Tuesday, January 06, 2009

If I Were an Arab...

Probably the best summation of the Israeli-Palestinian mess I've ever seen, and the reason Israel's attack on Gaza is doomed to failure, is this quote from David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel:
“If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault ? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?”
During and shortly after its formation, Israel ethnically cleansed (al Nakba) much of the Palestinian population. This might have worked had Israel's neighbors been willing to accept and resettle the Palestinians, but they weren't. Instead, the Palestinians piled up in refuge camps on Israel's borders like so much driftwood. And they're still in those camps, more than fifty years later, because Israel won't let them return, and the countries that host them won't allow them to become full citizens.

This is why a military solution, short of outright extermination, will never bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No matter how successful it is in the short term, Israel's attack on Gaza is simply guaranteeing that the next generation of Palestinians will want to keep on fighting.

In the end Israel must either reach some sort of negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, or it will be destroyed. Not militarily, but demographically. The Palestinian population, both inside and outside of Israel, is growing far faster than the Jewish population. The reason Hamas keeps lobbing rockets into Israel isn't because they ever expect to do any significant damage, it's because doing so makes Israel a rather unpleasant place to live, which discourages Jewish immigration and encourages emigration. The Palestinians may be stuck where they are, but many, if not most, Israeli Jews aren't. They can return to their home counties, and they will if it gets bad enough inside Israel. About half of all Americans who have immigrated to Israel have since come back to the US. They are the real targets of Hamas' rockets.

No matter what Israel does, within fifty years it will no longer exist as a Jewish state. How Israel treats the Palestinians between now and then will determine if Jews are able to remain in their ancestral homeland, or if they will be driven out, just as they drove out the Palestinians.

It doesn't look very promising.


Pictures from the conflict. Some are quite disturbing:

Legal status of Palestinians:

Good analysis from Juan Cole:

Jane's analyst says a military victory over Hamas isn't possible:

Israel's secret web propaganda campaign:

The UN map below shows the location and size of Palestinian refugee camps and Palestinian populations around Israel. Click on it for a larger image.

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