Much of the world is once again mad at Israel. When Israeli commandos
boarded an aid ship attempting to penetrate the ongoing blockade of
Gaza, they encountered club-wielding activists and fought back with
gunfire. The result was several injured Israelis and nine dead
Israel claims they were attacked, the so-called activists say the
Israelis shot first and asked questions later. There is significant
reason to believe the Israelis.
A brief history lesson is in order.
Israel has been under near constant attack since the day it first
became a nation in May of 1948. They were immediately assaulted by
Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq. The Israelis
prevailed, a result that would be often repeated. In 1956, after
putting up with endless terrorist attacks from Egypt, Israel invaded
the Sinai Peninsula, including the Gaza Strip, which halted the
attacks, at least temporarily.
In the following decade, the Israelis become the targets of more
terrorism and ever more belligerent posturing by their Arab neighbors.
In 1967, Egypt, aided and abetted by their Arab allies, reoccupied
the Gaza Strip and closed the Gulf of Aqaba, an essential supply lane,
to Israeli shipping. This was a monumental mistake. The ensuing Six
Day War resulted in the Israelis retaking Gaza, occupying the Sinai
Peninsula all the way to the Suez Canal, capturing East Jerusalem,
Syrias Golan Heights and Jordans West Bank. It was one of the more
serious butt kickings in modern military history.
Still, three crushing military defeats in less than 20 years did not
deter Israels neighbors and in 1973, on Yom Kippur, the highest and
holiest Jewish holy day, Egypt and Syria attacked yet again. This
time the Israelis ultimately drove the Egyptians all the way across
the Suez Canal, allowing them strategic control of one of the worlds
most important shipping lanes. The Israelis withdrew from the west
bank of the Suez as part of a cease fire agreement and in 1982
withdrew from the Sinai altogether.
The Israeli government has since consistently, and mistakenly,
sacrificed land they won in combat in an effort to secure peace, or at
the very least, a recognition by their neighbors of their right to
exist. Land-for-peace has been an ongoing strategic blunder by the
Fast forward to today. There has been little peace for little Israel,
which is about the size of New Jersey and has fewer than 8 million
permanent residents (including 20% Arabs who have full citizenship
rights). It is surrounded by historic enemies Lebanon, Jordan,
Syria and Egypt and hundreds of millions of Muslims being led by
those whose openly stated goal is to push Israel into the
Mediterranean and massacre the Jewish people who live there.
A new player has now intruded into this mess, the so-called
Palestinian people and their claim the Israelis are occupying their
historic homelands, Gaza and the West Bank. But there has never been
a Palestinian state nor is there any historic record of one and for
good reason; those now calling themselves Palestinians are, in fact,
Jordanians, Syrians and Egyptians. (Its important not to mistake the
Palestine of the Bible for what is now being called Palestine. They
are two different entities.) Quite the contrary, a Hebrew people
settled into the area more than 4,000 years ago, staking a fairly
significant historical claim to the area.
It is instructive to note there was no claim of either a
Palestinian homeland nor a Palestinian people when the West Bank was
controlled by Jordan or when Gaza was part of Egypt. And neither
Jordan nor Egypt ever intimated in any way theyd be willing to give
up their land for people calling themselves Palestinians. It wasnt
until Israel occupied those lands, which they took during wars they
did not start, that the cry for a Palestinian homeland started.
Much to their eventual chagrin, Israel ceded both Gaza and the West
Bank in an effort to secure peace with their neighbors. Gaza, at the
southwestern corner of Israels border, had been turned into a highly
productive agricultural center with a modern infrastructure. Once the
Israelis withdrew, that infrastructure and those farms were destroyed
by the new overlords. Gaza then became a jumping off point for
terrorist attacks in Israel and seemingly endless rocket attacks from
Gaza itself. Not a few rocket attacks but thousands and thousands.
So bad did it become that schools within range of the ongoing
bombardment had to build rocket shelters on their playgrounds to
protect their children. That was the genesis of the blockade of Gaza;
the Israelis grew weary of Gaza constantly being supplied with more
and more weaponry from other Arab countries.
Gaza and the West Bank are now part of something called the
Palestinian Authority. In what passed for free elections, the people
of Gaza ultimately gave political control of their land to Hamas, a
terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
Israel is by no means perfect. Their government, a parliamentary
republic, has had its share of incompetence and corruption and
mistakes. They are often more aggressive than suits our geopolitical
objectives. Thats what happens when a country has been under attack
for all 62 years of its existence they get a little testy. One
assumes they are tired of extending the hand of peace only to be given
a grenade in return.
Some will suggest this is a one-sided view of the situation. Fair
enough. But the reality is that Israel has been in the past, is now,
and will continue to be a strong ally. Their enemies are our enemies.
We sympathize with Arabs now suffering as a result of leaders gone
quite mad with hatred of Israel. But we cannot support or help them,
nor condemn Israel, until the bellicose zealots in the region stop
attacking our friends and learn to play nice with their neighbors.
Stephen Tuttle is a political consultant who formerly wrote for the