Arafat the Magnanimous

by | Jan 7, 2003

In light of the most recent twin acts of barbarism deliberately directed against Israeli innocents (twenty-two dead, scores injured–many missing body parts–so far) and proudly claimed by Arafat’s own Fatah al- Aqsa affiliate, it’s time to take a closer look at some of the underlying issues that have been virtually ignored up until now. Consider […]

In light of the most recent twin acts of barbarism deliberately directed against Israeli innocents (twenty-two dead, scores injured–many missing body parts–so far) and proudly claimed by Arafat’s own Fatah al- Aqsa affiliate, it’s time to take a closer look at some of the underlying issues that have been virtually ignored up until now. Consider the following, for starters…

Molly Moore at the Washington Post and many of her colleagues don’t like Arik Sharon very much, especially those settlements he insists upon. They seem to prefer a breed of Jew that bares his neck much easier. But, then again, she complained about Ehud Barak as well, even though, had Arabs agreed to have a state alongside Israel instead of in place of it under his watch, virtually all of those settlements complained about would have been history by now. Not to mention the fact that when Sharon himself believed Israel had a true partner for peace, he dismantled settlements in Sinai for Menachem Begin in order to achieve peace with Egypt. And he’d do it again for the sake of real peace for his people, not the peace of the grave. This all begs the question: Why is there never an attempt, in the name of fair journalism, to determine why those Jews are so adamant on this issue.

It has been reported that Arafat is seeking to limit Arab disembowelment and incineration of Jews to just the West Bank. He’s allegedly trying to set up meetings with the other half of his good cop/bad cop team, Hamas & Co., to arrange this. Yet, again, it was his own al-Aqsa affiliate that carried out January 5th’s deadly twin blasts as well as the Thanksgiving Day massacre of Jews at voting booths and a bus station. And it was al-Aqsa that committed still another of these “heroic deeds” just days earlier in Kibbutz Metzer. Among other victims, two young boys, cowering under sheets in bed, were deliberately shot to death at close range, their mother using her own body to try to shield them. This was followed by a massacre of Jews at one of Judaism’s most sacred shrines, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Since Arafat has now been proven to be, at the very least, the paymaster behind many if not most of the murders of Jews regardless of domicile (Kibbutz Metzer is within Israel’s narrow, pre-’67 armistice lines as is Beit Shean, site of the attack on voters), his negotiations with Hamas might be construed as “progress.” Arafat will thus supposedly show the world that he is only against occupation and settlers, not Israel itself.

For those without a grasp of history, both recent and a bit farther back, this might work. And it will do so for those who simply like to believe Israel is the devil incarnate as well. Unfortunately, it also seems to work with a media afflicted too often with a severe case of amnesia on such issues. The reality is that this gesture is just another staged fiction for, at best, a naive West.

Just who is a “settler” in the Middle East? Of course, Arabs will point to Jews. So, unless the “West Bank” is ethnically cleansed of the Jewish presence, as the fiction goes, there will be no chance for peace. The press lends support to this position as well. Consider, for example, the November 16, 2002 AP report by Nasser Shiyoukhi. Listen to his description of the situation in Hebron: “The Muslims here are among the most devout and the Jewish settlers among the most radical.” Notice the adjectives. Unlike the Arabs, the Jews – who know that they are risking their lives living among hostile Arabs but do so anyway for deep religious conviction and faith – are not described as “devout,” a positive concept, but are labeled, instead, as being “radical,” with negative connotations. Yet the Tomb of the Patriarchs was sacred to Jews for over two thousand years before the Prophet of Islam ever lived and before the vast majority of Arabs ever knew that the Hebrew Patriarch, Abraham, even existed. The same folks who claim that there was no Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem (Arafat calls it Buraq’s Mount in honor of Muhammad’s winged horse who supposedly took him on a flight to the holy site) deny any Jewish connections to Hebron as well.

Now for a dose of reality. Arafat was born in Egypt. Scores of thousands of other Arabs came from Egypt earlier in the 19th century with Muhammad Ali’s armies and, like Arafat, settled in Palestine. During the mandatory period after World War I, the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission recorded additional scores of thousands of Egyptian, Syrian, and other Arabs entering into Palestine and settling there. Hamas’ patron saint, Sheikh Izzadin al-Qassam, for whom its militant wing (the folks who blow up the teen clubs, pizzerias, etc.) was named, was from Aleppo, Syria. He too settled in Palestine. It is estimated that for each one of these people who were recorded, many others crossed the border under cover of darkness to enter into one of the few areas in the region where any economic development was going on because of the influx of Jewish capital. These folks later became known as “native Palestinians.” While this is not to say that there were not native Arabs also living in Palestine, it is to say that many if not most of these folks were also newcomers – settlers – themselves. Many of the villages set up in the West Bank and elsewhere were settlements established by Arab settlers. And there were Jews whose families never left Israel/Judaea/Palestine as well over the centuries, despite the tragedies of the Roman Wars, forced conversions of the Byzantines, the Diaspora, Crusades, etc.

So, why is it acceptable for Arabs from the surrounding lands to settle in Palestine, but not for Israel’s Jews, half of whom were refugees themselves from Arab/Muslim lands? Jews owned land and lived in Judea/Samaria until they were massacred by Arabs in the 1920s. Those lands weren’t known as the “West Bank” until British imperialism made its presence there in the 20th century and purely Arab Transjordan – created itself in 1922 from 80% of the Mandate for Palestine Britain received on April 25, 1920 – annexed the “west bank” of the Jordan River after the 1948 fighting. Saying Jews have no rights in places like Hebron is like claiming that if China conquers the Vatican, then Catholics will no longer have rights there. Again, the world would not know of the significance of Hebron if not for the Holy Scriptures of the Jews. If one million Arabs can live as citizens without fear in Israel, then why is it that Arabs insist that lands where both peoples have historical ties must be made Judenrein?

UN Resolution 242 emerged in the aftermath of the Six Day War. It did not call for Israel to return to the pre-’67 armistice lines. Among other things, those lines had made Israel a mere 9-miles wide, a constant temptation to its enemies. Notice, please, that the vast majority of the settlements are built on strategic high ground areas designed to provide precisely what Israel is entitled to under Resolution #242, a slightly increased buffer from those who would destroy it. Furthermore, any eventual Israeli withdrawal was to be linked to the establishment of “secure and recognized borders” to replace those fragile lines. Legal experts such as William O’Brien, Eugene Rostow, and others have repeatedly stated that the non-apportioned areas (i.e. the West Bank in particular) of the Palestinian Mandate were open to settlement by all residents of the Mandate, not just Arabs. That Arabs disagree is not a shock. They don’t believe Jews have rights in any part of Israel. Keep in mind that most of the 22 so-called “Arab” states were themselves conquered and forcibly Arabized from non-Arab peoples like Berbers, Copts, Kurds, Black Africans, etc.

Lastly, at Camp David 2000 and Taba, Barak’s Israel offered to end the occupation. 97% of the territories, half of Jerusalem, a $33 billion fund, etc. were offered to Arafat in a contiguous state, not disconnected cantons, as Arab spin doctors now claim. Dennis Ross was there as U.S. chief negotiator and confirmed all of this. I’ll take his word over Arafat’s. So much for occupation being the cause of the problem.

Unfortunately, Arafat’s “vision of peace” has no room for a permanent Israel. He speaks of the “peace of the Quraysh.” The Quraysh were a pagan tribe with whom the Muslim Prophet, Muhammad, made a temporary peace with until he gained enough strength to deal the final blow. Even the PLO’s late model moderate, Faisal Husseini, called for a purely Arab Palestine “from the River to the Sea.” Go to the Palestinian Authority websites and look at its maps and insignias. There is no Israel present. And these are the “good cops.” Go to the Hamas site and then understand why the sole, miniscule state of the Jews cannot be expected to commit national suicide so that Arabs can obtain their 23rd state – and second one in Palestine.

Originally published in at

Gerald A. Honigman is a contributing writer for Jewish Xpress Magazine [], a monthly publication based in southern Florida.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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