Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict
[ Palestinian articles by Edward Said ] [ Palestinian refugees from Israel ]


In Edward Said’s view, Britain fostered Zionism. Tell that to the Jews the British killed in Palestine or to the tens of thousands of Jewish refugees held in the camps, prohibited from entering Palestine to avoid upsetting the Arabs. Britain played the balance of power policy, helping the weaker side, sometimes the Jews, more frequently the Arabs, historical allies against France and Turkey.

Edward Said puzzlingly claims that the Arab armies did not mean to destroy Israel in 1948—yet that was stated objective of Arabs. The fact that the Jordanian army stopped the aggression against Israel on the West Bank in the face of fierce Israeli resistance and agreed to a secret separate settlement with Israel does not change the original Islamic objective. Israelis stopped the Arab armies, not some limited Arab agenda. What could a “limited war” have been, anyway? The Jews claimed only the territory the United Nations assigned Israel, no more, and the Arabs meant to destroy even that.

Edward Said writes that after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War “every major [Arab] leader sued for peace but was rejected by Ben Gurion.” Yet fifty-five years later, most Arabs categorically reject peace with Israel. Arab leaders turned against Sadat when he signed a peace treaty with Israel. Edward Said notes the futile attempts of several realistic Arab leaders, notably of Egypt and Jordan, to convince their Arabs to normalize relations with Israel, yet professor Said sympathizes with Arab rejection of normalization.

Note Edward Said’s assertion that Israel has upped its demands on the Palestinians. What of continuous Israeli concessions to Palestinians since the negotiations with Egypt in 1970s? From a categorical rejection of any Palestinian self-determination whatsoever, Israel conceded Palestinian autonomy, then a Palestinian state of ever-increasing size. Israel tolerated endless Palestinian terrorism. While some years back, Palestinian terrorism would have led to Israeli invasion and exile of the Arabs, now it brings on further Israeli concessions and negotiations.

Edward Said says that nowhere else in the world other than in Palestine must people struggle for a license to build a house on their own property, an assertion that contradicts professor Said's claim that Israel prohibits Arabs from owning land. In fact, any civilized country requires building permits. That is not perhaps the kind of freedom Palestinians enjoyed in their primitive villages before the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, but that is how a state works, Israeli state. Israelis and Arabs get the same building permits.