Monday, March 14, 2011

Denis Prager on Israel/Palestine

Here's Denis Prager "explaining" the very non-complex dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. He's right that it's not complex. And he's right on a number of other points. The problem is that half truths are just as bad as untruths in many cases.

In 1947 Israel did barely manage a 2/3 majority that granted them portions of Palestine and granted Arabs other portions. But when it passed Israel was already expelling Arabs not only from the areas designated as Israeli, but also from areas designated as Palestinian. The Arab armies did enter, but the fighting occurred almost exclusively in territory designated as Palestinian. As I understand it was largely a land grab by the other Arab states, especially Jordan. Also presumably it was an effort to keep Israel within the designated UN borders. But that didn't happen. Israel acquired territory beyond what it was offered and created 750,000 refugees.

Prager says that Israel accepted the UN partition and the Arabs didn't, as if it's somehow a slight on Arabs that they don't agree that they should just give up their homes because the UN says so. That was based on a vote that passed with barely the 2/3 needed for passage. Since then the UN has repeatedly voted on a peaceful settlement at the '67 borders. This is granting Israel much more territory than it was granted in 1947. The Arabs all accept it. In fact virtually the whole world accepts it. It's not a matter of a mere 2/3 accepting it. So for instance last I knew it had passed 164-7. Israel and the US reject it. Almost everyone else accepts it.

Prager says that every poll shows that Palestinians don't believe Israel should exist. That's probably true, but so what? Though they may not think their land was legitimately taken from them in 1948 they are willing to face the fact that yes, Israel is a state, it's not going anywhere, the land is gone, so though it was taken illegitimately it's something we have to live with and are willing to live with. Ghandi said he didn't think Pakistan should exist. But he also said that it was a reality he had no choice but to live with.

He asserts that the Arab armies were going to attack in 1967, but US intelligence and the Johnson administration says that they don't believe they were. They said that if the Arab armies did attack Israel would destroy them in something like 7-10 days. Israel attacked anyway and won in 6 days.

Then he pretends that Israel is very magnanimous in that it ceded back to Egypt the land it had acquired in 1967. See? They're willing to bring peace.

The facts are these. Egypt offered in 1971 a full peace agreement with Israel if only Israel would return to them the territory that they had taken. Israel ignored them. So Egypt, after repeated warnings that they must return the territory, attacked in October 1973 and put on a pretty good showing. So Israel realized that Egypt wasn't a basket case and decided they needed to do something. So they managed to convince the US to buy them off and they returned the disputed territory. All of this could have been accomplished without war and a perpetual US buy off if Israel had merely accepted the terms offered in 1971. So that was a total disaster.

Prager is shocked that hostility towards Jews is routinely expressed by Arabs. But that's what happens when you invade countries routinely and kill tens of thousands of people. Take the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Something like 17,000 civilians killed. No credible pretexts. Or the more recent bloodbath in Gaza. Again, based on no credible pretext Israel invaded and killed 1,400 residents, who really should be described as prisoners. They also crushed chicken coups, destroyed mills to prevent them from being able to create food. And it wasn't a war. There were no battles. These people have almost nothing. They can't fight Israel with their chemical bombs falling from F-16's.

Why weren't people talking about a Palestinian state prior to the existence of Israel? Because they've been getting crapped on for a long time, including by other Arabs. So what? It doesn't matter that Jordan treated the residents of Palestine poorly in the past. What matters is that in 1948 Israel simply took land and homes from the indigenous people of the region and herded them in to what today amounts to concentration camps. That's not right even if Jordan has made past mistakes.

Prager says that if only the Arabs would drop their weapons we'd have immediate peace. That's just plain nonsense. The only reason Israel doesn't attack Egypt is because they have some deterrence capacity. Israel routinely invades and occupies foreign countries. Why should anybody think that life would be wonderful if only the Arabs would drop their weapons? The Palestinians have almost nothing in terms of weapons. Hamas was rewarded at the end of 2008 with an invasion after they had abided by the terms of the cease fire that had been implemented. That's just entirely fictional thinking.

No comments: