My opinion of Jewish Voice for Peace is even lower than that of the AJT (“Our View: Time to Boycott,” Sept. 8). JVP is best described as a mouther of the propaganda spouted by the Palestinian leadership; JVP is not working to better the lot of the people.
The fact is that Palestine was a sparsely populated, underdeveloped part of the Ottoman Empire when modern Zionists began returning to the land from which most (not all) of their ancestors had been exiled after the Second Temple was destroyed.
Zionists bought land and improved its productivity, built hospitals and schools, and lobbied world leaders to support their cause — the establishment of a Jewish state in the Jews’ ancestral homeland. Indeed, Jews had been praying for a return to Zion for thousands of years.
In contrast, many of the Arabs who are called Palestinians are descended from families who entered Palestine only after Zionist activity had vastly improved living conditions.
The Ottoman Turks entered World War I on the losing side, and their empire was divided up. (Jews aided the British in World Wars I and II, serving in Palestine Brigades.) The League of Nations gave Great Britain the mandate for Palestine. The British used 78 percent of the land to create the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan.
The United Nations subsequently voted to divide the remainder of the mandated land between a Jewish state and a second Arab state. The Yishuv (Jewish community in Palestine) accepted, but Arab nations went to war. Their aim was to prevent Israel’s rebirth; they didn’t care if that meant the Arabs of Palestine would not have their first chance to govern their own country.
The invading armies said the Arabs of Palestine were “southern Syrians,” neither needing nor deserving a state of their own.
In the aftermath of the war, 800,000 Jews had been expelled from their homes in Muslim countries. A somewhat smaller group of Arabs had fled the area that became modern Israel. Egypt had seized control of Gaza, and Transjordan, changing its name to Jordan, controlled the Old City of Jerusalem as well as Judaea and Samaria (which it dubbed “the West Bank”).
Israel quickly absorbed and uplifted the Jewish refugees, whose descendants make up the majority of Israel’s current Jewish population. The Muslim world condemned the descendants of the Arab refugees to perpetual refugee status, insisting that they remain stateless until Israel gives them the homes their forebears fled. Neither Egypt nor Jordan made any effort to set up an independent Palestinian state.
In 1967, Israel liberated the lands Egypt and Jordan had occupied illegally after Jordan allied with Egypt and Syria in a war aimed at destroying Israel and annihilating her people. Israel offered to withdraw in exchange for peace and recognition but was rebuffed by the Arab League.
Israel’s removal of all Jewish communities and military outposts from Gaza in 2005 was reciprocated by the firing of thousands of missiles at Israeli civilians. Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas rejected Israeli proposals for the establishment of a Palestinian state in all of Gaza and 97 percent of Judaea and Samaria, even with shared governance in parts of Jerusalem (2000/2001 and 2008).
Arafat instigated the Second Intifada instead of negotiating. Abbas has urged his people to violently resist the “occupation” and refused to hammer out a deal with Israel. His Palestinian Authority pays handsome stipends to terrorists Israel has jailed and to the families of terrorists killed while trying to murder Israelis.
Aid to the Palestinians, administered by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, is four times the amount, per capita, of aid to other refugee groups, administered by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Much of the money is siphoned off to line the pockets of corrupt leaders or to support efforts to attack Israel (cement intended for schools and hospitals in Gaza is used to construct terrorist tunnels).
Efforts to improve the Palestinians’ living standard have been sabotaged (e.g., the destruction of hothouses purchased from Gush Katif evacuees for the people of Gaza, missiles fired at the site of a planned Israeli/Gazan industrial park, and efforts to shut down businesses in Judaea and Samaria that employ both Israelis and Palestinians).
I can only conclude that the Palestinian leaders feel that poor people, seeing no end to their misery, are easily incited and willing to risk their lives for the stipends reserved for murderers. What a shame that JVP has bought the Big Lie.
Toby Block lives in Northeast Atlanta.