A friend of mine wrote me recently and wanted to know who to believe in the Israel-Arab crisis. Now, that normally isn't a surprising question. However, this friend is Jewish and went to a Jewish high school. I'm not criticizing her question, not at all. I'm actually very happy she turned to me for the answers. But it really brought home the enormous talk of fighting the Arab lies that have now seeped into American culture.
How to believe?
Unfortunately, when you tell a lie often enough, it becomes everyone's truth. This is happening today. In today's world, it is acceptable to call Israel an "apartheid" state, even though when one looks at the facts on the ground, it's not possible. It's become acceptable to call Israel a "mistake", as not only Andrew Sullivan has suggested, but longtime friend of Israel, columnist Richard Cohen has.
But history tells us a different story.
Israel Matzav has written a wonderful piece that explains the true history of the land that too many call "stolen:"
The term "Palestina" was invented by the Roman emperor Hadrian. The Romans wanted to rename Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) after the Philistines, the longtime enemy of the Jews. Hadrian believed that by renaming the Jewish homeland after the Jews' archenemy, he would be able to forever break the bond between the Land of Israel and the Jewish people.
But even the name of the Philistines, from which the term "Palestine" was adopted, is completely alien to the Land of Israel.
The name Philistines in Hebrew is plishtim, which comes from the Hebrew verb polshim (foreign invaders).Arabs only came to the Land of Israel in large numbers after the Jews returned in the 20th century and started to rebuild the nation, thereby creating economic and employment opportunities for Arab immigrants.
Prior to 1870, when Jews started to return to the Holy Land in large numbers, there were fewer than 100,000 Arabs living in what is today the State of Israel - including Yesha (the Hebrew acronym for Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District).
This small number of nomadic, tribal Arabs who lived in the Holy Land before the modern Jewish return never considered themselves to be a separate people or nation.
The Arabs who lived in the Land of Israel were not "Palestinians" but Arabs - part of a huge Arab people with 22 very large independent nations that control one-ninth of the land mass on the planet Earth.
I urge anyone who wants to know the truth about the land to read the entire piece.
Real history says that there has been a strong Jewish presence in that area since the days of Abraham. The two Jewish Temples were built there and THE ONLY REASON the Jews ever left was because they were exiled by the Romans in 70 AD.
The other great lie is what happened to the Arabs who lived there prior to 1948? My friend was told that the Jews sent them packing upon Israel's independence. Again, this is the complete opposite of the truth.
The people who were exiled when Israel became a modern nation were the Jews of the Arabs countries. Thousands and thousands of Jews had lived in the Middle East - in what became Iraq, Yemen, Syria and many other countries, some families for hundreds of years - until they were forced out by the Muslim governments upon Israel's creation.
The Arabs of Palestine, however, were welcomed to become citizens of the new, democratic state of Israel. However, here is what Palestinian nationalist Aref el-Aref explained in his history of the war for Israel's independence:
The Arabs thought they would win in less than the twinkling of an eye and that it would take no more than a day or two from the time the Arab armies crossed the border until all the colonies were conquered and the enemy would throw down his arms and cast himself on their mercy.
By the end of January 1948, the exodus was so alarming the Palestine Arab Higher Committee asked neighboring Arab countries to refuse visas to these refugees and to seal the borders against them.
Meanwhile, Jewish leaders urged the Arabs to remain in Palestine and become citizens of Israel. The Assembly of Palestine Jewry issued this appeal on October 2, 1947:
We will do everything in our power to maintain peace, and establish a cooperation gainful to both [Jews and Arabs]. It is now, here and now, from Jerusalem itself, that a call must go out to the Arab nations to join forces with Jewry and the destined Jewish State and work shoulder to shoulder for our common good, for the peace and progress of sovereign equals.
In fact, had the Arabs accepted Israel's sovereignty in 1948, they would have not only a state to themselves, but there would be no refugee problem.
So, who is telling the truth? Keep in mind, the Arab propaganda machine has been spreading lies and insults ever since 1948. They claim the Jews are poisoning the wells, that they are stealing the organs of Palestinians and in the latest video, we are made to believe that little Jewish girls are singing songs about drinking the blood of Arabs.
Are you kidding me??? Look around, people. Exactly who is murdering who? I don't see Israelis blowing up buses, beheading people or knocking down skyscrapers. I don't see Israelis calling for the death of cartoonists or authors.
To me, the only way to accept that Israel is the villain - and in the words of Andrew Sullivan, a "mistake" - is to completely ignore the facts on the ground. And why would someone do that?
We hear from the left, all the time, that Israel is a horrible country because the UN spends so much time vilifying it. And why do you think that is? After all, there are genocides in Turkey, Rwanda and the Sudan. Iran is ignoring the world by developing nuclear weapons, yet what the heck is the UN doing about it?
Arab leaders scream that Israel has nukes as well. But truthfully, is anyone really worried that Israel is going to nuke anyone? If they were, why haven't they? If Israel wanted to, they could have taken over the entire region. They have the military power. And yet, tiny Israel gives millions of humanitarian aid to the Muslims in Gaza, and they've given even more treasure to the Palestinian Authority. In addition, they have given back the Sinai - which was captured in a defensive war - allowed Yasser Arafat to try and create a nation in the West Bank and have suffered through thousands of rockets fired at her from Gaza - after she gave the land back to the Arabs because Egypt, the nation who controlled it before that defensive war, didn't want it back.
And yet, here we are in 2010, having people have to make a case for Israel. Why?
What I find even more amazing is that in return for much of the land that the world disputes, Israel wants just one thing - peace. Why is it that every time there is a peace treaty, one of the things Israel demands is the "right to exist." The United Nations granted that right in 1948. Does Iran need a right to exist? Does Syria? Does the United States?
No, just Israel has to suffer the ignominy of having to justify their position as a country.
And the reason is because the Arabs never accepted Israel and never will. But the Arab countries were created with the same cloth Israel was. Lebanon didn't exist as a country prior to World War II. Neither did all the other nations that were part of the old Ottoman Empire. Yet the only people who are denied this right are the Jews, who happen to be the ones who have been there the longest.
Call it whatever you want. But that, to me, is the ultimate anti-Semitic insult.