ARABS, JEWS, AND PROMISED LAND
WHOSE LAND -- WHOSE PROMISE
END OF THE BRITISH MANDATE THE BIRTH OF ISRAEL
On the night of the U.N. General Assembly vote to patition the British Mandate into a Jewish and an Arab state, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, from his secret hideout in a neighboring Arab state, issued an order to Palestinian Arabs to engage in a three-day strike against the U.N. decision. On Nov. 30, most Arab businesses remained closed, children stayed away from school, and an unruly mob set out from the Old City of Jerusalem to loot and burn the New Commercial Center of the Jews near the walled city.
The U.N. decreed that the mandate was to end six months later; the British were still in charge of maintaining law and order in the territory under their control -- but they stood idly by and watched the Arabs destroy Jewish property. While not attempting to stop the Arabs, the British did stop the Hagannah from rushing to the area to stop the looting! They claimed to do this in order to preserve peace! That same day, a bus from downtown Jerusalem to the suburb of Talpiot (where I lived at the time) was fired upon while passing through an Arab suburb. One passenger was killed, and a number of others were wounded, one of whom, a woman by the name of Shoshana Stern, a prominent lawyer and mother of two, was carried out of the bus by three young men, of whom I was one, to the first aid station. She died of her wounds before the day was out. To this day, I recall her warm blood on my hands.
The British continued to prevent Jewish immigration to Palestine to the last day of their control over the land. They also applied the laws forbidding the carrying of arms by search and seizure of Jewish arms, and the prevention of importing of arms by the Jews for their self-defense. On at least one occasion they arrested Jews carrying arms, confiscated the weapons, and released the Jews in the midst of an Arab mob that proceeded to lynch them!
The Arabs, on the other hand, enjoyed their advantage of having common borders with Arab nations. From Egypt to the south and Syria and Lebanon to the north and northeast came a steady stream of arms and volunteers which the British were "unable" (read unwilling) to restrain. Jewish settlements in areas isolated among Arab villages came under attack, and the British offered no succor. Intercity transportation from the center of Jewish habitation on the seacoast near Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem and Haifa, the other major cities and centers of Jewish population, came under attack, and became too dangerous to undertake without proper protection of armor and weapons to repel an attack.
Arabs who preferred to accept the U.N. plan and live in peace with the Jews were intimidated and sometimes killed by the extremists. Arab businesses that stayed open during the strike were put to the torch by fellow Arabs. The prophets of doom were talking of a blood bath in Palestine, in which Arabs would annihilate the Jews. Because all the experts claimed that the chances of the Jews seemed so slim, the U.N. Security Council began a debate to reverse the partition decision and call off the termination of the British mandate. The debate dragged on for weeks, and matters took a different turn as the British authorities in the land jumped the gun and evacuated their military and police forces from the land on Friday, May 14, 1948, (a day ahead of their official day of departure) and the Jewish National Council met in a special emergency convocation on the eve of the Sabbath to hear David Ben-Gurion read the proclamation of independence, heralding the creation of a Jewish state. Incorporated into the text of the proclamation were the following two paragraphs:
"Even amidst the violent attacks launched against us for months past, we call upon the sons of the Arab people dwelling in Israel to keep the peace and to play their part in building the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its institutions, provisional and permanent.
"We extend the hand of peace and good-neighborliness to all the States around us and to their people, and we call upon them to cooperate in mutual helpfulness with the independent Jewish nation in its Land. The State of Israel is prepared to make its contribution in a concerted effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East."
I must relate to you that I did not hear that historic proclamation until a number of days later, when the recording was played on the new Israel Radio, because on May 14, Jerusalem came under attack by the Arab Legion of Trans-Jordan -- a modern army trained and equipped by the British. The United Kingdom representative pledged at the United Nations that his government would insure that the Arab Legion would be "within the boundary of its own nation" before Britain surrendered its mandate -- just one more British broken promise! At the moment of its birth, naked of all the tools that insure the survival of nations: a regular army, supplies of arms, ammunition and logistical support, alliances with powerful nations and a plan of defense, the State of Israel was formally at war with the six Arab nations who were members of the United Nations plus Britains "puppet state" of Trans-Jordan!
Showing a skill at war that no one expected of it, nor suspected it possessed, the new state held its own. Once the British left, sources of arms (for cash and gold, to be sure) were found, and guns and ammunition began to flow into Israel. How Israel managed to survive those first few days and weeks is difficult to explain, it defies all logic yet survive it did, and in about three weeks of war, Israel began to turn the tide of battle. The United Nations discussion on rescinding the Partition Plan became moot after Israels declaration of independence, and the United States recognition of the provisional government of Israel within the first hour of the existence of the state. The Security Council of the U.N. met to discuss the war (which was not going according to the predictions of all the experts), and called for a cease-fire, which the Jews accepted, as did the Arabs -- since they needed time to regroup and (they hoped) regain the initiative. At the end of 30 days, the Arabs refused a Security Council order to extend the cease-fire. The war resumed in earnest - and the Arabs lost more ground! Another cease-fire came into effect, but it, too, was broken. Each time the war was resumed, the Arabs lost more ground.
Finally, the off-again on-again war came to an inconclusive halt with the signing of Armistice agreements, in 1949, between Israel and Egypt, Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Jordan, and Israel and Syria. Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which have no common boundary with Israel, never signed any agreement to stop their hostilities against the Jewish state. The text of the agreements was very similar, with each one stating in Article 1: "With view to promoting the return of permanent peace in Palestine and in recognition of the importance in this regard of mutual assurance... The following principles, which shall be fully observed by both parties... 1. The injunction of the Security Council against resort to military force in the settlement of the Palestine question shall henceforth be scrupulously respected by both parties... (Article III 2.) No element of the land, sea or air, military or paramilitary forces of either party, including non-regular forces, shall commit any warlike or hostile act..." It is quite obvious that this agreement was just an interim step. The boundaries agreed to, with very few minor modifications, were the lines established in battle. They included a "bottleneck" in the center of the land, the most populated area in Israel, where the Jordanian army, the most formidable foe Israel had to face, an army trained and led by British army officers, was only twelve miles from the Mediterranean Sea. In a surprise attack, it could cut Israel in two! (See map)
The State of Israel became a reality in the smoke of battle. The Arabs, in signing the Armistice agreements, were meant to recognize that reality but in fact, they did not. They were merely biding their time, and planning the "next round." The Arab nations imposed an economic boycott on the new Jewish state (actually before the state even came into being), refusing to conduct any business with it, and threatening to stop doing business with any concern (or nation) that did trade with Israel. The Arab military establishment in Israels neighboring nations trained and supported Arab paramilitary units of terrorists-infiltrators who caused some damage in Israel until the Jewish state learned how to deal with them and reduced their effectiveness.
The worst aspect of the Arab nations refusal to accept the State of Israel in their midst was that of human suffering. Because of the upheaval of war, about 750,000 Arabs left their homes in territory that came under Jewish hegemony. A like number of Jews made a quick getaway from Arab lands. Israel became a haven to the Jewish communities of Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Syria and the Arab lands of North Africa: Lybia, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. These Jews fled a rising tide of Arab anti-Semitism, and they arrived in Israel having left all their wealth behind. Of course, Israel also opened its gates to the remnant of Europes Jews, those who miraculously survived the Hitlerite onslaught.
Israel had quite a task absorbing this human influx and making it a part of its mainstream. Homes had to be built, a new language had to be taught, and a whole infrastructure of social services (from grocery stores to schools for children to police protection and civil defense) as well as a means of earning a livelihood had to be created. It did not happen overnight -- but it did take place.
The Arab nations, on the other hand, had neither the intention nor the inclination to do the same for the displaced Arabs. These wretched people were made to perpetuate their misery in refugee camps on the edges of Arab towns in close proximity to the borders of Israel. Living on international charity, with nothing to occupy their time except thoughts of revenge and a return to a life that no longer existed, the Palestinian refugees became pawns in a cruel policy aimed to keep the Arab-Israeli dispute festering. The one thing the Arab nations did not do was establish an Arab Palestinian State. Let me categorically state, once again, that there never was a "Palestinian" state, and that the Arabs living in Palestine did not develop a "nationalistic consciousness" until they were pushed into a "patriotic mood" by the misfortune of repeated defeat by their brother-Arabs in wars with the State of Israel. No Arab nation ever published a map (no9t even in the years between 1948 and 1967) showing a "State of Palestine."
In 1949, in negotiations at Lausanne, Switzerland, Israel agreed to accept, in a general peace agreement, 100,000 Arab refugees into its territory if each Arab nation took a like number and thus eliminated the refugee question. The Arab nations, of course, refused to go along with this plan. They claimed that the refugee problem had to be solved before peace could be discussed. Israel did take back, in the spirit of the reunification of families, some ten thousand Arabs after the cease-fire agreements were signed.
Let it be noted here that refugees are not a problem that is unique to the Arab-Israeli dispute. Since the beginning of human existence, people moved by choice or by force from one locale to another at different times. There have been many dislocations of population following every great war and invasion in Europe, in Asia, and in Africa. The United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia are nations of refugees. Just in the second half of the twentieth century, in the post World War II world upheaval, more than 40,000,000 (forty million!!) refugees were accepted and resettled by their ethnic, religious or national fellows in other countries. Koreans, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Moslem, Chinese, Poles, Germans, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Cubans and many others have thus found a safe haven. Only the Palestinian Arabs remain in limbo! Only they, who claim to be part of the Moslem world and of the Arab world, could not find new homes in any Arab or Moslem nation! The only exception is Jordan, where many Palestinians did become citizens -- but even in Jordan, many more lingered and continue to linger in refugee camps.
In 1955, when Israel was seven years old, Egypt signed a multi-billion dollar arms deal with the Soviet Union -- and the countdown to another war began. Egyptian Military Intelligence trained young Palestinian Arabs in guerilla tactics and sent them to spread terror and mayhem in Israel. These young Arabs, called Fadain, attacked buses on deserted roads, stole cattle and killed farmers and school children in border-villages. Egypt had a long term agreement with Britain and France concerning the running (and protection of) the Suez Canal - a short-cut of the sea voyage from the Far East and the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean sea. Because of its new relation with the Soviet block, Egypt felt it could abrogate its agreement with the Anglo-French Canal Authority. In October of 1956, Israel entered Egyptian territory in the Gaza Strip and the Sinai, and in four days rendered the Egyptian army totally ineffective. Because Israel planned this campaign in collusion with France and Great Britain (whose aim was to reverse the Egyptian natinalization of the canal), the U.S. and the U.N. insisted that the three nations quit Egypt forthwith. The U.S. and other nations guaranteed Israel's security and its right to free navigation in the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea, and Israel began to evacuate the Sinai within a month of its victory, and in March of 1957 gave up control of the entire Sinai peninsula to a U.N. peacekeeping force. It was agreed that the Sinai would remain a demilitarized buffer zone between Egypt and Israel under United Nations control and supervision.
The Arab nations continued to plan the "second round" (though, of course, it was to be the third round, in actuality) -- and in April of 1967 thought that their day had arrived. The Arab nations had spent over twenty billion dollars on the most modern and sophisticated arms available from the Soviet block, Great Britain and even the United States. Egypt had united with Syria, creating the "United Arab Republic," its armies were placed under a unified command, and Jordan, whose well-trained army was a mere fifteen miled from the center of Tel-Aviv, signed a mutual defence treaty with the U.A.R. -- placing its army under the command of an Egyptian general.
Egypts president, Gamal Abdul Nasser, demanded that the U.N. peacekeepers depart the Sinai and placed his forces on a war footing. In May of 1967, the Egyptian president ordered the immediate removal of United Nations observer-troops from the Sinai. The Secretary General of the U.N. had no choice but to accede to Nassers demand, and Egyptian troops were once again at Israels border, and manning the positions at the strategic Straits of Tiran, on the southern tip of the Sinai. The Egyptian president officially announced the closing of Israels southern sea lane -- a move that is recognized as an overt act of war in international law. He invited Israeli response. For three weeks in May and the first days of June 1967, Israels foreign minister, Abba Eban, knocked on every door in the international community, asking the nation after nation to come and stop the inevitable war from taking place. No door was opened for him. Promises made in 1956, to convince Israel to quit the Sinai, were allowed to lapse eleven years later. Guarantees of "the right of free maritime passage" proved to be devoid of any real meaning. Neither the United States nor the nations of Europe were forthcoming with military intervention or even with a quick resolution at the United Nations. Israel stood alone!
On June 5th, 1967, at dawn, Israel accepted Nassers invitation to respond to his act of war. In a mighty air strike, with lighting speed and unbelievable accuracy and with efficiency unknown in any air force in the world, Israel hit and destroyed the combined air forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. In the next six days, fighting against its will on three fronts, Israel recaptured the whole Sinai peninsula, the West bank of the Jordan that had been under Jordanian rule for 19 years, and the Golan heights from whence the Syrians terrorized the Israeli inhabitants of the Galilee and the Jordan river. The city of Jerusalem, divided for nineteen years, was reunited. The barbed wire fences and the mines, the gun placements and trenches were all removed, and the Jews and the Arabs were allowed to mingle freely.
In an unprecedented show of good faith, Israel opened its borders, allowing Arabs, who only days earlier were sworn to destroy the Jewish state free access to every corner of the land. What happened next was most unique. Jews swarmed to visit the Arab territory that had been closed to them for nineteen years, and Arabs went to Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, to kibbutzim and villages, to observe, to renew friendships, and to begin a life together. The hatred and suspicion that were the hallmark of the past two decades melted away, and amazingly there were no incidents of violence. Within days or weeks Israel began to accept Arabs into its work force, and eventually more than 100,000 worked in Israel. In a special accommodation with the Jordanian government, Israel allowed the Arabs of the west bank to continue to trade with Jordan, and made arrangements to have banking deals handled through a third party in a number of European countries. Jordanian Dinars were legally traded, even though Jordan remained an enemy state. As might be expected, many Arabs chose to flee before the coming Israeli occupation, creating a new refugee situation. Israel accepted 9,000 returning refugees in 1967 alone, and eventually allowed some 50,000 to return under the "reunification of families" program.
Israel followed its spectacular victory with an approach to the United Nations to sue for peace. The vanquished Arab nations responded with a resounding negative answer. At an Arab summit in Khartoum, the Arabs coined their response to the Israeli peace initiative with a "Triple No" - No recognition of Israel, No negotiations, and No peace. At the same conference they commissioned the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to be the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian Arabs." The nations of Western Europe and America recognized that the Arab nations are preventing any possibility of arriving at a peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors. They voted in favor of resolution 242 of the Security Council of the U.N. - which called for mutual agreements between the neighboring nations on a reasonable solution of their disagreements. The Arab nations did not follow this resolution, and in fact planned and prepared for another war. In 1973 Israel was attacked from the south and the north by Egypt and Syria on the holiest day on the Jewish calendar - Yom Kippur. Once more Israel had to defend its existence and sacrifice the lives of some of its beloved sons and daughters.
Even the most casual look at the PLO reveals it to be an attempt to supplant and replace the State of Israel. Its emblem features a map of Israel, which is called "Palestine" - and is the goal and aim of the organization. The leader of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, entered the West Bank that was under Israels control, and in late 1967 spent some four months building new cells of his terrorist organization in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. It took years for these cells to mobilize and become active -- but the Arabs felt that time would work in their favor, and they had all the time in the world on their hands. Their population was growing in numbers and becoming more desperate in spirit -- they were a people without a reason for being. Arafat and the PLO provided them with a burning reason: hatred of the Jews! The masses, especially the young, became a weapon of war to be used at will.
Any claim by the PLO that it no longer intends to replace the Jewish state with an Arab state cannot be accepted as long as its emblem and its constitution (the PLO covenant, which again and again states that Israel has no legitimacy) have not been changed. However, we must realize that the issue is not the PLO and its relation to the Jewish State. The Issue is the Arab and the Moslem world, which today numbers twenty-three nations and a billion and a quarter people. As long as the Arab and Moslem world refuse to accept the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East, no accommodation with the PLO or any other body representing the indigenous Arabs of the land will be possible. The terrorist activities of Arabs in the Holy Land could not last a day without the financial and physical backing of sovereign Arab nations. Six year old children, and twelve and fourteen year old youths do not defy authority unless they have been put up to it by adults who have brainwashed the youths into believing that they can act with impunity and still expect to live long and happy lives.
The failure of the Egyptians and Syrians to achieve a significant victory against Israel in the Yom Kippur war brought about a break in Arab solidarity in their anti-Israel stand. In 1979, following a surprise shift in policy by Egypt's ruler, Anwar Sa'adat, and his daring visit to Israel - a peace treaty was signed between Israel and the largest and dominant Arab nation, Egypt. Israel returned the entire Sinai to Egypt, but the entire peninsula was to remain a buffer zone between Egypt and Israel.
After more than four decades of open war and sudden terror, the Israelis are showing signs of weariness. Often they overreact to Arab violence -- responding with equal violence. Sometimes, as in the 1982 Lebanon war, they try to change the rules of the "game" in a manner that is unacceptable for a nation the size of Israel. However, the basic Israeli character has not changed, and the people of Israel, above all, yearn for peace and a chance to develop into a nation that will live in peace and prosperity alongside its neighbors. In fact, the mid-eighties saw the creation of a new movement in Israel, called "Shalom Akhshav," which means peace now. This movement calls for Israel to spare no effort and leave no chance untried in the effort to make peace with its Arab neighbors. It knows no bounds in its desire for peace -- even to the detriment of Israel. They suggested a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from all lands taken in 1967, as if land was the sole issue in the conflict!
On December 8, 1987, the "Intifada" or uprising broke out. Arab youths, called "Shabab," tested the patience and authority of the Israeli forces in the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, throwing stones, burning tires in the streets, and threatening the life and property of Arabs as well as Jews. We have become familiar with the sight, on our T.V. screens, of the young Arabs with their faces masked by their kafiya headwear, throwing stones at young Israeli soldiers. It looks like David and Goliath -- except that this time "David" is not the Jew! There is only one thing wrong with this impression -- it is not based on truth! It is a mirage! What we see on our T.V. screen is not the unfolding of a drama, nor is it a popular uprising -- it is a staged event, made for T.V.! The young people are cynically manipulated by corrupt leaders who are staying a safe distance away from the shouting and the shooting.
The young soldiers are not there because they enjoy occupying other peoples land. They have no choice but to be there -- for if they leave that area, tomorrow they would have to defend the heart of Jewish Jerusalem and the streets of Tel-Aviv from the same youths!
The Arabs, having failed in their attempt to defeat the Israelis on the field of battle, have merely switched tactics. The adults stay home now, and the kids are sacrificed to the gods of war, or avarice, and of hatred. Even in Lakeland, Florida, a news reporter who interviewed American-Palestinians, heard children say that they are waiting for the day when they can kill Jews! Let us examine two incidents that are part of the uprising, and learn its components and its effect:
On October 10, 1990 the world stood in judgement of the State of Israel after a day of riots in the Holy City of Jerusalem, as a result of which fourteen Moslems died. Television and the rest of the news media spoke of Israeli brutality and savagery in the face of Arab protests against the possibility of mosques being desecrated. The Arabs claimed they were defending their holy places against Jews who were going to lay the cornerstone for the "third Temple." Yet, the Arabs hailed stones on worshippers at the Western Wall, stones that had been gathered the day before this "incident" erupted, and school children were ordered to the mosque square to "defend" it long before Jews showed up to pray at their holy site.
On June 23, 1992, Israels citizens chose a new government in national elections. In Israel, they called it "mahapakh" -- the turnover. The new government was hailed as a catalyst for change in Israeli politics and in Israeli-Arab relations. For the first time since the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty in 1979, a window of opportunity had been opened for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. The new ruling coalition , presided over by Yitzhak Rabin, was determined to accelerate the negotiations with Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinians.
The government was hopeful that substantive issues could be addressed in the talks, particularly in the realm of self-rule or autonomy for the Palestinians (which would bring an end to strife in the territories), and an interim agreement with Syria that would lead to peace treaties with Syria, Lebanon and Jordan -- and possibly even with Saudi-Arabia.
The new government took steps soon after it came to power to show its good faith and accelerate the pace of the negotiations:
1. It implemented a change in government policy vis-a-vis the "settlements" in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. It canceled plans and stopped construction of over 10,000 housing units in various stages of planning or completion.
2. It began a concerted effort at reopening and warming-up relations with Egypt, Israels one peaceful Arab neighbor. Rabin traveled to Cairo to speak to Moubarak and get the ball rolling within hours of taking the oath of office.
3. The new government made overtures to improve relations with the Palestinians. The new government signaled that it would not prosecute those Palestinian leaders who met, publicly and on T.V., and against Israeli law, with PLO chairman Arafat in Jordan on their way back from the talks in Washington; it negotiated a resolution of the crisis at the An-Najar University, and it released 600 detainees from the Ketsiot prison.
4. The new government began a process of fence-mending with the administration of the United States of America. We all recall the crisis over loan guarantees, settlements, and issues of the peace-talks that made the relations between the U.S. administration and the Shamir government the worst in the history of the two nations. Rabin, who was well liked in Washington -- where he was well liked from his days as ambassador -- was able to smooth-over the rough feelings left by the previous government and create good will and a desire on the part of the administration to pressure the other side to make concessions for a change.
5. Beyond everything else, Rabin and his new government were able to create a new climate in the press -- both local and international -- that in turn changed the image of "little Israel" around the world. In a public meeting, on September 3, 1992, Rabin stated, "We have to sever ourselves from the illusion of the greater Israel and to remember that the strength of a people is not measured by the territories it possesses, but by its ability to take care of its social systems, economic systems and security systems."
All the while Israel's foreign office was negotiating a deal with the PLO, which culminated in what has become known as the "Oslo Agreement." Many call it the Israel-Palestinian peace accord -- but it is certainly not that. It was designed as a step by step approach to an understanding between Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land.
Oslo called on Israel to turn the Gaza Strip and Jericho to Palestinian rule within a few months. It called for further negotiations to transfer more Arab towns and villages to Palestinian Rule. It called for PLO recognition of the right of the State of Israel to exist. It called on the Palestinians to amend their Palestinian Covenant (see Apendix II) and purge it of all negations of the Jewish state or its right to exist. It stipulated the building of trust and understanding between Jews and Arabs in the land in a transition period leading to full and complete peace. After the signing of the accord by Mr. Peres, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin spoke of the moment as a time that heralds "no more killing, no more war."
The only problem is that "Oslo" never had a chance -- because the Arab partner to the deal was not an honest broker, and did not represent the Arab people of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
What the Israeli architects of the Oslo Accord had in mind was made clear by the foreign minister, Shimon Peres: Israel could not remain both Jewish and democratic if it continued to rule over close to two million Palestinians in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Sooner or later, the Palestinians would have gained the right to vote and would have turned the country into a binational state. The only solution that could prevent this from happening was to withdraw from "the territories" and let the Palestinians establish a state of their own, which would live peacefully side by side with Israel. Peres said that making peace with the PLO was the only way of preempting a Hamas controlled state that would fight Israel to its destruction.
None of this is specified in the Oslo agreement, which was touted as a prelude to Palestinian autonomy or a confederation with Jordan. The talk of autonomy was obviously a palliative for an Israeli public warned for years - by Labor as much as by the Right - that a Palestinian state would threaten Israel's very existence. Yet the real intent was a return to the pre-67 war boundaries, if not (as the Arabs envisioned it) to the partition plan, in the assumption that most Israelis prefer peaceful coexistence to being in Jenin and Kalkilya, or even in Beit El and Shilo - regardless of what this says about their dedication to the Zionist ideal.
If the PLO had enough patience and vision, they would have subscribed to the Rabin government's view, the agreement would have been carried out by Israel, and Arafat would have had all the territories in his hands by 1998. However, something immediately went wrong. The worst wave of terrorism ever to hit Israel began even as the Declaration of Principles was being signed on the White House lawn. By March 1996, after Palestinian terrorists killed 220 Israelis, the process came to a screeching halt - not under Binyamin Netanyahu but under Shimon Peres. Yitzkhak Rabin was assassinated. The talks with the Palestinians were suspended, the withdrawal from Hebron was cancelled, and total closure was imposed on the territories -- before Labor lost the elections. Yitzkhak Rabin used to say that the Oslo Agreements are full of holes. Yet the fundamental problem is not the inadequacy of the agreements' provisions, but the assumption that the Palestinian Authority intended to keep them.
What troubled Israelis was not just the terrorist war, but the PA's attitude to it. Arafat would habitually wave off correspondents' queries about the slaughter of civilians with derisive laughter, and - with typical contempt for human credulity - he repeatedly accused "an OAS-like organization in the Israeli army headed by [General] Ehud Barak" of collaborating with Islamic Jihad in killing Israeli soldiers. The terrorist groups continued to recruit, train, and openly carry arms in PA areas. Known killers of Israelis joined the Palestinian armed forces. Members of the Palestinian Police were caught committing terrorist acts, their orders traced to Palestinian police chief Ghazi Jabali. A December 1995 PA agreement with Hamas permitted terrorist operations, provided they could not be traced to areas controlled by the PA. Arafat's Preventative Security chief Jibril Rajoub confirmed the existence of this arrangement.
In an interview in Time Magazine immediately after the historic handshake, Rabin said, "It is not a question of my age but a question of my purpose in being in politics. When I decided to run for Prime Minister, I believed that the coincidence of events on the international scene, in the Middle East, in Israel were ripe to achieve two goals: peace and security, and changing the order of national priorities for the people of Israel -- not to look at the territories as the main issue. At least 96% of Israeli Jews live on sovereign Israeli soil, within the green lines, including united Jerusalem. The future of Israel depends much more on what that 96% of Jews and about 1 million non-Jewish Israeli citizens will achieve in their economy, social progress, cultural and scientific achievements."
There was only one problem: The PLO is not, and never was, an agent for peace with Israel. As mentioned earlier, its emblem features a map -- the map of Israel! (See above!) Its purpose for being is the destruction of the Jewish State, and that purpose has not been changed. Every piece of land that is handed over by Israel to the Palestinians is termed "liberated territory," and peace has not come to the land. In fact, more civilians were killed in acts of terror by Arabs against Jews in the first two years of the Oslo Accord than during any four years before the accord was signed. Strife has not ceased, and peace is not at hand.
The Oslo agreement was achieved in an illegal manner, since Israelis (and high government officials at that) met and negotiated in secret with agents of an organization that Israeli law specifically forbade its citizens to interact and dialogue with. A number of Israelis made contact with the PLO before 1992, and ended up serving time in Israeli jail for their zeal. The Israeli operatives who worked on the Oslo Accord assumed that the other side wanted peace and security as much as people in Israel do. They also assumed that the Palestinian Arabs believes in the sanctity of life above all else, as the Israelis do. Therefore they assumed that the threat of a conflagration and of a large number of casualties would keep the peace in a "balance of terror" similar to the Cold War that existed between the communists and the West for close to fifty years.
However, it turns out that they miscalculated. Since it was signed, the Palestinians did not meet many of their obligations under this accord. They did not give up their bellicose war footing. Arafat, and his deputies, continued to speak of a return to "all of Palestine" (see map p. 46) in the near future. They have not extradited to Israel men wanted for major crimes (murder and terrorism) by the Israeli authorities. They have not changed their Covenant. They have not changed their emblem, and they have not stopped violence. They exceeded the agreed-upon number of armed police they were supposed to have, and they have armed them with offensive weapons that are not accepted in the Accord. The Palestinian police, who are supposed to keep peace inside their territory, have engaged in confrontation with Israel, and they have actually killed Israelis with their (Israeli supplied) weapons. Leaders of the PLO, from Arafat on down, have called for a "jihad," a holy war to "reclaim occupied Palestine." They are not talking of Bethlehem and Nablus -- they are speaking about Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Haifa and the Galilee!
The Oslo agreement has caused a rift in the Jewish population of Israel. Many felt, for different reasons, that the accord is detrimental to the continued existence of Israel -- and they have acted upon their conviction. For the first time in the history of modern Israel we see Israelis engage in acts of terror against Arabs and against Jews -- Barukh Goldstein killed Moslems in Hebron, and Yigal Amir killed the Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzkhak Rabin. There is no peace, and there will be no peace until all will realize that every life is precious and must be cherished, nurtured and allowed to achieve its potential; until all will learn the lesson taught by Father Abraham --that of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men!
In the map above, from 1976, all Arab lands together had a total area 660 times that of Israel. Their combined population was more than 40 times that of Israel. Can the Arabs seriously claim that Israel is a nation that is trying to subjugate them?
The map (above) which goes with the following description of "the State of Palestine" as it was found on the World Wide Web, at www.palestine-net.com/geography -- July 1997!
"Palestine, currently under occupation, is located on the East coast of the Mediterranean Sea, West of Jordan and to the south of Lebanon. The territory of Palestine covers around 10,435 square miles (almost same size as the state of Vermont in the USA - that is, pretty small.)  Out of this territory, there are 10,163 square miles of land area.
The rest is water: half of the area of the Dead Sea (al-BaHr al-Mayyit), Huleh Lake (BuHayrat al-Huuleh) which was dried by the occupation and Tiberias Lake (BuHayrat Tabariyyah) which is also known as the Sea of Galilee (BaHr al-jaliil)."
THE PALESTINIAN NATIONAL CHARTER:
Resolutions of the Palestine National Council, July 1-17, 1968
Text of the Charter:
Article 1: Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.
Article 2: Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.
Article 3: The Palestinian Arab people possess the legal right to their homeland and have the right to determine their destiny after achieving the liberation of their country in accordance with their wishes and entirely of their own accord and will.
Article 4: The Palestinian identity is a genuine, essential, and inherent characteristic; it is transmitted from parents to children. The Zionist occupation and the dispersal of the Palestinian Arab people, through the disasters which befell them, do not make them lose their Palestinian identity and their membership in the Palestinian community, nor do they negate them.
Article 5: The Palestinians are those Arab nationals who, until 1947, normally resided in Palestine regardless of whether they were evicted from it or have stayed there. Anyone born, after that date, of a Palestinian father - whether inside Palestine or outside it - is also a Palestinian.
Article 6: The Jews who had normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion will be considered Palestinians.
Article 7: That there is a Palestinian community and that it has material, spiritual, and historical connection with Palestine are indisputable facts. It is a national duty to bring up individual Palestinians in an Arab revolutionary manner. All means of information and education must be adopted in order to acquaint the Palestinian with his country in the most profound manner, both spiritual and material, that is possible. He must be prepared for the armed struggle and ready to sacrifice his wealth and his life in order to win back his homeland and bring about its liberation.
Article 8: The phase in their history, through which the Palestinian people are now living, is that of national (watani) struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Thus the conflicts among the Palestinian national forces are secondary, and should be ended for the sake of the basic conflict that exists between the forces of Zionism and of imperialism on the one hand, and the Palestinian Arab people on the other. On this basis the Palestinian masses, regardless of whether they are residing in the national homeland or in diaspora (mahajir) constitute - both their organizations and the individuals - one national front working for the retrieval of Palestine and its liberation through armed struggle.
Article 9: Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it. They also assert their right to normal life in Palestine and to exercise their right to self-determination and sovereignty over it.
Article 10: Commando action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war. This requires its escalation, comprehensiveness, and the mobilization of all the Palestinian popular and educational efforts and their organization and involvement in the armed Palestinian revolution. It also requires the achieving of unity for the national (watani) struggle among the different groupings of the Palestinian people, and between the Palestinian people and the Arab masses, so as to secure the continuation of the revolution, its escalation, and victory.
Article 11: The Palestinians will have three mottoes: national (wataniyya) unity, national (qawmiyya) mobilization, and liberation.
Article 12: The Palestinian people believe in Arab unity. In order to contribute their share toward the attainment of that objective, however, they must, at the present stage of their struggle, safeguard their Palestinian identity and develop their consciousness of that identity, and oppose any plan that may dissolve or impair it.
Article 13: Arab unity and the liberation of Palestine are two complementary objectives, the attainment of either of which facilitates the attainment of the other. Thus, Arab unity leads to the liberation of Palestine, the liberation of Palestine leads to Arab unity; and work toward the realization of one objective proceeds side by side with work toward the realization of the other.
Article 14: The destiny of the Arab nation, and indeed Arab existence itself, depend upon the destiny of the Palestine cause. From this interdependence springs the Arab nations pursuit of, and striving for, the liberation of Palestine. The people of Palestine play the role of the vanguard in the realization of this sacred (qawmi) goal.
Article 15: The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine. Absolute responsibility for this falls upon the Arab nation - peoples and governments - with the Arab people of Palestine in the vanguard. Accordingly, the Arab nation must mobilize all its military, human, moral, and spiritual capabilities to participate actively with the Palestinian people in the liberation of Palestine. It must, particularly in the phase of the armed Palestinian revolution, offer and furnish the Palestinian people with all possible help, and material and human support, and make available to them the means and opportunities that will enable them to continue to carry out their leading role in the armed revolution, until they liberate their homeland.
Article 16: The liberation of Palestine, from a spiritual point of view, will provide the Holy Land with an atmosphere of safety and tranquility, which in turn will safeguard the countrys religious sanctuaries and guarantee freedom of worship and of visit to all, without discrimination of race, color, language, or religion. Accordingly, the people of Palestine look to all spiritual forces in the world for support.
Article 17: The liberation of Palestine, from a human point of view, will restore to the Palestinian individual his dignity, pride, and freedom. Accordingly the Palestinian Arab people look forward to the support of all those who believe in the dignity of man and his freedom in the world.
Article 18: The liberation of Palestine, from an international point of view, is a defensive action necessitated by the demands of self-defense. Accordingly the Palestinian people, desirous as they are of the friendship of all people, look to freedom-loving, and peace-loving states for support in order to restore their legitimate rights in Palestine, to reestablish peace and security in the country, and to enable its people to exercise national sovereignty and freedom.
Article 19: The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and to their natural right in their homeland, and inconsistent with the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, particularly the right to self-determination.
Article 20: The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.
Article 21: The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine and reject all proposals aiming at the liquidation of the Palestinian problem, or its internationalization.
Article 22: Zionism is a political movement organically associated with
international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world. It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist, and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods. Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement, and geographical base for world imperialism placed strategically in the midst of the Arab homeland to combat the hopes of the Arab nation for liberation, unity, and progress. Israel is a constant source of threat vis-a-vis peace in the Middle East and the whole world. Since the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence and will contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East, the Palestinian people look for the support of all
the progressive and peaceful forces and urge them all, irrespective of their affiliations and beliefs, to offer the Palestinian people all aid and support
in their just struggle for the liberation of their homeland.
Article 23: The demand of security and peace, as well as the demand of
right and justice, require all states to consider Zionism an illegitimate movement, to outlaw its existence, and to ban its operations, in order that friendly relations among peoples may be preserved, and the loyalty of citizens to their respective homelands safeguarded.
Article 24: The Palestinian people believe in the principles of justice, freedom, sovereignty, self-determination, human dignity, and in the right of all peoples to exercise them.
Article 25: For the realization of the goals of this Charter and its principles, the Palestine Liberation Organization will perform its role in the liberation of Palestine in accordance with the Constitution of this Organization.
Article 26: The Palestine Liberation Organization, representative of the Palestinian revolutionary forces, is responsible for the Palestinian Arab peoples movement in its struggle - to retrieve its homeland, liberate and return to it and exercise the right to self-determination in it - in all military, political, and financial fields and also for whatever may be required by the Palestine case on the inter-Arab and international levels.
Article 27: The Palestine Liberation Organization shall cooperate with all Arab states, each according to its potentialities; and will adopt a neutral policy among them in the light of the requirements of the war of liberation; and on this basis it shall not interfere in the internal affairs of any Arab state.
Article 28: The Palestinian Arab people assert the genuineness and independence of their national (wataniyya) revolution and reject all forms of intervention, trusteeship, and subordination.
Article 29: The Palestinian people possess the fundamental and genuine legal right to liberate and retrieve their homeland. The Palestinian people determine their attitude toward all states and forces on the basis of the stands they adopt vis-a-vis to the Palestinian revolution to fulfill the aims of the Palestinian people.
Article 30: Fighters and carriers of arms in the war of liberation are the nucleus of the popular army which will be the protective force for the gains of the Palestinian Arab people.
Article 31: The Organization shall have a flag, an oath of allegiance, and an anthem. All this shall be decided upon in accordance with a special regulation.
Article 32: Regulations, which shall be known as the Constitution of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, shall be annexed to this Charter. It will lay down the manner in which the Organization, and its organs and institutions, shall be constituted; the respective competence of each; and the requirements of its obligation under the Charter.
Article 33: This Charter shall not be amended save by [vote of] a majority of two-thirds of the total membership of the National Congress of the Palestine Liberation Organization [taken] at a special session convened for that purpose.
From Leila S. Kadi (ed.), Basic Political Documents of the Armed Palestinian Resistance Movement, Palestine Research Centre, Beirut, December 1969, pp. 137-141.
In preparing the material presented above, I have read and studied many sources over many years. This presentation of mine does not pretend to be a scientific evaluation -- and therefore I did not feel a need for foot notes or direct quotes in the body of the text. Here is a list of texts that deal with the same issues and the same matters that I have touched on in my presentation at greater depth, and possibly with a different point of view.
Dayan, Moshe, Story of My Life, William Morrow & Co., New York, 1976
Dolan, David, Holy War for the Promised Land, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1991
Draper, Theodore, Israel & World Politics, Viking Press, New York, 1967
Eban, Abba, An Autobiography, Random House, New York, 1977
Gervasi, Frank, The Case For Israel, Viking Press, New York, 1967
Glick, Edward Bernard, Between Israel and Death, Stagpole Books, Harrisburg, Pa., 1974
Goitein, S.D., Jews & Arabs, Schocken Books, New York, 1964
Harkabi, Yehoshafat, Israels Fateful Hour, Harper & Row, New York, 1988
Howe, Inring and Gershman, Carl, editors, Israel, the Arabs & the Middle East, Bantam Books, New York, 1972
Hurewitz, J.C., The Struggle for Palestine, Schocken books, New York, 1976
Johnson, Paul, A History of the Jews, Harper and Row, New York, 1988
Katz, Samuel. Battleground, Fact and Fantasy in Palestine, Bantam Books, New York, 1973
Kimche, Jon, There Could Have Been Peace, The Dial Press, 1973
Kimche, Jon, The Second Arab Awakening, Thames and Hudson, London, 1970
Kimche, Jon and David, A Clash of Destinies, Frederick A Praeger, New York, 1960
Kurzman, Dan. Genesis 1948, The World Publishing Co., New York, 1970
Lamb, David, The Arabs, Vintage Books, New York, 1987
Laqueur, Walter editor, The Israel-Arab Reader, a Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict, Bantam Books, New York, 1969
Laqueur, Walter, A History of Zionism, Schoken Books, New York, 1976
Lie, Trygve, In the Cause of Peace, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1954
Litvinoff, Barnet, To the House of Their Fathers, Frederick A. Praeger, New York, 1965
Livingstone, Neil . & David Halevy, Inside the PLO, Quill/William Morrow, New York, 1990
Mendelsohn, Everett, A Compassionate Peace, Hill & Wang, New York, 1982
Obrien, Conor Cruise, The Siege, The Saga of Israel & Zionism, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1986
Peters, Joan, From Time Immemorial, Harper & Row, New York, 1984
Polk, William R., Stamler, David M. and Asfou, Edmund, Backdrop to Tragedy, Beacon Press, Boston, 1957
Safran, Nadav, From War to War, Pegasus, New York, 1969
Schiff, Zeev & Yaari, Ehud, Intifada, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1989
Schoenberg, Harris O., A Mandate for Terror, the UN and the PLO, Shapolsky Publishers, Inc., New York, 1989
Weizmann, Chaim, Trial and Error, The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia, 1949
Weizman, Ezer, The Battle for Peace, Bantam Books, New York, 1981
or Arabs-Part 1