The Current State of Israel

 

Before I begin this essay, first I must admit that I have a disproportionate number of Jewish friends.  This is partly because of a career in finance and entrepreneurial endeavors, but it has always been the case.  I did not grow up with money.  My parents cherished good public schools and safe neighborhoods, which also attracted like-minded Jewish families.  I’ve always had Jewish friends and still do.  Close friends.  I have an affinity for Jews.

I’ve also worked in venture capital for an enterprise funded by the Jordanian crown and by the ruling families of the UAE and Kuwait.  My Arab counterparts (I was CFO) were also highly educated and prosperous, generous, fine folks.  I can tell you honestly that they bore no ill will toward Jews or Israel, were fully westerized, and loved America.  They taught me a lot about the Arab and Muslim world, at that time undergoing its modern fundamentalist reformation.

I doubt that any Arab countries really want to deal with the Palestinian problem.  They all know the history of the area and its people.  They know, for example, that the area in question was controlled by Jews for many centuries, lost, of course, to the Roman empire, retaken, lost to the Ottoman Empire, then placed under British control and resettled after WWI.  It was recognized as Israel in 1948.

During its centuries within the Ottoman Empire, it was considered largely a worthless land, populated only in its few arable valleys by poor farmers, and even then, it was not considered a particularly fruitful area.  The poor farmers who lived there paid little in rent to their Emir landlords.  Further, it was a frontier, an arid no-man’s land and lawless.  Inhabitants were regularly harassed and attacked by bands of violent Bedouins who traversed the area.

When the Jews began resettling during British control around 1930, they tried to purchase land wherever possible.  It was such a problem that the Brits had to restrict Jewish land purchases to non-arable areas and require a one-year notice to local Muslim renters to quell rising resentment for these new Jewish neighbors.  Further, Jewish settlers used abstemious irrigation technology to turn worthless land into productive farmland, growing mainly citrus that found its way to European markets.  This success did not inure them to the local Muslim farmers who had no capital and still struggled with traditional crops and farming methods.

Britain’s promotion of the Jewish state of Israel was perhaps as much a wish to remove itself from the local politics of Jewish resettlement than a wholehearted embrace of a new Israeli state.  Soon, major Jewish investment land funds, sponsored by wealth from American and European Jewry, began buying up property in earnest and encouraging Jews from around the world to migrate there.  The absentee Emir landowners of scale were happy to be done with it.  Many of the remaining Muslim residents found themselves displaced or isolated, and had to move to other Arab nations.

Many integrated successfully into their new environs in the Arab and Muslim world, but there remained a core of those newly minted “Palestinian refugees” who resented their displacement and could not assimilate.  These were the anti-Zionists, who found respite in their resentment among other antisemitic Muslims in their resident countries.  All the while, there was a fundamentalist revival going on in the Muslim world, among both the Shia and Sunni, and this also rejuvenated the old Jew-hatred of pre-colonial Islam.

Under various banners, these truculent “refugees” were organized as the Palestinian Liberation Authority, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and various other groups vying to restore their domination of the land that is now Israel.  Their zeal did not stop with Israel, however, and this led to problems within their adoptive countries. Hence, when Gaza opened for resettlement, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt took full advantage and essentially expelled the Palestinian refugee troublemakers from their countries.  None of these Israeli neighbors wanted to harbor these dissidents, violent, uncontrollable zealots who were bent on terrorizing Israel.  It would place Israel’s neighbors and their people in close proximity to the terror war chaos and ripe for Israeli retaliation.

Born-again Arab and Muslim nations further from Israel were and remain smart enough to keep terrorists, even those that they covertly support, out of their countries.  Hence, Saudi Arabia forced Bin Laden and Al Qaeda to seek refuge in Afghanistan.  Iran funds and trains Hezbollah, but in Lebanon.  ISIS, with a similar mission to return the Caliphate, was relegated to Syria and parts of the Iraqi frontier.

Here is where it gets interesting.  The majority of Arab and other Muslim countries know that these Palestinian refugees remain a problem that they do not want to re-import.  Despite any underlying shared antisemitic, anti-Zionist leanings, they know that Israel is a determined and potent adversary with a superior claim to the land of Israel than the claims of this rabble of self-identified refugees, now generations from their exodus.

These nations also know that war with Israel will not likely end well, especially with the US as Israel’s backstop.  Even Iran and the Turks know this.  So it is best for all concerned that Hamas be quickly and utterly defeated, with a following surge of Israeli and international aid to rebuild Gaza (and the West Bank) and where anti-Israeli resentment can never smolder again.

So I don’t fear Turkish saber-rattling or Iran’s belligerence.  Israel must move quickly and deliberately to destroy Hamas.  Ignore the nattering ninnies.  No quarter.

Waste not a minute.

Published in General

There are 10 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Doug Kimball: This success did not inure them to the local Muslim farmers who had no capital and still struggled with traditional crops and farming methods.

    Did you mean “endear?”
    Interesting post, Doug!  I hope you’re right about the outcome—grim, but maybe survivable?

    • #1
  2. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    I meant inure, as in accustom or get used to.  It is just shy of “tolerate”, but endear works!  My thought was that the locals could never welcome the Jews, but they could co-exist peacefully.  Jealousy, envy got in the way of that. 

    • #2
  3. John Diehl Member
    John Diehl
    @JohnDiehl

    The only thing to really worry about is the disingenuous leadership in the White House and pentagon.

    • #3
  4. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Doug Kimball: These nations also know that war with Israel will not likely end well, especially with if the US as is Israel’s backstop.

    FIFY (Obama/Biden sensibilities)

     

    • #4
  5. BDB Inactive
    BDB
    @BDB

    Doug Kimball: Before I begin this essay, first I must admit that I have a disproportionate number of Jewish friends. 

    Hell, I like you already.

    • #5
  6. Al Sparks Coolidge
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    The United States is not a realiable ally, especially in the long term.  I don’t mean just for Israel.  I mean for every other country too.

    For Israel, this was highlighted during the Obama Administration.  And though Biden has mostly backed Israel since the Hamas invasion, it’s obvious he’s looking for a political out.  Too much of his administration and the Obama Administration and their attempts to appease, and even set Iran up as a hegemony in the Middle East is an example that too many power centers in American politics are hostile to Israel, and we’re seeing that this is coming from strong grass-roots support.

    In the long term, Israel needs to loosen its dependence on the United States, especially as our economic interest in the Middle East wanes to nothing (we have fracking, we don’t need their oil).

    For me, a big argument for going isolationist is I no longer trust the Democrats to run our foreign policy, and the less power we have in the world, the less harm we can do to the world when they assume office in our country.

    • #6
  7. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Al Sparks (View Comment):
    In the long term, Israel needs to loosen its dependence on the United States, especially as our economic interest in the Middle East wanes to nothing (we have fracking, we don’t need their oil).

    We could, and we did for a while with Trump, but Biden et al have been undoing/reversing that too.

    • #7
  8. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Good summary, Doug.  One quibble.  Jewish movement into Israel and land purchases (from Ottoman absentee landlords) started in the 1880s, 50 years before Britain gained the Mandate.  The “Palestinians” didn’t consider themselves a group until they were created (with help from the Soviets) following the 1967 war.  Prior to that they were just Arabs, with origins in any of a number of surrounding countries.  I guess that’s two quibbles.  Not bad!

    You also make an important point that is frequently missed.  The Arabs that were living in Roman-named Palestine during Ottoman rule were mostly poor tenant farmers.  They did not own the land they were farming any more than I owned any of the apartments I’ve rented over the years.  If my landlord had sold the building and the new owner invited me to stay and live peacefully alongside new renters and I instead chose to sit outside with my old apartment key in my hand crying that my home had been stolen by evil settlers, I’d be laughed off the street or carted away to the loony bin.  There is massive ignorance of the history of the region, so I greatly appreciate your contribution.  It’s clear, concise, and (other than the above noted quibbles) quite accurate.  Good on ya!

    • #8
  9. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Good summary, Doug. One quibble. Jewish movement into Israel and land purchases (from Ottoman absentee landlords) started in the 1880s, 50 years before Britain gained the Mandate. The “Palestinians” didn’t consider themselves a group until they were created (with help from the Soviets) following the 1967 war. Prior to that they were just Arabs, with origins in any of a number of surrounding countries. I guess that’s two quibbles. Not bad!

    You also make an important point that is frequently missed. The Arabs that were living in Roman-named Palestine during Ottoman rule were mostly poor tenant farmers. They did not own the land they were farming any more than I owned any of the apartments I’ve rented over the years. If my landlord had sold the building and the new owner invited me to stay and live peacefully alongside new renters and I instead chose to sit outside with my old apartment key in my hand crying that my home had been stolen by evil settlers, I’d be laughed off the street or carted away to the loony bin. There is massive ignorance of the history of the region, so I greatly appreciate your contribution. It’s clear, concise, and (other than the above noted quibbles) quite accurate. Good on ya!

    My knowledge of preWW1 history is pretty limited.  I did read that there was a time in the 19-2oth centuries, in any case before WW1, when land lists in this general area were frozen under Ottoman rule, perhaps in response to the sales you noted above.  The Brits reopened the registers to sales under their wardship and then had to ratchet things back.  I also know that land ownership in most Arab nations is for the most part limited to a few families, royals or pseudo royals.  I guess it was possible that some of the poor farmers in what is now Israel “owned” their land, but their definition of ownership is likely different than ours.  Whether what they paid for living there was rent or tax, the result is the same.  Certainly, their names would not likely be on any property registries.  This is not much different than land ownership in European monarchies, where royals claimed most property rights and still, to this day, own and rent massive tracts of land and housing.   As for the “Palestinians”, my Arab friends (this was back in the late 1980s) used to say that there was no such thing as a “Palastinian”, that it was a myth.  They were just poor Arabs with a grudge who had family who had at one time lived in the general area of Israel.  One friend, who was half-brother to the current King of Jordan, said that under this definition, he was a Palestinian.  Another, from a prominent Kuwaiti family, said he too, could be considered Palestinian as his family had once owned land there.  They laughed about it and considered Arafat, who promoted the myth, to be a clever and dangerous conman.   

    • #9
  10. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Good summary, Doug. One quibble. Jewish movement into Israel and land purchases (from Ottoman absentee landlords) started in the 1880s, 50 years before Britain gained the Mandate. The “Palestinians” didn’t consider themselves a group until they were created (with help from the Soviets) following the 1967 war. Prior to that they were just Arabs, with origins in any of a number of surrounding countries. I guess that’s two quibbles. Not bad!

    You also make an important point that is frequently missed. The Arabs that were living in Roman-named Palestine during Ottoman rule were mostly poor tenant farmers. They did not own the land they were farming any more than I owned any of the apartments I’ve rented over the years. If my landlord had sold the building and the new owner invited me to stay and live peacefully alongside new renters and I instead chose to sit outside with my old apartment key in my hand crying that my home had been stolen by evil settlers, I’d be laughed off the street or carted away to the loony bin. There is massive ignorance of the history of the region, so I greatly appreciate your contribution. It’s clear, concise, and (other than the above noted quibbles) quite accurate. Good on ya!

    The last place I lived in Phoenix, where I owned a “townhome” unit/condominium, most of the others were rentals.  It was pretty common for the children of the renters to believe that their parents “owned” the place they were actually just renting.  Even if they only “owned” it for maybe 6 or 12 months.  And I can see how, like if the parents died without letting the children know the actual facts, the children might have grown up believing they somehow had some “right” to where they had been, just because they lived there for a while as tenants.

    • #10
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.