Rabbi David Pollina | Sunday, 25 January 2009

Palestinians and the myth of peace

Much has been said about the “aggression waged by Israeli forces on the Palestinians in Gaza” that “defies the most fundamental human rights and international law”. Every politician calls for an end to the assault – as if anyone is listening to them. Should we expect any different?
Having 1,000 rockets lobbed at you over a six-month ‘truce’ is certainly worthy of acting in defence – a valid reason under international law. But is the response ‘proportional’? If the action taken does not result in achieving the goal, then it is ineffective and must logically be increased to reach efficacy. Thus, it is difficult to argue that Israel has acted disproportionately since it has yet to stop the attacks.
The editorial ‘The World as an Accomplice’ (11 January) struck me with a great sense of irony. The world is indeed becoming an accomplice… of a plot hatched from forgotten history, and which just might spill over to our own shores if not checked. For this is a religious war, and one in which a negotiated peace is impossible.
The truth of history is illuminating. “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people” – a distinct cultural, linguistic, or communal identity – Golda Meir was right when she said it, but the West has forgotten. Lest we think her biased, consider Zahir Muhsein, in the Dutch paper Trouw (1977): “The Palestinian people does not exist”, or Arab Princeton professor Dr Philip Hitti: “There is no such thing as Palestine in history”. The fact is that ancient and modern Israel, has been the only independent, sovereign, nation-state to exist on that land in the last 3,500 years.
Al Aqsa Mosque was only built in the 600’s AD. The Koran never mentions Jerusalem, and the “third holiest site” claim is based on a vague passage “the Night Journey”, where Mohammed dreams of travelling to “the most remote temple”. It’s hard to compare that to the rich history and archaeological support for two ancient Jewish Temples on the same site.
The oldest history of the region calls it Canaan. Philistines conquered the Canaanites, and Hebrews then conquered them about the fifteenth century BC. In 722 BC part of Israel was taken by the Assyrians, and less than 150 years later, the rest was by the Babylonians. Israelites returned and rebuilt Jerusalem, and the next few centuries saw mostly Jewish control until 63 BC when the Romans came. The Romans called it “Palestina” in reference to “Peleshet” – “Philistine” in English – as an insult to the conquered Jews. After the Romans, came the Byzantines and briefly the Persians.
In 638 AD, an Arab-Muslim Caliph took Palestina away from the Byzantines, placing it under Muslim rule until Christian crusaders conquered it in 1099. After the crusaders, Palestine became a province of the Mameluks, and eventually of the Ottomans. It was seized by the British during World War I, and as the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the League of Nations assigned Palestine to the British under Mandate.
The Balfour Declaration (1917) said that all of Palestine was to be a Jewish homeland, yet the British reneged, giving the eastern portion to Emir Abdullah – renamed eventually “Jordan”. Many Jews were killed or evicted. In the end, Israel was allotted only 17% of the Mandate.
In 1947 the United Nations attempted a two-state solution. Negotiations failed, and on 14 May 1948, Israel declared independence… resulting immediately in an Arab attack. Stronger and more numerous, the Arabs failed. They had warned Arab residents of Israel to flee the coming onslaught, and many did – arriving in Gaza and the ‘West Bank’. There they were stopped by the very nations which encouraged their flight, as if to say “we said leave… but don’t come here”. At the end of the war, Egypt controlled Gaza, Jordan had the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Israel the remainder.
The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), founded in 1964 to destroy Israel via armed struggle, was led by Yasser Arafat – an Egyptian, not a refugee or displaced mythical ‘Palestinian’. The PLO never tried to shake off the Egyptian ‘occupiers’, or the Jordanian ‘colonialists’.
In 1967, Arab states again attempted to wipe Israel off the map. They failed again, and Israel reclaimed Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank. No ‘Palestinians’ were conquered, nor any of their land seized. These lands were taken in war from other sovereign states – Jordan, Egypt, and Syria.
The brilliant George W. Bush and Condolleeza Rice decided to ‘help’. After Israel’s 2005 disengagement, Mahmoud Abbas had a semi-government and, in an attempt to prop it up, the US orchestrated elections. They were horrified when the plan backfired and the terrorist gang Hamas – sworn to the destruction of Israel – was elected, and then forcibly took control of all Gaza.
But this has nothing to do with the current conflict. That had started in 638 with Muslim rule. And therein, as the Bard would say, lies the rub, for this is a religious war against Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and others of Radical Islam who believe that no land ever under Muslim rule can be allowed to leave Muslim rule.
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all believe in one God (Christian ‘Trinity’ aside), that theirs is the one true religion, and that a messianic figure will right the world in the ‘end times’ with theirs as the only religion. The difference is in how this ‘end time’ comes about. In Judaism and Christianity, it is God Himself who divinely brings about His Kingdom in His own time. In Islam’s Koran, it is Muslims who fight and kill infidels (particularly Jews) thereby causing the coming of the Messiah. Although modern Judaism also believes in such a cause-effect, the cause is good deeds and keeping the Sabbath, not killing those of another belief. The Koran also teaches tolerance of other religions – but such is predicated upon Muslim rule and domination first.
Christianity once followed the same path of crusades and inquisitions, burning and pillaging its way through the known world in the name of Jesus. This was a dark time, but fortunately, Christianity outgrew that interpretation of the Bible. Islam has yet to outgrow domination-theology, and if it doesn’t, the threat to Western civilization is greater than that of Hitler, Fascism, and Communism combined.
Europe could indeed become an accomplice to its own demise by repeating the failed doctrine of appeasement under the cloak of religion.
In Europe, life is good with iPods, and the Internet, and it’s difficult to convince someone that the afterlife will be sufficiently better than the present one to justify martyrdom. Not so in Gaza. Radical Islam will always find ready support in the face of poverty. Those who take this path have an agenda, and peace is not on the cards.
Here’s the rest of what the PLO’s Zahir Muhsein had to say to the Dutch paper, Trouw:
“The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel... there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand (it) to oppose Zionism.”
A caller on PATV said “Our problem with Israel is not a border problem, but one of existence”, and Abd-Al Malek Dahamshe replied “We exaggerate when we say ‘peace’... what we are speaking about is ‘hudna’” – an Islamic term meaning cease fire – a time to re-arm and prepare to attack. Such is precisely what has happened for the prior six months. Hamas re-armed and improved their weaponry, increasing their rocket range, and smuggling munitions. More than a million Israelis are now in their sights.
Death of civilians is what Hamas wants - not just Israeli civilians who they target, but their own if it will help the cause. Hamas hides amongst civilians, uses them as shields, and then has the audacity to cry crocodile tears and parade the corpses in front of CNN cameras for the world to see. They fire mortars and rockets from UN schools, drawing return fire, and then weep for the innocent victims.
And too many in the West buy into the charade.
Israel makes hundreds of calls warning residents that an attack on a weapons cache is imminent. They even call the owner of the building – a senior terrorist. Instead of fleeing, the terrorist takes his four wives and 10 of his children into the building and they all die. How can there be any reasoning with someone so blinded by religion as that – who had previously sent one of his own sons off as a suicide bomber?
Throughout the Middle East, radical Islam remains the more common interpretation of the Koran. Until that changes, peace will be impossible – it can never be the agreement of one side. The vast majority of Gazans voted for Hamas, knowing full well the methods they would employ. Arab nations have 99.9% of the land, and tell Israel that if it will give up half of its 0.1%, there can be peace, but it is – in reality – a scam.
Hezbollah is waiting, enjoying its own Hudna. Syria is waiting too, as is Iran which continues to have nuclear ambitions. Jordan is sandwiched between Israel and Iran, and when missiles fly west over its soil who will they join? Israel cannot afford to embolden Hamas the way it did Hezbollah.
Hamas and Gaza are just a tremor. The earthquake has yet to strike.

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