Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict
[ Equality of Israelis and Palestinians ] [ Palestinian info by Edward Said ]

Edward Said misrepresents and twists the facts about Palestine

Edward Said says it is unfair that Jews are “allowed” sovereignty while Palestinians are not. Both Jews and Palestinians had it in the 1947 U.N. resolution that divided the mandate territory into two states, israel and Palestine.[1] Some chances lost cannot be regained. Upon what are the “rights” of nations based? Can nations roll back history and correct their mistakes? France would have had more forces at Waterloo, Russia would have retained her pre-World War I borders, Israel might not have rebelled in 132 C.E., and no Palestinian entity would have existed in the first place.

Some modern states reemerged after occupation. Some were reestablished by international pressure, like Poland after World War II. Israel cannot stop the Palestinians trying to form a state; but there is no inherent right of sovereignty, and Edward Said has nobody to blame but the Palestinians for blowing it in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Edward Said claims that Arabs and Israelis have no military option but to coexist peacefully. The Arabs have lost every war with Israel and only acquiescence to ostensible Western values prevents Israel from running the Palestinians out of the territories—much as Jordan drove them out, killing several thousand Palestinians in the process. That hardly aroused the Arab world, which treated Jordanian slaughter of Palestinians as a brotherly misunderstanding. In fact, the Arabs worry about conflicts only when non-Muslims—Israelis, Serbs, Russians—confront Muslims. Intra-Arab massacres do not trouble them.

Edward Said claims that since Palestine was already inhabited in 1948, the creation of Israel displaced the Palestinians, when in fact the Palestinian territory was only sparsely inhabited with ample space for many more people, Jews and Arabs. The present Palestinian population is several times the combined Jewish and Arab population in the 1940s. The Palestinians asked the British administration to stop the influx of Jewish refugees fleeing European persecution. Though neither the Jews nor the Arabs got a hearing from the British, the Palestinians got the British to use their usual strategy of supporting the weaker side in the balance of power, and Britain sided first with the Jews, then with the Arabs, intermittently. When the British sided with the Arabs—often enough, since the Jews were stronger—the mandate officials restricted Jewish immigration.

Edward Said claims that Palestinian courts operate without witnesses or defense representation or press coverage because of pressures from Israel and the United States. How so? Both Israel and the United States have due process for every citizen. Palestinian state-security courts, on the other hand, are modeled on the judicial establishment of the former Soviet Union.

Edward Said's book changes the meaning of words to prove any given point. Professor Said claims that the Israeli invasion of Lebanon was not about Israeli northern border but was launched by Israel Defense Forces to defeat the Palestine Liberation Organization. But Israeli border problem was due specifically to the Palestinian Liberation Organization shelling Israeli towns from the safety of Lebanon. So, no, the Israeli-Lebanese War was not defensive in the narrow sense of repelling invasion, but, yes, it was defensive since it answered aggression.

Edward Said uses that approach time and again. Said says Israel is the only Middle East power with an offensive air force and nuclear ability. How about Egypt? Egypt is in Africa, and not a Middle East power, even though it is a major force there. Syria and Saudi Arabia each have large attack air fleets competitive against Israel's. Edward Said mentions Israel’s offensive air capabilities to label Israel the aggressor. Yet Israel’s offensive air forces are used for defense, since Israel lacks depth of defense and cannot conduct war on her territory. Israeli aircraft must be able to operate in Arab enemy territory and are therefore long-range, high-speed, maneuverable bombers, normally considered offensive. Israel needs few interceptors, because Israeli pilots usually best their Arab opponents ten to one.

Edward Said says Israel is the only Middle Eastern country “totally supported by [the] world’s only superpower.” No Middle East country gets more important American support than Arab Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which the United States protects and has fought for. The United States intervened through Israel on behalf of Jordan when Syria threatened it. There is considerable military flow between the United States and Egypt. The United States–Israeli relationship is not so special as is commonly thought. Until only few years ago, Arab countries received immense support from another world superpower. The U.S.S.R. built civil infrastructure and supplied weapons to Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Arabs are no orphans facing Uncle Sam’s Israeli nephew.

Edward Said tries to show there is no difference between Israeli bulldozing and bombing. The inhabitants of Israeli towns on the Lebanese border know all about shelling, which is very different from bulldozing. When Edward Said says “recently evicted Palestinian family” he means the household of a Palestinian terrorist. “Palestinians under curfew” are the Arab inhabitants of a Palestinian settlement where anti-Israeli riots or Islamic terrorist activity broke out. “Young men and women who languish in Israeli jails” are members or active supporters of Islamic terrorist organizations. “Killed in massacres” is meaningless, since the only people Israel kills in Palestine are rioters, Islamic terrorists, or Arab civilians nearby them. Edward Said protests that Palestinians are “deprived of the right to resist [Israeli] occupational policies.” There is no such right. Furthermore, a strange occupation that is: Israel subsidizes the Palestinian Authority with medical and other services, jobs, and all but free speech, all the while tolerating violent anti-Israeli demonstrations and outbreaks.

Edward Said compares Palestine to Bosnia, though he admits that, while there were massacres in Bosnia, there have been none in Palestine. He says something like a massacre is taking place daily in Palestine. In fact, Israel demolishes a house occasionally or exiles a few Palestinians, but Israel shows little cruelty in response to Islamic terrorism. According to Edward Said, Israel destroys about five hundred buildings annually in Palestine, takes one square mile of land, exiles about a thousand Palestinians, less than a tenth of a percent of the population. Edward Said admits that even the Palestinians do not take it as Israeli persecution.

Edward Said presents contradictory figures elsewhere. In the peak year 1997, Israel demolished only two hundred houses which hosted known Palestinian terrorists. In fact, Israel has carried out only about eighteen hundred demolitions in Palestine in twenty years. The large queue of Israeli demolition orders not carried out yet shows the typical Israeli legalism of the procedure. Israelis are not the bulldozer maniacs Edward Said portrays.

Edward Said calls Israeli concern with security “remorseless obsession,. .. exaggerated.” By common standards of military conflict and by the Middle East norms, Israel’s security measures are tolerant and clearly inadequate, as the continuous Islamic terrorist warfare against Israel shows.

Edward Said’s blames the British penal code of 1936 for “punishing Palestinian resistance.” What was that “resistance”? Gangs of Palestinian criminals roamed the country, murdering Jews and burning Jewish settlements and fields in what became the largest massacre of Jews in Palestine since 135 C.E., more than in the first crusade. Edward Said evidently condones that anti-Israeli “resistance.”

Some issues Edward Said attributes to Israeli ill will stem from objective difficulties. Professor Said says Israel does not give Arab peasants enough water. In fact they have a lot more water under Israeli rule than they had in 1948. Further, nobody in the Middle East has enough water. The exploding Arab population and increased cultivation put pressure on Jordan water supply. While the Jews use conservation technology, Palestinians use much less advanced, less efficient irrigation schemes. There is simply not enough water to go around. Instead of blaming Israel, Palestinians should study agriculture.

[1] The Arabs never demanded a Palestinian state. The British promised the Jews both banks of the Jordan, and that promise was reiterated in WWII. The Palestinians received the newly created state of Jordan plus part of the territory previously allocated to Jews.