Given recent events, I feel compelled to write this. There has been much distortion lately over the circumstances and history of the foundation of the State of Israel, some claiming that it was an act of colonialism.
The facts are the opposite is true. It was an act of decolonization as the remnant of the Ottoman Empire and the Levant having been broken up by the great powers into spheres of influence, and later, the unwinding of the British Empire.
After WWII, millions of people were stateless and displaced. Entire ethnic populations were relocated.
In Europe alone, over 40 million people were displaced from their home countries. After the war, it has been estimated that over a million people could not be repatriated.
Many simply died waiting. The annexation of eastern Poland by the USSR forced the expulsion of over 2 million Poles to other lands.
Finns, Romanians, Greeks, Estonians, Serbs, and Crimeans were forcibly expelled. The settlement of these people, many who languished in displaced persons camps, took years to resolve.
But the glaring hypocrisy that stands out in all this is the Partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947.
Founded on the notion that Muslims could not tolerate living in a place where they would be a religious minority in a largely Hindu nation, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was born.
The results of partition were horrific. We will never know the true number killed, but estimates are as high as 2 million murdered.
Over 5 million were uprooted, up until Ukraine, the greatest forced migration in human history. Rape and pillaging were common acts. Trains of fleeing refugees arrived filled with butchered corpses, blood still dripping on the sides from the smashed windows of rail cars.
The refugees on both sides of the border lost everything, not that these impoverished backwaters were prosperous in the first place.
To this day, there has been no reckoning of this enormous tragedy by either side. And an uneasy peace remains.
Those seeking an understanding of the magnitude of this tragedy, almost buried by history, should search for the “1947 Partition Archive.” Like Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust Project, they are assembling testimony from those who survived.
But who is among the leaders of the moral outrage against Israel today? Pakistan.
This is what we call the soft racism of low expectations. You see, when Muslims fear being a minority in their own country, we westerners need to be understanding. We need to be sensitive. If anyone else, like the Jews, feels the same way, well, they should be held to higher standards. After all, they’re an educated, cosmopolitan bunch.
Odder still, is how no one complained when Assad bombed his own hospitals.
There’s more: A decree issued by the Pakistani government ordered that all ethnic Afghans must be repatriated to their own country, into the arms of the Taliban.
Not only the ones from the American invasion after 9/11 but all those who fled the Russian invasion in 1979. People who have lived there for 40 years.
That’s an expulsion of 1.7 million people. No one is crying “Nakba.” Not then. Not now.
But the Palestinian joke has gone on for decades. Imagine being warehoused in refugee camps by your own countrymen for 75 years, based on the Arab/Muslim world writing checks it could never cash.
There is a picture, that I cannot reproduce here due to copyright laws, of an elderly woman in a wheelchair in Gaza holding a placard that says “72 years in refugee camp. My wish to see my land before I die.”
Hey lady, let me tell you something. I can’t even go back to East Flatbush, and chances are your land has some Class A office space sitting on it. And here’s some advice: if some cataclysm, be it political, environmental, or economic ever moves you the distance from Whitestone to Coney Island, don’t waste your life, and that of your offspring’s, in a refugee camp for seven decades trying to get back to Whitestone. It’s not worth it.
The Palestinians should have accepted partition. Period.
Let me end by saying that I agree with President Obama’s position that “nobody has clean hands.” We’ve all known it for years. The political intrigues in the region, the settler movement, have done nothing to bolster security or peace.
It backfired badly on Israel politically: protestors who rightfully detest the occupation are up in arms about a conflict where no occupation exists.
But that’s politics.