THE TWO ALTERNATIVES
by Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons
[On 14 December 2003, a letter appeared in the "Jerusalem Post" written by Joseph R. L. Simkins of Texas. After analysing the present political situation, he concluded: "There are only two plausible outcomes: the destruction of Israel or the expulsion of the Arabs." This reminded me of two articles I had written some 16 years ago and I reproduce them here.]
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[I wrote this article in April 1988. It was published in "The Jerusalem Times" (the then Israeli edition of the "Jewish Press" of New York) of "week of July 8 to July 14, 1988", pages 6 & 15, "the Scribe" (the Journal of Babylonian Jewry, London) dated July 1992, page 1, and in a Hebrew translation in the Israeli newspaper "Moledet" dated September-October 1992, pages 24-25. Sadly, it seems more real today than when I wrote it nearly 16 years ago. I am therefore reproducing it word for word as I then wrote it.]
Three years have now passed since the summer of the year 2002 when the Jewish State was liquidated and a P.L.O. state established in Eretz Israel. A few weeks later, in accordance with article 6 of the P.L.O. National Covenant, all Jews and their descendants who had arrived in Eretz Israel since the "beginning of the Zionist invasion" of 1917, were expelled.
Since my family had British citizenship, we were able to go and live in England and together with the tens of thousands of others having British citizenship we arrived in England.
The P.L.O. had allowed for "humanitarian reasons" for every expelled Jew to take one small suitcase of belongings not exceeding $200 in value. Everything else was confiscated. We therefore arrived penniless in England. In view of the high prices of property in England, the best my family could find was a dilapidated property in a slum area of London. As a result of the dampness of the property, two of my children have been hospitalised with rheumatic fever. The strain of such conditions has brought my wife to the verge of a nervous breakdown.
However, Jews who originated from the U.S. or Western Europe were relatively fortunate. We had a place to go to. In contrast, there were over two million Jews who were expelled from Eretz Israel, who originated from Arab or communist countries.
A few hundred Jews from Russia, lacking all alternatives returned to that country. They were almost all arrested as Zionist spies and sent to Siberia or even worse. They had obviously been unaware of a group of Jews, who in the late 1920s, had left Eretz Israel to return to Russia in order to establish a kibbutz there! Stalin had had most of them murdered or sent to Siberia.
Today there are over two million Jews wandering all over the world trying to find a place to live. As in the case of Jews wanting to escape from Hitler in the late 1930s, no country wants to accept them. In those days, President Roosevelt convened an international conference in the French resort city of Evian to discuss their fate, but everyone of the participating 33 countries gave an excuse why not to accept them. Today, there is a slight improvement over the 1930s. The U.S. has agreed to take 2000 Jews and Australia 250. But these numbers are laughable in view of the fact that the wandering Jews number over two million. Every day one reads of cases of these Jews dying of malnutrition and of others committing suicide.
Will this problem ever be solved?
How did we get ourselves into such a mess?
It began in the 1980s, when the Arabs as part of their tactics, began to talk about "peace" in the framework of an "International Conference". The left, who since the Six Day War, had been eager to hand over Judea and Samaria, the heart of Eretz Israel, to the Arabs, jumped on the bandwagon. Groups such as "Peace Now" began to hold rallies and demonstrations with slogans such as "Peace for Territory", and world Jewish "intellectuals", who had never lived in Israel, sent round letters demanding "territorial compromise". They never explained that in view of the fact that over three-quarters of Mandatory Palestine - the area designated as the Jewish homeland - was in Arab hands [i.e. (Trans)jordan], it should be the Arabs who should be handing over land in Transjordan to the Jewish State in exchange for peace. The Arabs played their part to try and weaken the resistance of the Jews, by continually throwing stones, grenades and Molotov cocktails at Jewish vehicles, and attacking Jews in the street.
International pressure to "withdraw" to the pre-1967 borders increased and these were coupled with threats of sanctions. Had the Jews in Israel been united this pressure could have been withstood. But with the left joining forces with the international community, Israel caved in and in 1992 signed an "agreement" with the Arabs to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, and for the removal of all the Jewish settlers who by then had reached over 120,000. The exception was East Jerusalem, and it was agreed that the solution to this "problem" would be "deferred to a later date".
Within three months of signing this agreement, Israel had withdrawn from these areas. There was no money to pay compensation to the 120,000 settlers. All that was available was money to build shacks for these people on the coastal plain. A vague promise was given to build apartments some time in the future, a promise which was never implemented.
A few months later, the Arabs were demanding Israel "returns" Arab Jerusalem, threatening a "Holy War" from the entire Moslem world should they not do so. Here, even the left balked and joined in the chorus that united Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Israel. But this "unity" was sadly not to last long. The U.S., Western Europe and Japan, fearing for their oil supplies, argued that since in 1938, Czecho-slovakia had had to surrender the Sudetenland for the sake of "world peace", Israel in the 1990s, could not be allowed to endanger world peace for the sake of just an old wall and a few dirty narrow streets in Jerusalem.
The subsequent selective sanctions by these countries against Israel caused an erosion of the "consensus" existing in Israel on the Jerusalem question. By 1995, Israel had completely returned to the pre-1967 borders. Within a few months, the Jordanians had, as in 1948, razed to the ground the beautifully restored "Jewish Quarter" including its numerous Synagogues. Tombstones on the Mount of Olives, especially the new ones added since 1967, made excellent latrine covers.
Due to these selective sanctions, Israel no longer had the money to provide all of the 150,000 Jews who had been living in the suburbs of East Jerusalem, even with shacks. Many were just given tents. What a traumatic experience it was for residents of Ramat Eshkol to move from their luxurious apartments to tents.
The next stage in the Arabs' campaign was to argue, "You have returned the territory you captured in the Six Day War. Now return us the territory you captured in the War of Independence and we will recognise the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan borders. We therefore demand that you withdraw from Western Galilee, Ramle, Lod, Jaffa, Ashkelon and Beersheba." At this demand even the extreme left-wing Mapam had apoplexy. They had built many of their kibbutzim in these places.
The United Nations went into special session and mandatory sanctions were applied against Israel. This did the trick and by the end of the twentieth century, Israel was confined to the 1947 borders. This also meant the loss of West Jerusalem as the capital, which was transferred to Tel-Aviv.
Despite this withdrawal, the mandatory sanctions imposed on Israel by the U.N. were never withdrawn. The U.N. "did not have the time" to discuss the question. As a result Israel's financial situation became desperate. She argued that just as UNRWA (United Nation s Relief and Works Agency) was still financing millions of Arab "refugees" (many of whom were fictitious), she should finance the now over one million Jews who had been displaced as a result of all the Israel withdrawals. This was resoundingly defeated in a vote of the U.N. [ 1 in favour (Israel) ; 184 against ; 1 abstention (U.S.A.). ]
"The Negev is not really part of Israel," screamed the Bedouins, "It was added as a result of the intervention of President Truman." The State Department accepted this reasoning arguing that Israel had misused President Truman's generosity by building a nuclear station in the Negev and refusing to allow international supervision, and they demanded Israel's withdrawal from the Negev. By this time, Israel had lost all ability to resist and by April 2002, Israel was reduced to a narrow strip of land on the coastal plain and a narrow strip in Eastern Galilee.
Three months later, Arabs armed with just stones, Molotov cocktails and grenades marched on these two narrow strips of land. The regulation commanding soldiers to only shoot in the air and not at any Arabs, were still in force and so the Arabs had no trouble in conquering the area.
Immediately, a P.L.O. "secular-democratic" state was declared in the entire area of Eretz Israel and within a few weeks article 6 of the P.L.O. National Covenant, which authorised the expulsion of all the Jews who had arrived since 1917 was implemented.
Those who had arrived before that date, naively believed that they would have equality in this "secular-democratic" state. Their identity cards were marked with a big red "J" (in Arabic) as in Communist or Arab countries. "Only for statistical purposes," commented a P.L.O. official to the world press. Two months later, the Jews in the P.L.O. state (who numbered over a quarter of a million), were sent to the south of the country for "resettlement". Apologies were made for the use of overcrowded cattle-trucks for this "resettlement". No communication has been received from any of these Jews since their "resettlement" three years ago. "Due to communications difficulties," explained the P.L.O. spokesman. When one remembers the cordial meeting between Hitler and the Mufti and their identity of ideas on "solving the Jewish problem", and also the statement made in May 1948 by the Secretary-General of the Arab League threatening the Jews with "extermination and momentous massacre", one can only fear the worst.
Near to my London damp apartment, lives a former "Peace Now" activist, who was expelled from Israel at the same time as me. "We were wrong in believing the Arabs," he keeps telling me. How this contrasts from the period following the withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, when "Peace Now" supporters danced in the streets of Tel-Aviv celebrating and naively waving slogans "Now Peace".
The Festivals should be times of joy for the Jewish people. However, when in the Festival prayers, the words "On account of our sins, we were exiled from our land" are said, great weeping is heard in the Synagogues. Maybe, after another two thousand stateless years of wanderings, persecutions, pogroms and massacres, we will again have a state. Let us pray that next time, we will use the opportunity wisely.
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[The article "Liquidation of the Jewish State" is one of gloom for the Jewish people. A few months earlier in December 1987, I wrote an article proposing a solution of the Arab-Israel conflict on the basis of transfer. I feel sure that after the initial trauma of the transferees, both Jews and Arabs would live unmolested by each other in their own states and that both peoples would be able to develop the underpopulated and underdeveloped areas of their respective states. I should make it clear that any Arab who would sign his acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state would be able to remain. Also the transferred Arabs would be able to take all their movable assets and would receive as compensation for their immovable assets, the one hundred billion dollars of assets left behind by Jews who had come from Arab countries. As with the last article, I am reproducing it word for word as I then wrote it.]
Three years have now passed since the summer of the year 2002, when the Arabs from both sides of the green line were transferred out of Israel. The green line is now a thing of the past, since three months after this transfer, the Knesset almost unanimously passed a law incorporating Judea, Samaria and Gaza into the State of Israel.
The idea of transfer was first put forward by Theodor Herzl over a century ago. At the same time that Herzl was writing his famous book "The Jewish State", he confided to his diary plans for removing the non-Jewish population from the Jewish State - "We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border."
Following in the footsteps of Herzl, many if not most of the Zionist leaders including Ben-Gurion, Weizmann, Sharett, Ussishkin, Tabenkin and Katznelson were to propose such a transfer. Even some members of "Brit Shalom" - an organisation whose aim was for a bi-national Jewish-Arab state - would privately propose transfer!
Nobel Peace prizewinners and American Presidents were to join this list. According to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, "Palestine should be for the Jews and no Arabs should be in it." Even the anti-Zionist, Harry St. John Philby, a confidant of King Ibn Saud, proposed that "Western Palestine should be handed over completely to the Jews, clear of Arab population except for a 'Vatican City' in the old city of Jerusalem."
In 1937, the British Peel Commission proposed a transfer of population, compulsory if necessary. Following this proposal, the Jewish Agency set up a Population Transfer Committee whose function was to prepare a programme for the transfer of Arabs from Eretz-Israel.
Apart from a transfer of Arabs during the War of Independence and a much more limited transfer following the Six Day War, the idea of transfer remained a dead letter. The Arab problem was swept under the carpet by the Israeli Government who argued that transfer was completely unnecessary. Those solitary voices in the 1970s who proposed it were labelled "racist" and cries of "bring them to trial" were heard.
Instead of transfer, the Government decided that the solution was to raise the educational level of the Arabs - in this way they would become loyal residents of Israel! Universities such as Bir-Zeit and the Hebron Islamic College were opened. The Government's expectations (if one can seriously call them that) were proved wrong. These Universities became the hot-bed of anti-Israeli activity.
Once upon a time, it was safe to travel on the roads. In the 1980s some Arabs decided to change all that. Stones were periodically thrown at passing cars and Egged buses on the roads of Judea and Samaria. When these Arabs saw that not only were the authorities unwilling to take the necessary steps to stop this, but even brought to trial and imprisoned Jewish settlers who took the necessary measures for self-defense, these Arabs gained encouragement and intensified their efforts. "Mere" stones were replaced by Molotov cocktails and bullets.
By the time the 1990s had arrived, these Arabs had extended their operations to within the green line. The knifing and shooting of Jews all over Israel became so commonplace that it ceased to be newsworthy material. Almost every day, buses on the Tel-Aviv - Haifa coastal road were attacked. By the mid-1990s Egged had already armoured-plated most of the windows of its buses. In place of a window, only a narrow slit remained. It was not unusual to see people waiting for an hour in the pouring rain for a bus which was armour-plated. Being was more important than well-being. On rare occasions, a passenger was brave enough to venture outside an attacked bus and capture one of the terrorists. Believe it or not, on arrival at the police-station with this terrorist, it was the passenger who would be arrested on a charge of kidnapping! Profuse apologies would be proffered to the terrorist for having been inconvenienced!
As a result in the deterioration of the situation, long long lines formed outside the American Embassy in Tel-Aviv. Yerida became a torrent, aliyah a trickle. In an interview with the "New York Times" in 1996, a Yored declared, "I feel safer in the streets of New York with all its muggings, than in the streets of Tel-Aviv."
The Arab birth-rate soared and Arab immigration to Israel was encouraged under the famous "family reunification" scheme. Statisticians were already predicting an Arab majority within the green line within ten years.
Over the years, voices advocating transfer increased. They began in the 1980s with the entry of the Kach party to the Knesset. As time went on, voices from the Likud, Mafdal and Techiya parties were added to this sole voice. Towards the end of the 1990s, almost the entire religious and right-wing parties were calling for transfer.
Pressure was even building up on the Labour Party. It was pointed out to them that their mentor, David Ben-Gurion, had enthusiastically welcomed the Peel Report recommendation on compulsory transfer. "We must expel Arabs and take their place," he wrote to his son Amos in 1937. During the following year, he had told the Jewish Agency Executive, "I favour compulsory transfer - I see nothing unethical in it." As Prime Minister during the War of Independence, he was asked by his army chiefs what to do with the Arabs of Lod and Ramla. To this question he retorted "Expel them". He expressed anger at the fact that the Arabs of Nazareth had not been expelled. Ben-Gurion's record swayed the Labour Party and they joined in the chorus for transfer.
There were still some liberals who were stubborn. When however they heard that Chaim Weizmann had regarded the transfer of Arabs as "absolutely essential" and had told the British Colonial Secretary that the Jews "will help in getting Arabs out of Galilee", these liberals dropped their opposition to transfer.
As was to be expected, Mapam was vociferous from beginning to end regarding transfer which they described as "unethical" or "a stain on the flag of the Zionist movement". However actions speak louder than words and a study of the history of the Mapam kibbutzim such as Mishmar Haemek and Merchavia show that these kibbutzim put transfer into practice whilst others were just talking about it.
Having a broad consensus on transfer, the Israeli Government fully implemented it in the summer of 2002. It was planned with military precision - advice being gained from the retired generals who had forcibly transferred Jews from the Yamit area twenty years earlier - and was completed within two weeks.
The cost of the operation was relatively low, since it was felt that as long as the Jews who had left Arab countries following the establishment of the State of Israel had not received compensation for their land and property, payment to the transferred Arabs should be held in abeyance. The magnificent villas owned by the Arabs, were in all fairness, given to the Jewish refugees from Arab countries, who had lost their property.
Three years have now passed since this transfer and what a change for the better there is in Israel. Jews can walk and travel safely without the fear of stones, knives and shootings. What a pleasure to travel on an overcrowded Egged bus - without the armour-plating it is no longer like a coffin!
Hebron, City of the Patriarchs, is now undergoing reconstruction, under a master plan, to restore it to its original glory. Plans are also being drawn up for Jewish resettlement in the Biblical cities of Shechem and Jericho.
Jewry's holiest site - the Temple Mount - is now truly under Jewish sovereignty. The portions to which it is forbidden to enter under Jewish law have been fenced off and a great Synagogue is at present under construction - in accordance with the proposal made well over half a century ago by Rabbi Yehiel Tukachinsky - on the Herodian addition to the Mount.
Prior to this transfer, billions of dollars were being spent annually to try and maintain internal security. This money has now been transferred to educational and social services. Due to the continual cutbacks in education, schools were ending at ten o'clock in the morning! A full day's education has now been restored and subjects such as music, art and computer-science are now regularly included in the curriculum, (without the need to twist parents' arms for money). Patients who were sent home from hospital only two days after a major operation (unless they had protexia with the hospital staff) can now remain until they have recuperated. Sub-standard old age homes have now been completely renovated. Welfare and happiness of the population has increased by leaps and bounds.
This transfer has also brought benefit to the transferred Arabs. They realise that they no longer live under "occupation" in a "Zionist entity" and they can no longer be utilised by the Arab States as an irredenta. It is reported that some transferees have privately thanked the Israeli Government for having operated this transfer.
Although over a hundred years were to pass from the time Herzl proposed transfer until its full implementation, his motto "If you wish it, this is no fairy tale" has once again been proved right.