October 2008


                        By  Sy Schechtman


         At a dinner party for some British aristocracy   a few years ago small, postage stamp Israel was described as that shitty little state.  To the somewhat shocked  guests in attendance,  although  both neo Nazism  and anti-Semitism in British upper society has always been a small flickering sentiment not completely quenched  in some English  affections,   this  small, dubious  phrase, when   leaked to the press,  caused  much comment, denial,  and indignation about private comments not for public disclosure.    It is fitting, though, for those admirers of that tiny yet feisty sole democratic state in the entire middle east,  that *X*x/#X/xX!! –Israel—that almost unmentionable  entity,  that abomination to Allah,  (along with that satanic United States)   to celebrate  the 60th year of the founding of that  marvelous state.   Arisen from the ashes of the Holocaust four or so years  before, and meeting far from a cordial welcome by Arabs  in the territory soon to be called Palestine and known and beloved from almost . time immemorial as Eretz Isroel, the refugee Jews  fought against great odds  the hostile Arabs  and unfriendly occupying British, and founded this Jewish state in l948.

         Numerically outnumbered in many early battles in the period between November 30,l947 and May 15 l949 the Jewish fighters ( the indigenous Yishuv) easily defeated the Arab enemies,  who were poorly trained and equipped.   Eventually,  the local Arab population became disheartened and began leaving and/or fleeing the area,  encouraged or urged or ordered out by both opposing sides. Certainly there was no organized Zionist plan to transfer masses of native Arabs.  Well documented are the pleas  of the mayor of Haifa and other adjacent sites for the Arabs not to leave and stay in their present homes.   Indeed, the more radical Arab leaders insisted that they should leave  and soon return in triumph with the Arab armies  that were massing on the border and would soon push  all the Jews into the sea.    

         Most probably about 700,000 did leave, either violently at the Israeli  behest,  or from fear of  violence from their own inflamed Moslem leaders.  If they stayed behind many of them   were afraid of being deemed traitors and the rumors of Israeli army violence—such as did occur at Deir Yassim—gave added impetus to the urge to flee,  thus literally flooding surrounding Arab territory  with refugees,  and no legitimate  effort was ever made to repatriate them—or resettle them in the abundant vacant Arab land  in the area.    The nascent Jewish state,  in contrast,  over the ensuing years added over four million  immigrants,  a very disparate universal mix from  everywhere who mostly had a fervent wish to somehow be in a Jewish environment,  however one defines that beautiful blend of exuberant and creative discord that usually it is.  They have made the desert bloom  and Jaffa oranges are sold world wide, and if you exclude the enormous oil revenues of the petro rich Arabs teeny tiny  Israels international trade, especially in high technology and medical products,   outsells the entire totality of the Moslem world.(Over one billion or more strong!)   Indeed, in world per capita  Gross Domestic Product  Israel ranked a very respectable 28th even though some part of the orthodox male population, for religious reasons, does no work productively.

         Of course, they are somewhat frenetic  in their attempts  to do all the above  positive things.  In the Jewish lexicon please is rarely heard. 

         The problem of the refugees, however, has continued to grow and fester.  The well known and respected revisionist Jewish historian, Benny Morris, who is somewhat anti Zionist, has claimed the Arab  refugee number  of 700,000  as a fact,  but  there are  many who that is much too high.   Now of course,  the number of Palestinians  in the West Bank and Gaza  is much higher, approaching 4 million,  with a large preponderance  of teen agers and children,  since the birth rate of Palestinian Arabs is one of the highest in the world. (Most of these deliveries, too,  with the expert care of Israeli maternity wards.!)  Also,  there has been an in migration of sorts of neighboring Arabs  seeking employment in the burgeoning Israeli economy, at least for many years before Arab resentment led to the intifada  and open hostility.  Indeed,  one of the major failures  of diplomatic attempts to solve this human dilemma   of population displacement  was the Oslo Accord, a ten year phased withdrawal  of Israeli  occupation forces, with the Arabs in control  of almost all West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip,  with Israel having  only small security force remaining.   This agreement,with President Clinton as prime impetus, was signed in l993.

         At first, Israeli troop removal  started as per plan.   But the Israelis also never ceased  building settlements beyond their old borders,  which  disturbed the Palestinians,  although no mention of these extraterritorial settlements were  in the agreements  signed. This,  however  the Arabs felt,  was a violation  of the spirit of the  Oslo accords.  But,  at the conclusion of the ten year period,  when over 90%  of the west bank  and all of Gaza,  was to be returned,  Arafat evidently balked, bringing  up the right of return of the displaced refugees, which had hardly been on the table for discussion at all.

         And thus the second intifada began, which the Arabs claim was a war for national liberation,  and the Israelis deemed a resumption of terrorist tactics.   Gradually whatever spirit of cordial reconciliation  existed was dissolved  in the bitter brew of suspicion, distrust and hatred.  Even Benny Morris  has lost his dove like approach,  now blaming the Palestinians  for the collapse of the Oslo peace process  and the al Aqsa intifada  which started  soon after.   And he went further in his own personal, subjective changed position: 

If Ben—Gurion[Israels first prime minister] had  carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country---the  whole Land of Israel, as far as  the Jordan River---he would  have stabilized  the State of Israel  for generations...if the end of the story turns  out to be  a gloomy one  for the Jews,  it will be because Ben-Gurion did not complete the transfer in l948.

         Sixty years have gone by and the miracle that was Israel at its most unlikely inception still   incites  expletive denials  and frustration among the mean spirited.    And, as before,  these  small of heart and soul are not just a small chorus  of nay sayers  and    doom and gloomsters.   Anti Semitism is rising again in many places.   And the word Jew—as the physical entity-- itself is an expletive to be deleted as a solution  and balm to many shriveled souls.   As it has been almost since time immemorial.   But despite this the Jewish state has endured and prospered.   Perhaps soon the neighboring climate will adjust finally to the reality of the Jewish presence.    They will not be driven into the sea.  Transcendant events may seemingly have to be involved,  or the  warp of history may somehow change the material calculus in Israels favor. And, also,  there is always the atom bomb. Saddam Hussein did not have it,  Iran is fervently trying to acquire it,  and Israel no doubt has it.