Saturday, Nov 22, 2014
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The Middle East: Some context, please


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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu justifies his missile barrage and invasion of Gaza by insisting that no country can allow itself to be targeted by thousands of rockets.

Can’t the same argument be made that no country can allow its borders to be sealed and unilaterally altered and its territory confiscated? But anytime Palestinians retaliate against Israeli transgressions the media totally ignore historical context and buy into Israeli propaganda about Palestinian aggression. For a people that adhere to tradition and history with such passion when it’s convenient, Israelis forget about the last 100 years.

A little background: Tensions began rising following WWI as European and Russian Jews were encouraged to migrate to what we think of as historic Palestine, under Muslim rule for 1,400 years until Britain grabbed it from the Ottoman Turks as a prize of war. Starting in the 1930s Zionist militias, the most vicious of which was Irgun — about whose leader and future Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, Albert Einstein and other Jewish intellectuals called a terrorist and a fascist — systematically massacred native Palestinians, who had been conveniently disarmed by the British, and destroyed their villages to make way for new waves of Jewish interlopers.

Now Netanyahu, calling for a “sustainable quiet,” which is Israeli-speak for Palestinians meekly accepting Israeli repression, is denouncing the same terrorism his Zionist precursors employed against British officials and Palestinian civilians in the founding of his country.

The 1947 United Nations Partition Plan, Resolution 181, created two — two! — independent states, carving off 55 percent of Palestine into a Jewish state, although Jews comprised only 30 percent of the region’s population. Other provisions: No expropriation of Arab lands; “right of return” for Palestinian refugees; and designation of Jerusalem as a neutral, international city.

But for nearly seven decades, Israel has suppressed the fledgling Palestinian economy, sabotaged its autonomy and altered international borders at whim. Additionally, in contravention of 181, Israel occupies Jerusalem and continues to expropriate West Bank land, sabotaging the viability of any future Palestinian state.

All this is rationalized by Israelis based on their historical claims to Jerusalem. In fact, prior to its illegal occupation in 1967, in the 3,000 years since King David’s conquest, Jews actually controlled Jerusalem for about 560 years or only a sixth of its history, the last time being in 63 BCE.

Beginning in 1948, about 13,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed, five times the number of Israeli civilians, and more than 500 of their villages have been demolished, creating 5 million refugees. That’s not counting the atrocities committed by Zionists during the 1930s and 1940s. Think you might be a little provoked too!

Israel could settle this in a heartbeat simply by complying with international law, ending its illegal occupation of Jerusalem and halting its criminal and obscene settlement policy. So don’t condemn Palestinians for refusing to negotiate away — or battling for — rights guaranteed them by the U.N. It is Israelis’ arrogance, intransigence and sense of entitlement that’s gotten us here.

Marty Moore is a freelance writer living in Port Richey.

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