January 10, 2008

Dear President Bush

Dear President Bush,

Today you stated that Israel should cease its "occupation" of Arab land. What is Arab land, Mr. President? Who decides its borders? Do you? No, I don't think you have the authority to tell Israel, another sovereign nation, how to administer its cities and villages.

The fact that Muslims charge that the Gaza Strip is still "occupied" even though palestinians exercise self-government, and the Israeli civilian and military presence in this territory have been removed, reveals a flawed bias, Mr. President. It means that the charge of "occupation" is a ruse to serve the Islamic agenda to destroy Israel.

No concession that Israel could ever make will be enough for the imperialistic land-grabbing Muslims. That fact could not be any clearer - and their arrogance could not be any more abominable.

The current "occupation" that you referred to today was caused by the widespread cold-blooded murder of Israeli civilians by Muslims.

William Bennett, Jack Kemp, and Jeane Kirkpatrick tell us that the root of the conflict is not Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

The West Bank and Gaza (controlled by Jordan and Egypt from 1948 to 1967) came under Israeli control during the Six Day War of 1967 that started when Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran and Arab armies amassed on Israel's borders to invade and liquidate the state.

It is important to note that during their 19-year rule, neither Jordan nor Egypt had made any effort to establish a Palestinian state on those lands.

Just before the Arab nations launched their war of aggression against the State of Israel in 1967, Syrian Defense Minister (later President) Hafez Assad stated, "Our forces are now entirely ready . . . to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland . . . the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation."

Israel has, in fact, returned most of the land that it captured during the 1967 war and right after that war offered to return all of it in exchange for peace and normal relations; the offer was rejected. As a result of the 1978 Camp David accords -- in which Egypt recognized the right of Israel to exist and normal relations were established between the two countries -- Israel returned the Sinai desert, a territory three times the size of Israel and 91 percent of the territory Israel took control of in the 1967 war.

Israel is the only country in the region that permits citizens of all faiths to worship freely and openly.

While Jews are not permitted to live in many Arab countries, Arabs are granted full citizenship and have the right to vote in Israel. Arabs are also free to become members of the Israeli parliament (the Knesset). In fact, several Arabs have been democratically elected to the Knesset and have been serving there for years. Arabs living in Israel have more rights and are freer than most Arabs living in Arab countries.

The oft-cited UN Resolution 242 (passed in the wake of the 1967 war) does not, in fact, require a complete withdrawal from the West Bank. As legal scholar Eugene Rostow put it, "Resolution 242, which as undersecretary of state for political affairs between 1966 and 1969 I helped produce, calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until 'a just and lasting peace in the Middle East' is achieved. When such a peace is made, Israel is required to withdraw its armed forces 'from territories' it occupied during the Six-Day War -- not from 'the' territories nor from 'all' the territories, but from some of the territories."

In sum, a fair and balanced portrayal of the Middle East will reveal that one nation stands far above the others in its commitment to human rights and democracy as well as in its commitment to peace and mutual security. That nation is Israel.

What you denounced today, Mr. President, as "occupation", is a result of urban guerrilla warfare at the hands of a depraved society. This is tragic. To call it an "occupation" is to deliberately distort language for political advantage.

George Fletcher said:

It is not illegal for victorious powers to occupy hostile territory seized in the course of war until they are able to negotiate a successful peace treaty with their former enemies. The Palestinians have failed to recognize this fact. As former President Bill Clinton stressed at a conference in New York, the Camp David proposal was the most sweeping peace effort ever made, and the Palestinians said no.
From biblical times, when this disputed territory belonged to Jews, to its occupation by the British army at the end of World War I, Palestine had never existed as a distinct political entity but was rather part of one empire after another, from the Romans, to the Arabs, to the Ottomans.

According to the Peel Commission, published in 1937, at the end of World War I, some of Palestine's land was owned by absentee landlords who lived in Cairo, Damascus and Beirut. About 80% of the Palestinian Arabs were debt-ridden peasants, semi-nomads and Bedouins. Analyses of land purchases from 1880 to 1948 show that 73% of Jewish plots were purchases from large Arab landowners.

On a list in an article "Our Fathers On The Take", published in the weekly Fasl al-Maqal, owned by Arab-Israeli parliament deputy Azmi Beshara, the weekly's editor-in-chief, Awad Abdel Fatah reported that the names of Arabs who sold land to Jews came from an official document dating back to the British mandate in Palestine, which the paper received from official sources in Jordan.

Mussa al-Alami, who headed the Palestinian delegation to the London Conference of 1939, sold 90 hectares (222 acres) to Jews in Bisan, now the north Israeli city of Beit Shean, according to the list.

Ragheb al-Nashashibi, mayor of Jerusalem from 1920-1934 and head of the National Defense Party, sold over 120 hectares (296 acres) of land in Jaffa, outside Tel Aviv.

Nashashibi also sold land in east Jerusalem upon which Hebrew University was later built.

Yaakub al-Ghussein, who headed the Arab Fund created to gather money to support the Palestinian cause, sold land to Jews in Jaffa and what is now the Gaza Strip for 4,000 Palestinian pounds, equivalent to British pound sterling at that era.

And the other elite Muslim and Christian families, including the Abdel Hadi, Bseiso, and Fahum clans, were also represented on that list.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Jews paid more than $20 million at 1936 rates to Arab landowners, mostly estate holders.

In 1944, Jews paid between $1000 and $1100 per acre in Palestine, mostly for arid or semi-arid land; in the same year, rich black soil in Iowa was selling for about $110 per acre.

The state of Israel was created by an internationally recognized act of national self-determination -- an act, moreover, undertaken by an ancient people in its own homeland.

As is well known, the Arabs rejected the partition plan when they rejected UN Resolution 181—a resolution that would have created the very first Palestinian nation in the history of the world - and it was aborted by the effort of the Palestinians and of the surrounding Arab states in their own efforts to destroy the Jewish state at birth.

It's also ethnocentric to claim that only a certain ethnic group has rights to own land, as is the claim by the Arabs. The land certainly wasn't stolen from the Arabs, that's for sure. The land was bought and paid for - by Jews.

So, Mr. President, I reject your statement that "palestinian" land is "occupied".

Before Israel was attacked in 1973, it occupied less of the land that is now in dispute, and before 1967, it occupied none of it.

The palestinian's attempts to justify terrorism, their murder of noncombatants, women and children, their crimes against humanity, by repeating the meaningless catch words: occupation, occupation, occupation, shoud be met with cries of terrorism, terrorism, terrorism.

How dissappointing that you disagree.