Theater of Cruelty

Therefore, the Middle East became a powder keg

50 YEARS AGO / Why has the Middle East been a powder keg for 25 years? What is the background for the irreconcilable attitude between Israel and the Arab states? And what happened to the Palestinian Arabs when the state of Israel was established?



Here we report on the background to the conflict. Both the current one and the wars in 1948, 1956 and 1967. There will be no lasting peace in the area until Israel acknowledges that they have inflicted damage on another people and deprived them of rights that are equivalent to what they themselves might demand.

Staten Israel was proclaimed on 14 May 1948. The year before, Great Britain had renounced its mandate over Palestine, and the UN had adopted a plan for the division of the land area. But in reality a Jewish state had existed for a long time. It had its own administration and a well-organized army.

Everything in the time before the turn of the century was the idea of ​​an independent Jewish state strong. Primarily in Europe where many Jews saw themselves as a people who were not assimilated and could not be assimilated. The Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897 raised the bar. They were looking for an area of ​​land, and the choice was not difficult: Palestine, which the majority of the Jews had left in the last two thousand years.

At the time, Palestine was an Arab province of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. But it was not seen as an obstacle. Colonial policies were widely accepted at the time. It was not seen as reprehensible that you moved on or oppressed people groups that all existed on an area of ​​land or oppressed them in the name of civilization.

States of Israel

In the decades that followed, Palestine became colonized of Jews. As early as 1914, the Jews made up 85 out of 000 inhabitants. The seeds of the conflict with the Palestinian Arabs and other Arabs had already been laid. Not only because the first feared being displaced. Of even greater importance was the fact that a nascent Arab nationalism was in full bloom precisely at this time. And out of nationalism grew nations. Right from the start, the Jews were to be confronted with two conflicts: the struggle against the Palestinian Arabs, whom they were in the process of displacing from their rightful territory, and against the Arab nations that were emerging. The conflicts and conflicts of interest have persisted right up to our time.

I Balfour-the declaration on 2 November 1917 promised the British to establish a national Jewish center in Palestine. In 1922, Great Britain was handed the mandate over Palestine from the League of Nations. In 1947, the country renounced this mandate and on 29 November of the same year, the UN adopted a partition plan for Palestine. An Arab and a Jewish state within an economic union. Jerusalem was to be international territory.

On 1 May 1948, the British High Commissioner left Palestine, and the State of Israel was proclaimed. Now followed an implacable war between a well-equipped (and until then unofficial) Jewish army on the one hand and Palestinian guerrilla forces supported by troops from the Arab states on the other. Israel won the war. And the new state established itself on a land area that was 20 percent larger than the UN partition plan had envisaged.

The background to the first war was the same as those that would follow. With the creation of the Arab nation-states, resistance to colonialism increased.

Economically, it was fortunate to incorporate the west bank of the Jordan because it is a very fertile area.

The Arabs rightly saw the state of Israel as a foreign implant in an Arab country with the intention of amputating Arab territory. A new population was installed in an area that was already populated. This occurred in the age of nationalism and continued into a period of decolonization in other parts of the world. The Arabs were determined not to be conquered. They fought both for their identity and to keep or regain their independence.

The Arabs see the refugees as a symbol of injustice

580 Palestinians stayed displaced from the new state. But due to a high birth rate, this number increased to over 900. Some went to Syria, others to Lebanon or the Gaza Strip. But the majority, over half a million in 000, sought refuge in miserable refugee camps in Jordan. Several hundred thousand still tempt such an existence. Unskilled workers and farmers who were dispossessed of the land were unable to integrate economically in the Arab countries. The Arabs see these refugees as a symbol of the injustice the entire Arab world has been affected by.

The Arab states regard Israel as the US and capitalism's bridgehead in the middle of an underdeveloped world. And it is true that Israel, because of its colonialist origins and its enmity with the Arab countries, leans on Europe and the United States. Economically, the country is absolutely dependent on the American Jewish community, which has a strong position in the United States.

When Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal

Beyond the 50s, several of the Arab regimes became strongly radicalised. Egypt og Nasser was singled out as the scapegoat who spun his spider's web. The Western powers retaliated by reneging on trade agreements and pledges of economic aid. Egypt responded by nationalizing The Suez Canal. This led to a joint expedition from England, France and Israel.

The campaign was primarily aimed at strengthening Nasser, who stood as an exponent of a neutralist and unifying policy in the Arab world. It failed. After the war in 1956, Nasser returned as a national hero. The Western powers and Israel thought he had no real support in the population. In reality, he was at the peak of his popularity.

The Middle East in the times that follow

It is a motley picture that meets us when we look at developments in the Middle East in the time that now follows. Unity and division go hand in hand in the Arab world. But arab state relations with Israel and the Western powers on the question of war or peace are the same. Only if one sees the conflict as a fight against a foreign occupation, which is not accepted, is it possible to understand the mechanics of it. At every stage of development, the Arabs have refused to accept what happened at their expense with the help of Israeli military power and the support of the capitalist countries. Each time Israel won a new victory, the most conciliatory Arabs could accept the previous victory Israel won, but deny the consequences the latest victory had or would have. Or to put it another way: They always hung a war behind because they constantly protested against the abuse of their rights.

The immediate cause of Israel's attack in 1967 was that Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships. Israel saw this traffic as vital because of the oil supplies. But everyone knows that there are more ports along the coast than Eliath. The war was aimed at military targets. Israeli territory had to be expanded. The reasons were of both an economic and military nature. Militarily, a border with Egypt across the Sinai desert would be beneficial. Economically, it was fortunate to incorporate the west bank of the Jordan because it is a very fertile area. And political control over the areas that were occupied would in turn strengthen the country militarily. After the war, the authorities encouraged settlement in the new lands. Israel had become greater.

The reason for the aggression from Israel was largely connected with the defeat of moderate leaders that Sharett suffered at home. Attempts at reconciliation policies by Eshkel and Eban also met with strong opposition. The Hawks took over again. Moshe Dayan, Peres and Golda Meir are true descendants of Ben-Gurion who had stood for an uncompromising and expansive line in foreign policy. Barely a week passed from Dayan becoming Minister of Defense until the attack came in 1967.

After the conquests during the Six-Day War, Israel extended its claims to the Arab states.

After the conquests during the Six-Day War, Israel extended its claims to the Arab states. They had to recognize the borders as they had become after the war in 1948 and, in addition, negotiate on the basis of the conquests made in 1967. This was of course unacceptable. Today, Egypt and Syria have a reconquest of the occupied territories from the Six-Day War in 1967 as their main war objective. And the UN has established in a resolution that Israel must withdraw to the borders before the six-day war.

Two peoples in a bi-national state

The Palestinian Arabs demand to be allowed to return home to the area from which they were expelled in 1948. They believe it is realistic to achieve a bi-national state where the two ethnic groups have been given clear guarantees. Thus the privileges of the Jews would gradually disappear. The laws with a racist or clerical character would become obsolete or fall away. The Arabs do not want to be fifth columns.

But these are views advocated by the largest and most responsible Palestinian organizations. There are also those who want to throw the Jews into the sea and demand Palestine for the Palestinians.

The targets of the Arab countries are also different and the interests of the Arab states do not coincide with those of the Palestinians.

Only a new policy in Israel can resolve the conflict

The Israelis' intransigent attitudes bind the situation. They believe that the march of Palestinian Arabs is a fundamental factor in guaranteeing the Jewish nature of the state in the underlying goal of Zionism. They, even the most moderate among them, can only agree to a very limited immigration of refugees.

As long as the Israelis do not know that they have inflicted damage on another people and deprived them of rights equivalent to what they themselves had to demand, the situation is locked in place. Only a victory for a different view in Israel itself will be a starting point for peace.

Orientering (1953-75)
Orientering (1953-75)
Orientering is MODERN TIMES's forerunner (1953-75), herein absorbed in MODERN TIMES.

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