Israel’s First Step as a Modern Nation: Appeasement!
True to tradition, many leftist Jews in Israel and outside keep clamouring for far-reaching and potentially dangerous Israeli concessions to a so-called Palestinian people whose leaders do not seem genuinely amenable to a peaceful end to the conflict. They usually implicate Netanyahu alone as the source of the problem. And they suggest that the “Palestinian” Arabs and the rest of the world are right to keep on hammering away at us. Given that Israel was born an appeaser, there is no sign that we have outgrown our “appeaserhood” and the thinking is that the pressure tactics may eventually work. Let me explain:
One problem we Jews have is that we want everyone to like us. This clouds the judgement of many of us and is what lies behind Bennett’s election-time “I apologize” video. We do seem to accept blame for whatever goes wrong between us and the “Palestinian” Arabs. This, of course, fits in well with the tendency of much of the world to blame Israel for ALL the problems in the Middle East, most recently for the rise of ISIL and for the claim that if only Israel would make peace with the “Palestinians”, everything would be quiet on the Middle East front. I also see our pathological need to be liked as underlying our own incomprehensible acceptance and use of certain terms that actually have no basis in fact, such as “The Occupation” and “The Palestinians”, for example.
And even more amazingly, I see this as the reason behind our easy willingness way back in 1947 to accept the partition plan that further divided our small internationally recognized modern State of Israel in two, about half to us and half to the Arabs — after Palestine had already been divided into two pieces by the 1920 San Remo Resolution.
Our indigenous homeland had been carefully delineated by the Zionist founders as encompassing some lands east of the Jordan River in part of what is now Jordan (they made no claim to all the Palestinian Mandate lands), and they were surprised by the proposal by which ALL land east of the Jordan was to be excluded from the Jewish homeland. However, the Jordan River was decided upon as the border in negotiations that were confirmed by the League of Nations (see Notes to Article 25) in 1922. Happy for the official recognition of a Jewish homeland, the Zionists continued to buy land and develop it.
Then, in 1947, with no legal document drawn up to replace the 1920 agreement, the Zionist leadership was asked to accept a second division of the land and half was offered to the Arabs because of Arab horror at the impending vote in the UN to declare the State of Israel. Israel accepted this further division of our indigenous lands in spite of the fact that it excluded historical and cultural/religious sites highly significant to us as Jews. Is our acceptance of this carving up of our national homeland not appeasement? We were afraid, perhaps, that refusing to give up land would have resulted in a failure of the UN vote and what is appeasement if not giving in out of fear of the consequences of being assertive? Looking back, I am not sure that we would actually have failed in the UN vote, given the contemporary context and international opinion of the time.
But we gave in. And in giving in, we established ourselves as a nation of appeasers.
Subsequently, these 1947 borders – with no legal document changing the 1920 San Remo agreement for the Palestinian Mandate – became part of the cultural lore of lies. The world demands we go back to the borders of 1947 that were born in appeasement and war. Why not demand we go back to the borders of 1920, the last legal document defining the borders of Israel? It is as if everyone, ourselves included, have forgotten that that was supposed to be the State of Israel.
Why are we Israelis not reminding the world of the true history of our State? Why are we not reminding them that the land between the 1947 borders and the Jordan River were, in fact, defined as part of Israel? Why are we not reminding them that the Arabs never accepted the change in borders offered them in 1947 and, instead, challenged our very existence with a war that was intended to get rid of us entirely? Why are we not reminding them that Gaza was intended to be part of the State of Israel? Why are we not reminding them that Judea & Samaria (the West Bank), the Golan and Gaza were occupied between 1947 and 1967 by Jordan, Syria and Egypt and that by engaging us in war in 1967, they actually helped us free those lands from the occupiers?
Why? Because we want everyone to leave us alone and to just let us go about the business of building our country. Israeli appeasers today, including all who use the nonsensical terms, “The Israeli Occupation” and “The Palestinians” (look at the 1920 San Remo Agreement to see who the name, Palestinians, referred to), are hoping that by agreeing to give up land AGAIN, everyone will leave us alone to attend to matters within our borders.
But history shows us that that is not going to happen.
Born in appeasement, are we destined to remain appeasers forever? I am not saying anything here in favour or in opposition to any political party platform, nor am I saying what I think the solution is; I am merely stating that we should stand up and assertively address the situation using terminology that reflects history as it really happened and not as certain parts of the global community fantasize it happened. I am asking that we not rewrite or allow anyone else to rewrite our national history. We need to tell it as it was.
A version of this post was first published in the Times of Israel on 15 February 2015.