A few history facts about Palestinians and Jews in Middle East


Rev. Epps’ recent column made some great points regarding antisemitism and Israel. He is correct in saying that peaceful protest is acceptable, but obstructive and violent protest is not.

Further, the campus protesters are misguided. They simply do not know or understand history. Some on the American left mislead college students by implying that Israel is totally composed of Europeans, when there are also millions of Jews from Arab nations and Africa who now comprise Israel.

Returning all Palestinians to Israel proper as the campus protesters advocate would make Israel into an Arab state, negating the very reason for the creation of Israel as a safe haven for Jews worldwide. As a practical matter, no Israeli government, left or right, will ever agree to that action. Nor should they.

The alternative is to have other Arab nations do what they should have done 75 years ago: offer full citizenship to Palestinian refugees with those wishing to return to Palestine going to Gaza and the West Bank. And then they should (a) recognize Israel as a Jewish state and (b) help create a viable, stable Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank.

There are right wingers in Israel who have always wanted a single state including Judea and Samaria (Palestine). However, they are a minority of Israelis. Until recently, the majority of Israelis wanted an equitable two-state solution. They have only changed their minds due to terrorism and intransigence.

The Palestinians have traditionally avoided negotiating a final settlement regardless of terms. Their leadership’s grand scheme has always been to permit millions of Palestinians around the world to return to Israel, rather than to Gaza/West Bank (Palestine).

Doing so would change Israel into a majority Muslim state, even if there were promises of somehow keeping the state Jewish. This plan was tried with Christians in Lebanon after World War II. It did not work , and Christians are now an oppressed minority in an unstable and increasingly radical Muslim nation.

The Clinton administration proposed a comprehensive peace settlement when a left of center government was in power in Israel. Prime Minister Barak’s government proffered a peace proposal that clearly leaned towards the Palestinians versus the Israelis.

That proposed settlement included: (a) creation of an independent Palestinian state consisting of 92 percent of the West Bank and the entire Gaza strip; (b) Palestinian control of East Jerusalem with the exception of Jewish religious sites and neighborhoods; (c) admittance of 100,000 Palestinian refugees into Israel itself and (d) a $30 billion compensation fund for other Palestinians. Palestinians got almost everything they asked for.

Yet, Arafat indignantly rejected that proposal …  with no counter. Not only did he reject it, but he called for an intifada (a domestic war) against the Israelis. As a result, his popularity with the Palestinian masses improved from 39 percent to 46 percent.

A majority (57 percent) of Israelis surveyed thought that Barak had given in too much to Palestinian demands. As a result, moderate Prime Minister Barak of Israel was defeated by General Sharon, a hard liner similar to Netanyahu.

If the Palestinians were unwilling to accept this very favorable deal, what will they accept short of a majority Palestinian state? The answer is nothing other than total capitulation by the Israelis … and that is why there has been no progress towards peace.

Israel was attacked by Hamas, the elected government of Gaza. Until Hamas surrenders or is defeated, the war will continue. And until the Palestinians have a moderate, united government to negotiate with, there will be no Palestinian state.

Jack Bernard

Peachtree City, Ga.


  1. Thank you, Jack. Your primer on the situation is interesting, but your assertion that the collegiate protesters don’t understand history is unwarranted, IMHO. Many of them have family in Israel or Palestine and understand it very well. Just because American young people may not remember the intifada doesn’t mean they can’t read and can’t work for a better world.

    That said, I found this bit of your lesson intriguing:
    “The alternative is to have other Arab nations do what they should have done 75 years ago: offer full citizenship to Palestinian refugees with those wishing to return to Palestine going to Gaza and the West Bank. And then they should (a) recognize Israel as a Jewish state and (b) help create a viable, stable Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank.”

    Right now Saudi Arabia’s government has indicated its main obstacle to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state is Israel’s refusal of a two-state solution, giving Palestinians their own homeland. Hamas would perhaps not agree to this but 1) Hamas may now be broken beyond repair 2) Hamas’ allegiance is perhaps to Iran which is dedicated to Israel’s destruction 3) Palestinians may have elected Hamas in 2005, but there have been NO elections since then, so to call Hamas the “elected” government of Gaza is specious.

    The two-state solution would give self-determination and liberty back to Palestinians who lost their homelands after the Six Day War, and by pursuing this solution, Israel could prove that it is NOT interested in genocide. The fact they choose instead to prolong this brutal war that is devastating civilians in order to preserve their unjust apartheid system tells you who is in control and who is at fault here.

    You can try to blame the PA for not taking a deal during the Clinton years, but those years are gone, and there’s a hot war on now. History is helpful to see how we got here, but vision is necessary to see how we move forward.

  2. Jack, you speak of 75 years ago assumedly the 1948 Arab-Israel War that took place on what was considered mandated territory assigned to the Palestinians by the British many years earlier. A good review of this territory prior to what you describe can be found in the book “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” that is still studied today at West Point, the Pentagon, and Whitehall (London). This and the movie (Lawrence of Arabia) examine the origins of the Arab revolt during WWI in that area, on up to the liberation of Damascus from Eastern Europe (Turks).

    Moving forward to post-WWII, this resulted in new Israeli control of the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank and Jerusalem. And subsequent wars followed in its aftermath through the ‘60s and ‘70s. Some readers may even remember the Camp David Accords held in this country. Just prior to this however, specifically in the 1960s (and still today for that matter), the International Community considers the current Israeli settlement in that region to be illegal under international law. Of course Israel makes its claim through “military law.”

    Recently the BBC reported that Israeli officials are said to be “concerned.” It’s stated that the ICC, better known as the International Criminal Court in Hague the Netherlands is planning to seek arrest warrants for military and political leaders on suspicion of war crimes. One of them is said to be Benjamin Netanyahu. The report goes on to say “No Western-style democracy has had an ICC arrest warrant issued for its leader before. If it happens to Mr. Netanyahu, he’ll be the first.”

    The ICC has previously issued arrest warrants for leaders including Vladimir Putin, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, and Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, along with others. Hence this why there are protests on US college campuses today and global demonstrations around the world in the UK, France, Canada, Australia and the like. And why most knowledgeable and reasonable people are calling for a two-state solution.

  3. Appears the Palestinians have no say so about their governance as long as the bad actors backed by Iran are allowed to have power in Gaza.
    As an observer (old enough to have seen > 60 years of failed attempts to allow/help Palestinians succeed with self-governance), I’d suggest Israel annex Gaza once they finish winning it and oversee a true Palestinian secular government…rather than allow any more multinational efforts that will lead to another war in 10 years.

    • it woud be better to let Eqypt annex Gaza and Jordan annex the West Bank. Let successful Arab countries assimilate those areas into their own. Problem solved. Let Israel stand alone. Israel has tried repeatedly to seek peace – all they get are more bombs lobbed at them from Iran’s proxies in both areas. Jordan and Egypt have no issues with Israel, and the Palestinians are completely incompetent of governing themselves.

      • Egypt has been very clear that they will not assimilate Palestinians (along with the other countries in the Middle East), and they have a very fortified border to ensure that no Palestinians can get through. Israel will never allow Jordan (with its avowed terrorist groups like Hezbollah) to come any closer.

        It seems to me that the other Middle Eastern, Islamic countries like to support Palestinians from afar, but no one really wants to embrace them up close.

  4. Thank you for this clear explanation, Mr. Bernard. It provides a cautionary tale for us as well. When we elect ideologues instead of pragmatists to represent us, they reject compromises and eschew policies that deliver some advantages because they will only accept a total capitulation from the other side. This is how our government is shut down by radical ideologues as well as how the recent bipartisan-negotiated border deal was scuttled. Never elect an Arafat-like extremist when a candidate that practices realpolitik is available.

    • You truly believe the recent border deal proposal was bi-partisan? Biden had complete partisan control his first 2 years and got nothing done on the border. If you believe this recent atrocity was all about border security – and if you believe the current administration and the Democrats in Congress care anything about securing the border – THAT is Stranger than Fiction…….in fact, that IS fiction.

      • HI Wing – I want to be represented by a Congressperson who is willing to negotiate, even if s/he doesn’t get everything s/he wants. Sometimes merely moving the ball upsets the status quo and can lead to better outcomes.

        I have not been at all enthusiastic about Joe Biden and the Democrat’s border policies. Even if the Democrats are insincere, positive movement now is better than nothing, especially when the Senate proposal had many good policies negotiated by Republicans. The failure of the House to act and get something was foolish, because now we citizens get nothing.

        It shows that Republicans are no better than Democrats in doing what is good for their election politics rather than what is good for you and me. We the people should be outraged!