THE MORALITY OF TRANSFER
Part 1 of 2
By Boris Shusteff
"One single act of compulsion is better for both sides than perpetual friction." (Israel Zangwill).
On September 20, 1998 the Israeli daily Maariv published the results of a survey conducted among Israeli Jews. One of the questions was formulated in the following way: "Do you agree with deporting all the Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza if Israel does not pay a diplomatic price for that?" 65% of respondents answered "Yes," 26% said "No" and 9% did not give their opinion. Nevertheless, it is not the fear of diplomatic complications that is the main reason why Israel does not loudly advocate the transfer of Arabs out of Eretz Yisrael. The real issue lies within the moral sphere, in which the opinion is virtually unanimous - transfer is immoral and therefore cannot be used to solve political problems.
Perhaps if this idea of transfer is taken out of the context of real life and considered in the vacuum of a perfect world, it could be seen this way. However, due to the extremely explosive relationships between Israel and her Arab neighbors and the almost biological hatred that Arabs feel towards the Jews, the transfer of Arabs from Eretz Yisrael (which includes Israel, Judea, Samaria and Gaza) is significantly better than the current situation from a moral standpoint. Let us look carefully at the moral issues involved. From the outset it must of course be said that transfer is certainly an extremely painful and devastating event. A large group of people must be uprooted from their homes, relocated to a new place and forced to start their lives anew, nostalgically recalling their previous "homeland". But this terrible experience must be measured against a much grater calamity. It must be weighed against unending enmity, half a dozen wars, hundreds of thousands of deaths, uncountable numbers of maimed and wounded people, the non-stop suffering of millions of people, festering hatred in people's hearts, and the constant threat of a regional war, which could very well turn into a World War.
It is not the purpose here to discuss who has the greater right to Eretz Yisrael (or Palestine, as it is called by non-Jews). The Jews will always be convinced that their claim to Eretz Yisrael is irrefutable. By the same token, the Arabs will never stop saying that their connection with Palestine is ages old. For the sake of argument, we will use the position stated in 1945 by the Reverend James Parkes.
"So far as rights are concerned, both Jews and Arabs have unchallengeable cases... therefore one would have to give way to the other... From the standpoint of need it seems to me clear that the decision lies in favor of the Jews" - the Arabs having "lands stretching from the Atlantic to Iran" (1).
It is this point, that "one would have to give way to the other," which is the foundation of the necessity for transfer. However, first we must take a brief look at the history of the conflict. Two groups of people claim the same territory. Since the beginning of the controversy in 1917 (if we take the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate as the starting point), one of the claimants - the Jews - has always been ready to share the territory. The other claimants - the Arabs - have remained adamantly against recognizing any Jewish rights to the territory and even now reject the historical link between the Jews and Eretz Yisrael. In 1922, with the separation of Transjordan, the Jews were forbidden to settle on almost 77% of the disputed territory, while Arab settlement went unrestricted. By 1993, the year the infamous Oslo process began, the Arab state of Jordan occupied those 77%, while Israel, the Jewish state, huddled on 18% of the original British Mandate land, with the remaining 5% of the territory still in dispute, though, technically, under very reluctant Israeli control. Unable to squeeze Israel out from the land that the Jewish state obtained in 1948 (after withstanding the bloody assault of seven Arab states at once), the Arabs never relinquished the hope of conquering the land from the Jews. After losing additional territory in 1967 and 1973 and failing to defeat Israel militarily, they are now trying regain the land through a diplomatic process. Well aware that the world community will not support blatant efforts to completely eliminate Israel, the Arabs now devote their activity to first obtaining the disputed and unallocated 5% of the lands of the former British Mandate.
They demand the lands historically known as Judea, Samaria and Gaza for the creation of yet another Arab state. Over fifty years of Israel's existence have seen immutable Arab hostility toward the Jewish state. On several occasions Israel's military might forced the Arabs to accept Israel's presence in the Middle East, but time and again the undying hope of expelling the Jews from Eretz Yisrael prodded them to initiate another military confrontation. And in order to further their unscrupulous purposes, the Arab leaders have continually and shamelessly exploited the unfortunate fate of their brethren - the Palestinian Arabs - who have been caught between the anvil of the Jews' millennia old inextinguishable attachment to Eretz Yisrael and the hammer of the Arab leaders' hatred toward the Jews.
Who are the Palestinian Arabs? Majority of them are the descendants of those Arabs who flocked to Palestine from other Arab countries in the beginning of the 19th century, hoping to obtain employment and better living standards where the Jews were beginning to reclaim and develop Eretz Yisrael. Today these Palestinian Arabs either languish in refugee camps in various Arab countries or live in misery and the worst of conditions in Arafatland. Daily and nightly they are fed by their leaders the fairy tale of "returning to their homes in Palestine." To this day they remain the fuel that is constantly being added by Arab leaders to the fire of the Arab-Jewish conflict. What is most regrettable in this situation is that the world community, unable to suppress its own anti-Semitism, instead of helping to resolve the conflict, only helps to tie this Gordian knot tighter.
Israel's existence has unequivocally proven one thing: the Jews and the Arabs cannot live together on land that both claim is theirs. If the Arabs were not under the constant ill influence of their leaders,perhaps this coexistence might be possible. But since it is impossible to remove this influence, there is no other solution except transfer.
Already in 1937 Arab enmity towards the Jews was apparent to the authors of the Peel Commission Report, which stated in its 22nd chapter that, "the existence of Jews in the Arab State and Arabs in the Jewish State would clearly constitute 'the most serious hindrance to the smooth and successful operation of Partition' " (1). Therefore the authors of the Report were advocating transfer, stating, "If Partition is to be effective in promoting a final settlement it must mean more than drawing a frontier and establishing two States. Sooner or later there should be a transfer of land, and as far as possible, an exchange of population."(1).
It is no secret that the Arab attitude towards the Jews has not changed since 1937, and has even became worse in some cases. It is enough to quote only one absolutely outrageous result of a recent survey in order to understand the magnitude of the Arab hatred towards the Jews. The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem conducted this poll among Palestinian Arabs during the week of December 19-24, 2001. They found that "69% of Palestinians would not view as an act of terrorism the future use of chemical and biological weapons against Israel by Palestinians, but when committed by Israel 93% of Palestinians would define it as terror." 01/22/02
1. Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons. "A Historical Survey of Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 1895 - 1947." http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/7854/transf1.html
Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.