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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

There Goes the Neighborhood When the Jews Move In: Or-What Arabs Experienced

Nadene Goldfoot
The Arabs were not dispossessed from their land in Palestine.  Land was bought by Jews from Arabs.  Britain had given away large tracts of land to Arabs, including absentee landlords in Egypt and Syria when they sold their parcels to the Zionists.  Only 9% of land for Israel was received by concession from the government.  The Arabs selling land exploited Jews as the market was a closed one and the Jewish buyers were most eager.  The price for land kept rising so by 1944 Jews paid Arab sellers $1,100 per acre for arid or semiarid land that had lain fallow for hundreds if not thousands of years.  This was when rich soil in Iowa sold for about $100 per acre.  When Israel was established, 70% of all her land was from her allotment from the Mandate, and the British in turn had inherited it from the Ottoman regime.  The League of Nations had decided on the tract that was to become the Jewish Homeland and Britain was expected to carry out the decree. 

Arabs had been moving out of the area.  After all, what was there to keep them?  Mosquitoes, Malaria, flies, swamps or deserts and extreme heat or cold.    You could take your pick.  Very few Arabs really lived there.

Jews coming into the neighborhood were developers and brought the promise of jobs, causing a reversal of Arab migration.  The Zionists had been transforming the wasteland into farms and cities.  This resulted in modern health and sanitation.  The Arab death rate dropped.  Jewish methods of agriculture were adopted by the Arabs and their yields increased.  The standard of living was greatly improved.  No wonder the Arab potentates were alarmed.  Their citizens would clamor for such a change as well! 

After 1967 Judea, Samaria and Gaza fell into Israel's hands.  Jews  moved into these areas as well.  This land was loaded with ancient Jewish history.  The occupation has been extremely benevolent.  Israel established the principle of not interfering with the life of the Arab population except in education.  They insisted on replacing school texts containing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic demonology and justification of genocide with the textbooks they had.  Unfortunately,  the Arabs  have been replacing acceptable material with their own hateful propaganda.  The second thing Israel  did was to try to improve the Arab's economic situation with their own money.  Teams were sent to teach farmers modern methods and how to use modern equipment.  They loaned them money for new industrial plants or improvement of existing plants.  They opened up vocational centers.  Besides this, they opened the gates to Arab workers from Judea, Samaria and Gaza.  40,000 Arab workers came into Israel by 1972 to work.  The Arabs  were then able to sell  their products across the river  Jordan.  Thus unemployment was combatted, even for those living in refugee camps in Gaza.

In a few cases of an Arab preaching violence against Israel, the usual punishment was banishment into Jordan.  However, if somebody has given shelter to terrorists, the result is the destruction of their houses after due warning.   Israel has had the position of occupying a hostile conquered population and has had to take steps such as this to preserve law and order for both Arabs and Jews.  It's better than execution. 

Even when the cease-fire was not honored by the Arabs, when terrorists infiltrated, Israel kept the bridges open across the Jordan.  Arabs could visit their relatives and friends.  Students were allowed to go abroad to study in Cairo and other Arab universities.  Thousands of Arabs in Jordan cross the river each summer to visit relatives in Judea and Samaria.  In 1971 and 1972 Arabs at war with Israel and Arabs from Judea and Samaria went to the beaches in Israel for a holiday.  One Arab writer, Atallah Mansour, described his summer as "taking a vacation in the Zionist hell."  (Haaretz, July 30, 1971).  Life had been good for Arabs who had remained in Israel at the birth of its creation May 14, 1948.  These Arabs of Gaza, Judea and Samaria were discoving how the Arab citizens had been faring. 

Zionism has taught a positive Jewish patriotism.  It has aimed at fostering love:  love of the Jewish people, love of the country, and has never taught to hate.  It has constantly sought ways and means to have relaxed relations with Arabs.  Zeev Jabotinsky strove for a peaceful Israel enjoying a happy and prosperous coexistence of Jews, Christians and Muslims.  The knesset has had Arab members and since 1971 had an Arab deputy minister in the government. 

But the Arabs have had no clone of Jabotinsky and probably the history about Emir Feisal has been erased from their records, a man who welcomed Jews into the neighborhood. Now,  after constant warring from Gaza, the Arabs of Gaza, Judea and Samaria are seeking their own  creation of a state of Palestine while still being in a state of war with Israel.  Their idea of a state is to have Judea and Samaria all Arab, so will no doubt want to kick out all the Jews.  Their charter has not changed.  They wish to do away with Israel.  They refuse to  recognize Israel as a Jewish state. 

Jews are an ancient people who established the world's first laws of common decency in relationships with other people.  Up to this time, the world was a pretty savage place.  Treating people decently is part and parcel to the Jewish religion and culture.  It's in their soul.  The last thing they would ever do is to treat people inhumanely, even though they have been treated that way themselves.  It's even more reason to bend over backwards and treat others well.  They have done their best to win over the Palestinian heart.  Only time can tell if they ever succeeded.  They've gone the mile to gain an inch. 

Resource: Battleground: Fact and fantasy in Palestine by Samuel Katz

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