Record set straight on the history of Israel
I found it ironic that the opinion column below Michael Schwalm1s in The Union last Saturday reminded us of the Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s, 3based on bigotry and ignorance.² Mr. Schwalm1s demogogic diatribe, which would have been better headlined as 3Time for anti-Israel leadership,² is yet another example of such bigotry and ignorance. It provides the reader with half-truths, sweeping generalizations and outright fabrications in the guise of statistics. Inaccurate and misleading as his column is, it must be revisited in order to demonstrate the falsehoods it contains.
To begin with, the Palestinian people were not pushed off their land. Between 1881and 1900, the Zionist movement, with the help of major Western Jewish Philanthropists, purchased about 300,000 dunams (a dunam is about a quarter of an acre) of barren land, rock or swamp-filled, where no one else wanted to live. This, and subsequent sales, were made by the absentee Turkish and Palestinian landlords, for the rural Palestinians were only poor tenant farmers. This was because most of the land of Palestine made for poor farming until the Zionists reclaimed it from the deserts and the swamps. The Palestinians1 devotion to the land is still minimal today, as only 30 percent of the West Bank and 53 percent of Gaza are cultivated.
The Jewish state of Israel, as well as a Palestinian state, were created by the United Nations in 1947 as the British proceeded to end their mandate and leave the Middle East. Israel accepted the U.N. resolution. The Palestinians, motivated by the Arab states, rejected it. The Arab states wanted all of Israel and attacked the Jewish state a day after Israel declared its independence.
Israel defended itself against a total of nine Arab states with no outside military assistance or military aid. The Israelis manufactured their own weapons and armaments and succeeded in defeating the British and French trained and equipped Arab armies. The geographic result was the boundary the U.N. resolution had promised, with Jordan holding the West Bank and Egypt the Gaza Strip and the Negev desert.
The Palestinians, meanwhile, had believed the Arab states when they told Palestinians to leave their homes and lands so they wouldn1t be victims of the crushing military blow to be inflicted on Israel. As a result, in 1948, the Palestinians found themselves living as refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which was the same area as the state that the U.N. had offered them in 1947. Only now Jordan and Egypt were the occupying forces, and they proceeded to deny their fellow Arabs their Palestinian state and instead urged the Palestinians to conduct terrorist attacks on Israel in preparation for a mighty Arab onslaught, which would push the Israelis into the sea and give the Palestinians all of Israel!
The terrorist attacks did not prevent Israel from becoming a haven for World War II and Middle East Jewish refugees, and the Arab onslaught was slow in coming. For its first 20 years, Israel had little U.S. aid, and Israel bought its weaponry from the French. It was only after the Russians began giving Egypt and Syria massive amounts of military and economic aid that the U.S. started to aid Israel, just as the U.S. was doing in other parts of the world in the Cold War against Russia.
U.S. aid to Israel has been about $2.7 billion a year for the past five years, about $2 billion in military aid and the rest in economic aid. (All military aid must be spent in the United States.) Israel1s defense imports from the U.S. have been averaging about $1.8 billion per year from 1996 through 1999 (the other $200 million a year goes to the U.S. Department of Defense for program management services).
Non-Jewish citizens in Israel are treated like any other Israeli citizen, and Orthodox Jews do not control Israeli courts any more than orthodox Christians control American courts.
The Jewish religion is not a 3chosen race,² it is a religion. Anti-Semites are the only people who consider it a race, as the Nazis demonstrated when they murdered all those who had one Jewish parent, whether they had converted to Christianity, or were atheists or agnostics, or no longer considered themselves Jewish. Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews welcome converts (we prefer to call them 3Jews by choice²), of which there are a good number, in spite of those of Mr. Schwalm1s ilk.
And if Israel is lost without America, as Mr. Schwalm states, America is lost without Israel, for if Israel is gone, then the terrorists and suicide bombers will be here, and we will find ourselves doing what the Israelis have to do to defend themselves.
Stan Gottlieb lives in Grass Valley.
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