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Israel’s First Minister of Education, Professor Ben-Zion Dinur (1954), said it most sharply; “In our country there is room only for the Jews. We shall say to the Arabs: Get out! If they don’t agree, if they resist, we shall drive them out by force.” (History of the Haganah.) With this theme as the explicit backdrop of a newly established State, it is no wonder that Israel has had little chance of being a normal member of the state of nations.
Individual Israeli achievements in fields like science and technology are impressive. However, for all modern intent and purpose, the State of Israel, as a state building model, is a failing experience — ideologically, religiously, politically, socially and, if US favorite nation status were removed, possibly economically as well. Without immediate and decisive intervention from the world community to stop the ongoing Israeli aggression on Palestinians, Israel’s intransigence and US-equipped regional hegemony will not only fuel another generation of Palestinians willing to sacrifice their lives in order to end Israel’s illegal occupation, but will also further jeopardize Israel’s basic premise that explicit religious discrimination, namely a Jewish-only state, is an accepted basis for statehood in modern times.
In spite of the above comments by Israel’s First Minister of Education (and reinforced by many other Israeli leaders), Israel was founded on its infamous fallacy that it was built on a ‘land with no people, for a people with no land’. Israel has utterly failed to persuade the world, and more recently more of its own people, that this was a valid premise for statehood. Also, given the fact that Historic Palestine was inhabited prior to Israel being created, Israel has been unable to ignore that this very same fallacy is a raw form of outright racism. Israel expelled more than one half of the indigenous Palestinian population in 1948. Ever since, Israel has assumed a policy of civil discrimination, political imprisonment, torture, deportations, beatings, collective punishment, political assassinations, settlement building, economic dominance, the list is endless and intensified after the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in 1967. For being an ’empty’ land, the complications that Palestine posed to the implantation of a Western state in the midst of the Middle East seemed overwhelming.
Since its inception, Israel has arrogantly refused to address the most crucial prerequisite of its establishment as a conventional State — accepting the Palestinians — those people that just happened to be living in that ’empty’ land of Israel. The Palestinians, those that were forcefully expelled from their homes in 1948, 1967, and more recently in 2001, and have been living in squalid refugee camps throughout the region. The Palestinians, those that did not flee in 1948 and are now fourth class Israeli citizens. The Palestinians, those that have lived under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem for over 34 years.
After five decades of conflict, and after nearly a decade of Palestinian political recognition of Israel on part of their lands, the Israeli people choose to sustain the conflict and elected another of its most notorious war criminals, Ariel Sharon. Sharon has been charged, as captain of the vanguard, to lead Israel into its sixth decade of conflict. Today, Israel seems determined more than ever to forcefully prove the original premise of its statehood – an Israel with moveable borders and a Jewish-only population. Ten Israeli Prime Ministers before Sharon, four of them after the signing of Oslo, failed. Prime Minister Sharon will fail as well. If Israel can not produce a leader to move the country from a pariah state to a member state of the Middle East, no one will be to blame for the consequences, no matter how severe, but the Israeli people themselves.
This should not come as a surprise for Israelis who have studied their own history. Israel’s founding Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, understood it well when he said, “Why should the Arabs make peace? If I were an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we came here and stole their country. Why should they accept that? (David Ben-Gurion quoted in “The Jewish Paradox” by Nahum Goldmann, former president of the World Jewish Congress.)
Similarly, it should be no surprise that Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, rushed to sign the now failed Oslo Peace Accords after calculating the historic ramifications of the political earthquake that took place when a Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, politically recognized the State of Israel. Rabin paid for that signature with his life, which was taken by one of his own citizens, a fanatic Jewish student. This was as close as Israel has ever been in closing the last chapter of its establishment.
Every step of the way, as Israel further entrenched its illegal occupation of the Palestinians they have been continuously rewarded by the United States of America. Israel has been propped up, financially and politically, by every single US administration at the expense of internationally unconscious US taxpayers, fully obedient to the direction of the far-reaching Israeli lobby. What started as a US strategic ally in one of the most sensitive spots in the world during a Cold War that marred common sense, has rapidly digressed into a liability in an age of globalization that the United States alone is spearheading. While the Bush Administration continues to ignorantly turn a blind eye to Israel’s blatant violations of international law and human rights, the United States runs the fear that the globalized world will start to question the moral authority inherent in the US’s unfettered support of an Israel that publicly pursues a policy that only has the intransigence to move an entire region into long-term political and economic turmoil. Countries that have bought into the New World Order of Globalization should start to internalize the consequences to themselves, if the US, in a world it single-handily runs, chooses to defend the wrong side of history at its will.
Today, Israel must choose between continuing an illegal occupation and preserving the self-defined nature of the State of Israel itself. To think that both can peacefully co-exist is utter ignorance of history and human development. Also, for Israel to believe that the US will continue to jeopardize its New World Order of Globalization for the sake of fulfilling an Israeli illusion of Palestinian submission is a miscalculation to the nth degree.
Mr. Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American businessman, born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, who relocated to his family’s home in Al-Bireh, West Bank immediately following the signing of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994). Mr. Bahour is co-founder of MEViC, the Middle East Virtual Community.
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