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History of the problem

Reader comment on item: How Israel Can Win

Submitted by Jeff in USA (United States), Apr 5, 2006 at 02:27

Part of the reason for the persistence of this conflict is that some people in the West do not believe that Israel, a fellow Western democracy, deserves their unstinting support. This reticence is rooted in a conviction that the creation of Israel, and the accompanying displacement of the Palestinians, constituted an injustice so unique and profound that the very legitimacy of Israel's existence is tainted by it. But this view of the matter does not hold up under logical analysis.

- "Palestinians" means Arabs living in Palestine (or their descendants elsewhere), but Palestine was an area without defined borders until the British mandate, and may or may not include Jordan, depending on who is defining the term.

- During the British mandate period in Palestine, when large-scale Zionist colonization was under way, the Arab population also grew rapidly. Given that the Zionist colonization was causing the economy of Palestine to develop much more rapidly than that of the surrounding areas, it seems likely that much of the increase was due to Arabs from surrounding areas immigrating to Palestine -- that is, much of the Arab population in Palestine in 1948 was not of native origin. I have no hard data about this. Perhaps someone who does can contribute it.

- During the 1948 war which established Israel as an independent state, about 700,000 Arabs (native or otherwise) fled or were expelled from the part of Palestine which became Israel. At the same time, a similar number of Jews were expelled from Muslim countries where their ancestors had lived for centuries, and migrated to Israel. In effect, there was an exchange of population. Israel absorbed and integrated the Jewish refugees. The Arab world did not absorb or integrate the Arab refugees.

- Most so-called "Palestinian refugeees" today are not -- they are children or grandchildren of the real refugees of 1948.

- If 1948 was an injustice, it was not unique. Almost every existing country was built on land seized from someone else at some point in the past. If we set out to reverse every such "injustice", the result would be a global bloodbath. All that happened in 1948 and 1967 was that the Muslim world was defeated in war and lost a small amount of territory. This has happened to many societies at various times. The only unique feature of the Palestine case is that the Muslim world would rather keep fighting -- perhaps to the point of triggering a nuclear holocaust -- rather than accept reality and move on.
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