Squalid Refugee Camps
Squalid Refugee Camps

Anyone viewing the media photos from the conflict in the Gaza Strip can't help but notice the stark contrast between the Jewish areas and the Arab areas. In the Jewish areas, there are modern homes, businesses, shopping centers, and recreational sites. In the Arab areas there are primitive homes, unsanitary food markets, children herding goats, and "squalid refugee camps." The accompanying news articles from Associated Press, NY Times, and Reuters, will emphasize the ‚€œdeplorable humanitarian conditions in the squalid refugee camps." The articles will lament how the Palestinians are suffering from the lengthy, harsh Israeli military occupation. The turbulence in the Middle East is attributed to a handful of young, idealistic Jewish families living in "settlements" around Jerusalem and the Gaza coast. If only these settlements were dismantled, everlasting peace would follow quickly.

Readers may conclude that the modern cities in Israel, as well as the "settlements," are supported by the rich Jews in America who control the banks, the corporations, and the entire US Congress. Yet the poor downtrodden Palestinian Arabs can‚€™t get jobs and have no one to turn to. If they only had a little piece of land to call their own, they would be happy and peaceful. However, if the reader took the trouble to read other articles from the same newspapers he would learn that American Jews make up less than 2% of the American population. These Jews are widely dispersed and fragmented in their beliefs. That‚€™s an unlikely position for controlling American wealth and politics. On the other hand, the Palestinians Arabs are surrounded by over 20 oil-rich, Arab states with a combined population over 300 million. The oil-rich royal families are among the wealthiest people in the world. What have these states done for their Palestinian brothers besides encourage violence, train terrorists, and provide explosives? In addition, over the last 30 years, the Palestinian Arabs have been the largest recipients of funds from UNRWA, UNICEF, IMF, and EU.

Instead of attributing Middle East turbulence to "Israeli occupation," "humiliating checkpoints," and "Jewish settlements on occupied Arab lands," news reporters should be asking the following questions?

 

1. What happened to all of the billions of dollars that the Palestinians received in foreign aid over the last ten years?
2. Where are all the homes, schools, businesses, and hospitals that the PA was supposed to build with the aid they received from the EU and UN?
3. What was the purpose for all of the "offices" and "security" buildings that the PA built in Ramallah, Gaza, and Hebron? Why did the PA need a complex of buildings that was almost the size of the Pentagon, but the people didn‚€™t have decent housing?
4. Why are there so many "metals factories" in Gaza but we don‚€™t see one item that says "Made in Gaza."?
5. Where are Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the other terrorist groups getting their military equipment from?
6. Where was the "Israeli occupation" in September, 2000 when 98% of the Palestinian Arab population was under control of the PA?
7. Why did the PA respond to Barak‚€™s generous offer of a Palestinian state with a call for "intifada," "jihad," and "liberation of Palestine."
8. Why does the PA insist on "right of return" of 4 million descendents of the 1948 refugees but Jews have no right to live in Arab lands where they have lived for hundreds of years?
9. What ever happened to the renunciation of terrorism and security arrangements that were agreed to in the Oslo accords?
10. Why do Palestinian schools teach their children hatred and intolerance towards Jews while glorifying violent suicide bombers in their "struggle for the liberation of Palestine?" Palestine is defined in the Arab texts as the borders of the British Mandate as it existed in 1947.
11.Why is it permissible for Christian missionaries and foreign workers to live in the "occupied terrioties" but the young, Jewish "settlers" may not?
12. Why are people who plan, support, finance, and condone mass homicide against Jewish civilians referred to as "political leaders struggling for an independent state?"
13. Why is there no talk among the Arabs of "peaceful coexistence, mutual cooperation, tolerance, acceptance, and negotiated compromise?"
14. Who is supporting all of the hundreds of pro-Palestinian websites and student organizations that are portraying the Palestinians as the innocent victims of a "harsh, Israeli, military occupation?" In contrast, the peaceful Jewish settlers are portrayed as armed, militant occupiers of Palestinian lands.


There is one answer to all of the above questions: The main reason for the strife, suffering, and turmoil in the

Middle East is the absolute refusal of the Arab population to accept the existence of the Jewish State of Israel and their struggle to replace it with another fundamentalist Islamic state modeled after Iran. They teach their children that hatred, violence, intolerance, suicide, and mass homicide are all acceptable methods in the "struggle to liberate Palestine." The strife, violence, suffering, and turbulence will cease only when the Arabs realize that they will not benefit from violence, but will benefit from peaceful harmony and cooperation with the State of Israel.

Peaceful cooperation between Arabs and Jews could turn the sand and limestone of the Judean Hills into gold and jewels. Tourists would flock to a land that offers warm weather with sunny, blue skies for 8 months of the year. There are modern hotels, beaches, and recreational areas. Modern amenities are only a few kilometers from ancient, historical, and religious sites. If there was peace, tourism and commerce would flourish to the benefit of both Arabs and Israelis.

Instead of blaming "settlements" and "occupation," the civilized peoples of the world, should be condemning hatred, violence, intolerance, and mass homicide. Only when the Arabs and Islamic fundamentalists realize that this type of behavior is not acceptable in civilized society will they realize that peaceful coexistence is a better alternative. Their leaders should not be legitimized by being invited to diplomatic conferences with promises of an independent state. That only encourages their violence and intransigence. Only when there are responsible Arab leaders who are sincere in promoting true peaceful coexistence , and abandon their hateful rhetoric, should there be talk of establishing Palestinian autonomy. Then there wouldn‚€™t be any issue of "Jewish settlements" or "IDF operations in occupied territories," or "squalid refugee camps." Arabs, and Jews would live together in peace, harmony, security, and prosperity.

(c) 2004, I. Zwick, NYC

Israel Zwick is a commentator on the Middle East based in New York.

Reprinted by permission.