Twitter and email info

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why Won't Someone Help the Poor Palestinians? (Part I)

Links: A. Wikipedia Entry For Palestine
           B.  PLO Corruption
           C. Endemic Corruption in Palestine
           D. EU Audit Of PA Finds Billions Unaccounted For
           E. Obama Releases 500 Million In Aid To PA

Now THIS is a tough subject to tackle in four paragraphs or less.  Politically speaking, I do not apologize for the fact that I am a great admirer and supporter of the Israeli people.  This shouldn't come as a surprise to you unless this is the first time you have visited the blog.  Simply put, I tend to look at the history of the region with as little complication as possible.  In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition the British-occupied land known as Palestine, and divide it between Jews and Arabs/Palestinians.  The international Jewish community was still reeling from the damages of the Holocaust, and there was a great deal of sentiment in favor of the idea of a Jewish nation or homeland.  Obviously consideration was given to the European survivors of the genocide, and the real possibility that they had no interest in returning to Germany, or Austria, or Hungary, or any other country that had either assisted the Nazis or turned a blind eye to the relocation of European Jews to concentration camps.  Before the World Wars, and international Zionist organization existed for the sole purpose of finding a suitable location for a Jewish homeland (the Russian pogroms, miniature versions of the death camps, had sounded the alarm that trouble was on its way).  If they had been successful, it would be interesting to know if Israel as we know it would have come into existence.
Following the end of the Second World War, the United Nations was determined to provide the Jewish diaspora some place to claim as their own.  Palestine seemed like as good a place as any.  the population was very rural, much of it nomadic.  It was home to two large urban areas, Jerusalem and Haifa, but otherwise, the UN probably assumed no one would complain about their choice.  Certainly the Jews were happy, because Palestine was the land of David and the home of the Jewish Holy City of Jerusalem.  In truth, the Arab community was not happy, because for as long as anyone could recall, the land was Arab land (occupied by Ottoman Turks from the 14th century until the end of the First World War).  The UN and the British expected them to share with the Jews but why should they have to share anything that belongs to them?  The Arab countries in the region rose in revolt and invaded the nascent state of Israel.  the Israelis, against all odds, prevailed, just as they did in the Six-Day war (1967) and the Yom Kippur War (1973).  In each instance Israel was heavily outnumbered in tanks, planes and troops (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, sometimes Lebanon against Israel), but managed to win and occupy formerly Egyptian and Jordanian territory.  This is the crux of the problem: Israel's continued occupation of land that the Palestinians claim is their homeland.

Following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel militarily occupied the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, the Golan Heights of Syria, and the West Bank of the Jordan River (Jordan).  Each location was strategic and was used as the invasion route chosen by the Arab armies, so Israel felt justified it keeping this land.  The Sinai, which is sparsely populated, was eventually returned to Egypt, but the West Bank, heavily populated, and the Golan Heights, were not returned.  When Israel won its war of Independence in 1947, the Arabs that were living in Israel or in territory that was now occupied by Israeli forces, picked up and moved, mostly to Jordan.  After the next two wars, Israel assumed possession of the part of Jordan known as the West Bank, which was home to almost three million Arabs, who rightly identified themselves as Palestinians. Initially Israel considered annexing the West Bank permanently, and construction began on Jewish settlements.  its possible that the leaders of Israel at the time thought it might encourage the Palestinians to leave the West Bank, but they didn't.  Then the Jewish settlements became a hot-button issue in internal Israeli politics.  The moderates and the left in the Knesset demanded at least an end to construction, and at best, an evacuation of Israeli Jews.  On the other hand, the right-wing coalition not only refused to stop existing construction, they announced intentions to start new developments.  The occupying Palestinians were left to consider that three decades previously, the entire land was Arab; they were forced to move in 1947, then again in 1967.  There would not be another move.  The Golan heights of Syria did not develop into an issue of settlements; instead, it would flare-up every few years when the Syrians would demand Israeli withdrawal, and in response Israel would gas up the tanks for a nice Golan parade.

One very small section of the Egyptian Sinai was heavily populated.  The Gaza Strip borders the Mediterranean on the west, Israel on the north and east, and Egypt on the south.  The small piece of land (139 square miles) is home to almost two million Palestinians, another example of people being moved from one place to the next because of war.  At least Gaza isn't occupied by Israel.  It is administered by Hamas, a political party that is recognized as a terrorist organization in the west.  In total, roughly five million Palestinians live in Gaza and the West Bank.  They have been demanding independence for as long as I can remember.  Gaza is independent, but its economy is controlled by Israel and Egypt, who can shut its borders on a whim.  Interestingly enough, the majority of Palestinians (and descendants of the original occupants of Palestine) have probably settled and put down roots in other countries, including the United States, various European nations, Lebanon, and the Gulf States.  In a sad aside note, in some of the wealthier Arab countries, Palestinians are treated as second-class citizens and find it difficult to qualify for anything but manual labor jobs and cleaning up after people.  While screaming about how Israel mistreats the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, wealthy Arab families in Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE do just the same in their own homes to their Palestinian maids and garden workers.  Back to the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.  Since we are talking about almost five million souls, the resolution of this issue needs to be a priority.  When it became clear that Gaza was going to achieve some level of self-governance, the call went out to the west for financial support.  The hope was that Gaza would become a peaceful, economically successful (albeit crowded) nation, able to decide it own affairs.  Once the money started flowing in, everything changed.  The original political representative of the Palestinian people, the Palestine Liberation Organization of Yasser Arafat, eventually renounced terrorism when they realized how much money would be donated from the west to help build schools, infrastructure, etc.  Arafat and his PLO collected billions of dollars from the west, and managed to steal just about every penny.  When Arafat died, the number of bank accounts in his name (many in Paris), and the amount of money that would be inherited by his widow, was nothing short of staggering.  After the PLO, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was born to represent the interests of the Palestinian People.  Following the renouncing of terror by the PLO, two groups in the region picked up the mantle of terror, Hamas and Hezbollah.  Hamas seated itself right in the middle of the Palestinian "occupied territories", while Hezbollah, addicted to financial support from Iran and Syria, chose Lebanon as a safe place from which to lob the odd missile into northern Israeli settlements.  Once financial aid started to flow into Gaza, The PA and Hamas decided to fight for the title of "official political representative of the Palestinian community of Gaza".  Hamas won the most recent election, so they are currently the legitimate government in Gaza.  And they are also still on just about everyone's short list of nasty terrorist organizations.

No comments:

Post a Comment