Steve Kramer

Peace? Fugedaboudit!

If you expect peace to break out any time soon in the Middle East, you’re bound to be disappointed. First, Arabs don’t get along among themselves, partly due to the division between Sunni and Shia Muslims. About 85% of Muslims world-wide follow the Sunni tradition; the two sects are not compatible. The ratio is more equal in the Middle East but still favors the Sunni group. Non-Arab Iran is predominantly Shia and has recently created a “Shiite Crescent” stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea, gaining ever more influence in the region. With its proxy armies Hizbollah and Hamas, and its own Quds Force in Syria, Iran guarantees an unstable Middle East.

Besides the interminable battle between the Sunnis and Shiites, which both harbor jihadist factions, there’s ISIS and al Qaeda and their offshoots, which fiercely oppose anyone – including other Muslims – who reject the jihadi drive to establish a world Islamic caliphate. Thus, the Muslims of the Middle East, especially the Arabs, spend a tremendous amount of energy fighting among themselves as well as opposing Israel. The only truly successful Arab countries are the small, oil-rich Gulf States, where established monarchies rule with an iron hand over small populations, and much larger Saudi Arabia. Lately, these nations (with the exception of Qatar) have found some common ground with Israel, as do border states Egypt and Jordan.

With Muslims fiercely fighting each other, with many Arab states economic and political failures, what real chance is there for peace between non-Muslim Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs, whose economic and social climate is dire?

A prime tenet of the very political Muslim faith is that it must eventually control all the world. In the meantime, Islamic rule over previous conquered territory (Europe, Israel, etc.) must be regained. That, in itself, is a huge impediment for the “Pals” (Palestinian Arabs), to make peace with Israel.

The Pals have never engaged in nation building as the Jews did a century ago. Instead, they expect to take over Israel, lock, stock and barrel. Instead of relying on their own resources and the help of the Palestinian Arab diaspora, they depend on entities like the US, the EU and the UN to force Israel to “give” them a state. Later, the Pals will proceed to the next step – conquest.

Realistically, the Pals, along with their Arab allies, are unable to defeat Israel militarily in a conventional war. Most likely, they couldn’t succeed even with the help of Iran. Nevertheless, the Pals are willing to engage in aggressive attacks against Israel which result in the condemnation of Israel (for winning) and increased aid from sucker-nations to “rebuild” Gaza or parts of the Palestinian Authority. Given this situation, the status quo will remain static for the foreseeable future, with small wars breaking out every few years (if not a major war, which could be a game changer, with Russia and US involvement).

What could change this paradigm? Let’s look back to the example of WWII. There the Allies soundly defeated their two enemies, Germany and Japan. Both defeated peoples recognized that they had lost the war, ruined their economies, lost nearly a generation of young men, and pauperized their citizens. But the Allies didn’t just shovel aid at them via the Marshall Plan. Instead, the Allies occupied the two countries and succeeded to change the mindset from fascism to democracy (or communism, in the case of East Germany and the Iron Curtain countries). Japan and (West) Germany quickly rose to the highest echelon of economic powers, with democratic governments freely elected.

Admittedly, the scale of those events dwarfs the local conflict Israel is engaged in. But the necessity for the Pals and other Arabs to see their situation realistically and to stop battling among themselves and against Israel is paramount.

Unfortunately, two things are certain: the Pals, and Arabs in general, will not put a stamp of approval on Israel as the Jewish State, especially one situated on what Muslims call “their” land. Nor will they admit defeat. So, shouldn’t Pals who desire a better life have a chance to emigrate, to escape the situation that the do-gooders, especially the UN, EU, and (sorrowfully) America, are funding via UNRWA?

There are a number of plans which could benefit the Pals instead of promoting the present, failed scenario. For Pals who want a fresh start, the best plan is to give emigrants from Gaza or the Palestinian Authority enough funds for countries to welcome them as citizens or permanent residents. Many small and large countries welcome immigrants with capital to invest.

For example, permanent residency or citizenship can be bought for families with $15,000 -$250,000 in: Thailand, Latvia, Dominica, Malta, St. Lucia, Granada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, and Greece. This is elite immigration, compared to joining the flood of migrants as is the current situation in Europe. These immigrants would be welcomed with open arms by the country of their choice. If immigration to Greece was chosen, residency in all other EU countries would be possible. []

But how could Pals obtain the necessary capital? (Nevertheless, many are emigrating already with no help.) Think about the billions of dollars being lavished on the exclusive UN agency, UNRWA, that deals exclusively with “Palestinian refugees,” who number in the millions. That’s due to the unique, ridiculous definition of generation after generation of Pals considered “refugees,” regardless of where they live – even within the Palestinian Authority. In addition, Pals could sell their land to the Israeli government to raise capital.

The 2016-17 budget for UNRWA was $2.34 billion. In 2016, its largest donor, the US, pledged $369.4 million to the agency. Note that the goal of the UNRWA is not to settle the problems of the Pals, but to keep them in camps until such time as Israel is forced to cede parts of its territory to them or to allow them to settle, willy-nilly, inside Israel. And these funds are given year after year. Compounding the problem, with every passing generation, the number of Palestinian Arab refugees burgeons. []

These figures don’t count additional funds given by individual states, mostly European, to the Palestinian Authority. The fact is that billions are being spent each year on the Pals (a huge share is siphoned off by Hamas for attack tunnels and weapons), far more than on any other group of refugees, and that the sums needed will only grow with passing years. For economic reasons alone, something must be done about the economic burden of supporting Palestinian Arabs.

To summarize, Muslims in the Middle East, and Arabs in particular, don’t have peaceful relations among themselves: Syria and Iraq spring to mind. Most Pals want to replace Israel, not live with it. Since Israel, one of the world’s strongest nations – a nuclear power with second strike capability – is not going to disappear, a solution must be found that gives Pals who want to improve their lives an exit strategy.

Huge amounts of money are expended each year on the Pals, with ever more “refugees” annually. A financial program which included additional sums from wealthy Muslim states (not currently big contributors to UNRWA) plus the money wasted on UNRWA by the West, plus additional sums the West currently invests in the Palestinian Authority, and even proceeds from land sales to Israelis, could enable the Pals who want a new life to attain it. That would be better than waiting for a “peace” that is highly unlikely.

About the Author
Steve Kramer grew up in Atlantic City, graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1967, adopted the hippie lifestyle until 1973, then joined the family business for 15 years. Steve moved to Israel from Margate, NJ in 1991 with his family. He has written more than 1100 articles about Israel and Jews since making Aliyah. Steve and his wife Michal live in Kfar Saba.