancestral homeland.  Throughout the years, that position never changed mostly clearly expressed in the 1967 Khartoum Resolution following the 6-Day War which reads: No Peace with Israel, No Negotiation with Israel, and No Recognition of Israel.  Some argue that Israel’s right to exist was recognized by Egypt (Camp David Accords), Jordan (1994 Peace Treaty) and the Palestinian Authority (Oslo Accords), but have they really?  Surely, they recognize Israel exists, have they ever fully embraced that concept through their deeds and actions and proclaimed such to their own people as forcefully and as unambiguously as the Khartoum Resolution states the opposite?  And, while the recent Abraham Accords give hope that those few countries will truly forge a new path of full and complete recognition and acceptance of Israel for the future, the reality is that the parties driving today’s agenda in the region want absolutely nothing to do with that concept.  One only need to look at the clear, specific words of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and the like flatly denying the right for Israel to exist and who unapologetically call for her destruction, just as we heard 75 years ago.

It remains 1948 because the Arab world continues to use and manipulate the Palestinian people as dispensable political pawns.  The historical debate will continue about whether the Arab residents of pre-State Palestine (who became known as the ‘Palestinians’) voluntarily left their homes in 1948 at the urging of Arab armies with a promise they’d return after driving the Jews into the sea, or whether they were forced to flee by the Israeli forces, or what is possibly closer to the truth – a combination of both factors.

Nevertheless, the roughly 400,000 Palestinians who departed their homes at that time has turned into more than 5.5 million descendants, now all considered refugees, according to the U.N.  For 75 years Israel’s neighbors (each country to its own, varying degree) have never fully accepted the Palestinians, granted them full citizenship, freedom, or integration into their countries’ society.  Instead, they filled their heads with, and continue to keep alive the nonsensical idea, that not just the 400,000 who fled will return to their homes in Israel, but all 5.5 million of them.

If the fledgling State of Israel was able to absorb and integrate the roughly 600,000 Jewish refugees who were forcibly expelled from every Arab country upon Israel’s creation, then the numerous surrounding states could have easily accepted 400,000 people – all who share the same race, language, religion and culture if they truly cared for their well-being.  Instead, they were herded into refugee camps where they have remained since that time supported by a U.N. organization that has spent hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars to support them, if not more. “Don’t get too comfortable, you won’t be here long” was the theme promised to the Palestinians year after year, war after war, continuing to today with chants of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free.”  But that day never came and will never come, though the cynical use of their plight and crocodile tears shed for their well-being continues to this very day.  With a looming Israeli invasion, both Egypt and Jordan have unequivocally ruled out any possibility of Palestinian civilians from Gaza being re-located for their safety, to either country.  For whatever internal political reasons may exist, these countries, and surely the Hamas terrorists who use them as human shields, are willing to continue their 75-year abandonment of the Palestinian people even if it results in more civilian deaths.  For 75 years, their fight remains the same: not FOR the Palestinian people or their welfare; but rather, AGAINST the Jews and Israel.

Israel, of course, did move on from 1948.  At that time, Israel was for all intents and purposes a third world country. With limited natural resources and infrastructure, an economy in its infancy and hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced from Arab countries and survivors of the Holocaust, Israel was 100% in survival mode struggling to provide the most basic needs to its people.  I need not go on for pages about how Israel miraculously progressed from those early days to today’s Start-Up Nation with its advancements in technology, medicine, agricultural developments, education, the arts and more.  Israel is no longer that fledgling third world country; rather, it has become a modern, “European”, first-world nation with unfortunately, as we say these days, “first-world problems.”

And could there be a greater example of Israel’s “first-world problems” than the country for the past 10 months literally dividing itself at the seams over changes to its judicial system and what standard of proof their Supreme Court can apply in deciding whether an act of the Knesset can stand?  Are you kidding me?  This sounds like a law school exam distracting the entire Israeli society, government, and apparently military, while her enemies were literally at its gates preparing, in the most primitive sense, to come rape, kidnap, behead and slaughter its citizens.

So now, at least for the time being, Israel must return to its most basic 1948-psyche of survival mode and speak the only language that is truly understood in that region.  Strength, brute force, and deterrence.  This is what we are hearing from the Prime Minister to the heads of the IDF and the Defense Ministry and that message is heard and welcomed both in Israel and by her supporters abroad.  Israel must put to bed forever, through overwhelming military might, the idea that she will be wiped from the map allowing millions of Palestinians to return “from the river to the sea.”  The Arab States, Palestinians and Islamic radicals foolishly hung on to that hope for decades. It is only when that idea is permanently eradicated and erased from the realm of their imagination that there could ever be a lasting, true peace between Israel and all its neighbors.  Israel is about to deliver that message as it finally fights to win its War of Independence.

About the Author
Michael Kohler is on the Long Island Regional Board of the American Jewish Committee, is committed to strengthening the relationship between US Jews and Israel, and professionally works as an immigration attorney on Long Island, N.Y. The opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect those of AJC or any other group or organization.
Related Topics
Related Posts