So much of the picture being painted about Israel’s “occupation” by the likes of Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and others is either one-sided, distorted or outright fiction. It’s as if they suddenly walked on a fight and saw a big guy beating up a little guy and took sides with the little guy because, well – he’s little.
But you get a different picture when you find out that the little guy picked the fight, then threatened to kill the big guy and take his land. No matter what the big guy does, the threats come year after year, with no end in sight.
Eventually, the big guy has no choice (“ein breirah”); he has to protect himself from this crazy little man. That’s what Israel was doing when the “Tlaibs” of the world walked in and saw the little guy getting beat up.
Israel’s been protecting itself from Arab belligerency for decades. Just on Sunday, as the increasingly violent “March of Return” protests simmered at Israel’s border with Gaza, Hezbollah attacked an IDF base from Lebanon with three advanced Russian-made anti-tank missiles. Predictably, Israel hit back hard with 100 artillery shells on targets in south Lebanon.
Because of the constant attacks, Arabs who want to see Israel thrown off the map have no more a right to disputed territories than Mexico does to Arizona. They pick the fights, lose the wars, and expect tiny Israel to give up captured territories that provide a buffer of security from certain death.
Given the opening created by the Ottoman’s defeat after WWI, it’s incredible that Arabs seemed surprised that Jews were interested in returning to their ancient homeland. After all, much of what we call Palestine today was once Judea, a kingdom named for Jacob’s fourth son, Judah. Judah is where the term “Jews” originated.
Roughly 2,000 years before the Jews returned to Palestine to form a nation, the emperor Hadrian changed the name of the area that included Rome’s Judea province, to “Syria-Palaestina.” It’s believed that Hadrian used the name (derived partly from Philistia, Israel’s ancient enemies) as part of a campaign to erase Jewish connection to the land after he crushed the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 A.D.
It worked. At least for two millennia.
After dispersing throughout the world for centuries, Jews miraculously re-established a nation on May 14, 1948 when the British Mandate ended amid violent disputes between Jews and Arabs. U.N. Resolution 181 called for “Mandatory Palestine” to be partitioned into two independent states – one Arab and one Jewish.
Jews celebrated. Arabs went to war.
“If the Jewish state becomes a fact, and this is realized by the Arab peoples, they will drive the Jews who live in their midst into the sea,” Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna told The New York Times in August 1948. “Even if we are beaten now in Palestine, we will never submit. We will never accept the Jewish state.”
And they never have.
Which gets to the root of why conflict is so intractable: Palestinians have an ingrained hatred for the Jewish state. If it were just about independence, they could’ve formed a state in ’48 and worked the kinks out over time.
Although Israel hasn’t been driven into the sea, it hasn’t been for a lack of trying. Arabs fought Israel in the War of Independence in 1949; the Suez Crisis in 1956; and the Six-Day War in 1967.
Golda Meir, who once snuck into Jordan disguised as an Arab woman to keep Jordan out of the ‘48 war, was rigid in her belief that Israel must be defended at all costs.
“We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children,” Meir said as prime minister in 1969. “We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”
But the hate continued with the Yom Kippur War in 1973; the two Lebanon wars in 1982; terrorism; and the two intifadas. In the conflict between the wars, Palestinian militants fired thousands of Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel where, in Sderot, 70 percent of Israeli children suffer from PTSD because of the attacks.
A senior Hamas leader, in May, threatened a third intifada that would “cleanse Palestine of the filth of the Jews” by 2022, and transform Israel into an Islamic Caliphate.
With this history, two U.S. congresswomen tossed a match on this powder keg by openly supporting the BDS Movement, a group that keeps a sword at Israel’s throat. Tlaib even used her grandma to over-simplify the context of a very messy, complex history. Worse, she wrapped the Palestinian cause in the American flag and used the ‘60s civil rights struggle to make it sound as if Israel’s resolve to defend itself just popped out of nowhere.
But think about it: What would America do if it were in Israel’s shoes? There are loose parallels between 1948 in Israel and 1848 in America.
What if hardline Mexican militants, claiming rights to Texas and other states, fired thousands of rockets into Texas or California? What if world leaders took a neutral position in giving land back to Mexico that was ceded to the U.S. after the Mexican War in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848?
Think those claims are far-fetched?
In 2017, a prominent Mexican politician, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, called for a lawsuit before the International Court of Justice to nullify the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. That treaty sealed Texas’ entry into the United States and gave us Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, California and parts of Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas and Wyoming. Cárdenas also claimed that because parts of New Mexico and Arizona were incorrectly marked, they really belong to Mexico.
Mexican historian and New York Times contributor Enrique Krauze agreed, saying that President Trump’s “fake history” in wanting to send “bad hombres” back over the border needed to be confronted. In a column headlined, “Will Mexico Get Half Its Territory Back,” Krauze believed Cárdenas had a solid legal case.
Again, if you can imagine Mexican militants shooting off rockets and justifying violence to force the return of “occupied” lands, you can get a taste of what Israel’s been going through for seven decades.
Unless Arabs acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, there will be no real peace. Until then, the U.S accomplishes nothing by being neutral in a conflict where Palestinians have failed to uphold their most basic obligations to peace, simply because they’re the little guy in the fight.