The U.N. and Israel
The Israeli newspaper called The Jerusalem Post, which appears in English and French editions, was originally called The Palestine Post. It adopted its current name in 1950, two years after the creation of the state of Israel.
When the paper first appeared, in 1932, the word “Palestinian” generally referred to those living in the British Mandate of Palestine, and was viewed by people everywhere as an appropriate word for the Jewish minority living the area, which was not ordinarily called “Israel” at the time.
Languages change. Sometimes a word takes on a meaning that contradicts an earlier definition. Occasionally, different forms of a word reflect both meanings. Think of “awful” and “awesome” in English today. We can be filled with awe because something is terrible (awful) or wonderful (awesome).
In 1947, when “Palestine” still sounded as if it might refer to a Jewish political entity, the United Nations voted to divide the territory into two states—one Jewish, one Arab. Although the British Mandate of Palestine had a clear Arab majority, the territories selected to be the home for the Jewish state had a Jewish majority. The U.N. had intended to create two independent states that would live together in peace and harmony.
One of the two halves of Palestine—Israel—accepted its independence. The other one had no organization and didn’t do anything. On the day that Britain left and Israel declared its independence, five Arab nations invaded the territory with the intent of conquering the Jewish half. Other than defeating the Jewish state, it was not clear what they wanted to do with the territory. However, when the war was over and Israel controlled more land that the U.N. had planned to give it, the remaining territory went to Jordan and Egypt. There was no movement for an independent Palestinian Arab state at that moment.
Although the U.N. acted to create Israel in 1947, it has spent many of the subsequent years criticizing or even condemning Israel. The United States, which was the first country to recognize Israel in 1948, has had a mixed record about supporting the Jewish state. There was an arms embargo against the Middle East, which lasted through the Eisenhower administration did not end until Kennedy took office in 1961. Eisenhower also joined with the USSR to force Israel to leave the territories it had conquered during the Sinai Campaign of 1956.
Obama did not allow an anti-Israel resolution to be enacted by the Security Council until recently. However, Obama has been feared by supporters of Israel because of his surprising tolerance of Iran’s extremist leaders. Despite the fact that he denounced Egypt’s Mubarak and Libya’s Qaddafi, joined the fight against ISIS, and ordered the assassination of Obama bin-Laden, he remained silent during Iran’s Green Revolution in 2009.
He has also been wishy-washy in opposing Syria’s Bashir al-Assad. Assad is an Alawite and thus belongs to a denomination of Shia Islam. Iran is unambiguously Shiite. Is there a reason that Obama does not oppose Shiite extremists? I cannot imagine why this should be. It makes no sense.
Recently, Iran’s former President Rafsanjani died. The world has been describing him as a moderate. Nobody remembers that Rafsanjani called the existence of Israel an ugly, colonialist phenomenon and said that nuclear war could destroy everything on the ground in Israel but would merely damage the world of Islam.
The world is enraged because Israel is expanding its settlements in and around Jerusalem. Israel cannot surrender East Jerusalem and its suburbs at this moment in time. There is a large Jewish population in Maale Adumim and other areas east of the pre-1967 borders. They could not be forced out the way the Jewish settlers in Gaza were. Furthermore, after Gaza was turned into an independent Palestinian state, Hamas was elected and rockets were launched from Gaza aimed at Israeli civilians.
People who advocate returning to the pre-1967 borders never think of supporting a return to the pre-1967 political situation, which included Egypt’s rule of Gaza and Jordan’s inclusion of the West Bank aspart of its own territory. Before the Israeli War of Independence, the country now known as Jordan today was called Trans-Jordan. When it expanded across the Jordan River, it appropriately changed its name. It might make sense for Egypt to declare that Gaza is part of Egypt and offer Egyptian citizenship—or dual Palestinian-Egyptian citizenship—to its residents. It might make sense for Israel and Jordan to redraw their boundary lines and agree that Jordan would re-annex the lands west of the river that Israel would agree to cede. At that point, Jordan could change its name once again—to Palestine. Palestinians are already a majority in Jordan.
Angela Merkel agreed to accept a number of Syrian refugees into Germany. In contrast to this, there are Palestinian refugees who have lived in refugee camps for almost 70 years. This is unprecedented. The world, including the Arab world, wants the refugees from the Israeli war of independence to remain a running sore forever.
The world hates Israel. Feminists don’t know that Israeli Arab women are more likely to become physicians than women anywhere else in the Middle East. Gay-rights activists don’t know that Tel Aviv is the most gay-friendly city on earth.
How can the United Nations and the world help the Palestinians? By recognizing Israel’s need to change its borders.
This article appeared in The Algemeiner, on January 18, 2017
This article appeared in Arutz Sheva, on January 18, 2017
This article appeared in Perry Greenbaum, on January 15, 2017