Gerald Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive doctoral work in Middle East studies, has lectured on numerous university and other platforms. He has debated many of the best Arab and pro-Arab academics in public debates and on television. Mr. Honigman is widely published in academic journals, magazines, newspapers and other publications.
Nice Speech, Flawed Analogy, Wrong Audience…
by Gerald A. Honigman
The headline in my Daytona Beach, Florida newspaper on March 22nd read, “Obama Urges Israelis To Compromise…”
Returning to Israel after meeting with Mahmoud Abbas’s latter day Arafatians (the so-called “moderates”), on Thursday, March 21st, in a speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center, President Obama urged Israelis to empathize with Arabs and recognize their “right to self-determination, their right to justice…two states for two peoples.”
Continuing his plea on behalf of the “Palestinians,” he often drew applause–like when he offered, “I honestly believe that if any Israeli parent sat down with these kids, they’d say, ‘I want these kids to succeed, I want them to prosper, I want them to have opportunities just like my kids do’…The Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and their justice must also be recognized.”
Much of what the President said sounded reasonable. But his words were delivered to the wrong audience, and his analogy was seriously flawed.
For starters, any objective study of the past century would show–despite all the real and alleged sins that Israel has been accused of–that Jews bent over backwards, sideways, and forwards to arrive at an honest compromise with Arabs in their struggle over the land.
The problem has not been an unwillingness–as Obama suggests–of Jews to grant Arabs “justice.” It has been–without doubt–just the opposite.
Indeed any justice granted to others, besides Arabs, in the region is perceived by Arabs as being an injustice to themselves. They call the potential birth of Kurdistan, for example, “another Israel.” Keep in mind that Kurds predate Arabs in both allegedly “Arab” Syria and Iraq by millennia.
Why is the creation of a 22nd state for Arabs so sacred (their second, not first, in the original April 25,1920 Mandate of Palestine), yet Obama never speaks in such terms regarding the plight of scores of millions of truly stateless peoples in the region–folks like Kurds and Imazighen/”Berbers,”whose own hopes in the post-Ottoman era after World War I were squashed largely by Arab nationalism in its various stripes. Unlike Arabs, these folks still don’t have one state yet let alone almost two dozen others. Has the American president ever lectured an Arab audience about this travesty of justice? Has he ever told Arabs, unabashedly to their faces, as he freely does with Jews, that if they expect to have a 22nd state of their own officially recognized that they would have to grant other peoples that same recognition?
When the Ottoman Empire fell apart after World War I, many different peoples ruled by the Turks for centuries saw a chance, in the new age of nationalism, to rule themselves. A popular saying in diplomatic circles at the time went something like …”Arabia for the Arabians, Judea for the Jews, Armenia for the Armenians, and Kurdistan for the Kurds.”
Unfortunately, Arabs didn’t quite see things this way.
Since their own much earler imperial, Caliphal conquests had them replacing the Byzantine and Persian empires and ruling the whole region for a time, they saw themselves as the only legitimate rulers of what they call “purely Arab patrimony.”
So, forget about Obama’s “justice” for Kurds, Imazighen (“Berbers”), black Africans in the Sudan and elsewhere, Copts, Assyrians, native “kilab yahud” (Jew dogs), and so forth. Frequenty, those folks’ languages and cultures have been simply outlawed in the forced Arabization process–still going on to this very day.
Contrary to Obama’s assertions, the truth is that it has been the Arabs themselves who have repeatedly insisted that they would settle for nothing less than 100% of the territorial pie when it came to a discussion of what to do with that portion of the former Ottoman territory which became the original Mandate of Palestine.
It has been Arabs–not Jews–who have repeatedly refused to compromise…yet see the title of that newspaper headline again at the beginning of this analysis. Also bear in mind that the Minutes of the Permanent Mandates Commission and other solid documentation show that many, if not most, Arabs were newcomers themselves into the Mandate–so much so that the very definition of the word “refugee” had to be revised by UNRWA to accomodate them after their invasion of a reborn Israel backfired in 1948.
To deal with the competition between nationalisms in the Mandate, the Brits began by chopping off almost 80% of the total area and handing it over to Arab nationalism in 1922, giving birth to what would later be renamed Jordan. So, right from the get-go, Jews’ were restricted to some 20% of the original area that they had earlier been promised access to.
In 1947, another partition was proposed which would have divided the 20% of the land left as of 1922 into a second Arab state, and a tiny one for the Jews. Despite potentially winding up with close to 90% of Palestine, Arabs rejected the offer because, once again, in their eyes, Jews (or Imazighen, Kurds, etc.) were entitled to absolutely nothing. Keep in mind that over one half of Israel’s Jews are from refugee families who fled the so-called “Arab” world.
Despite some nice words, Obama delivered them to the wrong audience. He needed to offer his advice to an Arab audience–not to applauding Jews, especially starry-eyed, naive college students. Jews have worked towards achieving a just solution which took into account the cause of their enemies long before the President was born. Had the Arabs done likewise, this conflict would have been resolved decades ago.
But now, however, let’s turn to perhaps the worse offense of all–whether done deliberately or in ignorant innocence.
In discussing an alleged “two state solution,” Obama and others play right into the hands of the Arabs’ deliberate deception.
You see, there are two legitimate parties to this conflict–Arabs and Jews.
Yet, even the most “moderate” of Arabs insist on getting not one share of the “Palestine” pie, but two. Palestine, by the way, is the name the Roman Emperor Hadrian bestowed on the land of Judaea after the Jews’ second costly revolt. It was named for the Jews’ historic enemies, the non-Semitic Philistines from the islands near Crete. Open http://q4j-middle-east.com to see a Judea Capta coin and what ancient Rome called the land prior to the Bar Kochba Revolt.
Even in the most “moderate” Arabs’ count, they demand one portion for “Arabs” and another for “Palestinians”–or, as I described this earlier, have demanded that in this geographical addition problem, 1 + 1 = 3…not 2 (see http://www.virtualjerusalem.co.....temid=4925).
Think about this a minute…
If Jews played this same renaming game, they could call themselves something different and then demand dozens of states too (http://www.newmediajournal.us/.....192008.htm). Ascould Kurds and others as well. “Hey, we’re not really Kurds–we’re Irbilians, Mosulians, Kirkukians, Sulimanyians, Mehabadians, Qamishlians, Diyarbakirians, and so forth.”
Get the picture?
No, formerly, truly stateless Jews and currently stateless peoples like Kurds and Imazighen are not the same as deliberately renamed, allegedly stateless “Palestinians.” The latter are part of the greater Arab family which has nearly two dozen states to call its own. Furthermore, the latter have largely been carved out of mostly non-Arab peoples’ lands–lands in which other native peoples’ very languages and cultures have often been outlawed in the forced Arabization process.
Now, are there different Arab groups within that greater Arab family?
Sure…just like there are many different sub-groups within the Jewish or Kurdish or Amazigh families of nations.
But the possession of multiple sub-groups does not give Arabs the right to deny all other peoples their own share of justice in the region. Yet, that has always been the Arab game plan–and what the American President promotes in such speeches as the one he recently gave in Jerusalem.
1 + 1 = 2…not 3.
Arabs are entitled to one share of the Palestine pie–not two. They must decide among themselves how they want to share rule over their one part of “Palestine."
Whether this translates into a merger of parts of Judea and Samaria–”West Bank”–with Jordan (the most sensible yet unlikely solution), or whether a tiny, second Arab state is created in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria after Israel gets the absolutely essential compromise in the territories promised by the final draft of UNSC Resolution 242, the choice must not leave the sole state of the Jews as vulnerable as in the days prior to the 1967 war when Israel was a mere 9-15-mile wide rump state of a nation.
I hope that the leaders of Israel made this very clear before Mr. Obama returned to Washington.
Chag sameach and Happy Easter to my Jewish and Christian friends.