The Real Causes of Palestinian Suffering

“It is obvious to any honest observer that Hamas is not interested in protecting our families, expanding economic opportunity, or otherwise improving life for Palestinians. Their leadership – safely ensconced in luxury accommodations in Qatar – only wants to encourage violence between Muslims and Jews… If the international community really wants to help Palestinians like me, they should stop singling out Israel and hold Hamas accountable for its actions. Our people need to be freed from Hamas – not Israel.”


Bassem Eid

Following on from ‘The Muslim Persecution Complex’, we now come to the question of Palestine. If one were to open a typical Arab newspaper, one would encounter the claim that the Palestinians were driven out of their homeland by Zionist imperialists in 1948, and have since been denied a state by the evil apartheid state of Israel. This argument is not based in reality, but in Muslim victimhood and anti-Semitism. Indeed, the truth is that Palestinians became refugees not by Israel’s doing, but through a conflict initiated by Muslim countries which could not accept a Jewish state in their midst. Palestinians have been denied a state by their leaders and fellow Arabs who refuse to recognise Israel’s right to exist.

In 1947, in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, the United Nations proposed to partition Mandatory Palestine, envisioning 45 percent of the land for an Arab-governed state, 55 percent for a Jewish state, and a shared Jerusalem to be supervised internationally. Muslims commonly complain that the Jews of Palestine would have gotten more square miles than the Arabs. Very rarely do they admit that the proposed Jewish state, made up primarily of the Negev Desert, would have been etched from the least fertile areas of Palestine. In addition, the proposed Palestinian state would have boasted an overwhelmingly Arab population, whereas the Jewish state would have had only a thin majority of Jews.

However grudgingly, the Jews could live with the Arabs. They adopted the UN plan and, six months later, proclaimed independence. Not so the Arabs. Only one day after the birth of the Jewish state in 1948, five Arab armies invaded Israel and the Palestinian refugee problem got serious. In some towns, Israeli commanders expelled Arabs, in accordance with the controversial Dalet Plan. Others chose to go, fully expecting to return once the Jews had been annihilated. In this regard, it is worth quoting Azzam Pasha, then Secretary-General of the Arab League. On October 11th 1947, echoing Adolf Hitler’s genocidal threat to the Jews should they “succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war”, Pasha declared:

I personally wish that the Jews do not drive us to this war, as this will be a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Tartar massacre or the Crusader wars.

Naturally, the invading Arab armies were soundly defeated. Since then, spurred on by these humiliated and embittered states, Palestinian authorities have refused to recognise Israel’s right to exist. As a consequence, not only have the Palestinians been left without a state, but huge numbers of them continue to languish in UNRWA camps, surrounded by new high rises and private villas. This is a sorry state of affairs, and completely unnecessary. After all, hundreds of thousands of Arab Jews were made stateless by the 1950s, yet they didn’t have to languish in refugee camps. Why not? Because Israel absorbed and integrated the vast majority of them. What have Arab governments done for Palestinian refugees? Let them down, or worse.

Take Kuwait, for example. After the Gulf War in 1991, Kuwait banished at least 300,000 Palestinians as payback for Yasser Arafat’s support of the invading Saddam Hussein. As the Iraqi academic Kanan Makiya notes in Cruelty and Silence, most of the evicted “never knew Palestine or any country other than Kuwait.” Besides booting out innocents, Makiya says, “semi-official vigilante groups” in Kuwait “arbitrarily arrested” other Palestinians. “If they did not ‘disappear’ it was because they had been gunned down in public or tortured and killed.”

Then there is Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam. Today, an estimated 240,000 Palestinians live in the Kingdom. However, they are not allowed to hold or even apply for Saudi citizenship. Palestinians are the sole foreign group that cannot benefit from a 2004 law granting citizenship to expatriates who have resided for ten years. The Saudis will, however, broadcast telethons to raise millions to finance Palestinian suicide bombers. They will also reward the families of successful bombers with a trip to Mecca, all expenses paid.

Lebanon could care even less. As of January 2015, there were 452,669 registered refugees in Lebanon. The social and economic condition of these refugees has been denounced by Amnesty International as “appalling”. Ethnic Palestinians who are born in the Lebanon are not entitled to claim citizenship, irrespective of how many generations their families have lived in the country. Thus we can understand the discrimination which Palestinians must endure from their fellow Arabs and brothers in Islam. So much for the “Muslim ummah”.

To this day, the only Arab Muslim country to have granted Palestinians citizenship is Jordan, and this is because most Jordanians are ethnically Palestinian anyway. However, while the acceptance of Palestinians by Arab states may have changed little, their recognition of Israel has changed considerably. Since September 2020, a number of Arab countries have signed up to the Abraham accords, thereby normalising ties between them and Israel. These accords have been rejected by Fatah, who control half of the West Bank. Thus, it is increasingly the Palestinian authorities who are to blame for the suffering of their people. To quote the human rights activist Bassem Eid, who accuses Mahmoud Abbas of exploiting Palestinian statelessness for financial gain:

Arabs are almost fed up with the Palestinians when four different Arab countries have signed the Abraham accords. They are fed up with the Palestinians. Abbas prefers to be stateless, because when you are stateless, you can guarantee that at the end of the month you have hundreds of millions of dollars. But Palestinian people never get the benefit of those hundreds of millions of dollars. That is one of the tragedies of Palestinian people  we don’t know how to deal with the international community and how to stop the financial support of the international community to our corrupt leadership.

As for Palestinians living in Gaza, to those of us who are not blinded by Marxist dogma, it is obvious that the real problem is not Israel, but Hamas. Since coming to power in 2007, Hamas have been waging a holy war against the Jewish people, indiscriminately firing rockets into Israel and indoctrinating Palestinian children to murder Jews. That is the proper way to understand Israel’s military actions in Gaza: as a response – albeit, sometimes an excessive one – to Islamic anti-Semitism. Hamas’ hatred of the Jews is ideological in nature; it is not about what Israel does or says. Even if Israel had no presence in the West Bank or didn’t bomb a single target in Gaza, Hamas would seek the annihilation of the Jews, as per Islamic doctrine:

Indeed, Hamas are not “freedom fighters”, but Islamic imperialists; their war is not with “Israeli colonialism”, but the Jewish people. They do not want a Palestinian state, but to transform the region into an Islamic emirate, under which no Jew will be left alive – just as Muhammad slaughtered the Banu Qurayzah in the 7th century. In their Covenant, Hamas quote a famous hadith from Sahih Muslim, in which Muhammad states that the Day of Judgement will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews. Their clerics echo this sentiment, e.g. Muhsen Abu Ita, who has described the killing of Jews as “one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine.” Their senior officials openly call upon Palestinians to cut off the heads of Jews:

Under Hamas rule, residents of Gaza have been persecuted for protesting against the economic hardships of daily life. In March 2019, for example, hundreds of people took to the streets in at least four towns to demand better living conditions. Hamas enforcers armed with pistols moved quickly to quell the protests, ruthlessly attacking the participants and preventing human rights workers from documenting the events. During the 2014 Gaza conflict, Hamas militants carried out a brutal campaign of abductions, torture and unlawful killings against Palestinians accused of “collaborating” with Israel. To quote Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International:

In the chaos of the conflict, the de facto Hamas administration granted its security forces free rein to carry out horrific abuses including against people in its custody. These spine-chilling actions, some of which amount to war crimes, were designed to exact revenge and spread fear across the Gaza Strip.

Hamas forces have also targeted members and supporters of Fatah, their main rival political organisation within Gaza – including members of the Palestinian Authority security forces. One example would be Atta Najjar, a former police officer under the PA with a mental disability. In 2014, Najjar was in the midst of a 15-year prison term for collaborating with Israel, imposed by a Hamas military court in 2009. During the Gaza conflict, he was taken out from the prison and executed. Not a single person has ever been held accountable for this, or indeed for any other crimes committed by Hamas against Palestinians during this period. To quote Atta’s brother, who retrieved his body from the morgue of Al-Shifa Hospital:

There were marks of torture and bullet shots on his body. His arms and legs were broken… His body was as if you’d put it in a bag and smashed it… His body was riddled with about 30 bullets. He had slaughter marks around his neck, marks of knives… And from behind the head – there was no brain. Empty… It was difficult for us to carry him… He was heavy, like when you put meat in a bag; no bones. His bones were smashed. They broke him in the prison.

From Palestine to Afghanistan, from Iran to Saudi Arabia, Muslims are being persecuted by other Muslims. This fact is ignored by peddlers of “global Muslim oppression”, as these regimes are imposing shari’ah. Indeed, when the Islamic propagandist claims that Palestinians are being oppressed by Israel, what they actually mean is that Muslims are not in a position of authority over Jews. If they had their way, Israel would be wiped from existence and the Jews driven into the sea – hence the mantra “From the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, Palestine will be free”, which left-wing apologists naively parrot. Their grievances have nothing to do with Israeli aggression, and everything to do with Islamic imperialism.

Before rushing to accuse Israel of “genocide”, the Left should educate themselves on Israeli demographics. If they did, they would soon discover that Israel is home to over 1.5 million Arab Muslims (20.9 percent of the total Israeli population), as well as 177,000 Christian refugees from neighbouring Islamic countries. Similarly, before characterising Hamas as “anti-imperialists”, let them read up on the Islamic Conquests and how jihadists cite them as the inspiration for acts of terror. Let them examine the profoundly anti-Semitic words and deeds of Muhammad, and how this has enabled 1,400 years of violence against Jews in the Muslim world. One might begin with this sobering entry from the Jewish Virtual Library:

At various times, Jews in Muslim lands were able to live in relative peace and thrive culturally and economically. The position of the Jews was never secure, however, and changes in the political or social climate would often lead to persecution, violence and death. Jews were generally viewed with contempt by their Muslim neighbours; peaceful coexistence between the two groups involved the subordination and degradation of the Jews.

When Jews were perceived as having achieved too comfortable a position in Islamic society, anti-Semitism would surface, often with devastating results: On December 30, 1066, Joseph Ha-Nagid, the Jewish vizier of Granada, Spain, was crucified by an Arab mob that proceeded to raze the Jewish quarter of the city and slaughter its 5,000 inhabitants. The riot was incited by Muslim preachers who had angrily objected to what they saw as inordinate Jewish political power.

Similarly, in 1465, Arab mobs in Fez slaughtered thousands of Jews, leaving only 11 alive, after a Jewish deputy vizier treated a Muslim woman in “an offensive manner”. The killings touched off a wave of similar massacres throughout Morocco.

Other mass murders of Jews in Arab lands occurred in Morocco in the 8th century, where whole communities were wiped out by Muslim ruler Idris I; North Africa in the 12th century, where the Almohads either forcibly converted or decimated several communities; Libya in 1785, where Ali Burzi Pasha murdered hundreds of Jews; Algiers, where Jews were massacred in 1805, 1815 and 1830; and Marrakesh, Morocco, where more than 300 hundred Jews were murdered between 1864 and 1880.

Decrees ordering the destruction of synagogues were enacted in Egypt and Syria (1014, 1293-1294, 1301-1302), Iraq (854-859, 1344) and Yemen (1676)… Jews were forced to convert to Islam or face death in Yemen (1165 and 1678), Morocco (1275, 1465 and 1790-1792) and Baghdad (1333 and 1344). As distinguished Orientalist G.E. von Grunebaum has written:

“It would not be difficult to put together the names of a very sizeable number of Jewish subjects or citizens of the Islamic area who have attained to high rank, to power, to great financial influence, to significant and recognized intellectual attainment; and the same could be done for Christians. But it would again not be difficult to compile a lengthy list of persecutions, arbitrary confiscations, attempted forced conversions, or pogroms.”

The situation of Jews in Arab lands reached a low point in the 19th century. Jews in most of North Africa (including Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Morocco) were forced to live in ghettos. In Morocco, which contained the largest Jewish community in the Islamic Diaspora, Jews were made to walk barefoot or wear shoes of straw when outside the ghetto. Even Muslim children participated in the degradation of Jews, by throwing stones at them or harassing them in other ways. The frequency of anti-Jewish violence increased, and many Jews were executed on charges of apostasy. Ritual murder accusations against the Jews became commonplace in the Ottoman Empire.

By the twentieth century, the status of the dhimmi in Muslim lands had not significantly improved. H.E.W. Young, British Vice-Consul in Mosul, wrote in 1909:

“The attitude of the Muslims toward the Christians and the Jews is that of a master towards slaves, whom he treats with a certain lordly tolerance so long as they keep their place. Any sign of pretension to equality is promptly repressed.”

The danger for Jews became even greater as a showdown approached in the UN over partition in 1947. The Syrian delegate, Faris el-Khouri, warned:

“Unless the Palestine problem is settled, we shall have difficulty in protecting and safeguarding the Jews in the Arab world.”

More than a thousand Jews were killed in anti-Jewish rioting during the 1940’s in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Yemen. This helped trigger the mass exodus of Jews from Arab countries.

*****

Hamas pic

August 22nd 2014: Hamas militants detain Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel, before executing them in Gaza City. Photograph: Reuters.

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Support network for Ex-Muslims in Ireland. Empowering apostates from Islam and raising awareness of the jihadist threat. Affiliate of Atheist Alliance International.

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