It warms my heart to see so many young and older Jews demonstrating and posting on social networks for Israel, but what bothers me is the low level of knowledge that so many Jews have of the actual facts supporting Israel’s rights and history. My own family ‘s vigorously pro-Israel support is more emotional than really understanding the facts of Hamas’ presence in Gaza.
I am from the generation that remembers the 1967 and 1973 wars. I also majored, some 50 years ago, in political science with focus on the Middle East.
So for those somewhat less knowledgeable of the facts, let me state some bullet points that I post here from memory:
▪ In 1947 the United Nations, which inherited the Palestinian mandate from the United Kingdom which had governed it since after WW1, voted to split Palestine in two; the Jewish Homeland and an Arab Palestinian State. The geographical split was not very favorable to the Jews, but they accepted it. The Arabs on the other hand refused the partition and the day after Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948 Arab countries initiated the first war against Israel. That war ended in 1949 with a new geographical reality and those borders were called armistice lines. These are the famous pre-1967 borders that Arabs never accepted until they lost them.
▪ In 1967 Egypt violated a 1956 international agreement to allow free navigation from the Red Sea to Eilat, and that led to the June 1967 “6 days war”. Israel attacked Egypt and Syria, and warned Jordan to stay out of the war, but it did not. After those six days, Israel occupied the Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan.
▪ After some time, Arabs suddenly claimed a return to the 1949 Armistice lines, which they had never accepted. In fact, until June 1967 Egypt had full control of Gaza as Jordan had of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Egypt and Jordan could easily have established the “so desired” Palestinian State, but they did not because maintaining the anti-Israel propaganda among their population kept these from focusing on the dictatorial and corrupt governments.
▪ In 1973 Egypt and Syria started a surprise war against Israel, which started badly for Israel, but which it finally won after some three weeks. The Egyptians demonstrated a much better military performance than in 1967 and even though the war ended badly for Egypt, they turned that defeat in somewhat of a proud performance, and that spirit made Egypt to conclude a peace agreement with Israel four years later with Israel returning the Sinai to Egypt. If only Egypt had accepted to take Gaza back as well…
▪ The 1949 Armistice lines were exactly that….. lines where the fighting had ended but there was no geographical or any other logic to those borders. Just north of Tel Aviv there was only less than 10 miles between the Mediterranean and the West Bank with a constant fear of Israel being cut in two.
▪ A return to those Armistice Lines as is claimed so widely around the world (and remember never accepted when Arabs DID have those borders) did not make any sense. Furthermore, while Arabs constitute the largest part of the West Bank population, Jews have at least the same historical rights to the West Bank as Arabs. Just remember that Jesus was born a Jew in the West Bank and the Jewish presence in all over Palestine pre-dated Jesus by centuries.
▪ Gaza does not really have much or any Jewish history, but after 1967 Israel developed Gaza, built nurseries and other industries that created significant employment for Gazans. However the cost of protecting Israeli presence became too much of a burden and in 2005 Israel exited Gaza, leaving control to the Palestinian Authority. Western countries, obsessively and naively, insisted on democratic elections in Gaza which happened in 2007 with Hamas winning. Hamas threw out the Palestinian Authority from Gaza and started their reign of terror inside Gaza and against Israel.
▪ After 2005, there was plenty of international aid available for Gazans to build a viable and vibrant society. Had they been successful, it is likely that it would have led to the same in a large part of the West Bank. In fact twice Israeli Prime Ministers offered Arafat control of around 98 % of the West Bank. Arafat refused because not only did he want 100 %, he wanted the whole of Israel. It was former Israeli foreign Minister, Abba Eban (who I had the honor to meet in my late teens), who so famously said that Arabs never lose an opportunity to lose an opportunity.
▪ For all those years, Gaza has been largely dependent on Israel for food, medicine and fuel. While Israel supported the human survival of Gaza, even while constantly being attacked by Hamas, Egypt allowed armaments to enter Gaza from their border at the south of Gaza.
▪ After winning the elections in 2007, Hamas never again held democratic elections. For all those years it has been a violent dictatorship doing nothing to make something decent of Gaza. While feeding and fueling Gaza all those years, Israel maintained a strict control on Gaza, hoping to keep the terrorists out of Israel. The world’s left keeps saying that Israel had a blockade of Gaza, but let’s face it… which country would not enforce a blockade a neighbor that keeps attacking it.
▪ Last word on the current conflict. Israel has every right not only to defend itself but also to make sure that Hamas is annihilated. It is indeed very sad that so many innocent civilians in Gaza die and suffer in this conflict, and I have a very simple solution. Arab States, such as Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia accept that Hamas is not only a terrorist organization against Israel and a violent government in Gaza itself, but it is a danger to regional stability. They make a joint declaration that Hamas is no different than Isis. In exchange for Israel not to start its ground war, these Arab countries go in Gaza to arrest all Hamas leaders. Then they hand the power to the Palestinian Authority, fund the reconstructions (while keeping close controls against corruption) and everybody will be better off.
▪ Of course, the coward leaders of some of these Arab countries won’t do anything like this, because shouting and criticizing Israel is so much easier than action. But we have good arguments to refuse their one-sided criticism of Israel and it is not just because our emotional attachment to Israel. We can feel sorry for Palestinian civilians and we should, but learn the facts and you will understand that their misery is caused by their own leaders.