The Arab-Israeli conflict is not about the Land of Israel - opinion

The writer reflects on the motivations of the Arab-Israeli conflict since the establishment of Israel.

 PRO-ISRAEL ACTIVISTS wave an Israeli flag as pro-Palestinian activists take part in a demonstration against Israel in central London last May. (photo credit: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)
PRO-ISRAEL ACTIVISTS wave an Israeli flag as pro-Palestinian activists take part in a demonstration against Israel in central London last May.
(photo credit: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)

It was never about land or the Land of Israel.

Pinky and the Brain is an American animated television series created by Tom Ruegger and produced by Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment. There is a repeated mantra where Pinky says to Brain, “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?” Brain responds, “The same thing we do every night, Pinky – try to take over the world!” That animated series premiered in 1995, after the 1993 bombing at the New York World Trade Center and before the September 11 attacks. It was still not accepted that Brain’s mentality was a frightening reality, but strictly comedy for children.

In 1948, after Israel was established, all citizens in that part of the British Mandate became Israelis. Those living in the other part, Jordan, were now Jordanians. Jews in pre-state times were Palestinians. They applied that title to their sports clubs, their media and more. In fact, this newspaper was called the Palestine Post by its Jewish owners. The bloodcurdling threats and military attacks on the Jewish part of the mandate were from Arab states near and far, including Jordan’s army, trained and equipped by the British. The entire Middle East was seen as Pan-Arab and needed to fit that worldview. It was not about land of Israel, per se, they wanted to eradicate and destroy any Jewish identity in the homeland of the Jewish people because it did not fit their worldview.

In the 1960s, the Palestine theme was resurrected and reinvented by Yasser Arafat and company. It became a pseudo-national claim and allowed Palestinian Arabs to present a new face. Until then, attackers were Fedayeen terrorists, whose stated intent was to kill and destroy; whereas, now, they present themselves as fighters reclaiming stolen land. A brilliant ploy, but it remains a Pan-Arab view of the Middle East that does not allow for any other claims.

It was never about land. There was and is no lack of land in the Arab world. It was about eradicating Jewish democracy. It was antisemitism based on a warped view of theology, a desire for a holy caliphate or a kinship with the surrounding countries.

 Emirati and Israeli flags fly upon the arrival of Israeli and U.S. delegates at Abu Dhabi International Airport, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates August 31, 2020. (credit: REUTERS) Emirati and Israeli flags fly upon the arrival of Israeli and U.S. delegates at Abu Dhabi International Airport, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates August 31, 2020. (credit: REUTERS)

Loyal Arab citizens of Israel can be found throughout Israel and play an active role in the country. However, there is a seething hatred, felt by the likes of bin Laden, which seeks the worldwide destruction of modernity and democracy.

The initial attempt of a US law enforcement source to distance the recent hostage-taking at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, from worldwide terror reeked of the blindness of the 1990s. In that pre-9/11 world, the new terrorist threats that would become known to the public after the attacks on America, were misunderstood. When Rabbi Meir Kahane was assassinated by El Sayyid Nosair on November 5, 1990, in New York City, mass media pointed to a lone wolf with anti-Zionist motives. However, the Al Kifah Refugee Center, run by Nosair, was the HQ of Omar Abdel-Rahman and his terror group, who went on to bomb the World Trade Center in New York City in 1993. Tragically, America was not aware of the extent of this implacable hatred until after the awful events of September 2001.

Their motivation, like those of ISIS, Iran and the rest, was not about the Land of Israel any more than it was about the land of New York City. The authorities were slow to acknowledge the global hate-filled movement at work. It was only wishful thinking to suppose that it was a lone wolf attack in Colleyville.

Having arrived in the US only two weeks before, did the terrorist head for Colleyville, Texas to join the town council? Did he just happen to come to Texas and then felt an urge to attack a local synagogue? Sadly, the answer is a resounding no. He was there as a jihadi terrorist, trying to free another terrorist. Global jihad was and is real, and has never gone away.

The Iranian regime is the greatest threat to the democracies of the world. They do not pretend. They use hatred and violence for self-preservation of the regime and expanding its realm, via Hezbollah. Tehran is not looking to redeem Arab land.

This hatred even muddies a simple and clear-cut local real estate issue in the Shimon Hatzadik and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. The dispute is about property owners whose property was once taken by Jordan. It is now a legal dispute regarding public use and ownership rights when tenants and squatters are involved. It is not a national land grab, but it does speak to other motivations of Hamas.

It is global terrorism, again, just like Pinky, some folks do not understand Brain at all.

It is not about land. It was never about land.

The author has served in several capacities in building Israel-US trade relations, including that of director of trade for Israel to the US. He now lives in Jerusalem.