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Israel And ‘Palestine’: A Memo To Barack Obama

Mr. President, some foreign policies need to be carefully thought through a second time.

Mr. President, some foreign policies need to be carefully thought through a second time. Your “two-state” approach to peace between Israel and “Palestine” wrongly accepts the core argument of an Israeli “occupation.” Even the most cursory look at pertinent world history would reveal compelling legal reasons to now reject this unfounded argument.

Consider, for example, that organized Arab terrorism against Israel began on the very first hour of Israel’s independence, in May 1948. This meticulously planned corollary to the Arab world’s self-proclaimed “war of annihilation” took place almost twenty years before there were any “occupied territories.” Indeed, virulent anti-Jewish terrorism in the British Mandate period had actually taken place many years before Israel’s UN-announced statehood.

But one must begin at the beginning. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is the historical source of the current Palestinian Authority (PA). What were its objectives? Significantly, it was founded in 1964, three years before Israel ever came to control the West Bank (Judea/Samaria) and Gaza. What, then, was the PLO planning to “liberate” between 1964 and 1967, when Egypt controlled Gaza illegally, and Jordan occupied the West Bank (Judea/Samaria) illegally?

Mr. President, the logical answer must be all of Israel – that is, everything within the “green” armistice lines of 1949. Yet these are precisely the 1967 borders you have repeatedly identified as the appropriate starting point for current peace negotiations.

What more should we know about the PLO? Though not widely mentioned by your administration, it was explicitly declared a “terrorist organization” in several U.S. federal court decisions, including the widely cited Tel-Oren v. Libyan Arab Republic (1984).

Earlier, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, hopefully seeking peace with the always-recalcitrant Palestinians, had forcibly expelled more than 10,000 Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria. Immediately, these areas were transformed by Hamas from productive growing lands and living areas to terrorist rocket-launching sites. In response, Israel had to mount a pair of major counterterrorist operations (Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense) just to protect its noncombatant populations from increasingly gratuitous and expansive rocket attacks. Ultimately, these indispensable self-defense operations wound up killing innocent Palestinians as well as innocent Israelis. So much for the Hamas commitment to “self-determination.”

Mr. President, why aren’t the Palestinians reasonably expected to cease deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being admitted into the civilized community of nations? Isn’t it clear that they actually seek something other than an “end to occupation?” Isn’t it already very likely that both Fatah and Hamas still regard all of Israel as “occupied” territory? After all, their official maps, long familiar in Washington, still include all of Israel as part of “Palestine.”

Mr. President, without an alleged occupation there could remain no possible legal or moral justification for Palestinian policies of relentless terror. Nonetheless, the fact that “occupation” is a contrived legal fiction has had little or no impact on your administration’s core position on Palestinian statehood. Nor, somehow, has it occurred to any supporters of Palestinian statehood that both Hamas and Fatah still find their common ideological mentors in Hitler and Goebbels, two figures for whom the prospective rulers of a nascent “Palestine” are openly ardent objects of admiration.

Mr. President, at its heart, your policy toward Israel and “Palestine” reveals certain incremental bewitchments of language. Over the years, Arab patience in building an expanding Palestinian state on mountains of Israeli corpses has drawn systematically upon achieving a prior linguistic victory. In fact, the ritualistic canard of an Israeli “occupation” has now been repeated so often that it has generally been taken as an irrefutable fact.

Mr. President, why is it disregarded that an Israeli “occupation” just happened to follow the multi-state Arab aggression of 1967? Egypt, Syria and Jordan, hardly evident democracies, have never denied this aggression. And who bothers to recall that these very same Arab states were also the principal aggressors in the expressly genocidal Arab attacks that first began on May 15, 1948? This combined assault took place literally moments after the new Jewish state’s UN-backed declaration of independence.

Mr. President, please recall that a sovereign state of Palestine did not exist before 1967, or before 1948. Nor did UN Security Council Resolution 242 ever promise a state of Palestine. A state of Palestine has never existed.

About the Author: Louis René Beres, strategic and military affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, is professor of Political Science at Purdue University. Educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), he lectures and publishes widely on international relations and international law and is the author of ten major books in the field. In Israel, Professor Beres was chair of Project Daniel.


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3 Responses to “Israel And ‘Palestine’: A Memo To Barack Obama”

  1. We all want peace, and yet, after more than a century of conflict, the struggle between these two related nations remains more intractable than ever. Why?

    Because each side is entrenched in its own narrative, to the exclusion of the other’s.

    Its faults notwithstanding, one must admit that Israel has taken some steps since the Oslo Accords toward acknowledging the Palestinian suffering. These steps are reflected in school books, in the media, and through other informational outlets. The Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza, for instance, are now referred to as “Palestinians,” and most Israelis would like to see a Palestinian state emerge. The fact that Israeli voters don’t reflect these wishes has to do with fears of surface-to-air missiles two miles from Ben-Gurion International Airport, and scarred memories of blown-up buses and pizzerias.

    The Palestinians, unfortunately, have done little to allay Israeli fears. While Palestinians clamor for the removal of onerous checkpoints and barriers, militant attempts to penetrate these barriers and attack Israeli civilians have not ceased at all since the second Intifada. Similarly, school books and speeches, in Arabic, have grown radical, to the point of portraying Israel’s very existence as a crime. Little has been done to acknowledge the Jewish roots in Palestine.

    The fact is that the Jewish presence in Palestine goes much farther back than most Palestinians, as well as Arabs and Muslims in general, would be willing to admit.

    Before 1948, Palestine was ruled by a series of empires. Before that Palestine was Judaea—a Jewish country. Jews have lived in Palestine continuously for more than 3,300 years. "Palestine" was the name given to the Jewish homeland in the second century by the Romans, in an attempt to break the Jewish adherence to the land. This was a century after the Jewish temple was destroyed and more than a million Jews were massacred.

    The Jews stopped fighting the Romans only after they had no more fighting men standing. As Evangelist William Eugene Blackstone put it in 1891, “The Jews never gave up their title to Palestine… They never abandoned the land. They made no treaty, they did not even surrender. They simply succumbed, after the most desperate conflict, to the overwhelming power of the Romans.”.

    The Jews persisted through the centuries under the various empires, after the Arab invasion of 635AD (which they fought alongside the Byzantines), and after the Crusade massacres of the 11th Century, which decimated much of their population.

    Few Palestinians realize that Jewish customs, religion, prayers, poetry, holidays, and virtually every walk of life, documented for thousands of years—all revolve around Judaea/Palestine/Israel. For thousands of years Jews have been praying for Jerusalem in every prayer, after every meal, in every holiday, at every wedding, in every celebration. The whole Jewish religion is about Jerusalem and the Land of Israel. Western expressions such as “The Promised Land,” and “The Holy Land,” did not pop out of void. They have been part of Western knowledge and tradition dating back to the beginning of Christianity and earlier.

    After the Crusades, the Jews—including many who have returned over the centuries—lived peacefully with Arabs, often in the very same villages, as in Pki'in, in the Galilee, until the Zionist immigration of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Article 6 of the PLO Charter specifically calls for the acceptance of all Jews present in Palestine prior to the Zionist immigration. These Jews were simply another ethnic group in a region composed of Sunnis, Shiites, Jews, Druz, Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Circassians, Samarians, and more. Some of these groups, like the Druz, Circassians, Samarians, and an increasing number of Christians, are actually loyal to the Jewish State.

    Incidentally, genetic studies consistently show that Zionist immigrants (a.k.a., Ashkenazi Jews) are closely related to groups that predate the Arab conquest, like the Samarians, who have lived in Palestine for thousands of year.

    Palestinian denial of these facts may lead to events such as the ones brilliantly depicted in Jonathan Bloomfield’s award-winning book, “Palestine,” in which actual history and predicted events are thinly veiled as fiction.

    If, as the current Palestinian narrative goes, the Jews are not a people indigenous to Palestine but rather an invading foreign colonialist body, then they must be fought until they are removed from this land. Anything short of that, by any standard, would be injustice.

    Thus, war and bloodshed will continue until the Palestinians start acknowledging the Jewish narrative, and the fact that Jewish roots in Palestine date back thousands of years, long before the Arab invasion.

  2. This issue is very complicated.This is because there are two different voices about rights to the Holy Land.

    When the Oslo accords were first signed there was optimism that both sides could compromise and achieve reconciliation and good relations.

    That did not happen for a variety of reasons.

    Now neither side really accepts the basic premises on which Oslo was started.

    You cannot build a compromise on the new parameters of either side.

    That is why I believe the stats-quo is better than any major changes until a platform for true peace is viable.

  3. What Israel needs to be mindful of is Obama has never been an ally to Israel. As with so many other things, Obama is a great salesperson, he will tell you whatever he thinks you want to hear but deliver on nothing. But, Israel needs to stop shooting themselves in the foot by making foolish concessions that never work, or doing bazaar things, like inviting the Palastinians to a twenty five anniversary of Judea and Samaria. There will be no peace until the Arabs abandon their sixty four year old murder campaign and concessions like giving back land and pulling out of checkpoints have proven time and gain that not only do these actions fail to achieve peace, they increase violence and induce the possibility of war. Israel has to stop letting themselves to be treated like children by the United States and base their decisions not on what Obama or any other foreign entity wants, but what is best for Israel. Case in point, when Hillary Clinton visited Israel to tell Netanyahu to abandon the "pillar of defense" campaign, Netanyahu should have said that thousands of innocent Israeli citizens have been murdered at the hands of Hamas and the operation will continue until Hamas is rooted out and destroyed. By stopping the program, Hamas considered it a win for them and their defiance and aggression increased. But, when Israel's plan was being put into action, Hamas was reeling and losing in short order, I didn't hear the usual obnoxious remarks by Hamas and other Arabs. This is not being a " hardliner," it's merely bolstering Israel's security and safety so there could be a diminished security threats and the protection of Israel's rights.

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