Around our troubled planet, constructing an apartment for a Jewish family in a
vibrant veteran Jewish neighborhood – an indivisible part and parcel of the
Jewish state’s capital – is decried as an unpardonable a sin against all the
kindheartedness and fair-mindedness that the international community purports to
This isn’t just the clichéd consensus of conformist correspondents
and stale statesmen overseas. Sunshine friends too can’t resist the warm
ambiance of group-think.
Irish filmmaker Nicky Larkin, for example, was
feted here for his seemingly maverick pro-Israel stance. But now he finds that
“increasingly difficult,” because he “can’t accept the expansion of settlements
on land the international community considers illegal, under the Fourth Geneva
Convention.” In an op-ed for the Irish Independent, he just about equates
settlement with suicide-bombing.
His indignation is predicated on the fact
that “the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly, the International Red
Cross and the International Court of Justice all agree the expansion of
settlements is illegal. Even John Kerry, secretary of state, said
The world is against us, ergo the world must be right and we must be
The same likely applies to springing heinous murderers duly
convicted by Israel’s ultra-liberal judiciary. In the eyes of presumably
enlightened world opinion this is considered proper, progressive and
Obviously the whole world can’t be wrong, even if
sanctimonious self-appointed judges from other lands regard the shedding of
Jewish blood as not entirely reprehensible. With a smidge of insincerity,
Jewish misfortune can be blamed on the Jews.
embodiments of perceived Jewish vitality inevitably give rise to revulsion and
vehemence that – admit it or not – appear exclusively reserved for
Cheering the release of barbaric butchers while censuring Jewish
viability are interconnected offshoots of the same premise – old and well-worn
but still axiomatic throughout the Arab realm. The underlying principle is that
the Jews of Israel are foreign transplants – infidel interlopers who have no
right to be here.
Precisely the same logic underpins the synthetic squawk
about Jewish construction beyond the artificial 1949 armistice lines
(fraudulently marketed abroad as the recognized, fixed and immutable borders of
the Palestinian state – albeit one that has never existed). While Jewish
construction predictably shatters world calm, the same cannot be said about Arab
construction, even when wholly illegal and on a massive scale well inside
sovereign Israel, within those hallowed armistice lines.
The world says
so and the world must be right.
How come? Because Jews have no rights
here and hence their natural development is automatically castigated as
aggressive, illegitimate expansion. Arabs, in contrast, portray themselves as
the subjugated indigenous masses and as such possess every right to expand and
even to overrun Israel proper with millions of belligerent self-styled
This is the crux of the dispute and why recognizing Israel as a
Jewish state – as distinct from an ethnically amorphous de facto entity awaiting
Arabization – is so fundamental. Everything began from and still revolves
around the thorny issue of our very presence in this part of the
It didn’t begin today, nor with Kerry’s appointment, nor with
Barack Obama’s election or reelection. It didn’t begin in the 1967 Six Day War
in which Israel’s lasting transgression was its successful
self-defense. It didn’t even begin in the 1947-49 War of Independence in
which newborn Israel – despite the concerted efforts of the entire Arab world –
What fueled all the wars and all the clashes is
older and deeper.
Without historical context there can be no real
understanding of existential issues – certainly not of essential continuities.
That’s why those who seek to obfuscate and skew do their utmost to erase
telltale crucial perspectives and present whatever they focus upon as cogent,
A glaring case in point is the fixation on Israeli
settlements – whether a collection of makeshift shacks on a stony hill in the
middle of a barren nowhere or entire populous Jewish quarters of
The real issue is a layer far beneath surface palaver. It’s a
layer which Arabs implicitly understand, which some Jews pretend (or prefer) not
to understand and which perfidious Europe and America’s Obama administration
Settlements are mere transitory pretexts, alleged
irritants which in fact conceal a far darker underside.
Obama, Kerry et
al hint at it when they admonish against creating “new facts on the ground”
ahead of the deal they proclaim they’re about to concoct – in nine mere months.
Peace is feasible providing Israelis effectively stay inanimate and refrain from
altering reality beyond the 1949 non-border. Otherwise they jeopardize
Obama’s magic remedy to all that ails the region but which thus far eluded cure
by lesser healers. His unspoken apparent assumption is that whatever
betokens Israeli/Jewish life perforce undermines harmony and bliss.
has been the Arab subtext since the very advent of Zionism, though at intervals
the casus belli assumed different façades. In all instances – way before
Israel’s birth or “Israeli occupation” – the pro forma grievance was that Jews
were “changing facts on the ground,” just as now.
On occasion, as
currently, the outcry centered on settlements, or more specifically on land
purchases. (Jews weren’t always accused of robbing Arab land. Sometimes their
crime was buying stretches of wasteland at monstrously inflated prices). At
times it was immigration.
Often, it was both, as in the days of the
infamous White Paper, published by Britain just months before the outbreak of
WWII, when the Holocaust was about to be kick-started. Germany’s Jews were
already shorn of citizenship and stateless. Hitler’s threats were well
recorded, shouted in the world’s face and hardly kept a secret.
world didn’t care and the world can’t be wrong.
Besides its draconian
curbs on Jewish land ownership, the Neville Chamberlain government’s White Paper
also set a limit of 10,000 Jewish immigrants annually for a five-year period. It
niggardly allowed an additional 25,000 quota for the entire five years to cope
with “refugee emergencies.” Any post-1944 Jewish immigration would
necessitate Arab permission.
It must be recalled that Jews were at the
time fleeing in all directions away from Hitler’s hell. The White Paper
encompassed all the goodwill the never-erring world could reluctantly muster,
lest “changes on the ground” occur that would rile Nazi-sympathizing Arabs in and
around the Jewish homeland.
The fault wasn’t Britain’s alone. Obama’s
then-predecessor was fully complicit.
Franklin Roosevelt unreservedly
shared the predispositions of his European counterparts. Similarly, Obama
isn’t the sole pro- Arab Western leader today. He’s unreservedly in tune with
kindred European Union pompous pontificators.
The unholy prewar mindset
is fully revived. The world is against us again.
In his day, Hitler
tauntingly invited the world’s democracies to take his Jews, if they were so
fretful about them. He knew that for all their half-hearted rhetoric, these
countries wouldn’t accept his provocative challenge. After 1938’s Anschluss,
their representatives met in Evian-les-Bains, on Lake Geneva’s French shore, to
decide what to do with Nazism’s desperate victims, pounding on their gates in
search of asylum. Nobody even called them Jews, lest this incur the fuehrer’s
It turned into a barefaced Jew-rejection fest. The whole world was
against us, but did that make it right?
Britain bristled at any suggestion of
admitting Jews into the land mandated to it as the Jewish National Home.
Progenitors of today’s Palestinian terrorists made sure endangered Jews wouldn’t
be sheltered and His Majesty’s government appeasingly assented.
empty spaces of Canada, Australia and New Zealand were likewise
off-bounds. American humanitarianism consisted of tossing the undesirable
hot potato into the international arena, because Jewish refugees weren’t wanted
in the Land of the Free either (i.e. the St. Louis episode).
toyed with the notion of shipping German Jews off to Ethiopia or Central Africa.
The UK favored the jungles of Venezuela or Central America. Others changed
direction northward. Instead of exposing Berlin’s urbane Jews to the rigors of
the tropics, they opined that the Siberian arctic might be a preferable
The competition was on – who’ll suggest a more remote and
less-hospitable exile in which to dump those whom the British Foreign Office
shamelessly labeled “unwanted Jews.” The motivation wasn’t much more beneficent
than Hitler’s initial choice of Madagascar.
Yet during that time,
immigration into the British-mandated Jewish National Home hadn’t stopped. Only
Jewish immigration was impeded. Arab immigration continued
Itinerant Arab laborers streamed here from the entire
Arabic-speaking world – from the Maghreb to Mesopotamia. Jews turned the
wilderness into a habitable domain. Arabs drifted in to reap the
benefits. But nobody objected. Arabs were counted as natives. The UN
recognized as “Palestinian” any Arabs who sojourned here two years prior to
Much of the Arab population on Israel’s Coastal Plain is originally
Egyptian and arrived with British acquiescence. Hence, the Mandate-era recorded
population explosion in some Arab villages ranged quite unnaturally between 200
percent and a whopping 1,040 percent, according to Prof. Moshe Prawer’s research
into Arab migration here from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt etc.
The Brits and
world opinion didn’t oppose the Arab influx for “changing facts on the ground,”
possibly because liberal Jews didn’t riot.
The bugbear that once was
aliya is today called settlement. But intrinsically the two are one and the same
– antagonism toward Jewish presence. Jewish population increase is anathema, as
is any habitat for Jews; if both are curtailed then Jewish existence is
undercut. That was and still remains the Arab endgame aspiration.
total freeze of all Jewish construction in forbidden territories won’t satisfy
Israel’s supposed peace-partners, just as the British White Paper proved
insufficient for their 1939 forebears.
The ultimate White Paper goal was
the creation of a single state with power-sharing according to the proportion of
Arabs to Jews as would exist in 1949. Restrictions on Jewish immigration would
preclude any “changes on the ground” until then – like the changes Obama/Kerry
aim to forestall nowadays.
Yet back in 1939, the Arab Higher Committee
rejected said White Paper, demanding “a complete and final prohibition” on all
Jewish immigration and unequivocal absolute repudiation of the Jewish National
Translated into today’s diplomatic parlance, this is equivalent to
“the unconditional end to all settlement activity” and the refusal to recognize
the right of a Jewish state to exist.
What was is what is and it never
was about settlements. It still isn’t – the wholesale hypocrisy of a hostile
Debunking the Bull, Sarah
Honig’s book, was published this year by Gefen.