Print Friendly
Flag of Israel (pleas avoid use it in an abusi...

Flag of Israel – Author: MathKnight – Photo credit: Wikipedia)

{From my archived copy of a 2002 thread in the Something Awful forums by ‘dorquemada’ — I give no credence to its accuracy and apologize for the language, but this is relatively consistent with other narratives, such as that by Jews for Justice in the Middle East.}

Introduction

It all started about 1895. A Hungarian journalist named Theodor Herzl (who was covering the Dreyfus affair, where a Jewish French officer was railroaded on charges of spying for Germany) began proposing that the Jews get themselves a homeland. This was pretty radical, since theoretically only the Messiah can restore the Jews to the promised land. Around that time, there was a lot of racial-national thinking all around the world. Most of the Jews in Western Europe were secular, and had pretty much assimilated to their respective societies. Herzl and the the early Zionists were convinced that this couldn’t and/or shouldn’t ever happen. There was some debate at the world Zionist congress about where the homeland should be located, and Uguanda, America, Argentina, and Turkish Palestine being the main contenders. Argentina looked like it was going to win, but Herzl and some allies successfully steered it toward Palestine, since the Turks had a much better rep for treating Jews well than did Catholics.

Herzl and his followers set up shop in Vienna, since Austria was a pretty cosmopolitan place at the time. So did another young Austrian art student named Adolph Hitler, who will figure big later. His early work indicates a fascination with the Holy Land (Arabia was all the rage in European architecture at the time), so it’s safe to say he was real familiar with the Zionist movement. Mein Kampf cribbed a good bit from Herzl’s Der Judenstadt.

Herzl called Palestine a land without people for a people without land. At the turn of the century, this was true–there were less than a million sedentary Arabs (proportionally, 78-18-4 Muslim-Christian-Jewish) in what is now Israel and the Territories, thanks to the generally inhospitable climate and lots of swamp diseases. There were some early settlement efforts, which were well-financed and very much resembled British activity in India. There were some tensions, but not many, since the Jews treated the local Arabs better than did the Turks. Under the Turkish system, a few absentee landlords owned the land and everybody else was a tenant farmer or a merchant. Yay, feudalism. Under Jewish direction (read: modern Western agriculture and public health) they brought a lot more land under cultivation, and the Arab population got a lot bigger now that half the kids didn’t die.

Around 1910 or so, the Russian and Ukrainian Jews started showing up, fleeing horiffic persecution at home. Prior to the Holocaust, the word “pogrom” carried about the same meaning, and was the official sport in some areas of Russia and the Ukraine.

In 1918, after WWI Turkey (as the Ottoman empire, one of the three losers in the Triple alliance, the other two being Germany and Austria-Hungary) ceded the Middle East, and Britain and France divided it up. In our little area, France got Syria and Lebanon, Britain got Egypt, Palestine, and Transjordan. During the war Lord Balfour got behind Baron Rothschild (a Jewish nobleman and prominent champion of Zionism) and offered the Balfour declaration, which read: “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” This became official British policy.

The local Arab potentates were all for it, too, and the accord between Chaim Weizmann and the Saudi King Faisal is definitely worth a read. Unfortunately, the Russian and Ukrainian influx was causing problems. Unlike the relativly professional Western European Jews, the Eastern Europeans were largely unskilled farm laborers. The did some terrific feats of labor, but they also needed their own land and had no use for the indigenous Arabs (and made the equation Arabs=Cossacks in Keffiyas, since they were understandably paranoid). Prior to this, the Jews had been buying land and pretty much followed the Turkish model, and just kept the tenant farmers on. The Russians and Ukrainians started kicking them off. The landlords didn’t care what the Zionists did once they bought it, since they got their money and didn’t live there, and you started seeing real strife in Israel/Palestine.

When Britain took over, they didn’t help f^cking at all. Rather than instituting some kind of sweeping land reform that would have deeded people the land they already lived on and farmed, they just kept the old system. The flow of Russian Jews slowed a great deal after the Communists won in Russia, but picked right back up once it became obvious that Stalin was a vicious ass. There were more and more intense conflicts and riots between the Russians and locals throughout the twenties, and in 1929 the British goverment changed and support for Balfour waned. By that time, the British had a pretty much impossible task with their mandate. Policy-wise, they started favoring Arab interest but commanders and Administrators on the ground were a lot more sympathetic with the Western European Jews, which resulted in reversed decisions, confusing policy, and misunderstandings galore between the two parties. By the thirties, the whole place was a huge f^cking ethnic quagmire, with both Jews and Arabs wanted the British out. Neither had any say over what happened, and both were terrifically frustrated becauase of it. This is where we start to see the first formation of secretive militias and terrorist organizations, both Jewish and Arab. You will note that I never say “Jewish and Muslim”, since many of the promininent Palestinian Arabs were Christians (and still are, like George Habash and Suha Arafat).

At various points, Britain closed off and/or restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine. Such efforts were doomed, since there’s really no way to do that. In addition to Jews fleeing Stalin’s starvation campaigns, Jews from the former Jewish strongholds of Germany and Austria started fleeing an increasingly hostile climate. Most came to the US, which was then as now had the world’s largest Jewish population, but there were some rather weird and antisemitic-looking diplomatic efforts by the Jewish Agency to get them redirected toward Palestine. Some did come to Palestine.

WWII comes and goes, giving the final solution to the question of Zionism or assimilation (at least in Europe), but not much happens in Palestine. The Palestinian Jews round up some volunteers and fight with distinction for Britain, a Polish army officer named Menachem Begin sneaks into Eretz Israel, and the Mufti of Jerusalem jumps into Germany’s pocket.

Attack of the Arabs!

WWII comes and goes, giving the final solution to the question of Zionism or assimilation (at least in Europe), but not much happens in Palestine. The Palestinian Jews round up some volunteers and fight with distinction for Britain, a Polish army officer named Menachem Begin sneaks into Eretz Israel, and the Mufti of Jerusalem jumps into Germany’s pocket.

Britain, a spent Empire, and the nascent United Nations decide to put into effect an idea they’d been kicking around for a whileartitioning (read: Gerrymandering) mandatory Palestine into two separate Jewish and Arab states. The Arabs opposed this since there were many more Arabs than Jews, and the Jews weren’t happy since the gerrymandering would result in a pretty f^cked-up map. Much like the later partition of Vietnam into North and South, it was never voted on by the people it would affect, Jewish or Arab and has worked about as well. The remaining Jews among the holocaust survivors started going home, or immigrating to the Americas or Israel, further swelling the Jewish population. A Christian Fundamentalist name Harry Truman (who later told a very angry state department that God himself told him to do it) backed partition. The only two nations who opposed partition in the UN were, as I recall, Yugoslavia and Indonesia. Oh, the irony.

1948 rolls around, the British (tired of getting bombed and shot at by Arabs and Jews) get the hell out, Ben Gurion declares the Jewish state, and the great free-for all ensues. *All* the neighboring Arab states make a big land grab at Israel. They fight it out for a good long time, and thousands wind up dead on both sides. The US brokers an armistice, and Israel’s borders are bigger and more contiguous (and secure) than the original partition agreement called for. Egypt takes the Gaza strip, and Transjordan takes the West Bank.

In the middle of all this, the Palestinian Arabs suffer a complete failure of leadership, since their leadership basically does a disappearing act, not wanting to support the wrong side. Some fight the Jews, some fight the Arabs, some fight the Arabs and the Jews, and most just try to get the hell out of the way. When the dust settles, where there should have been some 800,000 Palestinian Arabs inside the new borders of Israel, there are only 150,000.

Since this is a fairly conentious issue, I’ll just say it happened by magic. Some fled at the “urging” of the other Arab states, some fled at the “urging” of the Israelis, and I’m content to give the UN the finger for the whole mess. The Arabs who remain are accorded citizenship and the right to vote, but can’t serve in the IDF (with the exception of the Druze and Bedouin minorities).

The surrounding Arab states descend into a deep pit of assholery. First, they rip a page from the Nazi playbook and make life hell for the Arab Jews, many of whom are stripped of their property and flee to Israel (Mossad, by the way, had a hand in the “shocking discovery” by Arab leaders of evidence of espionage by Arab Jews on behalf of Israel, which was their putative reason for this outrage). Some 500,000 Arab Jews wind up in Israel, and they promptly resettle many of the areas where Palestinian Arabs had fled. The European Israelis don’t exactly give the Arab Jews a warm welcome, but that quickly changes. The Israeli Jewish population may be majority Arab these days, but Kane would know better than I.

Not content with f^cking their Jewish populations over, the Arab states don’t grant the Palestinian refugees citizenship, or make any effort to settle them. Instead, they remain “displaced persons”–devoid of citizenship and often have to bribe local officials to stay in the country–even those long-time Gaza and West Bank residents who didn’t go anywhere in the ’48 war. The Arab leaders then proceed to shed these huge f^cking crocodile tears about how horrible the Palestinians’ lives are, and conveniently blame the Jews for it. The Palestinians, for the most part, don’t initially protest since they want to go home. They can’t, since Israel won’t let them, having already divvied up their homes and posessions. Plus, more non-Jewish Arabs is a big no-no for the Jewish state, since they might dilute the blood of the Master Race, er, Chosen People.

After the war, Israel begins to arm itself heavily, and both the US and the Czechs funnel large amounts of surplus weapons and equipment to Israel. The Arab states, most of whom have their own internal problems, go about founding their own little “Palestine Liberation” organizations, many of whose members never actually goddamn lived in Palestine. These days, only the PLO (Jordan) and PFLP (Syria-Egypt) are still around, since they were actually led by Palestinian Arabs from the git-go.

Around 1955, Egypt started buying weapons from the Czechs, too, and Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal and closed off the canal and gulf of Eliat to Israeli shipping. Israel used this as a pretext to get together with Britain (who was pissed about the canal nationalization) and France (who was pissed about Egyptian support for the revolt against their ever-so-kindly ongoing assrape of Algeria) to attack Egypt. Israel wins the Sinai penninsula, Britain gets the canal back, and France gets to win a fight for a change. The US and Russia rap Israel, Britain, and France’s knuckles, and everybody has to go home.

Then comes 1967, when Egypt and Syria realize that their odds of beating Israel outright are pretty slim. So, they come up with the great idea to mobilize their armies and park them at Israel’s borders, and drag Jordan along for the ride. They figure since the Israeli army is heavily dependent on reservists and draftees, a constant mobilization will break Israel’s economy. If Israel demobilizes, they can attack and score some land. Win-win, right? Wrong. Israel calls their bluff and hits first, and smacks the living shit out of them in only 6 days, reminding the Arab states why they shouldn’t be so f^cking retarded.

At this point, Israel has control of all of what was mandatory Palestine, plus the largely uninhabited Sinai Peninsula. The Palestinian Arabs stay put, for the most part, having learned their lesson in 1948. This time, though, Israel doesn’t make them citizens. Instead, it merely starts settling Jews on the occupied territories. There’s very little strife at this point, since the Palestinians aren’t really any worse off than they were under Jordanian or Egyptian rule. In some ways, it’s actually better, since the Israelis build some handy military and economic infrastructure that provides jobs.

However, the PLO flees further into Jordan, and by 1970, realizes that not only are the Arab states ruled by f^cktarded megalomaniacs who don’t give a shit about them, but there’s also basically no chance of reunifying Palestine. The PLO tries a popular revolt against King Hussein, and since at this time they’re basically a puppet Commie political party, they get spanked and kicked out. They bounce around between Tripoli and Lebanon for a while.

Egypt and Syria get together and try to mount a surprise attack against Israel in 1973. They succeed with the surprise part and make some big initial gains, but don’t quite figure out that whole logistics part of fighting wars. The IDF gives them a thorough asswhupping and send them home again, but gets a bloody nose in the process.

Islam Comes out of f^cking Nowhere

By this time, the Russians and Chinese figure out that while the Arabs talk a good game, they don’t give a flying f^ck about Communism. Israel is starting to realize that Egypt is getting a lot better at fighting wars, has a much more robust economy, and with Nasser gone has a better chance of actually thinking. The US and Israel make peace under American auspices in 1977. Israel’s prime minister, the founding father of modern terrorism Menachem Begin, and Anwar Sadat sign the accord. The IDF (courtesy of Ariel Sharon) kicks the Sinai settlers off, and give the Sinai back to Egypt. Egypt relinquishes its claim on Gaza. Yay, peace. The Israelis also have a covert thaw with King Hussein, having a common enemy in large Palestinian minorities and the PLO. Hussein still inveighs against Israel publicly, but gives Mossad a lot of help.

Also around this time (and with Nasser’s demise), Islam starts becoming a political force, largely out of poliitcal frustration. In most places, the only feasible way for people to organize an opposition to the autocratic Arab leadership is through religious institutions. The Muslim brotherhood revolts against Syria’s Hafez El-Assad, who shows the Russians how it’s done and completely level Hama and kill about half the residents. So there. Outside the Arab world, Islamic revolutionaries topple the flaming asshole Shah of Iran, and the resistance against the USSR in Afghanistan is organized under religious auspices. Israel doesn’t quite get it, and thinks that more encouragement of religious leaders and more religious freedom will buy off the Muslim masses and provide a wonderful counterweight to the explicitly secular PLO, and Arafat. They invite the Muslim brotherhood in to set up shop. Of course, it continues political repression, like outlawing the singing of the Palestinian National Anthem as hate speech, raiding assemblies. What do you suppose happened? Eventually, HAMAS and Islamic Jihad, of course.

Unfortunately, Lebanon lapsed into civil war, with no less than four factions duking it out for control. The PLO gets in on the action, and actually learns how to fight. Syria also wades in as a “peacekeeper”, but instead prefers to try and set up Lebanon as a client state. The PLO launches some cross-border raids on Israel, as well, and Israel invades in order to “Crush the terrorists once and for all.” Sound familiar? Anyway, they roll all the way up to Beirut under Sharon, but the PLO escapes once again, largely intact. The Israelis pull back to the border, and establish a “security zone”, which was supposed to do something or other. I forget. The Southern Lebanese Shiites, not particularly liking either Israeli occupation or the SLA, Israel’s proxy army, starts killing Israeli soldiers and rocketing settlements, all with Iranian support. After about 14 years, the Israelis get the idea and unilaterally pull out, and the Lebanese border has been very quiet since.

Around about 1987, an Israeli truck runs over a bunch of Palestinian workers. Much like the Rodney King affair, this touches off a firestorm. Palestinians have a massive revolt, throwing rocks and molotovs at soldiers and settlers. They set off bombs and stage strikes. This was Intifada I, and it stopped in 1993 with the Oslo accords, where with American Denial King Bill Clinton’s help, agreed to pretend there weren’t there weren’t any serious differences between them over land. The Israelis agreed to pull out of certain areas in stages, and leave the hot-button issues like Jerusalem, the rights of the eventual Palestinian state, and return of refugees for a later time. Rabin got killed, Bibi got elected in his stead, and things got progressively worse.

Which brings us to today. The Palestinian consensus is that they want a state, completely independent of Israel along the 1967 borders. The Israeli consensus is that they want stipulations like only letting Israel determine who can come into this new state, extraterritoriality for its citizens in the state, no army for the new state, maintenance of IDF “security zones” and other such fun.

And that’s about it. Maybe someday I’ll stop shifting tenses.

Maybe.