Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict
[ Legal issues of the Palestinian right of return ] [ Palestinian people don't want to leave refugee camps for Israel ]

Defeated Palestinian aggressors cannot make demands to Israel

Palestinian Arabs forget that they lost the war they started against Israel in 1948 trying to keep Israelis out, and asking for equal treatment of Palestinians with Israelis is absurd. Losers do not make demands, but Edward Said asks for more than equality. In his opinion, “many [Palestinian] claims [to Israel] are unsettled.” Said dismisses Israeli claims to the property Jewish refugees left in Arab countries, to say nothing of the human lives and immense sums of money Israel invested to repel Arab aggression and set up a strategic deterrence. When Palestinian gangs destroyed Jewish settlements in the 1930s, Jews did not flee nor are the Israelis asking for restitution from Palestinians now—though they should, if only to inhibit Palestinian claims. The Palestinians fled in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War after far less danger from Israelis. That the Palestinian refugees were civilians is irrelevant, since many Arab villagers housed Islamic guerrillas, supported them, fought and looted Israeli settlements with them.

To make his claim for restitution plausible, Edward Said not only ignores the fact that there was little for Israel to restore of the pre-1947 Palestinian economy, hardly better than the Iron Age, or Palestinian property, but Said also misrepresents the facts. Edward Said writes that the creation of Israel usurped the whole of Palestine and destroyed Palestinian society. In fact, the Palestinians tried to annihilate the legally established State of Israel. Not until nineteen years later, after years of sustained Middle East conflict during which Palestine became a base for Islamic terrorists, did Israel take some of Palestine back. Hardly any nation has treated the indigenous population with more restraint than Israel treats Palestinians.

Israel does not dispute the restitution of property to which Palestinians had clear title. In many expensive areas of Israel today, vacant lots belonging to Palestinians who left decades ago are common. They have appreciated greatly in value because of Israeli neighborhood development and are still waiting to be claimed by the rightful heirs of Palestinian refugees. Any country other than Israel would have confiscated the plots long ago, at least for the back taxes. Israelis are legalistic, and when a Palestinian has the slightest claim, Israeli lawyers jump on the case. Palestinian property-in Israel is not abused. The Palestinian refugees left little when they left; there is nothing to restore, certainly not as much as Jews abandoned in Arab countries.[1]

[1] Though Israelis reportedly steered hostilities to force immigration, persecution ranged from real in Iraq to looming in Egypt. Fear motivated Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Arab refugees from Palestine; both reacted to propaganda rather than to atrocities.