The Arabs’ Real Grievance against the Jews
- The Arab world still does not today accept the concept of a Jewish state of any size or any shape. Even Egypt and Jordan, who signed peace agreements with Israel, do not accept that Israel is a Jewish state, and they continue to promote anti-Semitic hatred against Israel.
- During Israel’s War of Independence, Jews were ethnically cleansed from Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, and in the years that followed, they were ethnically cleansed from the rest of the Arab world.
- Jews demand the right to exist, and to exist as equals, on the land where they have existed and belonged continuously for more than three thousand years.
- We would rather claim that the conflict is about “occupation” and “settlements.” The Jews see what radical Islamists are now doing to Christians and other minorities, who were also in the Middle East for thousands of years before the Muslim Prophet Mohammed was even born.
- The real Arab grievance against the Jews is that they exist.
As Arabs, we are very adept at demanding that our human rights be respected, at least when we live in liberal democracies such as in North America, Europe, and Israel. But what about when it comes to our respecting the human rights of others, particularly Jews?
When we examine our attitude towards Jews, both historically and at present, we realize that it is centered on denying Jews the most fundamental human right, the right without which no other human right is relevant: the right to exist.
The right to exist in the Middle East before 1948
Anti-Zionists often repeat the claim that before modern Israel, Jews were able to live in peace in the Middle East, and that it is the establishment of the State of Israel that created Arab hostility towards Jews. That is a lie.
Before modern Israel, as the historian Martin Gilbert wrote, “Jews held the inferior status ofdhimmi, which, despite giving them protection to worship according to their own faith, subjected them to many vexatious and humiliating restrictions in their daily lives.” As another historian, G.E. von Grunebaum, wrote, Jews in the Middle East faced “a lengthy list of persecutions, arbitrary confiscations, attempted forced conversions, or pogroms.”
The right to exist as an independent state
Zionism stemmed from the need for Jews to be masters of their own fate; no longer to be the victims of discrimination or massacres simply for being Jews. This project was accepted and formally recognized by the British, who had been granted a mandate over Palestine by the League of Nations. The Arab world, however, never accepted the recognition formulated by Britain in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and it never accepted the partition plan approved by the United Nations in 1947, which recognized the right of the Jews to their own state.
The Arab refusal to accept the Jewish state’s right to exist, a right that carries more international legal weight than almost any other country’s right to exist, resulted in several wars, starting with the war of independence in 1948-1949. The Arab world still does not today accept the concept of a Jewish state of any size or any shape. Even Egypt and Jordan, which signed peace agreements with Israel, do not accept that Israel is a Jewish state, and they continue to promote anti-Semitic hatred against Israel.
The right to exist in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem
In 2005, Israel evacuated all its troops and all Jewish inhabitants from Gaza, in the hope that this would bring peace at least on that front, and to allow the Gaza Strip, vacated by Jews, to be a flourishing Arab Riviera, or a second Singapore, and perhaps to serve as a model for the West Bank. The experiment failed miserably. This is a case where Jews willingly gave up their right to exist on a piece of land, but sadly the Palestinians of Gaza took it not as opportunity for peace, but as a sign that if you keep on shooting at Jews, they leave — so let’s keep on shooting.
There are many opinions among Zionists as to what to do about the West Bank. These opinions range from a total unilateral withdrawal as in Gaza, to a full annexation, with many options in between. At the moment, the status quo prevails, with no specific plans for the future.
Everyone, however, despite the treacherous UNESCO’s rewriting of history, knows that before that piece of land was called the West Bank, it was called Judea and Samaria for more than two thousand years.
Everyone knows that Hebron contains the traditional burial site of the biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs, within the Cave of the Patriarchs, and it is considered the second-holiest site in Judaism. Every reasonable person knows that Jews should unquestionably have the right to exist on that land, even if it is under Arab or Muslim jurisdiction. Yet everyone also knows that no Arab regime is capable or even willing to protect the safety of Jews living under its jurisdiction from the anti-Semitic hatred that emanates from the Arab world.
East Jerusalem, which was carved away by the Kingdom of Jordan from the rest of Jerusalem during the war of independence, is part of Jerusalem, and contains the Temple Mount, the Jews’ holiest site. The Old City in East Jerusalem was inhabited by Jews up until they were ethnically cleansed by Jordan in the war of 1948-1949.
Although Israel has twice in the past, first under Prime Minister Ehud Barak then under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, offered
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