måndag 4 augusti 2014

A dispute with a very long tail




In all the discussion about the business in Gaza, it is almost never pointed out that this dispute has a very long tail. You can call it karma. Israel has not always fought as clean as Zionists would have us believe, but when Zionism was little more than an idealistic fantasy, there were attacks by Muslim Arabs on the handful of Jews in the area that became Palestine after WW1. These include anti Jewish riots in 1919, 1920, 1921, 1924, 1929, 1933 and 1936.

At that time Zionism had no traction at all amongst the majority of Jews - it was considered a cranky minority interest, so the Arabs had no reason to fear a mass immigration of Jews. This did not occur until after the Holocaust, when Jews moved into Israel for lack of any other options. Most Jews in Israel are descendants of refugees. When most of these people arrived, it was a place where nobody in their right mind would go if they had any better options.

It is not generally realised that the Palestinian leader, Haj-Amin-el Husseini played an important role in propelling the Nazis towards deciding on the Final Solution (link to video); he travelled to Berlin in 1941 met Hitler and the other Nazi leaders and encouraged them in the policy of total extermination, which had not previously been a firm Nazi intention.

In the light of the experience after 1918, and the involvement of the Palestinian leader in the Holocaust, it is not altogether surprising, though still reprehensible, that the Jews didn't always fight clean, but they declared independence on the basis of the UN boundaries (which were indefensible) and were promptly attacked by the surrounding countries with professional armies. There was no peace treaty and the war led to the 1949 armistice boundary

That lasted until the 1967 war, which was not of Israel's making but was started pre-emptively when Egypt dismissed the UN buffer force, filled Gaza up with troops and then blockaded the Straits of Tiran. Jordan then attacked and that started a new front, stretching the Israeli army, and that led to the occupation of the West Bank. Since there was no peace treaty, and in the early years the Palestinian leader refused to talk to the Israelis, the Israelis were obviously not going to withdraw without a peace treaty, nobody would.

So the wretched situation continued and in the meantime the mild social democrats who had run Israel since 1948 were replaced by hard-liners. The Palestinians had missed the bus.

I have met Palestinians through CAABU. If asked what they see as a solution, they will reply that Israel is a European problem. Actually that is not even true as at least one-third of Israeli Jews are descendants of immigrants from Arab countries, but the statement is code for saying that Israel should not be there AT ALL.That is no basis for any settlement. The Palestinians in general regard the WHOLE of Israel as occupied land. It is part of the Umma ie once a Muslim land, always a Muslim land, and that applies to Spain too. Short of disappearing themselves, there is NOTHING the Israelis could do to satisfy Palestinians.

The irony is that with three times as many Palestinians as departed in 1947, they would end up fighting over the inheritance if the Israelis were to vanish. Much of it would be claimed by descendants of the absentee landlords who owned Palestine previously, leaving the majority to become impoverished rack-rented tenant farmers like they were before.

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