I am responding to Matt Richman’s putrid mix of Arab propaganda and fabricated history titled “Israel’s State in Question.” Sadly, this is only the latest of Signal columns whose stance on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has been based on inaccuracies and misinformation. Unfortunately, due to space constraints, I will limit myself to his historical inaccuracies. I would advise Mr. Richman to get his facts straight, but I suspect that his interests lie somewhere other than in the truth.
To begin with, it was not the Allies, but the UN who chose to make a Jewish state in what was previously the British Mandate of Palestine. However, they divided the land in two, present day Jordan and Israel. The Arab nations refused to accept a Jewish homeland and planned to eradicate Israel as soon as it was formed, taking the whole for themselves, after “driving the Jews into the sea” as their leaders put it. Fortunately, they failed in this endeavor, as a few outnumbered Israelis fought off the armies of multiple nations from all sides. Incidentally, at Israel?s formation, Arab countries constituted 800 times as much land as Israel, yet still refused to tolerate the presence of a Jewish nation smaller than the state of New Jersey.
In a blatant misrepresentation, Mr. Richman states that “750,000 indigenous Palestinians had been living [in what is now Israel] since the time of the Ottoman Empire,” and further implies that the entire population had fled. The fact is that the majority of Arabs, in the area that was to become Israel, had recently entered the area illegally to find work in a modern economy created by the Jews. In addition, not all of the Arabs left during the war; in fact, Israel currently has a large Arab minority. These one million Arabs, who live in the only democracy in the region, are treated better than Arabs living in any of the other countries in the Middle East (all of which have an Arab majority). As such, Israeli Arabs have the highest standard of living, make the most money per capita, receive the best education, have full rights as citizens, and are represented in the government.
Mr. Richman implies that the only reason Israel was created was to house post-Holocaust Jewish refugees. On the contrary, Jews did live in the region before 1948 and did not simply come in and expel the Palestinians. There were 650,000 Jews living legally in Israel before the creation of the state of Israel. Many of them had lived in Israel before the Ottoman period. Others, such as those from communities in Hebron, Jerusalem, Tiberias, and Safed, had lived in Israel since biblical times, well before any Arab invaders.
On the issue of reparations, Mr. Richman failed to note that 800,000 Jews were displaced from Arab countries in 1948, a number 200,000 to 250,000 greater than the number of Arabs. Furthermore, the Jews were forcibly removed while the Arabs largely left of their own accord. Told by their leaders that their absence was to make way for invading Arab armies, they could return once Israel was destroyed.
One of the most pathetic responses of Jews to persecution is to forsake the truth and applaud those whose goal is the annihilation of the Jewish people, a stance derived perhaps in the hope of saving their own hides. Mr. Richman seems to fall into that category.