There are too many voices that continue to suggest peace will only come to the Arab-Israeli conflict if Israel gives up more land and allows a Palestinian state to be formed. For the record, Israel has made it clear it's willing to make this huge sacrifice. However, history has proven when Israel makes sacrifices it comes out on the short end of the deal. The case is made with the following examples:
The Balfour Declaration of 1917 set aside 43,000 square miles of land in the Middle East
for the Jewish
people in their biblical homeland. However, shortly after this in 1922 approximately 76% of this land was turned over to King Abdullah to form
Transjordan (today's Jordan). Thus, without ever realizing the benefit of what was to be theirs, the Jews saw most of it vanish.
In 1947 the UN voted to divide the remaining 24% of the land into two separate states, one Arab, one Jewish, (aka: the original two-state solution). This took away an additional 50% of the remaining land, meaning the Jews would receive a mere 12% of the original "promised land," while the Arabs received an overwhelming 88% of what had been committed to the Jews. Nonetheless, the Jews made the sacrifice and agreed to the deal. What was the Arab reaction? Rejection of the UN's vote, and a war attempting to destroy the tiny Jewish state the day after independence was declared in 1948.
The Jews made another sacrifice after the Six Day War of 1967, when in order to promote peace with the Muslims, Moshe Dayan turned over control of the Temple Mount to the Muslim Wafq. As a result, Muslims enjoy complete freedom of access and worship, while Jewish access is highly restricted and praying by Jews is forbidden. How have the Arabs reacted? A drumbeat of lies that there is no Jewish connection to Jerusalem. Muslims also continue to demand complete control of the entire Old City, and claim 'East' Jerusalem as the capital of their presumed state.
In 1993 Yitzhak Rabin
made yet another sacrifice by signing the Oslo Accords,
which turned over large sections of Judea and Samaria to the Arabs. What was the Arab reaction? Mounting terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians originating from these areas. After several years and repeated requests from Israel that the Arabs crack down on the terror attacks, Israel ultimately had no choice but to take matters into its own hands and decided to erect a security barrier.
In 2000 construction began on the security barrier to protect innocent Israeli civilians from being murdered. What was the Arab response? A dramatic increase in the number of terrorist attacks, which averaged 23 Israelis killed per year (a total of 67) in the three years prior to construction, to an average of 288 deaths per year (a total of 865) during the following three years as the wall was being constructed.
West Bank barrier (archives)
In 2005 Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made one of the most gut wrenching sacrifices of any Israeli leader, when he chose to uproot almost 8,000 Jews who had made the Gaza Strip their home for 38 years. This move pitted Jew against Jew, and brought about so much internal tumult it threatened permanent damage to the heart of the tiny Jewish state. Promises of compensation and housing were made to all the Jews evicted from Gaza, but today, seven years hence, a large percentage of those forcibly removed have yet to be settled in permanent housing.
In spite of the traumatic sacrifice Israel made in leaving Gaza, what was the reward it received from the Arabs? Thousands of rocket attacks against Israel's southern cities from Hamas, which took control of Gaza after the elections in 2006. They have repeatedly vowed never to accept Israel's existence and say "it will exist until Islam obliterates it," according to their charter. The rocket attacks were so numerous Israel was eventually forced to go into Gaza in Dec. 2008-Jan. 2009 and eliminate many of the sites rockets were being launched from (Operation Cast Lead). Today, rocket attacks continue, making it clear the goal of Israel's destruction remains unaltered.
As to the current potential 'sacrifice' - handing over land for a Palestinian state - I would remind its proponents of the following- Mahmoud Abbas is on record stating he will never accept a Jewish state of Israel. Approximately 300,000 Jews live in Judea and Samaria. If the Arabs are given the very heartland of Israel for a state, Abbas has said "there will be room for not a single Jew." This in spite of the fact over a million Arabs live in Israel, making up 20% of its population. He has also indicated he views 100% of Israel as "occupied Palestine."
Just recently Abbas made conciliatory comments during an interview on Israeli TV, but before taking his remarks seriously keep in mind both he and his predecessor Yasser Arafat, have a long history of making statements for Western audiences, which end up being dismissed when they speak in Arabic to their own audiences. Thus, his comments cannot be viewed as sincere. Deeds, not words will demonstrate his sincerity.
History has proven the "rewards" the Jews have received from the previous sacrifices have been to Israel's detriment, and have not resulted in peace.
There's an old saying "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me." Israel has been fooled too often, and cannot allow its security to rest upon the shoulders of those who fail to learn from history.
Dan Calic is a writer, historian and speaker. See additional articles on his Facebook page