BBC Documentary About Israel and Palestine

December 14, 2012

My friend Alex Scarpati asked me on this blog to comment on the BBC documentary – Birth of Israel – Birth of a Nation.

I viewed the movie and found out that the BBC has done once again what they are so good at – deception. In a very well produced film that is mostly true they managed to deceive by changing just a few facts.

First, they try to portray Britain in 1947 – 1948 as a benevolent bystander. That is as far from the truth as possible. By the film’s own admission, Israel’s worse enemy in 1948 – the Jordanian Legion, was commanded by British officers. Where is the benevolence in that?

The truth is that the Brits have been fomenting conflict in the Middle East since before World War I. It served their oil interest.  They created a bunch of artificial countries, cutting across familiar and tribal lines, and making sure they were all conflicted with each other.  If one can point to a single major source of the Israeli-Arab conflict, it is definitely the British government. Only in recent years the Arabs themselves started to understand that, and are now slowly uniting and becoming a formidable entity. To believe the BBC’s testimony is like believing a murderer testifying in his own trial. The film claimed that the UK turned the matter to the United Nation General Assembly. That is categorically not true. The UN meeting was forced upon the UK.

Second, let us look at the claim that the Israelis took the country away from the Palestinians. Before the Jewish settlements started in the 19th century, there was no country. There was only a neglected piece of land that was half desert and half swamp. This piece of land was controlled by the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). Huge lots were given or sold to rich merchants throughout the empire. The land was considered worthless until the Jewish settlement started.  Even as late as late as 1945 is was believed that the country can only support a few hundreds of thousand people. Nothing like the 7.5 million it supports today.

Not only was there no country, there were no people in it.  Areas that did not have Malaria were too arid to sustain life. It is estimated that that there were between 10,000 and 20,000 people in the land when the Jewish settlement started.  Not all of those were Arabs.  The vast majority of the Palestinians came after the Jewish settlements started.  They came looking for work. They came from Iraq, Syria, and Jordan. The BBC’s own admission is that in 1948 there where 800 Arab villages in the country. Considering the fact that a village with 500 people was a big one, this put the Palestinian population at a maximum of 400,000 people.  That is about half of the Jewish population at the time.  Not the majority the film talks about.

The film mentioned massacres by the Israelis in 1948.  I am not justifying these acts.  I view them as war crimes.  However, from the Israeli side these were the exception. From the Arab side this was the rule.  Whenever Arabs (other than the Jordanian Legion) occupied any Jewish settlement they butchered everybody and mutilated the bodies.  Whenever the captures an Israeli soldier he had no chance of staying alive.  That was never mentioned in the film.

I want to make it clear that I do believe the Palestinians have the right to a state. I feel that they did receive the short end of the stick.  I believe Israel made many mistakes in handling the issues.  I will discuss these in future blogs.  I just want to remove all the lies first.  For a solution to occur both side have to recognize the other side right to exist.  Before that there is no place for negotiation.

I am hereby recognizing the right of the Palestinian people to exist as a nation in a state of their own.  I challenge any Palestinian to reciprocate by personally declaring recognition of the right of the Israelis to a state of their own.

Thoughts on the Last Fight in Gaza

For an outsider looking at what is happening in the Middle East it is easy to take an aloof view point and say: “Why can’t you guys just stop fighting with each other?”  It is easy to judge both sides as being similar.  However, this is not the case.  Israel is a democratic republic.  It has free elections.  It has freedom of speech to a degree surpassing even the United Stated.  It is a highly developed, and economically stable country.

Because it is a democracy, Israel does not always have the best government. It has known good Prime Ministers and bad ones.  However, the Israeli government has to operate within the boundary of the law.  Israel has a pretty good Supreme Court, and anybody can take his grievances to it.

Israelis put a lot of importance on protecting civilians.  The israeli army (IDF) would not dream of placing a munition store in a densely populated area.  They do feel that their job is to protect the population and not hide behind it.

While Israel is a Jewish State.  It operate on secular law.  In fact, the jewish religious law takes an ever decreasing part in the conduct of the government and all its branches.

In comparison, let us look at the Hamas government. Once the Hamas took power in Gaza in a democratic election, they were never willing to take the risk of having another election.  Democracy? I do not think so.  As for rule of law, the only laws enforced in Gaza are the Sharia (Islamic) laws as interpreted by Hamas leaders.  These laws are only applied to the population at large not to the Hamas leaders themselves.

The Hamas government is funded and supported by Iran.  A country that is not at all interested in protecting the palestinian people.  Thus, Hamas is not concerned at all with the protection of its people.  On the contrary, they hide behind the population.  They place munitions under hospitals.  The launch rockets from school yards.  Then they cynically use civilian casualties real and imaginary in their propaganda.

Economically, Gaza is fully dependent on Israel, Egypt, and Iran.  Even while the latest fighting was going on, Israel kept the electricity going to Gaza.  This while the Hamas was shelling these same lines.  I implore all the readers to stop thinking about Hamas in the same way they think about their own government.  Hamas is not a government.  It is not “by the people and for the people.”  It does not “serve and protect.”

Let us now look at the latest confrontation.  For four years the Hamas has been rocketing Israeli cities.  Their fight is a fight of cowards. They do not fight the Israeli army. They fight innocent civilians.  To the word they talk about some right that they supposedly have to the land of Israel.  They keep repeating historically outrageous lies.  I urge the readers to not buy into these lies.  The land of Israel was never theirs.  The big Arab migration to “Palestine” came after the Israeli settlement started not before.  In 1948 when they fled the country, most of the land was uninhabited.  They cannot take credit for any of the achievements of Israel.

I want to make it clear that the last paragraph does not apply to those Arabs and other minorities who stayed in Israel.  I consider them equal partners in the development of the Country.

But let us be really blunt here.  Even if the Palestinian grievances where justified.  Does that give them moral permission to attack civilian population?  If your answer is “yes”, I urge you to consider what your response would have been if missiles landed in your city, or in your back yard.  If you were afraid to send your child to school because of missiles coming over the border.  If your answer to that would be that you still justify that kind of aggression, you are simply being dishonest.

So, like I mentioned before, for four years an aggression against civilian population.  What was the “right winged” Netanyahu government doing about it? In a word, nothing.  Two months before the election Netanyahu woke up and started a military campaign against Gaza. He received an unprecedented support from the people.  Even the left winged supported him.  Even President Shimon Peres, a known piece activist supported him.  Unusually, even the European Union supported him.  Everybody believed that he will now deal a deadly blow to the Hamas, toppling its government and placing a more moderate government in Gaza.  However, that did not happen Netanyahu, who is not a decisive person, yielded to a mild pressure exerted by the US and declared a pre-mature cease fire.  To the people of Israel he told that Hamas was bitten.  Yet, for three hours after the cease fire was in effect Hamas continue to launch rockets at Israel.  If they are so destroyed, how come they can launch so many rockets.

I believe that Netanyahu and by association Obama made several grave mistakes in their treatment of the issue.  A mistake that not only hurts the interest of Israel, but also the interest of the United States.

  1. By dealing with Hamas before their military might was visibly destroyed they gave Hams (and its protector Iran) a great political win.  Even if the Israeli government is correct, and Hamas resources were destroyed, this win will encourage them to continue the route of violence.
  2. By giving in to Hamas’ requests regarding and easing the blockade (something Israel should have done on its own four years ago), Israel and the US gave Hamas (and the Palestinian Authority) a clear message: “If you persist with terrorism, you will win.”  This not only hurts Israel, it also hurts the moderate Palestinians.
  3. Egypt has become openly hostile to Israel and covertly hostile to the United States.  Its Prime Minister is taking dictatorial measures.  Israel and the US should have not agreed to hold the talks in Cairo under the auspices of the Egyptian Prime Minister.  There are enough moderate Arab Countries who would have loved to hold the talks.
  4. Throughout the fighting Israel and the US neglected to mention that the situation in Syria is much more dire.  The Syrian President is murdering his own people.  He welcomed the respite where everybody was blaming Israel.  Israel neglected to direct the blame back to him.

One might ask: “So what do we do now?  Do we renew the fighting?”  The answer is no it is too late for that.  This is what must happen now:

  • The Israeli people should not vote for Netanyahu he does not care about the majority of Israeli people.  He did not act to solve the problems faced by the Israeli population.
  • Israel and the United States should encourage the Palestinian Authority.  They have been non violent for a while and they have been concentrating on their own country.  This behavior should be promoted.
  • Israel should make it very clear that even one missile launched at its population will constitute a declaration of war and the Israeli Army will response with a decisive blow to the Hamas government.  It is the United States best interest to publicly support that.
  • Israel should clearly tell the European Community: “We are here.  We are not going away.  We will protect ourselves and our existence at all cost.  If you have a disagreement with that look at your own history.”  It should be made very clear (and demonstrated by dealing with the Palestinian Authority) that we are willing to negotiate for a peaceful solution, but not under the gun.
  • Israel and the United States should work with the moderate Arab Countries toward a resolution in Syria.  Israel shares a long border with Syria.  Syria creates a connection between Iran and Hezbollah.  We can no longer be deaf to the cries of the Syrian people.  We must act.