On March 4, 2002, it is recorded that you addressed the Senate on Israel’s right to the land of Israel. A letter from me was addressed you on that occasion when I first had news of your speech. I have not received an answer from you as yet to that letter and so I feel obligated, once again, to write and point out to you the many inaccuracies that are contained in your address to the Senate. Since you represent the great state of Oklahoma, your statements might mislead you constituents.
April 17, 2002
The Honorable James Inhofe
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Inhofe,
On March 4, 2002, it is recorded that you addressed the Senate on Israel’s right to the land of Israel. A letter from me was addressed to you on that occasion when I first had news of your speech. I have not received an answer from you as yet to that letter and so I feel obligated, once again, to write and point out to you the many inaccuracies that are contained in your address to the Senate. Since you represent the great state of Oklahoma, your statements might mislead you constituents.
In your introductory remarks, you mentioned the Saudi Proposal for Peace and that it was “nothing new.” It is clear that you failed to understand the power of the Saudi proposal. This proposal is new, and not as you claim, “nothing new.” In effect, all Arab nations at their recent summit, agreed to the concept of recognizing Israel’s right to exist, sign peace treaties and establish diplomatic relations with Israel. This proposal would bring peace to the Middle East! Yet, Israel rejected the proposal out of hand.
You state in your remarks that Israel is entitled to the land they have outside their 1967 borders. The West Bank, Gaza, Shaba Farms and the Golan Heights are occupied territories according to International law. These are not disputed territories as the Israeli’s claim. This land is very much part of the Peace Process and always has been.
Does the United States have the right to put pressure on Israel? You bet. Since when are we not allowed to have our say in what happens in Israel? My tax money, and the taxes of all Americans, to the tune of at least $90 billion since 1967, went to support Israel. Indeed, we have a very expensive stake in Israel. The American people and the Congress have been very generous in its support to Israel.
Now, to examine your seven reasons for claiming that Israel is entitled to all the land that it now occupies:
1. Archeological Evidence: You state that all the Archeological evidence indicates that Jews were present in the Holy Land for 3000 years. This statement is false. In reality, the archeological evidence very definitely indicates that there were many peoples that inhabited the Holy Land in addition to the Ancient Jews. It is not true that “all the archeological evidence supports it.” Many of these tribes lived in parallel with the Jews. Among the groups of people who inhabited the land were the Philistines who lived on the land before the Jews arrived. Their descendents still live in Palestine. In Arabic, they call themselves “Filistine” and their land before 1948 was called Palestine. This tribe is not extinct as you claim. They may speak Arabic but they are certainly not Arabian ethnic stock from Arabia. Because there is evidence that the Jews existed in the land on and off for a long period of time does not mean that they have the right to Palestine and the right to ethnically cleanse the inhabitants who lived there in 1948 when the State of Israel was created. In fact, western civilization and the world owe a great debt to the inhabitants of the Fertile Crescent. These people settled in the region and developed agriculture and animal husbandry, as we know it today. They built the first villages and towns and developed the first civilizations long before the Jews arrived.
2. Historic Right: You claim that Israel has an historic right to Palestine. This statement is false. My comments above apply here. In fact, the Jews have had more than two dispersions as you claim. They had their Egyptian period, and their Babylonian exile in addition to the two dispersions you mentioned.
You are still making the claim that the inhabitants of Palestine misinterpreted General Allanby’s name to mean, “man sent from God.” This statement is false. Allah is the word for God in Arabic and by any stretch of the imagination does it resemble the the English word “Allenby.” To claim that airplanes were new wonders to the Arabs living in Palestine is also false.
For at least two millennia, most Jews have not been Judeans, nor until recently, have they possessed Jerusalem or even that they spoke Hebrew. Throughout the last 2000 years, only a few Jews lived in the Holy Land. By no stretch of the imagination did they “possess” the Holy Land after the era of the Second Temple.
Britain’s Balfour Declaration did not promise the Jews Palestine and Jordan. Nor did the Balfour Declaration occur because of niter. Rather the Declaration promised to help set up a homeland for the Jews as long as the civil and religious rights of Palestine’s “existing non-Jewish communities” were not disturbed. Well, we know that this condition was not met since the Jews from the very beginning of Israel’s statehood in 1948 systematically cleansed the Arab communities. Over 400 towns and villages were destroyed and the inhabitants of these communities were either killed or driven into refugee camps or exile. The Jenin refugee camp in the news recently had been in existence since 1948 when it was created by ethnically cleansed Palestinians. It was destroyed in another ethnic cleansing operation last week.
You claim that the Palestinian land was not really wanted by anybody. This is not true. Clearly, the Palestinians were disturbed by the influx of Jews from Europe before and after WWII. If the land was not wanted by anybody, then why are we observing a life and death struggle between the Palestinians and the Israelis today? Clearly, somebody, including the Palestinians before 1947, owned the land. Now over 90% of the land is claimed by the Israeli government, most of it confiscated from the Palestinians.
3. You claim that the Israelis have a right to the land simply because of “being there.” This statement is false. Yes, the Israelis are in Israel. The Palestinians accepted this fact in the early 1990’s when they made a deal with the Israelis to swap peace and recognition of Israel for the West Bank and Gaza. The Mr. Sharon sabotaged this deal when he was Housing Minister and began to build Jewish settlements all over the West Bank and Gaza. This activity goes on until today. The most rapid expansion of settlement activity occurred under Barak even while he was negotiating his “generous offer.”
4. Your Humanitarian Reason: Because the Jews experienced the Holocaust, they deserve to be given a homeland. This statement is false. At the expense of the Palestinians? Did the Armenians after their holocaust by the Turks receive a homeland at someone else’s’ expense? The Bosnians? The Croats? The Arab Christians? The Congolese under the Belgians?
The Palestinians were not responsible for the Holocaust committed by the Nazis between 1935-1945 and yet the Palestinians suffered their own Holocaust at the hands of the Jews in 1947 -1950. Using your reasoning, the Palestinians are in immediate need of a homeland!
You claim that the Palestinians “were not there” in Palestine. This statement is also false. This is nonsense. There was a vibrant culture in Palestine of the Palestinians, approximately 20% of whom were Christian. Pilgrims to the Holy Land as far back as the 3rd century published their travelogues that describe in minute detail the population and society of Palestine.
Your description of Palestine of dirt tracks and mud houses in 1913 could have easily described many areas of the United States at that time, including your great state. Until the advent of the automobile, most roads were dirt tracks. The people who settled Oklahoma traveled there by dirt tracks. Dirt tracks were nothing special in 1913, anywhere in the world. Houses were made of mud brick in the United States and other parts of the world. People who settled Oklahoma lived in sod houses. Photos of Oklahoma during the Great Depression showed sod houses up until the late 1930’s. Mud brick happens to be an excellent building material.
You speak of the creation of the various Arab states during the early part of the last century as some sort of justification for the creation of the Israeli state. You fail to realize that these states were inhabited by Arabic speaking people long before the Sykes Picot Agreement of 1916 created the borders of these states.
5. Israel is a strategic ally of the United States: Let me remind you that Middle East oil is our most important strategic asset. Any country that possesses oil should be our ally. Israel has not oil. Our Israeli “ally” has managed to alienate the countries in the Middle East that produce oil. If Israel was never formed, we would have excellent relations with the countries of the Middle East rather than the hostile relationships with them that we are experiencing now. Perhaps when gas at the pump goes to $4/gallon, we will recognize nations that should really be our allies.
When our strategic ally, Israel, was needed during the Gulf War, we asked Israel to stand down since we would not have had the cooperation of the rest of the Arab world to support Desert Shield and Desert Storm. We had to protect our strategic asset, oil, and we could not ask our “strategic ally” to help us! What kind of “strategic ally” is that?
6. Israel is a roadblock to terrorism: may I suggest to you that because of Israel’s belligerency in the Palestinian territory and with its neighbors, it created the conditions on the ground for terrorism. If Israel did not exist, would there be terrorism in the world? Israel, from the very beginning of its existence, decided that it did not want to have peace with its neighbors. Yes, Israel is a strong nation in the military sense and can defend itself. Why then is it not at peace with its neighbors? We bribe Egypt with $2 billion in aid/year and Jordan a lesser amount to stay at peace with Israel. Syria, Lebanon and other nations in the Middle East are not willing to make peace unless Israel returns land that belongs to them and the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians. For a nation the size of New Jersey and a Jewish population of 4.5 million, Israel, with American arms and money, has managed to create chaos in the region so that peace and the absence of terrorism may not be a possibility in the near future.
7. We should support Israel because God said so: As I mentioned in my previous letter to you that God is not Israel’s real estate agent. If he were a real estate agent, then God gave the land to the Arabs, too, since both Isaac and Ishmael were of Abraham’s seed.
Many Jews from the Second Temple period followed Jesus Christ and converted to Christianity. The direct descendents of these converted Jews presently live in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah and many small towns and villages in the West Bank and Gaza. Many Christians converted to Islam during the period after the Muslin conquest of Palestine. All of these Christian and Muslim people are of Abraham’s seed and these very same people were thnically cleansed by the Israelis afte the creation if Israel in 1948. Did God exclude these people from his promise to Abraham? Clearly, he did not.
You mentioned Barak’s generous offer. Please examine Barak’s offer on a map and you will see that it was not so generous, and certainly, it was not 90% of the West Bank. His offer would not have allowed the creation of an independent sovereign Palestinian state based on UN resolutions 242 and 338.
You also mentioned that Sharon’s visit to the Haram al Sherif was not the spark that set off the Second Intifada. I beg to differ! The Palestinians, after 7-8 years of negotiations with the Israelis, ended up in worse condition than when they started negotiations. This scenario set the conditions for Sharon’s violation of that sacred place and the start of violence. Violence is exactly what Sharon wanted to happen. With violence, Sharon had the excuses he needed to destroy the PNA. Sharon, who did not approve of the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan and was oppose to the Madrid and Oslo Accords, set out from the very beginning of his government to destroy the Palestinian Authority created by his predecessors. He has completed the PNA destruction, now what? Deportation, jail, concentration camps or apartheid for the Palestinians? We did not stand for it in South Africa, why should America support it in Israel? Are we closer to peace now than before he started? Do you think the revenge will stop on both sides? Do you think that the Palestinians are going to forgive him for what he did to the Christian people of Bethlehem and Ramallah? Will the Muslim people forgive him for what he did to Nablus, Jenin, Qalqilya and other towns? Do you think that the Jordanians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Syrians and the 2 billion Muslims around the world are going to forget what he did to their brothers and sisters in Palestine? I think not!
May I suggest that you read a book called A Concise History of the Middle East written by my college classmate, Arthur Goldschmidt. Westview publishes it. You really need to get your facts straight.
Again, I make the offer to meet with you or your staff to discuss the realities of the Middle East. I can be reached at 301 983 3022.
Robert Younes, M.D.