Israel, Arabs, and a Financier
It is a conflict that cannot end well. Israel claims they have a right to occupy the land they were deeded and the land they captured as a historical birthright. The Palestinians and surrounding Arabs claim Israel has an illegal possession of the lands that rightfully belong to them. Combine those two opposing views and a massive amount of funding from the U.S. and you have the makings for a real nasty and prolonged scuffle.
Any hope of looking at this objectively requires a quick look at how we got here. Here is a timeline of the key historical events that brought us to where we are today.
- During the bronze age around 11th century BC, when the strongest countries were Egypt and Mesopotamia, with Egypt playing the role of a superpower, the Kingdom of Israel established rule over the region.
- During the 7th century BC during the Muslim conquests, the land of Israel was taken and fell under control of varied rulers including the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Sassanians, and Byzantines.
- After 610 AD the Jews revolted and with the invading Persians recaptured Jerusalem.
- In 628 AD they were kicked out again by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius.
- For the next six hundred years control of the area transferred between various conquering countries.
- Between 1516 and the 1900’s the land was held by the Ottoman Empire.
- Meanwhile, Jews from around the world began to migrate to the prior lands occupied by Jews in the region now held by Israel. Jews were kicked out of Spain in 1492 and returned. In 1881 Jews fled the violent riots against them in Russia and migrated to the area.
- The British mounted a conquest of the region and the Jews joined in which lead to a 1920 riot by Palestinians who opposed the taking of land they considered there homeland. At the time, the area was predominantly Arab and Muslim, with only about 11% Jews.
- World War II came, many more Jews migrated to the area to escape death and persecution. This increased the proportion to about 33% Jewish.
- In 1947, the UN adopted a resolution splitting the Palestine and Jewish portions of Jerusalem. Neither party really liked it but the British were able to leave a messy situation. And on May 14, 1948 the Jewish Agency declared independence, naming the country Israel.
The next year, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq attacked Israel which resulted in a year of fighting. During the conflict, people left the area. In the end, they formed a peace that was tenuous at best.
Over the next 20 years Israel became the destination for countless refugees from the Holocaust, and other areas of persecution. The population rose to about 2.0 million in 1970.
Now, fast forward to today. Israel is a regional powerhouse of about 7.6 million people. Of that, there are about 1.6 million Arabs. In 2010, Israel ranked 17th among the worlds most economically developed nations. This with only 7.6 million people. To put it in perspective, the city of New York has 8.4 million people.
How did they get so wealthy? Estimates vary wildly, but the U.S. has contributed vast amounts. Estimates of the U.S. contributions range from 3% to 5% of their annual budget. Considering only the military contributions, and not the loan guarantees, grants, and other entitlements, President Obama has committed $3.0 billion per year for the next ten years for military use alone. The U.S. is striving to keep an ally in an area of increasing anti American sentiment.
Meanwhile, Israel continues to claim they have a right to “the ancient land of their homeland.” Really? Does anyone have a right to any land? Why wouldn’t it belong to the Egyptians or Mesopotamians who had it before them? If Israel’s logic held true, then London would have to be ceded to Rome since the Romans founded it. That logic doesn’t work.
As flawed as Israel’s logic is, the U.S. logic is even worse. How can we have a longterm strategic asset and ally in an area where the anti-U.S. sentiment increases every day due to the U.S. supporting a powerful and arrogant power.
The solution to this mess is to stop funding both sides. (The U.S. funds Israel’s enemies too – look it up.) Let them fight it out without the U.S. providing weapons and aid. It cannot continue as unfair as it is, which is the equivalent to providing a knife to one of the school boys in a school yard fight. It doesn’t solve the anger, but definitely escalates the situation.
Cut off all aid now. Eventually Israel will not be able to fund their military at current levels, and they will be forced to work this problem out politically rather than with the dominance of force. That is the only hope of any lasting solution. And that solution is not possible as long as U.S. funding continues. The opposing parties will have to learn to live together via discussion rather than at the end of a gun. Cut off aid to Israel now.