Thursday, May 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Israel but...

The 60th anniversary of Israel was always going to provoke strong responses from those who align themselves to both sides of the Arab-Israeli dispute. Many Jews will celebrate that Israel has survived 60 years surrounded by those committed on its destruction. Palestinian Arabs condemn it as 60 years of occupation.

So this post will be controversial.

The founding of Israel was a political decision, a decision that the British governed territory known as Palestine should be divided into states based upon nationality, and implicitly by religion. It was one of the first actions by the UN. Words are important here, after all arguably everyone living in the territory of Palestine is Palestinian, although the word is only used to describe the Arabs living there. There is no other distinction for the word "Palestinian". However, equally all Arabs living in Israel can be said to be Israelis.

What is clear is how much isn't clear about the years leading up to the creation of Israel. Zionists did act, violently, against Arabs. Arabs responded in kind. Quite simply, bald nationalism drove both sides, and still does - the notion that because one belongs to a certain nationality, there is some greater entitlement to land than that of others. It divides people who wish to live side by side on the same land, and it is a division promoted by the UN from day one.

So Palestinian Arabs have wanted to destroy Israel from day one, although Fatah in recent years has recognised Israel and accepted a "two-state solution", it would be fair to say that many Palestinian Arabs want Israel eradicated. On the other side, many Israelis also sought the end of any notion of a Palestinian Arab state, some wanting the West Bank and Gaza to be part of a greater Israel. However, many also today accept that a "two state solution" is probably the only way that Palestinian Arab aspirations will be met. Having said that, Jerusalem will remain a problem, because of the different ghost intepretations that Jews, Muslims and Christians have and conflicting claims to that city for the same reason.

The right approach would have been to grant independence to all of the Palestinian territory, but for it not to be Israeli or Arab, but a secular state comprising Jews, Arabs and others. Zionists did not seek this, but then neither did many Arabs. Arab nationalism and Jewish nationalism both held the same collectivist malignancy. Had Palestinian Arabs had secure private property rights they could have justifiably held onto their own land, or sold it to others including Jews. State land could also have been sold. The displacement of Palestinians, by fear or by force was wrong - but that was then.

Palestinian Arabs rejected the UN partition plan of 1948, and sought to destroy Israel from that day forward. Since then Israel has created a modern liberal western democracy, light years ahead of the authoritarian Arab regimes that surround it. However, the issue of what to do about Palestinian Arabs has been the thorn in the side of Israel ever since, and especially for the Palestinian Arabs themselves.

So on the one hand Israel has reason to celebrate, having been attacked numerous times by those willing to destroy it, it survives, flourishes, maintain an average standard of living that is the envy of its neighbours, and has a relatively high level of freedom and corrupt free government. On the other hand, the West Bank and Gaza are disaster areas. Israel's occupation of both long made sense while neighbouring states vowed to destroy it. However, the creation of settlements, and the virtual martial law endured by Palestinian Arab in those territories has antagonised, and seen much suffering. It is clear that this must be addressed.

Israel has always said it was prepared to trade land for peace. It exchanged the Sinai Peninsula territory that it held after the Six Day War for peace with Egypt. It made peace with Jordan after Jordan recognises its right to exist, and relinquished any claim of the West Bank. Peace with Syria remains elusive, partly because the totalitarian one party state in Damascus finds it convenient to be a haven for terrorists and a rallying point for Islamists (ironic for a secular socialist party). No doubt peace with Syria will involve a settlement regarding the Golan Heights in one way or another.

The rest of the Arab world wont make peace until the Palestinian Arabs do. Much has been surrendered to them in recent years as overtures to make progress were made, by granting autonomy.

Palestinians were granted a chance with the withdrawal from Gaza, a chance they squandered. Gaza could have become a focus for reconstruction, the building of infrastructure, education, a free trade zone, a place for Palestinians and those who govern them to build an enclave of success. Somewhere to say to Israel - "Look we can look after ourselves peacefully, now let us have the West Bank too".


Palestinians voted for Hamas, Hamas chose to use Gaza to launch attacks on Israel proper. Palestinian Arab's chose politicians who are vowed to destroy Israel. Who is surprised that Israel wont concede anything to these people?

Meanwhile Israel is a prosperous country with Western standards of living and a modern technology driven economy. It benefits enormously from US taxpayers, but is, if Arabs paused for a moment, an example of freedom, prosperity and tolerance in that region. The weeping sore of the Palestinian Arabs needs to be healed before Israel can live in peace, but as long as they follow Islamists or socialists, they will remain impoverished. The incompetence of their leaders will be hidden by blaming Israel for their woes, whilst their leaders continue to gain the benefit of subsidies from their oil rich Arab neighbours.

Israel still lives in an environment where many of its near neighbours don't believe it should exist, and almost the whole Islamic world follows this from Sudan to Indonesia. It has Iran, breaching IAEA rules and wishing its annihilation. Perhaps the only UN member state where other members explicitly call for its eradication. It deserves congratulations for surviving against wars that tried to destroy it, and neighbours that wanted it replaced with a Marxist or Islamic dictatorship. In that process of fighting for survival, it has accidentally killed many, and nobody can pretend Israel has not made many mistakes in how Palestinian Arabs were dealt with (indeed until 15 years ago mainstream Israeli politicians were still advancing a greater Israel). However, despite these mistakes Israeli citizens can be proud of the state they have defended, while they have been fighting they have built a livable modern society - when given the chance, Palestinian Arabs have so far failed. Israel is never going to go away, it's about time all its neighbours recognised this.

Oh and by the way, Israel knocked out Saddam's first nuclear reactor, supplier by the ever peace loving morally uplifting French in the 1980s, and last year knocked out Syria's. Nobody else had the courage to do either of those actions, and the world is undoubtedly a better place since Israel prevented Saddam and Assad junior from obtaining nuclear weapons. Something I doubt anyone in the so-called peace movement has ever cheered, because after all none of them really care about peace.

1 comment:

Ojalanpoika said...

Jeru-salaam, -shalom & -salem,

Could you kindly comment, whether my details are correct in a dissident essay concerning the recent scaling up of production in the Israeli high Tech companies in: ?

However, if you are only after Jihad against Eretz Israel by the means of media war after the conventional weapons were not succesful, please do not bother. I don't want to have anything to do with any holy war - wars are not holy.

E.g. "...Before the Second Intifada, there were nearly 200 Israeli companies listed in the Nasdaq, at the Intifada the count dropped to 70. (The number is still greater than from all the European countries combined). It is said that the dollars are green since the Americans pull them down from the tree raw and fresh. The start-ups are imported straight from the garage, and scaling up of production in the "conflict hotspot" has been considered impossible. But the new Millennium has brought a change in tide.

As an example, the supranational Intel transferred the mass production of Centricon-processors to Israel, where ~20% of citizens possess university decrees (ranking 3rd in the world) but where the environment respects patents and are not plagiating every item they produce to others like the rocketting China. Intel was also offered an overall tax rate of 10%, which is about three times lower than that of US.

Also, the biggest generic drug factory in the world was recently established in Israel. Generating US$7 billion in annual revenues, Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA) is the world's largest generic pharmaceutical company. That is: to cure people with less money. TEVA makes generic versions of brand-name antibiotics, heart drugs, heartburn medications, and more - in all close to 200 global generic products, 700 compounds, and more than 2800 dosage forms and formulations. TEVA's pharmaceuticals are used in some 20% of U.S. generic drug prescriptions. Examples of TEVA's generics include lower-cost equivalents of such blockbusters as anti-depressant Prozac and cholesterol drug Mevacor. Nevertheless, in biotechnology and original drug development, about 400 experimental Israeli drugs have been approved or accepted in clinical phases.

The population of Arabs under the Israeli government increased ten-fold in only 57 years. Palestinian life expectancy increased from 48 to 72 years in 1967-95. The death rate decreased by over 2/3 in 1970-90 and the Israeli medical campaigns decreased the child death rate from a level of 60 per 1000 in 1968 to 15 per 1000 in 2000 at the Westbank. (An analogous figure was 64 in Iraq, 40 in Egypt, 23 in Jordan, and 22 in Syria in 2000). During 1967-88 the amount of comprehensive schoold and second level polytechnic institutes for the Arabs was increased by 35%. During 1970-86 the proportion of Palestinian women at the West Bank and Gaza not having gone to school decreased from 67 % to 32 %. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in West Bank and Gaza increased in 1968-1991 from 165 US dollars to 1715 dollars (compare with 1630$ in Turkey, 1440$ in Tunis, 1050$ in Jordan, 800$ in Syria, 600$ in Egypt. and 400$ in Yemen)..."

Recovering from hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of the brain,
Pauli Ojala, evolutionary critic
Biochemist, drop-out (MSci-Master of Sciing)