Peace Road Map Pointers
The Occupation of Palestine: Arab Resistance Inept Israeli Leaders
As a preponderance of ex-pats will readily testify you can live as resident in a foreign country most comfortably, citizenship or any kind of voting rights not being a prerequisite: provided that the country of residence is a civilized place. So it shouldn’t surprise anybody that millions of Arab citizens wouldn’t mind at all, indeed dream of, exchanging their citizenship for a mere permanent residence in the USA or Europe to name just a couple of favored destinations. Likewise very many Palestinians would rather live under Israeli rule than in an Arab Palestine. And that would have been most of them if there weren’t some complicating factors at work.
The problem is popularly misunderstood as “illegal Israeli occupation”. The first question is: what is actually occupied? To some it is “Palestine” to others it is “The land of Israel” and to still others it is “the disputed areas”. No question we have a dispute on our hands and most of the discourse still revolves around the issue of who has the better claim: the Arabs who arrived as conquerors from Arabia centuries ago or the Israelites and Judeans returning to their historical homeland of biblical times: an intractable puzzle it is. Accordingly the powers that be gave their answer king Solomon style: cut the land in two and divide, with each party getting a piece. (Never mind that first the British serving their own interests gave a big slice away of what wasn’t theirs to give. And never mind that Arab lands stretch from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean encompassing untold millions of square miles). Accepting the verdict that neither party can legitimately claim the whole the only question that ought to remain is how to divide.
Postulating as a reasoning prop that the 1949 Armistice line established to the east and in the Gaza region “Palestinian land” the question now to be resolved: is the occupation of this “Palestinian land” by Israel since 1967 illegal? To answer this question judiciously one cannot do what the big chorus of assorted detractors of Israel does, i.e. switch your TV set on in the middle of the movie and pronounce the cowboy you see on the screen a murderer, for you see him standing there with his gun still smoking and a few paces away lying in the dirt the dead body of the man he obviously killed. Were one to switch on the TV set a bit earlier one would have seen the villain reaching for his gun first in an attempt to shoot the cowboy, his gun now hidden under his dead body. So in pursuing the question of the “occupation” we have to start at the beginning.
The Arabs of Palestine let, for many generations, areas populated by them to be hotbeds of agitation and bases from which to perpetrate violence against the neighboring Jewish population: The violence reaching a crescendo with the armies of assorted Arab states mounting repeatedly wars against the Jewish state of Israel with the view to destroy it and to decimate its population. Israel managed every time to defeat the Arab aggressors. However war isn’t some kind of a sporting match. Israelis view war as a calamity forced upon them and nobody has the right to expect them to just shake hands with their adversaries and thank them for the fun and go back to square one: to wait behind strategically appallingly vulnerable borders for the next attack by a better prepared enemy. Considering this history – topped off as it is by the fact that the Arab world while not seeing fit to admit any fault on its part is preaching unabatedly victimhood and hate of Israel to its young generations – the occupation of “Palestinian land” is fully justified for strategic reasons as a matter of self defense.
But this matter goes even farther
than that. A claim to ownership can only exist to the extent that society
recognizes one’s right to such ownership on the basis of accepted precepts of
social justice. The civilized view being that “ownership obliges”, meaning among
other things that
such right to remain valid has to be exercised responsibly. By this standard,
which Israel has every right to insist on its enforcement, international
hypocrisy notwithstanding, the Arab world in general and Palestinians in
particular, representing a clear and grave menace, have long ago forfeited any claim they may have had to sovereignty
over said “Palestinian land
Now, as pointed out at the outset, for Palestinians to live under Israeli rule didn’t have to be a bad thing. Indeed it could have been a boon. So what is the problem? It is a reasonable assumption that most Palestinians wish to live in peace: to be left alone to go about their daily lives. The trouble however is that quite a few, lusting for power, playing on nationalistic sentiments, egg on the aggression prone to commit acts of violence. So you get acts like the random killing of hitchhikers or sniping at traffic on rural roads. Since such a situation cannot be tolerated the Israeli army is forced to set up check points at which Palestinians cars and pedestrians are stopped and searched for weapons and known troublemakers are apprehended. Well, getting stopped and as the case may be having to get out of your car, having to identify yourself, having your person, your baggage, your car searched is an obnoxious experience. With this being a recurring procedure and an every day affair the numbers of the disaffected inclined to commit violence increases as is only to be expected. In turn the number of checkpoints has to be increased. It gets to the point were Palestinians, even when taking just a short trip outside their community, are subject to multiple checks with outrageously long waiting times added to the indignities already mentioned: a maddeningly intolerable situation that is naturally grist on the mill of those preaching violent protest and organized terror. And terror does, as it must, beget among other things frequent Israeli military response (considering the circumstances restrained). As an end result we have spiraling enmity, discrimination and particularly miserable living conditions for the Palestinian population.
To sum it up: Israeli “occupation” isn’t illegal; it is Palestinian “resistance” that is illegal and which makes life difficult for all concerned. Israel should have insisted on its right to annex, on strategic considerations, wide swathes of “Palestinian land” as an aftermath of the 1967 war: and it should have acted accordingly. It shouldn’t have accorded priority to building settlements for Israelis. While it had full control of the whole West Bank, sparing no effort to promote international acceptance and assistance, it should have initiated a program for the resettlement, urbanization and economic advancement of the Arab population of the annexed areas: for which cities should have been built or expanded outside the areas claimed by Israel for itself. In the end separation would have had replaced endless strife but Palestinians would have prospered the other side of the border as good neighbors and Israel may have had its peace. Almost forty years and prodigious resources have been wasted. To say nothing of the lives lost and the misery incurred due to Arab resistance; for which it has become the vogue of the ill informed to blame Israel, alas, thanks in no mean measure to the ineptness and lack of vision of its leaders.