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Wednesday, December 12, 2001

A Must Read Refresher on Middle East History

Letter from Jerusalem: Palestine is Israel, the Jewish
National Home
By Arlynn Nellhaus

Borders of the Jewish National Home in Palestine as
determined by the San Remo Conference of 1920 (from website).
A recent letter writer to the New York Times professed
her great support for Israel, but said there never
could be peace until the Jewish state gave up "the
occupied territories."
Even Secretary of State Colin Powell (and some times I
do wonder about him), in Louisville used the term
"occupied territory."
Every time Palestinian spokespersons open their
mouths, there is reference to "the occupied
territories." Of course, they know that the word
"occupied" resonates with the implication of foul
But what "occupied territories?"
There never has been an independent country called
"Palestine." Nor is there such thing as "Palestinian
land" – another fictional location from which Israel
is supposed to leave. What needs to be talked about is
"disputed territory."
In fact, Palestine is the name for the British Mandate
intended for a Jewish National Home. The original
Palestinians were all Jews. After 1948, they began
calling themselves Israelis. Therefore, to be logical,
Palestine is Israel. The PLO, formed only in the
1960's after the failure of Pan-Arab nationalist
attempts to eliminate Palestinian Jews living in
Israel and steal Israeli land, instead stole the name
"Palestinian" from its rightful owner -- Israel.
The only people who consistently have claimed and
lived in the land of Israel for 3,500 years are the
Philip Hitti, who was Middle Eastern studies professor
at Princeton, and who never had a nice word to say
about Israel, made that clear in his book on the
history of the Middle East.
His book tells of Semitic tribes always on the move.
The only exception, the only one that maintained a
permanent base, was the Jews. Even the Koran, which
has violent words about Jews, Christians and others
who don't accept the "true faith," states in Suras 5,
10, and 17 that Allah gave the Holy Land to the
Conquerors came and went, including an Arab invasion
in the 7th century. The Ottoman Turks ruled from the
16th to the 20th century, followed by the British
holding a League of Nations Mandate over the land.
Under the British, Southern Syria was called
"Palestine" and included what became Jordan.
After the British lopped off Palestine east of the
Jordan to reward their allies, the Hashemites of
Arabia with a country of their own after they had been
driven out of Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the British Peel
Commission recommended dividing what was left between
Jews and Arabs.
The Jews said yes, the Arabs said no.
When the United Nations voted to do so in 1947, the
Jews again said yes, the Arabs responded with war.
They lost.
The territory, which belonged to no nation, could have
been a Palestinian state 54 years ago. It then was
occupied by Jordan and Egypt. There was no talk of
"Palestinian land."
If you reject a compromise, go to war to get the whole
loaf and lose everything, are you still entitled to
the original offer 54 years later?
Germany went to war a couple of times in the 20th
century, lost both, times and ended up smaller each
In the rest of the world, there is punishment for
aggression. In the Middle East -- if you are an Arab
-- there only is reward.
And in a twist of history, all the land that could
have been an independent Arab state fell to Israel
after the Arab nations tried again in 1967 to destroy
Israel was fighting for its life, not to become the
ruler of Arabs, but that is how it turned out.
The UN Security Council came up with its much vaunted
Resolution 242.
Eugene Rostow, US Undersecretary of State between 1966
and 1969, played a leading role in producing 242. He
says that 242 allows Israel to administer the
territories it took over until "a just and lasting
peace in the Middle East" is achieved.
But today, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, on
which Yasser Arafat signed on the dotted line that he
recognized Israel's right to exist and renounced
terror, Israel gave large amounts of this disputed
territory to the Palestinians.
Today, upwards of 95 percent live under the
Palestinian Authority, a state-in-the-making with its
own post office, police, airport, courts and
government, corrupt as it is – but it's theirs.
So if they are governed by the Palestinian Authority,
what "occupation?" It's a great word to use, for it
can make people think things that don't really exist.
Palestinians complain of having a hard time getting
from one Palestinian Authority area to another, becase
they have to cross Israel.
If they would stop killing Israelis, they wouldn't
have such difficulties. They could try it and see. But
they will not give Israel the promise of one week
without suicide bombings.
It pays to remember, according to a Palestinian
survey, that at least 72 percent of Palestinians
support suicide bombings.
Would you let them into your house?
Just how would you know you are letting in the 28
percent who don't support suicide bombings?
How would you know that the 28 percent that might not
feel like blowing themselves up don't support
shootings or stabbings, instead?
As for "Palestinian-owned land," to believe that every
Palestinian – many of whom are probably descended from
Arab, Syrian, Egyptian, Lebanese or Jordanian
immigrants -- holds title to land, is simply
Fifty-four years ago, most of the land was owned by a
few big Arab landowners. The rest of the Arab
population worked other people's land. They were
landless. It wasn't fair, but that was their system.
Yet the greater part of all the land belonged to the
state – whatever it was at the time: Turkey, Britain,
Jordan or Egypt. And now, except for what has been
relinquished to the Palestinian Authority, Israel is
the state.
And Israel has a valid historic claim to all the land.

Meanwhile, today's Palestinians claim all the land.
The same land. The Land of Israel. (If you think they
only want Gaza and the historic areas of Judea and
Samaria, you haven't been paying attention.)
Even with achievement of the dream of "a just and
lasting peace," UN Security Council 242 does not
require Israel to withdraw from all the territory. It
may keep what it deems it needs for security. And that
is to be negotiated peacefully.
So please, forget the terms "occupied territories" and
"Palestinian lands." Use the correct term, "disputed
territories or lands," and then we can all agree. This
is a territorial dispute.
As for the "settlements" (when did the "settlement" of
Boston become a village, a town, or a city?), under
the Turks and British, could the Jews have put up a
lean-to on land that didn't belong to them -- or that
wasn't state land?
Think about it. The Jewish Agency purchased the land
of Israel, with hard currency, from its legal
owners.Every square dunam.
For example, the land that Kfar Darom is on in Gaza
was purchased under the British, although Jews have
lived in Gaza since the time of the Macabees, whose
miracle we celebrate at Hannukah, more than 100 years
before the Common Era.
And here's a surprise, Palestinians are now living on
Jewish-owned land. The Dehaishe refugee camp is
located on 405 dunams purchased by the Jewish Agency
in 1943.
The British Mandate fully recognized the right of the
Jewish people to settle in the entire Mandate
territory east of the Jordan. That's right, the entire
territory east of the Jordan River is legally
available to Jewish families. It is not a "restricted"
Rostow points out that that right is buttressed by
Article 80 of the UN Charter which says that nothing
shall be construed to alter in any manner the rights
of people or terms of existing international
And the Mandate given to Britain by the League of
Nations was such an "international instrument."
Are the "settlements" an obstacle to peace?
Bin Laden's appeal to an Islamic uprising is an
obstacle to peace.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad's suicide bombings are
obstacle to peace.
Arafat's racist incitement is an obstacle to peace.
Building more homes for peaceful families to live in
peacefully alongside their neighbors is not an
obstacle to peace -- it is an incentive for peace.

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