Resolution 181 (the creation of Israel) was, in some way, “Western civilization’s gesture of repentance for the Holocaust …, the repayment of a debt owed by those nations that realized that they might have done more to prevent or at least limit the scale of Jewish tragedy during World War II.
I am not going to recommend that anyone read this book unless keenly interested in all things Israel versus Arabs. Not that I didn’t enjoy the read and learned everything that had puzzled me for many years. But I specifically checked this book out from the local library to get a background in this part of middle-eastern history that left me confused as to current events in the region then upon.
For so long I’d hear of skirmishes in such places as “the Gaza strip”, the “West Bank”, and the “Sinai Peninsula,” and I’d wonder where these places were and why they were so important that people were dying over them. Israel is a country that is about the size of New Jersey. I can’t think of a single place in New Jersey that would have folks dying over its retention and control.
Benny Morris did an admirable job of documenting the history of Zionist-Arab conflict from the beginning of the twentieth century until its end. He also admirably restrained himself from author intrusion and editorializing.
It was also very important to me, as one who’s taken to the verbal defense of Israel, to get a more in-depth profile of how that country came to be, why, AND just what the Jews may have done that was so awful to have them hated by the Arabs around them.
I’m relieved that like America also hated by the Arabs for no apparent reason beyond jealousy, that there is nothing documented as having been perpetrated by the Jews that warrant the Arab total commitment to Israel’s annihilation.
Understand here that there was a partition of middle-eastern land that resulted in the creation of the nation of Israel, and there was also an Arab population currently residing on this land. This circumstance alone would understandably create a short-term resentment, and perhaps a scuffle or two. Still, it’s not as if there was a nation already in place with an indigenous population that had built cities and installed a decent government. The Arabs populating what would become the nation of Israel were mostly nomads with an allegiance more to its Islam religion than such as national boundaries. At the time they certainly didn’t think of themselves as “Palestinians” and, in fact, a country called Palestine never existed except perhaps during biblical times.
Israel was formed in 1948 by the United Nations. Note the quote from the book at the beginning of this article. The Holocaust had as much to do with the creation of an Israeli nation as anything; though before World War II the Jews had been steadily purchasing land in this region, with a dream of establishing a Jewish state in their “promised land.” Beyond the land purchases by the Jews, the land that would form Israel had been colonized and was under the control of the British government. Sure, some Arabs lived there but they never bothered to make it any sort of viable nation or anything.
And no one kicked the native peoples from their land. The Arabs were allowed to remain in Israel after it became a nation. Many of the native people DID leave their land, but mostly by their own choice. This was a nomadic population after all.
Since its creation Israel has had to constantly fight for its right to exist. Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and even the friendly Jordan all were participants in some war or another in an attempt to oust the Jews. It was through these many wars that Israel actually conquered even more land beyond that originally mandated. In every single instance, all conflict was initiated by the Arabs. And folks, these are a people not, ahem, all that adept at warfare.
Not that the Israelis were perfect. Obviously they were wary of the Arabs in their midst, and there was probably an occasion or two when the natives were “encouraged” to move along. It’s more than speculation that Israel was behind the slaughter of many Palestinians in Beirut refugee camps.
Still and so, for all the Arab indignation over the alleged bad treatment of their Palestinian brethren, not one established Arab country offered to take them in beyond refugee camps, or to donate land that so they might have a country of their own. Frankly, and as the author documents, even the Arabs didn’t want the Palestinians, whom they considered nothing but trouble.
I’m reminded of a child who has a toy that he never plays with. Then a sibling takes a shine to that toy and decides to play with it. All of a sudden, boom, the first child considers that toy to be the nexus of his/her short life. The Arabs never cared all that much about the little strip of sand that is now the Israel state. The entire issue was an excuse; an excuse to misbehave and act like, well, children.
At least now I understand a Gaza Strip and a West Bank. Morris has written a definitive history of Israel, and for the curious and dedicated, read no other book of this middle-eastern history for a comprehensive and honest delineation of events.
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