- Israel is the only Jewish state in the world
- Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East among 22 Arab nations
- These 22 Arab states occupy more than 99% of the land mass of the Middle East
- Israel holds little more than 0.07% of the entire landmass of the Middle East
- Arab League countries cover more than 6 million square miles (10%) of the earth’s surface
- Israel covers only 8 000 square miles
- Jews worldwide make up only 0.17% of the global population
- More than 20% of Israel’s population comprises Israeli Arabs who have equal rights as citizens
- The freedom of expression, religion, movement and media in Israel are unique in the Middle East
- Israeli Arabs serve in high-ranking positions in the Israeli judiciary, army and police force
It’s quite astonishing to think, reading the above statistics and placing Israel in perspective, how much international time and effort is spent accusing and condemning Israel – for what? For being the only country in the world where Jews can feel safe, even those Jews who deny its legitimacy but yet who live comfortably, enjoying the myriad of benefits it offers them?
Because that really is the nub of the problem, the what-used-to-be-the-Arab-Israeli problem but which has now morphed into the Israeli-Palestinian problem. And this problem is that millions of people worldwide, certainly millions of those who live in the 6 million square miles of the earth’s surface, and in countries elsewhere who are in thrall to the Arab world for social and financial assistance, cannot accept the notion of a Jewish state, certainly not existing in the midst of all the Arab states.
A tiny strip of land, smaller than the area covered by the Kruger National Park, home to people of every colour and creed, of tens of different languages and dialects, of all social and economic classes, has become the accepted target for all the world’s ills.
Let’s examine the attitude of the United Nations, the world body, vis-à-vis Israel. United Nations General Assembly resolutions are non-binding and reflective of political currents in the world body – or they should be, until we remember that the UN General Assembly gives one vote to each member country. There are many more Arab and African countries than there are Western ones who would vote in favour of Israel; so with these statistics, General Assembly votes against Israel invariably result in anti-Israel sentiment. The UN General Assembly is dominated by blocs of anti-American and anti-Israel third world countries; and although the USA wields much power, in this instance it is the majority that holds sway. Tens of countries against one tiny state – is that proportionality?
In 2006 the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), dissolved primarily because of its ineptitude and failure to deal with a variety of issues, was replaced by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) – new name, a new word, new word order – and the outcome? In 2007 this newly-created UNHRC voted in favour of making Israel’s actions a permanent item on the council’s agenda. Yes, you read that correctly – not those of the Sudan or the DRC, not Sri Lanka or Somalia or Saudi Arabia, but only Israel, where 1 400 Palestinians were killed during the Gaza offensive, many of them Hamas terrorists. Tragically, innocent Palestinians were among those killed because Hamas had fought its war against Israel from among civilian areas, from homes and schools and mosques and hospitals, using their people callously as human shields. Where was the condemnation from the UNHRC, not only for the Hamas crimes but also for the hundreds of thousands of innocent people brutally abused and murdered in the above-mentioned countries?
Five out of the ten special sessions of the UNHRC have been called to deal with Israel. This is the august world body supposedly dealing with human rights abuses – yet it operates openly and unashamedly on the premise that there is one law for Israel, and another for the Arab countries and the rest of the world.
If the 8 000 rockets fired from Gaza by the Hamas into the south of Israel over the past 6 years had reached their intended targets – innocent Israelis – then 8 000 innocent Israelis would have been killed. What would the world have said then? What would have been the reponse of the United Nations HRC? Those rockets were and are not only war crimes and violations of international law, but also contravention of human rights. Yet the international silence surrounding them has been deafening. Have Israelis no rights in the world?
Since his inauguration, US President Barack Obama has garnered both praise and condemnation for his involvement in the Middle East. There are those who see him as the saviour, the only leader able to solve this crisis because he is pressurising Israel into recognising her “abusive” role in the conflict and wielding the big stick to force her to cease settlement expansion.
The others, those for whom Israel matters, are wary of Obama for the same reasons – because he is is pressurising Israel into recognising her role in the conflict and wielding the big stick to force her to cease settlement expansion. His overtures to the Muslim countries, especially Iran, and especially following his Cairo speech when he very definitely set limits for Israel in a number of areas, including demanding actions of her which he did not demand of the Arab world, rang very hollow for Israel’s security. And where was the President’s outright condemnation of war crimes perpetrated by the Hamas against Israel? Where was the proportionality there?
Certain Arab states have taken Obama’s speech as permission to exacerbate the conflict. In July, according to a BICOM report, Jordan publicly rejected calls by the US to improve relations with Israel in an effort to restart Middle East peace talks. According to Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, US efforts towards resolving the conflict would not work. The only solution, he said, would be to focus on a final settlement agreement, because in the past “both sides had given too much in gestures and confidence-building efforts at the expense of reaching the end goal of a final status solution.”
Saudi Arabia has shown similar reservations in normalising ties with Israel. In the same report, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said during a news conference with Secretary of State Clinton that “the question is not what the Arab world will offer. That has been established. But an end to the conflict, recognition, and full normal relations as exist between countries at peace … The question really is: What will Israel give in exchange for this comprehensive offer?”
President Obama has, like Israel’s enemies, focused on the issue of settlements, as if that were the sole raison d’etre for this conflict, this war that has soiled the pages of history for centuries. In an article in Haaretz on 7 July, Syrian President Bashar Assad was quoted as saying that Israel must halt activity in West Bank settlements before Damascus considers renewing peace negotiations. Seeing no real partner for peace in Israel; he called for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights before being willing to “resume indirect peace talks mediated by Turkey.” He added that the Syrian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas had shown “no interest in the success of the peace talks.”
But international mediators including the Germans are keen to fast-track the peace process, in order to prevent Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based Syrian supported terrorist group, and the radical Islamist Palestinian Hamas movement, from causing untenable destruction in the region.
So all the evidence points to the current stalemate centering around the settlements. In the BICOM report, US President Barack Obama’s Administration “seeks to reach a complete freeze on settlement construction in exchange for Palestinian security reform and gestures from the other Arab states towards Israel. These gestures, however … have failed to reach any positive results with the Arab states sending a consistent message that the onus is on Israel to make a move.”
As a functioning democracy Israel can be criticized, and where criticism is valid, it must be forthcoming. But Israel is only one protagonist in this war, facing an onslaught from millions of radical Muslims calling for her destruction. If only 1 percent of the world’s Muslims were radical fundamentalists, there would be 14 million baying for Israeli blood. That is absurd proportionality.
The horrific situation existing in Gaza today is not because of Israel’s checkpoints, nor are the settlements in the West Bank the cause of the conflict. The refusal over the years by Palestinian leaders to accept peace offers from consecutive Israeli governments is the root cause – and that refusal has its origins in the refusal of the Palestinians and the Arabs to acknowledge and accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, one surrounded by 22 Arab states.