Appetite Versus Starvation and Some Other Eternal Truths


by Gerald A. Honigman


      Arabs have spent decades trying to convince the world that they are both the old and the new Jews.


     Arafat and others have claimed that Jesus, Peter, and their comrades were actually Arabs--"Palestinians" to be exact--and not Jews.


     It seems that planes were not the only things that Arafat's crew decided to hijack.


     Too bad that besides the Jews themselves, the Romans, who ruled the land in Jesus' day, also left a clear record of the land belonging to the Jews-- whom they were in the process of conquering--and also made a clear distinction between Jews and Arabs as well.


     Tacitus and Dio Cassius were famous Roman historians who wrote extensively about Judaea's attempt to remain free from the Soviet Union of its day, the conquering Roman Empire. They lived and wrote during, or not long after, the two major revolts of the Jews for independence in 66-73 C.E. and 133-135 C.E. They make no mention of this land being Arab, of it being called "Palestine," or its people "Palestinians." On the contrary, they detailed the difference between the native Jews Rome was fighting and the Arabs from surrounding lands who decided to join the massive Roman assault on their Jewish neighbors.


     Listen to this quote from Vol. II, Book V, The Works of Tacitus:


   "...Titus was appointed by his father to complete the subjugation of Judaea... he commanded three legions in Judaea itself... To these he added the twelfth from Syria and the third and twenty-second from Alexandria... amongst his allies were a band of Arabs, formidable in themselves and harboring towards the Jews the bitter animosity usually subsisting between neighboring nations..."

     After the 1st Revolt, Rome issued thousands of Judaea Capta coins which can be seen today in museums all over the world. Notice, please... Judaea Capta... not "Palaestina Capta." Additionally, to celebrate this victory, the Arch of Titus was erected illustrating legionnaires carrying away the spoils of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. It stands tall in Rome to this very day. Arafat, of course, denies that such a Temple ever existed.


     When, some sixty years later, Emperor Hadrian decided to further desecrate the site of the destroyed Temple  by erecting a pagan structure there, it was the grandchildren's turn to take on their mighty conquerors.


     The result of the struggle of this tiny nation for its freedom and independence was, perhaps, as predictable as that which would have occurred had Lithuania taken on the Soviet Union during its heyday of power. Listen next to this next quote from Dio Cassius:


   "...580,000 men were slain, nearly the whole of Judaea made desolate. Many Romans, moreover, perished in this war (the Bar Kochba Revolt). Therefore Hadrian, in writing to the senate, did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the emperors, ' I and the legions are in health.' "

     The Emperor was so enraged at the Jews' struggle for freedom in their own land that, in the words of the esteemed modern historian, Bernard Lewis, "Hadrian made a determined attempt to stamp out the embers not only of the revolt but also of Jewish nationhood and statehood... obliterating its Jewish identity."


     Wishing to end, once and for all, Jewish hopes, Hadrian renamed the land itself from Judaea to "Syria Palaestina" -- Palestine -- after the Jews' historic enemies, the Philistines, a non-Semitic sea people from the eastern Mediterranean or Aegean area. So, sorry Yasser...Trying to hijack the latter's identity, as you have tried to do with that of the Jews, won't work either.


     The reality, of course, is that the vast majority of Arabs did not even begin to enter into the picture regarding the land of Israel / Judaea / Palestine until almost seven centuries after fall of Jewish Jerusalem--during the beginning of the Arabs' own extensive imperial conquest, forced Arabization, and settlement of much of the region. Imperialism is evidently only nasty when non-Arabs so indulge.


     Ditto for settlement and such. Most so-called "native Palestinians" today came into the land only recently themselves, beginning with thousands of Egyptian troops who stayed after the invasion of Muhammad Ali's army in the 19th century, and ballooning after Jewish capital began to develop the land soon afterwards. The records of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations and other evidence document Arabs flooding into Palestine after 1920. It is believed that many others entered under cover of darkness and were simply never recorded.


     While the story of the Arabs' attempt at establishing themselves as the "aboriginals" of the land could be  developed further, I'll let it rest for now. So much for their attempt at becoming the old Jews.


     Let's next turn to the Arab attempt to become the new Jews...


     After Judaea's fight for freedom against the mighty Roman Empire and the conversion of the latter to Christianity, forced conversions, being branded the deicide people (and treated accordingly), inquisitions, demonization, dehumanization, ghettos, blood libels, massacres, expulsions, and existence as perpetual stranger in someone else's land became the plight of the stateless, "Wandering Jew."  Estimates have placed the number of Jews murdered as a result of these experiences, prior to the Holocaust, in both the Christian West--where they were considered to be "G-d killers"--or in the Muslim East, where there was no Holocaust per se, but where Jews were still frequently regarded as "killers of prophets' and kilab yahud "Jew dogs," in the millions. And this was without the benefit of 20th century methods of mass destruction aiding the process.


     Arabs have tried to convince the world that their experiences and the plight of Palestinian Arab refugees is somehow the equivalent of that of the Jews. It has worked to a great extent with a world largely--and willingly-- deaf, dumb, and blind to the obvious differences.


     Let's turn the clock back some seventy years to hear how one great Jewish leader explained these differences in his Evidence Submitted To The Palestine Royal Commission in London in 1937. Still recovering from the murderous pogroms and massive Jewish refugee problem which accompanied them just a bit earlier, it had by now become evident that even worse was yet to come. Let's listen to how this Zionist leader dealt with all of this:


     "Three generations of Jewish thinkers...have come to the conclusion that the cause of our suffering is the very fact of the Diaspora, the bedrock fact that we are everywhere a minority...The phenomenon called Zionism may include all kinds of dreams...but all of this longing for wonderful toys of velvet and silver is nothing compared with that tangible momentum of irresistible distress and need by which we are propelled and borne..."


     "Whenever I hear a Zionist...accused of asking too much...I really cannot understand it...Yes we do want a State; every nation on earth...they all have States of their own...the normal condition of a people. Yet, when we, the most abnormal of peoples, and therefore the most unfortunate, ask for only the same...then it is called too much...We have got to save millions, many millions. I do not know whether it is a question of one third...half...or a quarter (indeed, one third of world Jewry would be eliminated within just a few years of his remarks)."


     "I have the profoundest feeling for the Arab case, in so far as that case is not exaggerated...I have also shown to you...that...there is no question of ousting the Arabs. On the contrary, the idea is that Palestine on both sides of the Jordan should hold the Arabs...and...Jews. What I do not deny is that in that process the Arabs of Palestine will become...a minority...What I do deny is that that is a hardship."


     "It is not a hardship on any race, any nation possessing so many National States now and so many more National States in the future. One fraction, one branch...and not a big one, will have to live in someone else's State: Well, that is the case with with all the mightiest nations of the world...That is only normal and there is no "hardship" attached to that. So when we hear the Arab claim confronted with the Jewish claim, I fully understand that any minority would prefer to be a majority."


     "It is quite understandable that the Arabs...would also prefer Palestine to be the Arab State No. 4, No. 5. or No. 6...but when the Arab claim is confronted with our Jewish demand to be saved, it is like the claims of appetite versus...starvation."


     The presenter of this evidence was Ze'ev Vladimir Jabotinsky. And, as can be seen above, unlike too many other Zionist thinkers, he was a realist regarding what could and what could not be expected in the Jews' relationships with Arabs.


     As Jabotinsky correctly forecasted, Arabs made out quite well after the break up of the Turks' four century-old Empire at the end of World War I. To date, they have almost two dozen states. And most of those were conquered and forcibly Arabized from millions of Berbers, Copts, Kurds, Jews, Black Africans, and other non-Arab peoples.


     Appetite, indeed, Mr. Jabotinsky...and at everyone else's expense.


     Arabs declared the region to be purely Arab patrimony, frequently outlawed others' languages and cultures, and killed anyone who stood in their way...millions to date.


     In failing repeated attempts to destroy militarily the sole, miniscule state the Jews managed to get as a refuge, the Arabs next turned to another ploy. In the quest to defeat Israel on the battlefield of ideas, the Arabs virtually transformed themselves into the new stateless Jews. In a like manner, Israel's attempts to survive and suppress repeated acts of terrorism and Arab assaults on its life were also twisted to be equated with the Nazis' treatment of the Jews. Arabs became the new David to Israel's Goliath, despite the fact that there are some 300 million of them on over six million square miles of territory and there are five million Israeli Jews in a state that one practically needs a magnifying glass to locate on a map of the world.


     Along these lines, there are those who make the argument, "if Jews can have a state, why not Palestinians?" For some, this is simply ignorance. But for too many others--academics included--it represents something far worse, for they know better.


     While I won't get into argument over whether a distinct Palestinian Arab nationalism exists today, it certainly did not exist before the rise of modern political Zionism a little over a century ago. In fact, the former arose specifically to negate the latter. There are volumes of evidence to support this. Virtually all the writings of politically conscious Arabs on the eve of the collapse of the Ottoman Turkish Empire spoke of a greater Syrian Arab or Pan Arab identity. And there never was an Arab country, state, or nation of "Palestine." Indeed, the "Palestinians" were the Jews.


      As in Jabotinsky's day, now, and before, this conflict has never been about Jews wanting to deny Arabs their just rights. On the contrary, it's always been about Arabs not allowing any one else--be they Kurds, Jews, Berbers, Black African Sudanese, or others--even a tiny sliver of the those very same rights they so fervently demand for themselves.


     In the war of ideas, the Arabs realized that the very identity of the conflict would have to undergo a change.


     In their attempt to create their 22nd or 23rd state--on the ashes of Israel, not along side of it--Arabs came to realize that it would make better press and public relations to speak in terms of creating a state for "stateless Palestinians" rather than calling for the creation of a yet an additional Arab state at the expense of the one of the Jews.


     Hocus pocus: Arabs, with some two dozen states, would next be transformed into the likes of previously starving, stateless Jews.


     Listen to Zuheir Mohsein, official with the PLO's military wing and Executive Council, in his interview with the Dutch newspaper, Trouw, on 3/31/77, and see how he explained this strategy:


     "There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, etc...It is only for political reasons that we now carefully underline Palestinian identity....this serves only a tactical purpose...a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel."


     Despite the passage of time, these basic truths do not change.


     The Arab-Jewish (or Arab-Kurdish, Arab-Berber, Arab-Black African Sudanese, and so forth) conflict is still all about Jabotinsky's appetite versus starvation...a conquering, subjugating appetite on the part of the Arabs to deny any one else their own share of justice in the region.


     By rejecting repeated compromises over the 20% of the Mandate of Palestine left after they had already received the lion's share of it in 1922 with the creation of purely Arab Transjordan (some 80% of the whole), the Arabs created the impasse we are still living with today. They invaded a reborn Israel in 1948 in an attempt to nip it in the bud...thereby creating two refugee crises in the process: Arabs who fled Israel and a like number of Jews who fled "Arab "/ Muslim lands. But, unlike the Arabs, the Jews didn't have other multiple states of their own to potentially choose from.


     What's even more depressing is that, in many crucial ways, nothing has really changed for well over a half century, as a look at Arab websites, textbooks, maps, and such illustrates. Israel simply does not exist. And the most that will be offered to it will be a temporary respite, a hudna, like that the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, allowed his enemies until he could muster the strength to deal them the final blow...Arafat's so-called "Peace of the Quraysh." Even the Arabs' own moderates have admitted to this, calling any and all such moves for "peace" a Trojan Horse.


     Once again...the basic truths of this struggle do not change. They are eternal.


     And the Arab-Jewish conflict is still all about appetite versus starvation.



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