By Boris Shusteff
Many years ago the people of what was then the Soviet Union behaved so slavishly and submissively that the following joke became popular: "A group of people is called for a general meeting. They are told that next day they will all be hanged, and they are asked if they have any questions. One person stands up and asks: 'What about the ropes? Do we have to bring our own, or will the trade union provide them?'"
From the actions of Israeli Jews, it appears that they are asking this question almost every day. The level of national degradation is absolutely impossible to comprehend. It is even more noticeable in comparison with the behavior of the Arabs, who proudly use the word "MY" when talking about the land, in contrast to the Jews who are so easily relinquishing this most precious of man's commodities.
"The Jerusalem Report" wrote in its May issue about Fuad Rian, an Arab who has been sleeping in his wheat fields since April 5, protesting the building of the Trans-Israel Highway. For Fuad - "Land is life." For the Israeli leaders - land is just a bargaining chip. The haggling associated with the squandering of the Jewish lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha) is absolutely shameful. "The Jerusalem Post" reported on April 25 that the "PA sources said Clinton conveyed to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat that Barak is ready to hand over 80% of the West Bank and withdraw from Jerusalem suburbs"(1). Another "Palestinian official" said that "in back-channel talks, Israel has offered the Palestinians more than 90 percent of the West Bank, if they agree to delay the issue of Jerusalem for a few years"(1). At the same time "other sources said Barak expressed a willingness to concede 70% to 80% of the West Bank to a Palestinian state"(1).
While the Jewish press is ashamed to use the real name of the primordial Jewish land, calling it "the West Bank," the Arabs speak absolutely differently about the land that fell under their control (the Sinai was conquered from Turkey by Britain in 1917 without any Egyptian help and simply given to Egypt by the British government). On the anniversary of the "liberation" of Sinai Samir Ragab wrote in the Egyptian Gazette, "Egyptians believe it unthinkable that we could relinquish an inch of Arab land, because that land is the nation's pride and dignity"(2).
What for the Arabs is a matter of the "nation's pride and dignity" for the Jews is spare change that can be easily given away. The Associated Press reported on April 24 that Ehud Barak was planning to convene his Security Cabinet meeting on April 27 during which "the Cabinet will consider an additional withdrawal from 2-3 percent of the West Bank as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinians while the sides are discussing larger withdrawals." It is obvious that the Arabs should not be in a hurry to come to an agreement on a "larger withdrawal" since a couple dozen "goodwill gestures" will give them all they are looking for pretty soon.
The Arabs have already learned that time is on their side and the Jews themselves will give up everything. A good proof of this is the issue of prisoners. Israel has exhausted all of its "goodwill gestures" releasing Arab prisoners "without blood on their hands" so, apparently, the time came to let the others go, too. Israeli Minister of Internal Security Shlomo Ben-Ami put it in this way, "There are no remaining terrorists who have not killed Israelis, so, as the process with the PLO Authority (PA) moves forward, there will be no other alternative but to release security prisoners with blood on their hands"(3).
Ben-Ami's logic is so simple that one can easy predict what is going to be said by the Israeli leaders after they relinquish all lands of Yesha. Some Minister will state then: "There are no remaining territories outside the green line, so as the process with the PA moves forward, there will be no other alternative but to relinquish the land of Israel proper."
The virus of national degradation has infected all Israeli institutions. On April 24 the General Security Service (GSS/Shin Bet), the organization that should know all about the Arabs, recommended that the "government release terrorists from prison who have killed and/or injured Israelis in terrorist attacks. The GSS has called for terrorists affiliated with Yassir Arafat's Fatah faction be released from Israeli prisons"(3). It is one thing when the Israeli man in the street suggests to release Fatah members from prison but it is completely different when this is recommended by Shin Bet.
It is hard to believe that Shin Bet is not familiar with the text of Fatah's Constitution, recently placed on the Fatah Web site. Hence, it is puzzling that Shin Bet calls for the release of people whose movement's essential principles consider "liberating Palestine as a national obligation" (article 5), for whom "the Israeli existence in Palestine is a Zionist invasion with a colonial expansive base" (article 8) ; whose goal is "complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence"(article 12) ; for whom "armed public revolution is the inevitable method to liberating Palestine" (article 17) and that advocates "opposing any political solution offered as an alternative to demolishing the Zionist occupation in Palestine" (article 22) (4).
One must admit that the Arabs have done an excellent job in convincing the Jews that they, the Jews, are the occupiers who are responsible for all the sufferings of the Palestinian Arabs. The Arabs have managed to instill in the Jews the complex of guilt and now demand that the Jews acknowledge "their responsibility in the expulsion of nearly one million Palestinians from their homes in 1948" (5). The editorial on the official PA Web site declared that the "Palestinians, so far, have been denied the basic right to see their suffering recognized by its perpetrators"(5). Reuters reported on March 13 that Hanan Ashrawi, a prominent PA legislator, speaking in Washington, demanded that Israel should "make a public historical apology to the Palestinians for the grave historical injustice they have suffered"(6). As Ashrawi said: "An apology to the Palestinian people is long overdue -- a recognition of the historical fact of 1948 and the ongoing victimization of the Palestinians"(6).
Ashrawi is right, it is a "grave historical injustice" that the Israeli leaders do not want to allow the world and the Israeli Jews to learn the real facts. It is a pity that the Israeli propaganda machine is completely rusted. Otherwise, it would have emphasized that Khaled Al-Azm, who was Syria's Prime Minister after the 1948 war, deplored the Arab tactics and the subsequent exploitation of the refugees, in his 1972 memoirs, where he wrote:
"Since 1948 it is we who demanded the return of refugees while it is we who made them to leave We brought disaster upon Arab refugees, by inviting them and bringing pressure to bear upon them to leave. We have rendered them dispossessed. We have accustomed them to begging. We have participated in lowering their moral and social level. Then we exploited them in executing crimes of murder, arson, and throwing bombs upon men, women and children - all this in service of political purposes"(7).
Khaled Al-Azm was not the only Arab leader who pointed his finger on the real perpetrators of the sufferings of the Palestinian Arabs. The late King Hussein of Jordan said in 1960 that "since 1948 Arab leaders have approached the Palestine problem in an irresponsible manner They have used the Palestinian people for selfish political purposes. This is ridiculous, I could say, even criminal."
While the official Palestinian propaganda does its best to obfuscate this issue, it is important to note that the Palestinian Arabs know that their leaders are guilty of creating the refugee problem. While it would be unrealistic to expect that rank and file Arabs blame only themselves, it is revealing that in a recent survey 30.4% Israeli Arabs and 36.1% Palestinian Arabs said that "Israel and the Arab side are to the same extent responsible for the creation of the refugee problem in1948" (8).
Lacking knowledge of history, the Israelis think that perhaps through submissiveness and appeasement they will pacify the Arabs. If this is so, they simply demonstrate a complete ignorance in understanding the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Israelis can relinquish land, they can free Fatah "fighters," they can even admit their "guilt" but none of these will change the Arabs' attitude towards Israel. As Hizbullah secretary general Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview with "Time" Cairo bureau chief Scott MacLeod, "Let us be clear. In our opinion, the Jewish state is an illegitimate and illegal state and will remain so in the eyes of the Arab and Muslim people, even if it is 50 years, 100 years, 200 years" (9)
The Arabs have learned the lingo that is acceptable to the world community and constantly use it in order to reach their goals. This is why, while leading a war against the Jews, they call it peace. This is why they suddenly fell in love with democracy, so cherished by enlightened mankind. As Nasrallah said:
"We are not saying that we want to throw the Jews into the sea. There are some Islamic scholars who gave a proposal: let the Palestinian people return to Palestine and let us have a referendum inside Palestine with the Muslims, Jews and Christians. And then we will decide about the destiny of this land. This is a democratic solution" (9).
While it is questionable that the state that Nasrallah has in mind is going to be democratic, one thing is perfectly clear - it is not going to be a Jewish state. What can be better proof than the words of Chulud Badawi, the chairwoman of the Arab students' organization of Haifa University, who was quoted in an article published on April 28 in the local Haifa District newspaper "Echo of the Suburbs" ("Hed Hakraiot"):
"We shall not stop our struggle until Israel, in order to become a State of all its citizens, will cease to exist as a Jewish State. And because symbols are important, then our struggle is also about the annulment of "Hatikva" as the national anthem, and the disappearance of the blue and white flag with the Star of David in it as the State's flag."
If Israel continues at the same pace along the road of national degradation Chulud Badawi will not have to wait long for her dream to come true. [04/29/00]
1. The Jerusalem Post, 4/25/00
2. IMRA 4/24/00
3. Israel wire 4/25/00
5. Official PNA Editorial: The Last Mile; http://www.pna.net/last_mile.htm
6. Reuters News Agency, 3/13/00.
7. Joan Peters: "From Time Immemorial." Harper & Row, Publishers, New York, 1984.
8. Jerusalem Media & Communication Center Public Opinion Polls. #35, Published on February 2000. IMRA 2/28/00.
9. Hizballah's secretary general Sheik Hassan Nasrallah discusses the prospects for peace in the Middle East.
Boris Shusteff is an engineer in upstate New York. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.