click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

The Only Way to Peace

The Only Way to Peace

A clear perspective on the Mideast -- past and future -- from the London Sunday Mail.


For anyone who knows the regions geography and history, the nightly news bulletins are a torture to watch, with their sloppy editorializing about "peace" and their depiction of Arab and Israeli as squabbling children in need of a clip round the ear from wise Western statesmen...

In normal life, it is a sign of being unhinged if you do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. But in the business of Middle East diplomacy such behavior could earn you a Nobel Peace Prize. Since 1978, Israel has been urged to give up a little more land in return for the promise of peace which always seems to evaporate. The land however is gone for good.

America a vast territorial empire with harmless neighbors to north and south, and vast oceans to east and west urges Israel, one-third the size of Florida and with foes on every hand, to give up "land for peace." So does Britain, a secure island entirely surrounded by deep water and with no obvious enemies in sight.

"Land for peace" is actually another way of describing the appeasement forced on Czechoslovakia by her supposed friends in 1938.

The phrase "land for peace" is interesting in itself. It is actually another way of describing the appeasement forced on Czechoslovakia by her supposed friends in 1938. This was also supposed to promised peace, but made the country impossible to defend and opened the gates for invasion a few months later. Those responsible for this cowardly stupidity are still reviled 60 years on. Those who urge it on Israel in the present day are praised.

Israel and territories would fit comfortably within the borders of England with plenty of room to spare, and then look at the absurd shape of it. Any general asked to defend such a country would groan with despair. At one point, between Qalqilya and the Mediterranean, it is so narrow that a tank could cross it in 18 minutes and a jet bomber in 18 seconds. Its only international airport is within easy rocket range of potentially hostile territory. So are its capital and its principal highway. It is worth mentioning that it is also within missile range of Iran and Iraq, not far over the eastern horizon, and that Iraq and Iran agree on only one thing -- their loathing of Israel. Within living memory it has three times been the target of invasions from its neighbors, in 1948, 1967, and 1973. During the Gulf War it was bombarded with Iraqi Scud missiles. You might pardon its inhabitants for being a little nervous about their security.

The astounding thing is that so many Israelis, despite this danger, have sought peace treaties with their neighbors based on a trust they have no reason to feel. Almost the entire Israeli media, the country's largest political party, most of its authors, academics and artists, campaign constantly for their own state to make risky concessions to its enemies. Even its conservative leaders have made such concessions, especially by handing back the Sinai desert with its valuable oil and strategically vital territory to the Egypt in 1978. The last left wing premier Ehud Barak was prepared to present half of Jerusalem to Arab control two years ago. He was turned down.

He also sought to give back the Golan Heights to Syria but was rebuffed. This militarily vital piece of ground was originally part of the League of Nations mandate of Palestine when its borders were fixed in 1920. It was then handed over to Britain in a deal with the French, who controlled Syria in 1923. Israel captured in bloody fighting in 1967.

In the same year Israel conquered the famous "Occupied Territories" which are now supposed to be turned into a Palestinian state alongside Israel. You might think Israel had seized them illegally from heir rightful owner. In fact this is not true. They were grabbed by armed force along with the eastern and most holy part of Jerusalem then known as Transjordan in 1948. Transjordan ethnically cleansed all Jews from this land and from its sector of Jerusalem, and promptly renamed itself Jordan. During the 19 years of Jordanian rule, the area was never described as "Occupied Territory."

At that time there were also no demands for independence from the Palestinian people. The Gaza strip was gobbled up by Egypt in the same year, to a chorus of silence from the world protest industry.

Israel has many blots on its past and is not a perfect society... During the 1948 war there is little doubt that the Israelis drove some Arabs from their homes, though the Arab radio stations were also urging them to flee to give the Arab invading armies a clear run in their invasion.

But it is not some kind of crude oppressor. Would you know from the BBC that Israel has a million Arab citizens with full civil and voting rights, except that they do not have to serve in the army? This arrangement is far from perfect and in recent years relations have grown worse, but no Arab country gives such rights to Jews, if it even permits them to live within its borders.

Why are the "refugees" still there?

Then there are the "refugees" in these squalid townships. Why are they still there? About 650,000 Arab fled from what is now Israel in 1948. There are now about five million officially classified refugees. More than £1.5 billion has been spent by the UN on housing and feeding them, mainly provided by Western nations. Most of the Arab states refuse to grant them citizenship or to pay towards their maintenance. They have a political interest in preventing this weeping sore from ever healing, since the refugees' plight is excellent anti-Israel propaganda. They still promote the idea that they may one day return to their lost homes. For if they did so, Israel would cease to exist, its Jews a minority in an Arab state.

Compare the Palestinians with the 12 million Germans expelled from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Hungary and Romania after World War Two. All have long since been absorbed into Germany and few seriously dream of returning to their lost homes. This often bloody transfer of population was done with the approval of the great powers of the day, and is now largely forgotten. Or compare them with the 14 million caught in the wrong place in the bloody India-Pakistan partition of 1947. Nearly 8 million Hindus fled from Pakistan and 6 million Moslems streamed out of India. None of them is still in a refugee camp, nor are the 900,000 Jews driven often with great brutality and persecution from Arab countries after the foundation of the State of Israel, most of whom settled in Israel.

Yet none of the supposed efforts for "peace" has managed to achieve the civilized resettlement in Arab countries of these refugees. Why not, since they share a common religion, language and culture with the whole of the vast Arab world, and might surely have benefited from some of the vast Arab oil wealth.

The reason is that most of the West has lazily accepted the TV news idea that this is a squabble between people who are equally misguided. It has swallowed the Palestinian claim that they are the oppressed. Yet Jewish Israel occupies only a tiny part of the Arab and Muslim Middle East. They have ignored the simple that if Israel is to survive to needs sensible borders. At the moment it would rather have a frontier which is defensible and unrecognized than one which is recognized but cannot be depended.

We are supposed to engage in a war against Terrorism, here is a great opportunity to defeat and finish terrorism in one of its greatest bases. If peace is what the Arab world wants, America is now in a unique position to arrange it. Her military and diplomatic power is at its zenith. Instead of asking Israel to give land for peace, why do we not ask the Arabs who have so much more land so give some of theirs, so that Israel's borders are no longer an invitation to invasion.

At the same the time we could end the grievance which has kept this useless conflict alive, a new Marshall plan could resettle the refugees in a couple of years throughout the area in peace and comfort. Their politically impossible "right to return" could be bargained away forever. The Arab world needs to understand that no amount of threats, terror, will shift Western World from its defense of Israel's right to exist, it must stop using anti-Israel feeling as a safety valve for the discontent in its own mismanaged societies, whose despotism and squalor and brutality rarely if ever feature in the TV news bulletins.

March 23, 2002

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 9

(9) david singer, April 7, 2002 12:00 AM

Time for a new initiative

Israel needs to articulate some coherent policy stance to try and break the present impasse in the Middle East.

There is a way forward.

It involves Israel, Jordan and Egypt, by direct negotiations, dividing the sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza between their respective States. No Arab or Jew need move from his present home, unless he voluntarily chooses to do so.

These negotiations could be held under the chairmanship of the Secretary General of the United Nations pursuant to Article 80 of the United Nations Charter, dubbed the “Palestine clause”, which preserves the right of the Jews to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in that area of Palestine west of the Jordan River.

The West Bank and Gaza are the only areas of Palestine where sovereignty has not yet been allocated between Arabs and Jews.Jordan is 77% of former Palestine and Israel is 17% of Former Palestine.

The late Yitzchak Rabin once said: "A tiny State between Israel and Jordan will solve nothing. It will be a time bomb." How right he was.

(8) Richard, April 1, 2002 12:00 AM


The Arabs always make much noise about the so called Palestinean Refugee problem. Might I point out that the Israel of 1948 was comprised of only 650,000 people...that's men, women and children, with about 100,000 living in Jerusalem and virtually cut off from the rest of the country. Has anyone ever thought to ask how it was that, while Israel was fighting off 5 Arab armies, she had the manpower available to force out the thousands of Palestinean refugees she is accused of ruthlesly forcing out of the country?

(7) , March 31, 2002 12:00 AM

Spread the word

I sent this to the e-mail contact address on the website for the "International Solidarity Movement," the naive clowns who marched into Yasser Arafat's office to protect him and help him spread his propaganda. Maybe it will wake one of them up. I'm not holding my breath...

(6) Eirene Vionis Giles, March 30, 2002 12:00 AM

Israel, Don't give up what is your God-given right

Let me first say that I am neither Jewish nor Palestinian. I am a native Greek christian living in the U.S. I have been observing the situation in the Middle East for several years now. I became especially interested in Israel's plight when I first heard of former Pres. Clinton's attempts to encourage then leader Barak to give up more and more land. Honestly, when Jerusalem came into play I was totally floored. If everyone in our country would take just a moment to review Israel's history and the history of the area, they would realize that this struggle is not new. This land has been precious to both Jews and Arabs from the beginning of time. It doesn't take the revelation of historian to bring to light the fact that the Old Testament or the Torah covers in great detail the many altracations between Israel and the Arabs. It only requires a desire for those interested to seek out the truth of what is really going on. What is really going on is a battle not between two "squabling children," but rather, a fight over what was ordained by God to belong to the Isreali people - and not to their distant and illegitimate brothers, the Arabs. I hate to say this, because it does not promote the kind of peace most people wish to see, however, I feel that for Israel to make any concessions whether about Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights (which is a militarily strategic strong-point for Israel) or any other area would be absolutely wrong.

You must stand strong! You must not give up Jerusalem and you should not allow your leaders to be talked into doing so. If anything, you should take it back and make it wholly Jewish, but you should never give it up. I pray for your safety and for the peace only God can bring.

(5) Vasile Petrila, March 30, 2002 12:00 AM


Romania never expelled the Germans but to the contrary!Yugoslavia did.

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment