U.N. statehood debate sparks student discussion: Israel demands security

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By Natalia Derechin, Features Production Editor

 A recent CHS student’s Facebook post over Rosh Hashanah read “You’re welcome Christians,” referring to the mandatory school holidays over Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The response she received from non-Jewish students was: “We love you Jews because you give us a couple of extra days off every year.”

 Fortunately, these types of jokes and comments can happen because we live in a tolerant society, where we think prejudice is a thing of the past. Unfortunately, this great society is also the place where public opinions on a lot of very complex topics are formed too quickly and without much fact checking.

 Among the complex problems that are typically reduced to brief statements is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The history of the Middle East, its inhabitants, and its animosities is very complex and takes up many volumes. However, because many falsehoods are constantly leveled against Israel to create prejudices, it is important to clarify some of these fallacies.

 First, for all of the people who argue that Israel doesn’t allow the existence of a Palestinian State, the official position of the Israeli and U.S. governments is that a separate homeland for the Palestinian people should exist. President Obama said it during his speech in Cairo on June 4, 2009, and Prime Minister Netanyahu endorsed the creation of a Palestinian State on June 14, 2009 at a speech at Bar Ilan University.

 The real differences between the parties related to this conflict have nothing to do with whether a homeland for the Palestinians should exist. The issue lies in that the Palestinians want their own state, but many also want the right to take over Israel. Not only that, but Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants are also demanding to be given the right to return to Israel. This official position makes it clear that the Palestinian leaders want their own state but also want to take over Israel so they can make Israel disappear.

 Another incorrect assumption is that the Palestinians were kicked out of their land. This is not true. U.N. Resolution 181, the Partition Resolution passed in November 1947, called for the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state on land, which at that point was run by the British, where Jews and Arabs had been living for thousands of years. Only the Jewish inhabitants agreed with the plan, while the Palestinians and other Arabs not only opposed the plan, but also threatened war.

 The Arabs and the Palestinians fulfilled their promise and launched a war against the Jews to prevent Israel from being realized, against the wishes of the nations of the world. When the Arab countries declared war on the Jewish territory, most of the Arab population left the territory voluntarily in order to avoid being attacked by the powerful armies of six Arab Countries as well as other Arab volunteers. Much to the surprise of the Muslim Arab side, the Jews were able to survive the initial onslaught and eventually win the war.

 The Palestinians have been unwilling to compromise more than once. In the summer of 2000, former President Clinton had Palestinian Leader Yasir Arafat and Israeli Leader Ehud Barak meet to negotiate peace. Even though the Clinton plan required Israel to give in to many unpleasant demands, former Prime Minister Barak accepted Clinton’s plan. Arafat refused, returned home, and launched a new terror campaign against Israeli civilians.

 Israel continued to offer the Palestinians all of Gaza and most of the West Bank and only requested a small Israeli annexation of land around three settlements which would be balanced by Israel giving up a similar sized area of Israeli territory that would have been given to the Palestinians. The Palestinians again refused the offer.

 If the Arabs and the Palestinian leadership had accepted the will of the UN in 1947 instead of attacking Israel, or if the Palestinians had accepted the Clinton Plan in 2000, a Palestinian state would already exist next to Israel, and this issue would be moot.

 Another misleading statement is that Israel is an apartheid state. Israel is not only the only true democracy in the region, but Israel is a country where many Arab ministers take part in Israel’s government institutions. Also, there are Arab Justices in the Israeli Supreme Court, and every Israeli, regardless of religion, is granted state-sponsored education at Israeli universities.

 Compare this to when Maen Arakat, the Palestinian representative to the United States said in an interview to Tablet Magazine, an online Jewish magazine, that any Jew within the borders of a new Palestinian state should “absolutely” be required to leave.

 Only 8 million Israelis, 6 million of whom are Jews, live in Israel while close to 500 million Arabs live in the same area. According to the Guardian, some Arab leaders, including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have sworn to “wipe Israel from the map.” Is it any wonder that Israel is demanding the proper security guarantees before agreeing to anything?

 This complex problem rests not on the issue of whether Israel should allow for a Palestinian homeland, but whether the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world will continue to try to destroy Israel or let it thrive in peace. The Israeli government allowing a Palestinian State to exist without the right security guarantees is like playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded pistol.