By George T. Wise
The ongoing negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis have roots over 60 years old. It all began with a war that the Israelis won over several already established Arab nations. During that war, the Israelis deported many Arabs living in Israel who supported and sided with the various Arab nations. There were many Arab villages in Israel that did not take a side and those were allowed to stay. The Israeli attitude was “if you fight against us you have to go; otherwise, if you stay neutral or side with us you can stay”.
That war was won by the Israelis and thereafter the United Nations, particularly the United States of America, recognized Israel as a new country. There was an attempt at a partition of territory, but Yasser Arafat wanted all or nothing. He wanted to “push the Jews into the sea.” Obviously that did not happen and the result was the Palestinian people living like refugees for over 60 years.
What the Arab countries wanted was for the world to force the Israelis out and to take pity on those poor homeless Arabs, now known as Palestinians. They then urged the Palestinians to fight and continue fighting a war that several Arab countries together couldn’t win. They have been urging the Palestinians to continue that fight for more than 60 years since the initial war.
Because Arafat continued the fight against Israel, an enormous number of lives have been lost on both sides of the equation. Furthermore, the Palestinians have taken up the idea of martyrdom as a legitimate way of fighting. It is a form of terrorism. It is a Palestinian killing himself in a public place where he is likely to kill a number of others as well. The hope is that the majority of the victims would be Jews, but to them it really doesn’t matter, as long as lives are lost, even their own.
I believe it was a former Israeli Prime Minister named Golda Meier who said that “the martyrdom won’t stop until they love their children more than they hate us.”Frankly, no mater how one looks at this situation it is horrible. People are killing and being killed simply because a certain number of Arab extremists hate the Jews.
Frankly, what the Arab countries should have done is said to the Palestinians: “Look, we lost the war and you are now refugees without a home. We in the Arab world have enormous amounts of land and money. You are our brothers. We will give you some land, give you sustenance, and help you build a new country. Go forth and prosper. Build yourselves a new country, and join the nations of the world.” Instead the Arab world urged them to fight a war they could not themselves win when several countries were united in that effort.
Now here we are, more than 60 years later and the same battle is still being fought. A new problem has, however, surfaced. The Palestinians are now themselves divided into two sections. One is Fatah and the other is Hamas. They claim to be united in their efforts to bring together a peace agreement with the Israelis. Hamas was and continues to be an extremist organization and is not recognized by the United Nations or many other countries of the world. So, in reality, if there is a peace agreement to be reached, Israel now has to reach agreement with not just one, but two Palestinian organizations.
There needs to be only one organization which represents the Palestinian people, not two. Also, since the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, it has always been the Israelis who have given up something in exchange for peace. It usually involves Israel giving up some of its land…of which it has precious little. The latest demand is for Israel to let loose some additional Palestinian prisoners, currently residing in Israeli jails, in exchange for continuing the peace initiative.
This is taking place while extremists in Palestinian-controlled Gaza are raining rockets into Israel on a daily basis. Every so often Israel gets tired of this and tells the residents in Gaza that they are going to bomb Gaza. Not only that, Israel tells them when and where they will drop the bombs, so civilians can get out of the way. What other country in the world takes these extreme steps to preserve lives. How long do you think the United States would sit by idly if Canada or Mexico started sending bombs into the Unites States?
So the time has come for Palestinians to stop posturing and get serious. If they truly want peace, let’s see them give up something meaningful for a change. Since 1948 it has only been Israel that has given up something in exchange for peace. On the other hand if they want a war, Israel would quickly prevail. They can’t have it both ways; to use a trite old expression, “it’s time to fish or cut bait.” Peace or war…their choice, but it is far past time to make final decisions. This war of attrition cannot and should not continue, and Israel should not have to give up anything else for the sake of peace. It seems that in reality it is only Israel who is serious about peace.
If the Palestinians want peace let them prove it. Let’s see them give up something meaningful for once in the last 60 plus years. I do not believe they want peace. It is still the same old Arafat attitude of all or nothing. However, the world awaits their decision. War is horrible, and maybe a war is unavoidable, after 60 years of continuous attrition. It would be some much better if both sides would agree on peace so that both could live and prosper.
George T. Wise is a La Jolla resident, published author and frequent contributor to online blogs.