Settlers…Now Think About This, Long and Hard

By Gerald A. Honigman


Let’s see, now what’s a good synonym for this?


Jews! Now there’s a good one, correct?

I mean, almost every time you hear the word mentioned these days, it’s got Jews associated with it. Not so?

Think long and hard, however, about what follows.

Not that the information hasn’t been known before. Indeed, some get tired and upset at having to rehash it over and over again… Me too.

It’s just that only a relative few have cared enough to find out, and the mainline press, most of the rest of the media, and much of the rest of the world are indeed ignorant of these facts or choose to not want to know them for one reason or another.

As just the most recent of countless examples over the past three quarters of a century regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, the headline of the February 21, 2005 Orlando Sentinel was a case in point and read as follows: "Israel Approves Ousting Settlers."

Jews are the settlers and Arabs are the allegedly abused aboriginals. You get the picture.

Now for a reality check…

Just who is and who is not a "settler" in these regards?

Did you know that when the United Nations Relief Works Agency–UNRWA–was set up to assist Arab refugees (after a half dozen Arab states invaded a nascent Israel in 1948 to nip it in the bud and their attempt backfired), the very word refugee had to be redefined to assist those people?

So many Arabs were recent arrivals themselves into the Palestinian Mandate that UNRWA had to adjust the very definition of "refugee" from its prior meaning of persons normally and traditionally resident to those who lived in the Mandate for a minimum of only two years prior to 1948. Do you really understand what this is saying?

Now also keep in mind that for every Arab who was forced to flee the fighting that Arabs started (after all, how dare Jews want in one tiny, resurrected state what Arabs demand for themselves in some two dozen others), a Jewish refugee was forced to flee Arab/Muslim lands into Israel and elsewhere…but with no UNRWA set up to assist them. As just one of many examples, greater New York City alone now has tens of thousands of Syrian Jewish refugees and their descendants. And while many, if not most, of France’s pre-World War II European Jews perished in the Holocaust (rounded up too often by the French themselves), many of France’s now newly-endangered post-war Jewish population also consists of refugees from the "Arab" world.

As for those "native Palestinians," Arafat himself was born in Cairo, Egypt. Scores of thousands of other Arabs came from Egypt earlier in the 19th century with Muhammad Ali and son’s Ibrahim Pasha’s armies and many, like Arafat a bit later, settled in Palestine.

During the mandatory period after World War I, the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission recorded additional scores of thousands of Egyptian, Syrian, and other Arabs entering into Palestine and settling there. Indeed, this influx of Arabs into the land is well documented, but few–except scholars–usually delve into these sources. And too many of the latter these days tend to have an anti-Israel bias and agenda…so such facts are simply ignored, down played, or whatever. And often a grad student brings such things up at his own future professional risk. Been there, done that (unfortunately).

Ready for more "native Palestinians?"

Hamas’ patron saint, Sheikh Izzedin al-Qassam, for whom its militant wing (the folks who blow up the teen clubs, pizzerias, buses, and so forth) was named, was from Latakia, Syria. He too settled in Palestine. This is the same Hamas that butchers Jewish "settler" babes and grandmas. And the same Hamas that says no Israel–regardless of size–has a right to exist. In this, however, it has company in the "moderate," sweet-talking Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority as well. He ran on a platform of Israel’s destruction–but by "other," more acceptable means.

It is estimated that for each one of these incoming Arabs who were recorded, many others crossed the border under cover of darkness to enter into one of the few areas in the region where any economic development was going on because of the influx of Jewish capital. These folks later became known as "native Palestinians." Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from some of those same "Arab" countries–Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Yemen, and so forth–became the settlers.

While this is not to say that there were not native Arabs also living in Palestine, it is to say that many, if not most, of the Arabs were also relative newcomers–settlers–themselves.

Many of the villages set up in the West Bank and elsewhere were settlements established by Arab settlers. And there were Jews whose families never left Israel/Judea/Palestine as well over the centuries, despite the tragedies of two, well-documented major wars for their freedom and independence with Rome, forced conversions of the Byzantines, the Diaspora, Crusades, and other nightmares as well.

So, why is it acceptable for Arabs from surrounding lands to settle in Palestine, but not for Israel’s Jews, half of whom were refugees themselves from Arab/Muslim lands? They’re the other side of the refugee coin nobody talks about.

Jews owned land and lived in Judea (Judean=Jew) and Samaria until they were massacred by Arabs in the 1920s and 1930s.

And for those who make short shrift of the Jews calling those lands by the above names (I heard one commentator on National Public Radio doing so on the very same day of the cited Orlando Sentinel article), Judea and Samaria didn’t become known as the "West Bank" until British imperialism made its presence there in the 20th century and purely Arab Tran Jordan–created itself in 1922 on the east bank from 80% of the original Mandate for Palestine which Britain received on April 25, 1920–annexed the "west bank" of the Jordan River after the 1948 fighting. The United Nations’ had imposed armistice lines–not borders–which made Israel a mere nine miles wide at its waist. Jews were then barred from living on lands where they had thousands of years of history and as much right as Arabs to live on.

Whatever will or won’t become of the disputed lands in question, it must be noted that this is disputed territory, not "Arab" land, as the media, the United Nations, the American State Department, and others like to insinuate. Again, Jews lived and owned property there until their slaughter by Arabs.

Judea and Samaria were not apportioned parts of the Mandate, and leading authorities such as Eugene Rostow, William O’Brien, and others have stressed that these areas were open to settlement by Jew, Arab, and other residents of the mandate alike. Indeed, as we’ve already discussed, hundreds of thousands of Arabs poured into the area from all over the Middle East and North Africa. Having one of the highest birth rates in the world, those "native Palestinians" soon greatly increased their numbers…again, more Arab settlers setting up more Arab settlements. So why are these "legal" and acceptable but those of the Jews not?

U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, in the aftermath of the 1967 War that Arabs started with their blockade of Israel– a casus belli– and other hostile acts, called for the creation of secure and recognized borders to replace Israel’s vulnerable armistice line existence. All the architects of that resolution, from Lord Caradon to Eugene Rostow and others concur here. Israel was not to be forced to withdraw to the suicidal status quo ante.

Any renewed discussions about the so-called roadmap to peace must take all of this into account.

And those truly in search of justice would do well to reconsider the very words they choose to discuss this conflict.