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A brief history lesson of the Middle East

A little while ago, I stumbled across what has to be the umpteenth reference to the "illegal" Israeli occupation the West Bank (and, formerly, the Gaza Strip). This, much like so many tired old sayings, is patently wrong, but its proponents hope it will gain strength through repetition. So, here are a few rebuttals to that tired old fraud.

1) Every single war Israel has fought has been started by the other side. With two exceptions, Israel's enemies fired the first shot.

2) The first exception was the 6-Day War, when Israel struck first, just before the Arabs were ready to attack. In that case, Egypt had declared and was enforcing a blockade of Eilat, Israel's only Red Sea port. Blockades are universally recognized as acts of war.

But they need not be taken as such. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, we imposed a blockade on Cuba. The Kennedy administration fully knew this could have triggered a real war, and played it as a "calculated risk" -- and it worked. In Egypt's case, it was not intended to head off a war, but as a prelude to one.

3) Israel's invasion of Lebanon was preceded by years of attacks across the border. The Lebanese government lacked the will and wherewithal to curb Hizbollah, so Israel took matters into her own hands.

4) Under international law, captured lands are to be returned upon the signing of a formal peace agreement. Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt after the signing of the Camp David Accords.

5) For the 20 years prior to the 1967 war, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were in the possession of Egypt and Jordan respectively. During those times, those nations took not a single step towards granting the Palestinians any self-rule, independence, or any sort of accomodation. In fact, they did just the opposite -- they kept them in squalor and penned up in refugee camps to maintain their status as victims for propaganda purposes.

6) After the war, neither Egypt nor Jordan expressed any interest in re-acquiring the Palestinian territories they lost. Even had Israel been willing to give them back, they simply didn't want them.

7) There IS NO historical "Palestine" that could reclaim their land and heritage, as Israel did in 1948. Go look it up -- find a single evidence of a "Palestinian" state that could re-emerge from history. Cite a few rulers of ancient Palestine. Tell me about a few historical events. Discuss their relations with their neighbors. Hell, tell me what they called their currency. The current "Palestine" is a hodge-podge of Jordanians, Egyptians, and other nationalities, created out of whole cloth simply to give the Arab world an additional club to beat the Israelis with -- especially since they've failed so miserably at defeating them militarily.

8) Israel did NOT "hand over" the Gaza Strip -- it simply abandoned it, walked away and left the residents to fend for themselves. And despite the best efforts of many well-meaning folks, the residents promptly started asserting their self-destructive tendencies. They started by destroying the greenhouses the Jewish settlers had built. The settlers had intended on dismantling them as they left, but a group of mostly Jewish folks raised money and bought them to give to the Palestinians -- who promptly wrecked them.

The whole "illegal occupation" is the simple, legal, and eminently predictable result of a faction starting and losing a war, then refusing to accept their defeat. Jordan could reclaim the West Bank at any time, but they aren't interested in taking back the West Bank. Syria could make the return of the Golan Heights (from where they repeatedly rained down missiles, bombs, and artillery shells on Israel for years and years) a condition of a peace agreement, but have refused to even discuss it.

When, like Israel, you're surrounded by people who openly want to destroy you, it's kind of hard to feel magnanimous. "Give us what we lost right now, or we'll destroy you!" "But you say you're going to destroy us anyway, so why should we?" seems to sum it up pretty well.


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Comments (15)

Well said. Thanks. ... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

Well said. Thanks.

Good post, Jay.Wai... (Below threshold)

Good post, Jay.

Waiting for a whining reponse from commenter "Muslim Unity" that alternates outrage/threats with playing the victim card, coming in




The Arab-Israeli wars by Ch... (Below threshold)

The Arab-Israeli wars by Chaim Herzog is a must read.

"There IS NO historical ... (Below threshold)

"There IS NO historical "Palestine" that could reclaim their land and heritage,"

Just ask any Native American.

Well, there IS a historical... (Below threshold)

Well, there IS a historical region called Palestine, or Philistia. And it did have rulers. At least according to the Bible.

Just to clarify, there is n... (Below threshold)

Just to clarify, there is no parallel between the civic makeup of the Native American nations vs. the inhabitants of the region known as Palestine after the Jews were driven out. Native Americans had currency, national borders, conducted diplomacy and war, did all those things which you would expect of sovereign nations. No such stuctures or activities existed in Palestine post-Judea.

You might be interested in ... (Below threshold)

You might be interested in a visual of the history of the middle east.


This fan created video goes with audio featured on the Glenn Beck Program.

This is the most succinct a... (Below threshold)
Corky Boyd:

This is the most succinct and accurate description of the mid-east situation I have read. The only thing you might have added is that the state of Israel was specifically authorized by the UN, which bears an obligation to see that it survives.

Great summation, Jay. Just ... (Below threshold)

Great summation, Jay. Just an added note on the status of conquered territory. If I understand the international laws of war correctly, a country that takes over land, that was used to launch an offensive war, is legally allowed to annex those lands so that the belligerant nations don't use them again as a staging ground for later attacks. This is why you don't hear much talk about the Golan heights. Which unlike Judea, Samaria and Gaza were actually taken from a nation (Syria) who really wants it back. But, Israel legal annexed the Heights since it, rightfully, holds that it would be used again in any conflict as a staging point for attacks on Israel.
Another small point...
Legally both Gaza and the West Bank were occupied territories prior to the '67 war. They were lands set as part of the British mandate and were going to be dealt with under the UN partition plan. When the armies of Jordan and Egypt attacked they conquered the territories, didn't annex them or give the inhabitants any legal rights etc. etc.
Of course, no one cares to mention that point.

Ale:Well, there I... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

Well, there IS a historical region called Palestine, or Philistia. And it did have rulers. At least according to the Bible.

The term "Palestine" comes from the Roman name for "Philistine", or what the area of Canaan was called before it was settled by the ancient Israelites. However, the Philistines pre-dated the Romans by a good number of centuries. The reason the Romans used the name was to disparage the Israelis who had the nasty habit of rising up against Roman rule, something with which the Romans finally dealt with by slaughtering the Jews and exiling many from their historical homeland.

However, there is no connection whatsoever between the Philistines and the current Arabs who consider themselves Palestinians. (Ironically, though, Biblical passages and rumor has it that the Arab Palestinians are actually distant cousins of the Jews.)

Just saying... there is a h... (Below threshold)

Just saying... there is a historical Palestine (and the rulers of it, I believe, were Jews in those good 'ol Bible days).

It might not have anything to do with the "Palestine" of today - but it still is a geographic region.

Please rename the article, ... (Below threshold)

Please rename the article, maybe to "hodge-podge"

Do you realize the Mayans h... (Below threshold)

Do you realize the Mayans have a better claim on Mexico than Palestinians have on Israel?

I think we need to hand Mexico over to the Mayans! Who's with me?

There is really only one ru... (Below threshold)

There is really only one rule, and it applies to any country. It's your land if you can hold it.

So, the PEOPLE - who lived ... (Below threshold)

So, the PEOPLE - who lived in the region of the Near East called Palestine, when the zionists decided to claim it, their remote 'ancestors' having left...2,000 years before - did not exist? Of course, they were 'mere primitive Arabs'. But the zionists forget one 'little' detail: The 'Arabs'(who by the way are...Semites) fought for their own freedom from the Ottomans with the help of the British who had PROMISED them their self-determination. But then as now, treason and dishonesty prevailed.
It is no use citing the UN for 'legality', since the 'Israelis' disregard any resolution issued to them by this organization.
Can't you all see the misery caused by the invasion of the Near and Middle East?






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