COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
The contention that the United States supported the establishment of the State of Israel due to its interest in oil is quite incorrect. The US didn’t need Israel for Middle East oil since an all-American company has acquired a concession in Saudi Arabia as early as 1933. And Saudi Arabia has the biggest source of oil in the area.In fact, the United States’ support for Israel was jeopardizing its interest in Middle East oil for the Saudi King was apprehensive of Zionism. Thus, two diverse American foreign policies were pursued; “support for the State of Israel, which was critical for honor and votes, and support for Saudi Arabia, which was critical for oil.”
But even before the State of Israel was declared by the United Nations in 1948, Jews have started going back to Palestine (now Israel) when it was still under the Ottoman Empire. These were the Zionist pioneers, and they formed the Lovers of Zion movement in Palestine. By the early 1900s, Jews from Russia came to settle and ventured in Zionist collective farming which gave birth to the kibbutz movement that was to revolutionize agriculture in the desert.
Palestine was in poverty and squalor under Turkish rule, so it took the Jews, through communal living and hard manual labor, to make the land productive and improve the living condition of the area. Most Arabs living here were still roaming and grazing, and didn’t have permanent settlements. The kibbutz movement thereby began to own land purchased by the Jewish National Fund, the organization created by the Zionist in 1901.
Now politics has marked its heavy toll on the Palestinian Arabs, for when the Turks were defeated in World War I and Palestine became under British Mandate, Jewish immigration increased with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and became massive starting in 1948 when the State of Israel was established. What was at first was only an issue of population density and peaceful coexistence turned into a Middle East conflict.
For on May 15, 1948, on the day of the Declaration of Independence (British Mandate has ended), Israel was attacked. Armies from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia crossed the frontiers and invaded Israel. The event led to the War of Independence (1948-49), the first in a series of Arab-Israeli wars. As a consequence, Palestinian Arabs fled during the battles and ended up as refugees in the Gaza Strip which was under the administration of Egypt.
Now politics, in which the minds of a few men rule a whole population further jeopardized the Palestinian Arabs, for their leaders followed the path of destruction. Unlike the other Arabs who remained within the borders of Israel during the war, the Palestinian Arabs fled, for months earlier, they launched daily attacks on Jewish rural settlements, towns, and inter-urban transport after news of the United Nations Partition Resolution on November 29, 1947 was announced.
Then, starting in the 1950s and after the War of Independence, the Palestinians embarked on guerrilla warfare against Israel, and at the great expense of its population. Their militants persistently attacked Israel civilians and villages along Israel’s borders so that the label “terrorists” (armed men attacking civilians) became popularly applied to them. But Israel’s reprisals were sharp, costing many Palestinian lives. And the Gaza Strip, where many Palestinians subsequently lived, became the base for terrorist operations, from the Feyadeen up to the Hamas.
The Palestinian struggle became a war of symbols, for their terrorist activities expanded by hijacking western airline and taking hostages in exchange for their imprisoned militants. The enemy was not only Israel but the West. The terrorist organizations based in Jordan were even operating like a state within a state that King Hussein restricted them and they moved to Lebanon. While the Palestinians aim of statehood, from Yasser Arafat’s move, had been denied simply due to their warlike stance.
The path the Palestinians took only bred hatred, bitterness, and destruction among its people. (This is compounded by the Muslims tradition of blood debt.) For even if they have become more cunning in guerrilla warfare, the Israelis have become more sophisticated in their defense system. The endless pattern of violence only made Israel become a military power. And unless the Palestinians renounce their path of destruction, the Israelis are sure to wreck more havoc on them, irrespective of where the other people of the world stand.