Why the West should stop supporting Israel
For the sake of argument
FRED V. WINNETT TELLS
I have returned from the Middle East with the overwhelming conviction that there can be neither peace nor stability in that area until Western support of Israel is withdrawn. There is no other action which will allay the fears of the Arabs, remove the anti-Western sentiment which prevails, and halt the spread of Russian influence. The idea being zealously advocated in some quarters that the problems of the Middle East can be solved by granting economic aid. provided that the aid be on a sufficiently large and generous scale, seems to me completely misleading. It ignores the fact that the problems are fundamentally political and moral, rather than economic, in character. The basic cause of all the unrest is not the prevalence of a low standard of living, but Israel —what she has done and what she threatens to do. No amount of wishful thinking can alter this fact, and no proposed solution of Middle East difficulties will be effective unless it takes this fact clearly into account.
“We may Jose the Arab world”
The first and indispensable step toward restoring peace and stability is that the West discontinue its financial and military aid to Israel, a state which to the Arabs is the incarnation of all evil—the crowning example of Western disregard of Arab rights and a standing menace to Arab peace and security. Unless this is done we may well witness the loss of the whole Arab world to the Communist bloc. The near loss of Jordan earlier this year and the recent seizure of power by an anti-Western, pro-Russian group in Syria are clear indications of the way the tide is running. If the West wishes to retain its position in the Middle East it must seriously reconsider — and reconsider soon — the matter of its relations with Israel.
What the Arabs ask of the West as the price of their friendly co-
PROFESSOR FREDERICK V. WINNETT IS THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF NEAR EASTERN STUDIES OF UNIVERSITY COLLEGE. TORONTO.
operation is, first, that it compel Israel to make some amends to the eight hundred and fifty thousand refugees who have lost their homes as a result of her political ambitions. and second, that it deprive Israel of the power to inflict similar harm on them in the future. In a woid, what the Arabs ask of the West is justice and security. These are surely reasonable requests. It was the West which inflicted this whole problem upon them. Therefore, it is up to the West to help them solve it. They cannot do so alone.
Let us consider first the demand for justice for the refugees. A solution of the refugee problem is hampered by the refusal of Israel to admit her responsibility for creating it. She has tried to make the world believe that the Arabs lied at the orders of the Arab High Command and that their present miseries are the result of their own doings. But investigation has shown clearly that the mass Arab flight was precipitated by the policy of deliberate terrorism adopted by the Zionist forces in an attempt to cow the Arabs into submission and break their will to further resistance. The responsibility of the Zionists for creating the Arab refugee problem was recognized from the start by the United Nations, which called upon Israel to repatriate all refugees who wished to return and to pay compensation to the rest. The responsibility of the Zionists has also been recognized by the leading modern historian, Arnold J. Toynbee, who. in his great Study of History, vol. 8, p. 2891'., denounces the Zionists for treating the Arabs in the same way that the Nazis treated the Jews. Zionism, in spite of its high idealism. sank at this time to the lowest of moral depths in its determination to attain political power, leaving a stain on the escutcheon of Israel which has not yet been removed.
The responsibility for creating the Arab refugee problem is, however, not Israel’s alone; the United Nations, and particularly the Western powers, also bear a share of responsibility, for it was they who unleashed Zionism on the Arabs, a force which proved to he of unexpected ruthlessness, and they are under a moral obligation to undo, as far as they can, the wrong that has been done.
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"The vast Arab refugee camps are breeding grounds of communism and anti-Western feeling"
It may not be practical at this stage to implement completely the frequently adopted resolution of the United Nations mentioned above—and I do not think that in the last analysis the Arabs would insist on a literal fulfillment of it—but it is feasible to compel Israel to hand over a bloc of territory such as the Negeb (thirty-five hundred square miles in area and relatively unoccupied) where a considerable number of Arab refugees might be resettled. If that were done, it might be possible to persuade the Arabs to drop their objections to Israel’s use of the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba, to secure their co-operation in a Jordan River development scheme and in the resettlement of the balance of the refugees in other areas.
The United Nations, on its part, might well discharge some of its debt to these unhappy folk by providing the funds necessary for their rehabilitation. But it needs to be clearly realized that there can he no settlement of the refugee problem which contemplates leaving Israel in undisturbed possession of all her ill-gotten gains. The Arabs will not yield a further
inch until the Israelis have heen compelled to make some concessions.
The West, while recognizing the inherent justice of the Arab case, has been hoping for a solution which would relieve it of the necessity of taking stern measures with Israel. Recent developments in the Middle East emphasize the danger of postponing action much longer. The vast refugee camps, where nearly a million Arabs spend their days in idleness and where a new generation is growing up to a future that for them is utterly blank, are nothing but breeding grounds of communism and anti-Western feeling. And how can they he anything else when it is the West and West-supported Zionism which has brought all their misfortunes upon them? The West, for the sake of its owm security, if for no other reason, must compel Israel to modify its present stand and make a settlement of the refugee problem possible.
Tittle progress in settling the refugee problem can be expected, however, until the Arab demand for security is first satisfied. The Arabs, particularly those of Jordan, believe that as long as the refugees are with them Israel will hesitate to attack, for while she is anxious to expand at their expense, she is not anxious to assume the burden of caring for nearly a million refugees. Therefore, the Arab governments will be in no hurry to see the refugee problem solved until their own security has been adequately assured.
By security is meant primarily security
for Jordan, but Israel’s attack on Egypt more than a year ago and her threatening attitude to Syria at the present time show that Jordan is not the only state that needs security. We in the West have, of course, been led to believe that it is Israel that needs security. The Zionists depict Israel to Canadian and American audiences as a frontier settlement exposed to the nightly attacks of marauding bands of “Indians." But the impression that the visitor to Jordan receives everywhere is that it is the Arabs who live in nightly fear of attack. It is they who are on the defensive.
Is Israel in danger of attack?
it is true that small groups of Jordanians have conducted hit-and-run raids on Israeli settlements, hut these raids have been the work of civilians, mostly dispossessed refugees, not of the Jordanian Army. The Jordanian Army dare not attack because of its great inferiority in numbers, whereas the Israeli Army labors under no such disadvantage and has been frequently guilty of acts of aggression. Israel stands in no danger of attack by the armed forces of Jordan. The only other Arab state that could possibly menace her is Egypt. That she has no cause to fear Egypt w'as amply demonstrated by the feeble resistance put up by the Egyptian forces in Sinai at the time of the Israeli invasion more than a year ago. Even a combination of the forces arrayed
against her presents no serious threat tor it is reliably estimated that Israel has a well-trained and well-equipped army of close to a quarter of a million men. whereas the combined armies of the Arab states are neither as numerous nor as well-trained and equipped.
It is the Arabs who are in need of protection from Israel, not vice versa, and the failure of the West either to grant them protection or to furnish them with the arms with which to defend themselves has compelled them to turn to whatever source of supply was open to them. Having driven them to seek refuge under the shadow of Russia, we are now frantic at the prospect of losing the whole Middle East—and well we may be! But what did we expect?
It is not only the armed might of Israel which the Arabs fear; they fear the Zionist ideology with which she is imbued. Zionism began with the seemingly innocuous aim of securing a haven for the persecuted Jews of Christian Europe in some corner of Palestine. But once it secured the powerful backing of Great Britain anti the United States its appetite grew and it aspired to turn the whole of Palestine into a Jewish state and restore the ancient kingdom of Israel. It succeeded in founding a state but this state bears little resemblance, territorially speaking, to ancient Israel. The Israel of the Bible was the hill country now occupied by the Arabs. Modern Israel consists of the coastal plain, the hills of Galilee, and the Negeb, regions which in Biblical times were largely non-Jewish in character.
This is a fact which must be borne in mind when estimating the potential menace which modern Israel presents to the Arabs of Jordan. The Zionists have been foiled for the time being from reaching their goal but there is no reason for believing that they have abandoned their aim. Prime Minister Ben Gurion has reminded his countrymen that Israel “has been established in only a portion of the Land of Israel. Some are hesitant as to the restoration of our historical frontiers, fixed and set at the beginning of time, but even they will hardly deny the anomaly of the new lines” (Rebirth and Destiny of Israel, p. 466). The implication is clear that if he had his way he would not be hesitant about attempting to re-establish what he regards as Israel’s divinely given frontiers. His determined effort to hang on to lhe Gaza Strip in defiance of the United Nations well illustrates the bent of Zionist thinking.
Zionist Israel is not only a standing menace to the Arabs, she is a continual source of embarrassment to the West which tends to he judged by Israeli behavior. Were it not for the assistance we have given Israel, friendly relations with the Arabs would be possible and an effective barrier against the spread of communism in the Middle East could be built up. As it is, we are involved in supporting an “ism” (Zionism) which has been responsible more than any other factor for breeding communism in that area. (By “communism” we mean, of course, in the Middle East context— “anti-Western, pro-Russian feeling.”)
Can Israel expect friendship?
The question now facing us is: Are we going to continue supporting a state which has conducted itself in a manner prejudicial to Western interests? Is it political wisdom to follow a Middle East policy which has as one of its cornerstones continued assistance to a state which has proved to be a canker in the side of the Middle East, utterly incapable of establishing healthy and normal relations with its environment?
Western support of Israel has been largely motivated by a sincere desire to do something to relieve the lot of the Jewish people. The West has been prepared to suffer considerable damage to its own interests in order to help carry out what it regards as a great humanitarian enterprise. But Israel’s repeated defiance of the United Nations raises the question whether a change of policy toward Israel is not called for. The United Nations asked Israel to show mercy to the Arab refugees by accepting them back or paying compensation, but she has refused to take them back or to pay a dollar of compensation. The United Nations asked her to refrain from moving her government to Jerusalem as it intended to place Jerusalem and its environs under international control. Her answer was to proclaim Jerusalem the capital of Israel and, adding insult to injury, the proclamation was made retroactive to the day on which the independence of Israel was declared. Such a state has surely forfeited any claim to the friendship and support of either the United Nations or the West.
A change of policy toward Israel is called for not only by her defiance of the United Nations, but by an examination of what her establishment has meant for the Jewish people. The West accepted the assertions of the Zionist leaders that the establishment of a Jewish state was the only solution of the age-old Jewish problem and gave its support to the undertaking, shutting its eyes to the in-
justice which was inevitably involved for the people of Palestine. But what has been the result? Instead of solving the Jewish problem, it has aggravated it. It has aroused such intense and widespread anti-Jewish feeling throughout the Arab world that Jewish communities which had lived for centuries in peace, and often in considerable prosperity, as for example in Iraq and Egypt, have felt obliged to pick up and leave, abandoning their all.
For European Jews the establishment of Israel has been more of a blessing, providing them with a haven from Christian persecution and with a political freedom which their Christian fellow countrymen frequently denied them. But the ruthlessness which was associated with the creation of this state has surrounded them with a sea of implacable Arab hatred, a hatred which shows not the slightest sign of diminishing. Were it not for Zionism and its political aspirations the Jews might have shared in—and even have taken a leading part in—the economic life of an awakening Middle East. As it is, the Middle East is closed to them now, and for all the foreseeable future. The Zionist leaders are the modern counterparts of the Zealots and false Messiahs of the past who led the Jewish people into great unhappiness. There is a Jewish group, represented by the American Council for Judaism, which has perceived clearly the folly of Zionist leadership and the threat which a Zionist state, with its claim to the allegiance of all Jews, poses to Canadian and American citizens of Jewish faith. But there is little indication to date that its warnings are being heeded.
Some Western support of Israel springs from the belief that the setting up of the state of Israel and the “return” thither of many Jews marks a fulfillment of Biblical prophecies. Many Christians hesitate to oppose Israel, in spite of all the excesses of which she has been guilty for fear that in so doing they may be resisting the working out of a divine plan. But to regard a state whose foundation has been associated with so much political skulduggery, violence and bloodshed as the working out of a divine plan surely borders on blasphemy. Are we to allow a blind bibliolatry to so warp our judgment that we are no longer capable of distinguishing right from wrong, good from evil?
The material achievements of Zionism have tended to blind the eyes of many in the West to its real character, just as the material achievements of Nazism and Fascism blinded many to the evil inherent in those creeds. T he destructive character of Zionism arises from the fact that, like the rabid nationalisms already mentioned, it is determined to do something for its own adherents, no matter what the cost to other people. For the countries of the Western world to link their Middle East policies in any way with support ol such an “ism” is to court disaster.
Peace and stability can only be established in the Middle East if the Westein powers, through the United Nations, take whatever economic or military measures are necessary to compel Israel to make amends for some of the evil she has done and deprive her of the power to wreak further harm in the future. The nature and extent of the pressure imposed—and even whether any shall be imposed at all —depends on Israel herself. ★
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