Real Palestinian awareness

Stephen Ontko

Last week appeared to have been dedicated to “Palestinian Awareness Week” on campus, housing events to highlight nothing but Israeli misdeeds while being lax on those committed by Hamas. Certainly, no one can deny that there is suffering on both sides due to warfare.

Yet the emotional depth in which events such as last week’s discussion panel engage in merely defines the situations and nature of warfare, but does not negate it. What is needed for actual awareness is a proper context of the struggles in the war-torn region in order to become truly educated on the matter. Once a proper context is indeed established, cries of U.S. and Israeli-created humanitarian disasters become less forthright.

The true area of what is labeled “Palestine” actually encompasses Israel, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Transjordan (now called Jordan). Palestine was under British Mandate after World War I once the Ottoman Empire diminished.

Palestine, being sovereign under the British, could then be governed and managed in a manner the British saw most appropriate. As a Guardian article from July 8, 1937 stated the “British Government. accepts the proposal” to partition “Palestine between Arabs and Jews” with “the termination of the mandate” being “recommended by the Royal Commission.”

The report is explicit in that there are to be “two sovereign independent States – an Arab State composed to Transjordan and that part of Palestine allotted to the Arabs, and a Jewish State consisting of the part of Palestine allotted to the Jews.”

But with Britain’s empire fading, the issue was brought before the U.N., which constructed its own version of the partition. However, as the BBC reported Nov. 29, 2001, Arab Muslims refused the U.N.’s 1947 partition plan, which left Israel to fight for its own independence in 1948.

The fact that Israel was forced into a war for independence for land west of the Jordan River against those Palestinians who secured the Palestinian territory east of the Jordan River in Transjordan suggests more of a motive to prevent any part of land from being claimed by an Israeli or predominantly Jewish state. It is a struggle not for human rights or peace, but merely to keep all Palestine in Arab Muslim hands.

This is a great tragedy, not just for Israelis, but for the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well. These Palestinians are denied an identity of their own and are instead used as tools for Arab dictator states in the convenient demonization of Israel and the U.S. to divert attention from Iran or Arab dictator states own failures toward their citizens.

The Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are only useful for their opposition to and destruction of Israel. Hence, there is no real respect left for the Palestinians. They live as refugees of a perennial crisis for generations in other Arab lands, the Arabs giving no quarter to an identity with Palestinians’ only existence being to struggle against Israel.

In a column in the Wall Street Journal on June 20, 2007, Michael Oren contends that the Palestinian Authority has received more international aid than anyone else in modern times and more per capita aid than Europe under the Marshall plan.

Unfortunately, this outpouring of support is completely wasted. CBS reported Nov. 9, 2003 Yasser Arafat’s embezzlement of one billion dollars in public funds for his own personal use and investment. As long as Palestine sees no peace, those who benefit from the bloodshed will continue to be in positions of authority, there being every incentive for them to fuel the crisis.

It is the height of irresponsibility and neglect when the factions within Gaza and the West Bank are allowed to lead so long as those leaders continue to refuse Israel’s right to statehood, as opposed to real leadership more focused on developing the West Bank and Gaza Strip than destroying Israel.

True Palestinian awareness would outline the need to address the problems the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank have in terms of building a functioning and stable state. What was offered instead during Palestinian Awareness Week were the typical ploys of emotions from tragic humanitarian crises to shroud the true factors that are prohibiting peace in the land. Only when we learn of the true causes of poverty and bloodshed can there be any hope of peace in the Holy Land.

Stephen Ontko is a senior economics major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].