The Palestinians' true cause

The Mideast blood bath is not about land -- it's about religion. The Israelis' great crime? They're Jews.

Published April 4, 2002 12:41AM (EST)

Holed up in his besieged and battered Ramallah headquarters, Yasser Arafat has called for "millions of martyrs to march to Jerusalem ... this is our destiny ... this is the path I have chosen." With these words the Palestinian leader announced his real agenda for anyone who did not understand it before.

The Palestinian agenda is announced through suicide bombings that target Jewish babies; through maps that erase the state of Israel; through the 1999 rejection of a peace plan that included 95 percent of their negotiating demands; through the never-abandoned 1964 liberation manifesto that calls for the obliteration of Israel as the "Zionist entity"; through their spiritual leaders, the Grand Muftis of Jerusalem -- including the current one who calls for the destruction of America and the Jews, and the one from the past who, in the midst of the Nazi Holocaust, was a disciple and ally of Adolf Hitler. It is clear for all those who want to see: The real agenda of Arafat and the Palestinian leadership is now, and has always been, the elimination of Jewry from the Middle East.

The seed of the Palestinians' genocidal mania is rooted in Islam and began its metastasis more than 100 years ago when the first Zionist settlements signaled that an oppressed people, huddled on the fringes of the Ottoman Empire, was about to assert itself. Jews, in fact, had been living continuously in the region for 3,000 years but only as a stateless minority, easily and therefore frequently abused. Once the Jews began to assert and defend their presence in a world that regarded them as infidels and therefore damned, they immediately became the targets of an Islamic jihad -- a permanent holy war whose goal was their destruction.

The struggle in the Middle East is not now and has never been about land. Israel occupies a minuscule 1 percent of the Arab Middle East and less than 10 percent of the entire Palestine Mandate, which was not even a political entity -- let alone a nation -- when the Jews' rights were granted. It was just a "mandate" carved by the British out of the Turkish Empire after the First World War, and then allotted 90 percent to the Palestinian Arabs and 10 percent to the Jews.

Today the land called Jordan -- a nation wholly created by Britain -- occupies 80 percent of the landmass that made up the original Palestine Mandate. Nearly 70 percent of its inhabitants are still Palestinian Arabs, yet Jordan is not the target of a Palestine liberation movement. How is this possible? It is possible because the Hashemites who rule Palestinian Jordan, and are a minority within Jordan, are Muslims not Jews. The Middle East War is not about land and not about injustice. It is a religious war -- a jihad -- against the Jews.

In 1949 Jordan annexed the West Bank -- that is, the entire territory that is allegedly in dispute -- and held it for 18 long years up to, and until, the 1967 Arab war against Israel. Jordan and the other Arab states lost this war, and the Jews retained control of it because the Arab states refused to make peace and recognize Israel, and Israel refused to return land to declared enemies, lest they use it as a staging area for war against Israel a third time. Not once in all those 18 years was there complaint from the Palestinians or their "liberation" organization or the other Arab states about the injustice done to the inhabitants of the West Bank. Not once was there an outcry that Jordan had annexed the Palestine "nation." That is because the Palestinians consider themselves Arabs and Muslims first and foremost, and because being "Palestinian" is a remote afterthought inspired by their hatred of the Jews.

Zionist settlers first began arriving in the already existing Jewish communities of Palestine in the 1880s. They were hoping to end the persecution of the Jews, which was a result of their stateless condition and their expulsion 2,000 years ago from Judea and Samaria, which is today known as the West Bank. At the time of the Zionists' arrival, Palestine was a sparsely occupied, barren desert, controlled by Turkey as it had been for nearly 400 years. Not only was there no Palestinian nation in the region, there were hardly any Arabs at all. This is the way the American writer Mark Twain described what he saw when, in the 1880s, he visited the place that is the site of such bloodshed today:

"Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince. The hills are barren ... The valleys are unsightly deserts fringed with a feeble vegetation that has an expression about it of being sorrowful and despondent ... It is a hopeless dreary heartbroken land ... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes ... Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies ... Nazareth is forlorn; ... Jericho ... accursed ... Jerusalem ... a pauper village ... Palestine is desolate ... A silent, mournful expanse. We never saw a human being on the whole route ... Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country."

In this barren place the Jews were granted a sliver amounting to 10 percent of the land. More than half of this land was the Negev Desert. Within a generation the Jews made their sliver bloom. Even today -- 120 years later -- the boundary between Israel and Syria is still referred to as the "green line," symbolizing the difference between the Israeli side, which under the care of the Jews has become fertile ground, and the Arabs' side, which is still a desert. On their sliver of land the Jews also built the only industrial and democratic nation in the entire Middle East.

The productivity and tolerance of the Jews in the state they created have given birth to an Arab citizenry inside Israel of more than 1 million people. Unlike their Arab brethren, these Arab citizens of Israel vote in free elections and are themselves elected to the Israeli parliament. Their status provides an eloquent contrast to the intolerant and hate-filled world that surrounds and threatens the Jewish state.

As Israeli citizens, Arabs have more rights, privileges and opportunities than the inhabitants of any Arab state in the Middle East. At the same time, the so-called Palestinian refugees of the West Bank are barred even from becoming citizens in 21 of the 22 Arab nations. That's why they are "refugees." Because the Arabs want them to be miserable and destitute, and available as cannon fodder for their suicide wars against Israel. In contrast, the 600,000 Jewish refugees who fled or were expelled from Arab countries after the 1948 war have been fully resettled in Israel where they are productive citizens who desperately want peace.

What is the crime of the Jews that they should not have been welcomed into this unpromising desert -- a tiny sliver of the Turkish Empire -- from the very beginning? What is the crime of the Jews that their infant state should have been attacked by five Arab armies on the day of its creation? What is the crime of the Jews that these Arab states should have continued their war for 50 years without a peace in sight? What is the crime of the Jews that these Arabs should make Jewish women and children the targets of their suicide bombers, and that their leader should call for millions more suicidal "martyrs" to destroy Israel once and for all?

Their crime is that they are Jews. Their crime is that they are heathens in the empire of Islam. Islam divides the world into Dar al Islam, the "house of Islam," and Dar al Harb, the "house of war," which is the house of infidels who -- if they do not convert -- could or should be put to the sword. Perhaps there is a moderate Islam that rejects this alternative and has found a way to live peacefully with unbelievers who are its neighbors. But such an Islam does not exist as a political force in the Arab Middle East today.

That is why even a barren sliver was too much to allow the Jews. That is why the creation of a minuscule state in the middle of a desert provoked a genocidal war. Israel is Dar al Harb. That is why the annexation of the entire West Bank by the kingdom of Jordan meant nothing to the Palestinian Muslims who inhabited it. Jordan is Dar al Islam. That is why peace cannot be made with the Jews. They are infidels who live in the house of war.

The Palestinian terrorists -- Arafat, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and the al-Aksa Martyrs -- along with the governments in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Iran who support their terror and their genocidal agendas, are the Nazis of the Middle East. There will be no peace until they are defeated or destroyed.

By David Horowitz

David Horowitz is a conservative writer and activist.

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