The Cancer in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Chemotherapy is a terrible thing at first glance.

The treatments make the patient feel terrible and make them look even worse. After repeated treatments, the person becomes a shell of their former selves, losing hair, weight and energy.  They often appear as living dead.

Amazingly, people suffering from cancer before commencing chemotherapy often do not look ill to the outside world.  While the disease may be destroying the individual internally, the cure looks to be the actual instrument of death.

But appearances can be deceiving.  The chemotherapy gives hope to an otherwise terminal situation.

The Confusion between Cancer and Chemotherapy
in the Middle East

Israel’s military administration east of the Green Line (EGL)/ the West Bank is neither pleasant for Israelis or Palestinian Arabs. The patrols, checkpoints, security barriers, raids and arrests make the region appear as a battleground rather than a holy land.

But for those that look past the skirmishes and understand the nature of the protagonists in the land, the Israeli military is not the sickness, but forces that may enable peace in the region.

The Israeli Perspective

For Israelis, the cancer in the region is the adamant refusal of Palestinian Arabs to accept the rights of Jews to live in the region and to be self-governing.

The Arabs’ violent opposition started in the 1920s with several riots and pogroms against Jews throughout Palestine, and became multi-year riots in the 1930s when the Arabs convinced the British administrators to limit admission of Jews to the region on the eve of the Holocaust. The opposition grew into all out wars, from Israel’s founding in 1948, successive wars in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, to other violent intifadas and wars from the 1980s until today.

The refusal to accept the Jewish state was made clear by the terrorist Palestinian party Hamas, which seeks the complete destruction of Israel as declared in its charter and by its current leadership.  The refusal is seen in the “relatively moderate” Fatah party which controls the West Bank, which seeks to “eradicate the Zionist entity.”

The acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas reiterates these positions continuously, including a refusal to accept the basic history and religious rights of Jews in Israel:

  • In July 2016, Palestinian Arabs pushed UNESCO to sever any Jewish connection with the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
  • In March 2016, Abbas accused Israel of “Judaizing” the Temple Mount, as if there weren’t two Jewish Temples that stood on the platform for hundreds of years.
  • In October 2015, Abbas addressed the UN Human Rights Council where he referred to Israel as a “colonial” power, as if Jews had not lived in the land for thousands of years.
  • In September 2015, Abbas called on Arabs to martyr themselves for Jerusalem.
  • In 2014, Abbas stated that he will never recognize the Jewishness of the State of Israel.
  • In 2013, Abbas said that he does not want a single Jew – soldier or civilian – living in Palestine.

The “moderate” leader of the Palestinian Arabs praised people who killed Israeli civilians and named schools after the terrorists. His government has a Palestinian law that considers it a capital offense to sell land to Jews, and Palestinian universities do not allow Jews to step foot onto the campuses.

For Israelis, the cancer in the region is the Arab and Muslim hatred for any Jews living in the holy land and a desire to expel them. The Iranian leader summed up the feelings of many Muslims in the region in 2012 when he said that Israel was a “cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut.

rabbi-in-blood
Rabbis killed by Palestinian terrorist while they prayed in synagogue
November 2014

Whether the Arabs use lethal force, threats of boycotts, or UN resolutions, the tactics are just components of a war against the very presence of Jews and the existence of the Jewish State. The Palestinian hatred was highlighted in an ADL poll which showed almost every Palestinian Arab as being an anti-Semite.

The Palestinian Arab Perspective

The Palestinian Arabs do not see their hatred for Jews as the core problem. The Arab argument is that the Jews have no right to be on their land and to create a state for themselves.

Simply put, if the Jews would not be living in their land, the Arabs would not hate them.  If the Jews lived in another part of the world the Palestinian Arab anti-Semitism may resemble the hatred of Jews found in other parts of the world, not more nor less.

For the Palestinians, the “cancer” is the Jewish theft of their land, whether in the West Bank or Israel proper.  That is why in September 2016, Abbas asked Great Britain to apologize for the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which served as a starting point to reestablish the Jewish homeland in Palestine as then laid out in international law in the 1920 San Remo Agreement and the 1922 Mandate of Palestine. The Arabs feel that the imperialist world powers had no right to dictate what should happen in the Arab lands.

The United Nations Perspective

The United Nations sees the core of the conflict as stemming from the Palestinian Arabs not having full independence and autonomy.  The UN sought an independent Arab state alongside a Jewish state when it put forward the 1947 Partition Plan.  While the Jews accepted the plan, the Arabs rejected it, and since 1948, the Jews have had autonomy in their own state while the local Palestinian Arabs have not.

In 1977, the UN used the 30th anniversary of the 1947 Partition Plan, to establish an annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The UN has continued to advance a two-state solution, albeit only since 1993, with some Arab support.

Overall, the UN believes that it is the “frustration” of the Palestinians that makes them “desperate” and “resort” to violence against the Jews.

 

Three different opinions as to the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict:

  1. For Israel, it is the perceived Arab hatred and their refusal to accept Jews in the land
  2. For Arabs, it is the perceived Jewish theft of Arab land
  3. For the United Nations, it is the perceived frustrations of Arabs not having a state

Each view of the conflict has its own path towards resolving it.


Long Term Treatment

The United Nations Perspective

From the UN’s perspective, the solution seems pretty straight-forward: if the core of the conflict is the lack of a Palestinian State, then create a Palestinian State.

The issue is that the 1947 Partition Plan is no longer viable.

After five Arab armies invaded Israel in 1948, the Israelis pushed the line of their territory further, to the 1949 Armistice Lines.  While the warring parties all agreed that those lines were NOT to be viewed as permanent borders, the international community recognized those lines as being the limits of Israeli law, and do so to this day.

When Israel conquered more lands in another defensive war in 1967, and then annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem, the issue started to become even more complicated. While Israel offered to return land immediately for peace after the war, the Arabs refused to engage.  It would take another 21 years, until the 1988 Madrid Conference, for the Israelis and some Palestinian Arabs to begin to formulate a plan for co-existence.

Land for Peace: As the Israelis and Egyptians were able to successfully forge a peace agreement based on returning the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, the UN pushed more aggressively for the Israelis to hand land – specifically Gaza and the West Bank – to Palestinian Arabs for a new state. For the UN, land = statehood = peace, and the end of the conflict.

However, in 2005, after the Israelis left Gaza unilaterally, the area was taken over by the elected terrorist group Hamas which subsequently fought wars against Israel in 2008, 2012 and 2014. Land for Palestinian Arabs did not equal peace for Israel.

Still, the UN believes that land-for-peace and the creation of a Palestinian State will ultimately stop the fighting.  As such, the UN views Israel’s presence (civilian settlements) and administration (military control) of the West Bank as key parts of the problem. Therefore, as part of getting to peace, the UN is pushing for all Israelis to abandon the West Bank to create a “viable” Palestinian State.

The Palestinian Arab Perspective

Many Palestinians – including Hamas and its supporters – feel that the only way to solve the problem of land theft is to return the land to its rightful owners – the Arabs. To meet that end, they seek the full destruction of the Jewish State.

The more moderate Palestinian Arabs do not seek to destroy Israel; they just want to return to homes and villages that existed 70 years ago, even if they no longer exist. They want to live in a state that has no Jewish preferences, and resembles the Arab and Muslim countries in the region.

The more pragmatic Palestinian Arabs are willing to follow the recommendation of the United Nations: a new State of Palestine without Jews in the West Bank and Gaza, and many Arabs (fewer than the millions they desire) sent to Israel to reclaim their land.

The Israeli Perspective

For Israelis, the cancer of violent hatred and a refusal to accept a Jewish presence and a Jewish State is not easy to cure. The hatred is systemic on many levels in the Arab culture, particularly among Palestinian Arabs today.

Israelis employ a number of approaches:

  • Champion Arabs in Israel. Israelis point out the liberal nature of the country and the integration of Arabs throughout Israel.
  • Respect for Holy Sites. Even after taking over the Old City of Jerusalem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron in 1967, Israel gave full rights to Muslim worshippers, even though the Jordanians forbade any Jewish access to their holy sites when they ruled the sites.
  • Protection.  The Palestinian Arabs have killed thousands of Israeli civilians over the decades, whether they were children in school, mothers in pizza stores, or families in their beds.  Israel actively seeks to protect all Israelis from violence, wherever they live. While not addressing the hatred, it addresses the murders.

A possible long-term solution that incorporates the three parties’ perspectives could be achieved through a negotiated process between the Israel and the Palestinian Authority that would include:

  • Payment to descendants of refugees for homes lost 70 years ago, and invitations to actual Palestinian Arab refugees to return into Israel (address perceived “theft”)
  • Removal of any “settlement” built on privately-owned land (address theft)
  • Ban Hamas from being part of any Palestinian government (address Arab hatred)
  • Recognize Israel as a Jewish State and permit Jews to live in a Palestinian state(address perception that Arabs reject Jewish rights to live in the land)
  • Demilitarized Palestinian State and annexation of key blocs of Area C into Israel (address security)
  • Mutual and mirrored control of holy sites, such that Israel has special authority over the Cave of the Patriarchs in Palestinian Hebron, and Arabs have special authority of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel (address rights and access to holy sites)

In all likelihood, should the parties ever get to a two-state solution, it will likely look something like the bullet points above.

But how can the parties get to a new starting point to advance peace?


Current Treatment

For the Palestinians and United Nations, the Israeli military control in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza are part-and-parcel of their perception that the root cause of the conflict is Israeli presence in Arab lands.  But for the Israelis, the military presence is a basic security requirement to defend themselves.

How does one undo the Catch-22 of the situation to resolve the conflict?

  • If the Israeli presence was removed from the West Bank, would the Arabs recognize the rights of Jews in the region? Not based on the history of three wars from Gaza; or according to Abbas who will never recognize Israel as a Jewish State; let alone the basic suggestions of removing every Jew means that there is no recognition of Jewish rights. FAIL.
  • If the UN tries to dictate a two-state solution without the parties involvement, then each party will fight the implementation as they have no ownership for the compromises required to make peace happen. FAIL.
  • If the Palestinians stop incitement, beginning with banning Hamas and all terrorist groups from the government, Israel could – and should – begin to soften the Gaza blockade and other security restrictions. The process begins. SUCCESS.

According to the Oslo II Accords, the last agreement signed between the Israelis and Palestinian Authority, Israel is in complete control of Area C in the West Bank, where all of the Jewish towns exist. In Area B, the Israelis and PA security teams coordinate security together.  It is a matter of modern record that the current Israeli military presence in the West Bank has been approved by the Palestinians themselves.

In general, it has worked.

  • Israel’s security measures have kept the Syrian civil war and ISIS from overwhelming the country. Millions of Syrian refugees currently reside in Jordan, a short swim from Israel and the West Bank.
  • Israel’s security measures have minimized the flow of heavy weaponry into Gaza and the country’s Iron Dome blocked many missiles emanating from Gaza. These efforts reduced the counter-measures and duration of the wars with Gaza, saving many lives.
  • Israel’s security measures in the West Bank, including the security barrier, reduced the number of attacks and deaths from Palestinian terrorists during the Second Intifada. Patrols prevent potential attacks from happening. Consider that during the three wars from Gaza, there was little violence in the West Bank.

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Sticker in Jerusalem
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

Israel’s “military occupation” of the West Bank may appear ugly, but it has saved both Israeli and Palestinian Arab lives.

Ultimately, no hatred and killings, no military response.

If there’s no cancer, there’s no chemotherapy.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

Stabbing the Palestinian “Right of Return”

Abbas Knows Racism

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

Obama’s “Palestinian Land”

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