Israel: the once and no longer underdog


I used to sympathize with Israel because I thought of the Israelis as the underdogs, and I thought the Israeli people were under a threat to their existence.  I don’t think that is true any longer.

Zionist leaders at the turn of the previous century believed that Jewish people would forever be persecuted minorities in the countries in which they lived, unless they, like other peoples, had a homeland of their own.  During the early 20th century, some prominent Jewish people opposed Zionism.  They said Jews were adherents of a religion, not a separate nation.  To say otherwise, they said, would only validate anti-Semites who denied that Jews could be patriotic citizens of the nations in which they reside.  The rise of Naziism confirmed the fears of the Zionists.   Being patriotic did the German Jews no good.

The immediate impetus for the creation of Israel was the failure of the Allies to address the refugee problem after World War Two.  If the United States and other countries had been willing to take in Jewish people and others in Displaced Persons camps after World War Two, the Jewish people in the camps might not have tried to get to Israel at all costs.

I don’t blame the founders of Israel for trying to establish a new Jewish state.   I don’t blame the Palestinian Arabs for fighting back.   One of my mother’s favorite sayings that that two wrongs don’t make a right.  But sometimes two rights make a wrong.

Jewish people have a deep fear of being wiped out.  Nobody who is familiar with history could say that fear has no basis.   The Arab League declared war on Israel in 1948 with the intention of wiping out the new nation.   The map above shows the nations that declared war on Israel; the nations in dark green were the ones that put troops in the field.

Later on the Soviet Union allied itself with anti-Israel nations.  The Soviets were an open-ended source of arms for Egypt and Syria in waging war against Israel.  In that situation, it was only right that the United States maintain a balance by arming Israel.

But that situation no longer obtains.  Israel is no longer threatened by neighboring countries, even the ones who refuse to recognize its legitimacy as a nation.   Instead Israel is waging war on a subject people, the Palestinian Arabs, a people who have as much right to exist as a nation as the Israelis did in 1948, and who have as few alternatives as the Israelis did back then.   But most of Israel’s American supporters think that Israel is as embattled and surrounded as it was in 1949 or 1956 or 1967.  It’s time to look at the new reality.

Double click to enlarge.

Double click to enlarge.

Click on Visualizing Palestine for more graphics.

[Added 12/6/12] While I sympathize with the plight of the Palestinian Arab people, I have no ill will toward the people or nation of Israel. I don’t think Israel has done anything that many other nations, including the United States, have not done. I hope that someday the people of Israel will be able to live in peace and the people of Arab Palestine will be able to live in peace and freedom. I don’t think this can happen so long as the government of Israel keeps the people of Arab Palestine in a state of perpetual misery and terror while expanding settlements on the West Bank.

Click on Parents Circle Families Forum for the web site of an organization that brings together bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families.

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