Mutual recriminations between Arabs and Jews are perennial features of our times, and from the latter’s point of view have been a source of discomfort and soul-searching. What I have sorely missed throughout the years was a one-piece coherent and cogent description of the accusations leveled against the Israelis (in this context being synonymous with Jews and Israelites) by and on behalf of the Palestinians-(cum-Arabs) alongside with a reasoned defense (item per item rejoinder) for the Israeli case.
Such a description, in the form of a short virtual dialogue, or more precisely claim (C) and counterclaim (Cc) is presented here with a view of providing a one-time source for justification of the Jewish (and at any rate, of my own) position. I have qualified it in the title as a “nonagenarian’s” thesis, since I am not a political or legal expert and, as such, I may be wrong in some details and am ready to be corrected.
As an observant and loyal Jew, the advocacy of the Israeli standpoint comes naturally and easily, nevertheless, I have made a deliberate effort to acquaint myself with the pro-Arab narrative, in its several forms and languages, though a fully exhaustive readings of the latter is not feasible. As a scientist, I do not regard my statements as irrevocable and they are subject to change in the light of new evidence.
Claim (C): The Koran predicts the eventual dominance of the Islam over all other reigns and enjoins it followers to bring this about by any means.
Counterclaim (Cc): In the Bible, the Lord assigned the Land of Canaan to the Jewish nation, and later authoritative religious sources commanded Jews to assert sovereignty over this Land.
C: Arabs were overwhelmingly the inhabitants of the land, centuries before the influx of Jews from abroad.
Cc: Joshua led the Israelites into the land, eventually the habitat of Jewish kingdoms, millennia before Arabs put a foot on it.
C: Israel is guilty of genocide.
Cc: Hatred of Israel is antisemitism.
C: Israel has a racist outlook.
Cc: Insomuch as the Jews prioritize Jews, the Arabs prioritize Arabs (the Swiss the Swiss, etc.). Genetic supremacy is not in the discourse.
C: In the 1948 war, Jews perpetrated deportation of local Arabs.
Cc: In the same war, Arabs captured five Jewish localities (the Jewish quarter in Jerusalem, the Etzion Bloc, and so on). In these, not one single Jew was left (all were killed or imprisoned). In contrast, Palestinians who were not security risks (e.g., those in Haifa and Jaffa) were left intact. (Also, cf. the full-scale deportation of Germans from Poland and Czechoslovakia close to that period.)
C: Israel is guilty of the horrendous crime of killing 43 innocent village inhabitants by its security forces.
Cc: While Israel expressed official regret over this atrocity and sentenced those responsible for it, it was one of similar events on the parts of both sides in the Arab-Jewish conflict; Arab villages repeatedly shot at and attacked Jewish convoys.
C: Arab owners of houses in western Jerusalem and elsewhere were dispossessed by Jews in the wake of the 1948 war.
Cc: Houses that were left empty by their Arab owners who fled in 1948 were then given in an exchange and on a temporary basis to the Jewish refugees from the Arab-conquered eastern Jerusalem, with a formal ownership granted to the Israeli custodian office. It was posited that in any binding peace agreement with the Palestinians, the original owners would be monetarily compensated for their loss.
C: Israel is guilty of war crimes due to murders of Palestinian children.
Cc: The only ones harmed are those involved in throwing incendiary bombs and other lethal objects at Israelis. It is the obligation of their parents to keep them away from dangers, rather than encouraging their participation.
Water consumption inequality:
C: Jews have access to and use about twice the amount of water per person than do Palestinians.
Cc: Israel’s water supply relies on Jewish enterprise, such as desalination and waste water management (in 2016, each supplying 25% of Israel’s water use), as well as the National Water Carrier (10%) and artificial lakes. Offers of joint fresh-water production with the Palestinians have been refused by the latter.
C: These are robbing the Arab owners of their land.
Cc: Their formation is sanctioned only on state lands. Israeli law does not permit the establishment of settlements on lands with proven Arab ownership, and frequently accepts loose proofs of ownership in preference to habeas corpus. Implementations of evictions and erasures of a few unlawful settlements have been sluggish, akin to similar processes for illegally built Arab or Bedouin homes.
C: No electoral rights for Palestinians to determine their own future.
Cc: Arabs residents inside Israel proper (e.g., Haifa, the Galilee) have full Israeli citizenship, with rights to vote and be elected. Those in eastern Jerusalem obtain citizenship upon application and veritable acceptance of loyalty to the State of Israel. Those in Judea and Samaria (“the occupied territories,” which are not legally part of Israel) are nominally foreigners, consequently having an internationally accepted status.
At the same time, Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria can obviously vote, as do, e.g. in American elections, US citizens living abroad. That leaves Palestinians living in refugee camps, and other places, in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, who naturally cannot vote in Israel, and also egregiously do not have full electoral rights in their respective home countries.
Cc: This claim is contradicted by daily evidence.
C: The whole world wants a two-state solution for the conflict, only Israel opposes it.
Cc: Only a part (probably the minority) does; the majority (and this includes the writer) is for it in the long run, but at present, upon a democratic election, this will, with a virtual certainty, result in a Hamas-led regime for the whole Palestine, enabling this to paralyze at will Israel’s vital arteries, such as Ben-Gurion Airport and the majority of its cities.
C: Israel, by its incursions and checkpoints, controls Palestinian lives.
Cc: Only militarily: as target-limited prevention of terror activities and that under an understanding with the Palestinian authorities.
C: Israel made this a concentration camp, a prison.
Cc: “A concentration camp” harboring 4,000 rockets? “A prison” sharing a border with a sister state? The maritime blockade prevents the influx of heavy weaponry.
C: Arabs have no place in Israel.
Cc: During the past 20 years, the Arab population in Israel has increased by about 600,000.
C: Arab residents face obstacles renting or buying homes in Jewish localities.
Cc: Partly this is due to the fear that even potentially friendly Arabs may become primed by some future events to commit or assist in terrorist attacks on one’s own precincts. Of course, in reverse, neither can Jews purchase homes in Palestinian localities.
C: Israel refuses to enter into peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Cc: “Once bitten, twice shy.” There is no indication that the Palestinian leadership will (or can!) budge from its extreme positions.
David and Goliath:
C: In a conflict, it is the stronger side (Israel) that must make the concessions.
Cc: Rationality, fairness and morality are equally obligatory for all sides.
In summary, Palestinians blame the Jews for all their ailments, whereas it is Israel that enables them (mainly through providing employment and amenities, like water, electricity and medical care) to survive existentially. An independent Palestinian state is not viable, a fact that is well known to their leadership and accounts for the refusal of both Mahmoud Abbas and Yasser Arafat, before him, to accept any previous offers of statehood.
The Hamas leadership in Gaza (on which independence was thrust by Ariel Sharon’s unilateral disengagement) is also aware of the economic unsustainability of its territory and base its raison d’etre on war with Israel.
(And if you still favor the Palestinians’ narrative, please go and listen to what they say about themselves.)
The author is a theoretical physics researcher.