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Books

The facts
of the matter
American author David Brog seeks to set
the record straight on the Arab-Israeli conflict
By Tibor Krausz

WARS ARENT just fought with guns; The facts should guide opinions are equally spurious? No. The
theyre also fought with words. And Pales- facts should guide us in separating rights
tinians have been winning the war of words us in separating rights from wrongs and truths from falsehoods in
with Israelis. the worlds most emotionally charged con-
Despite having engaged in relentlessly
from wrongs and flict.
inventive forms of terrorism since long be- truths from falsehoods This is what David Brog, the executive di-
fore Israel even came into being, Palestin- rector of the prominent American pro-Israel
ians have painted themselves as innocent in the worlds most organization, Christians United for Israel,
and powerless victims whose only recourse sets out to do in Reclaiming Israels Histo-
to justice lies in stones, knives, guns and emotionally charged ry reclaiming it, that is, from its myriad
bombs. Abetted by the Arab/Muslim world falsifiers.
and anti-Israel firebrands in the West who conflict Right away, Brog seeks to establish him-
have embraced their cause as todays fore- self as a fair-minded commentator who is no
most human rights issue, Palestinians have Israel is either a small, beleaguered is- kneejerk apologist for the Jewish state. Is-
convinced much of the world that theirs is land of modernism and democracy in a vi- rael has committed sins large and small, he
a struggle with a clear-cut dividing line be- olent and benighted region, as its defenders writes. Israeli soldiers have killed innocent
tween good and evil. stress, or its the singular cause of all that Arab civilians and not always by mistake.
And if Palestinians are on the side of the violence and benightedness in that same Israeli commanders have expelled Arabs
angels and can thus be absolved of their region, as the countrys enemies insist. Its from their villages and destroyed their homes
moral failings and wrongdoings, it follows either a bastion of religious tolerance, hu- and not always in cases of clear military
that Israelis whose every action, howev- man rights and ethnic diversity or a Jewish necessity.
er rational or well-intentioned, is forever supremacist apartheid state that puts Nazi Following that caveat he gets down to
probed and condemned must be in the Germany to shame with unrelenting ethnic offering a spirited defense of the country.
wrong. Israels sundry detractors, from cleansing and genocide. Its either the ful- In short order, he dispenses with several
Marxists to neo-Nazis, might not agree on fillment of Biblical prophecies about the in- malignant notions. Israeli Jews arent col-
anything else but that Israel is criminal and gathering of exiles to the Promised Land or onizers: theyre by right just as indigenous
illegitimate. The countrys defenders can be a crime against God through its abrogation to Palestine as local Arabs by virtue of the
just as strident by dismissing all Palestinian of true Jewish values. Its either the rightful unbroken Jewish presence in the land for
claims of victimhood as fraudulent. inheritance of the worlds most persecuted thousands of years.
Israel has been turned into an either/or minority as their ancestral homeland or the Nor are Israelis brutal oppressors. A
state. Its widely portrayed as either a nation ill-gotten colonial outpost of rapacious Eu- common hallmark of bias against Israel
of progressive humanism or one without re- ropean faux-Jewish settlers lording it over is a propensity to divorce consequences
deeming qualities, depending on whom you the indigenous population. (Israeli retaliation) from their proximate
ask. Does this mean that all these polarized causes (Palestinian violence). Thus, Israels

THE JERUSALEM REPORT NOVEMBER 27, 2017 43


Books

retributive military actions in the wake for the crimes of Nazi Germany. These zens in another country. Hence, while there
of terror attacks on its citizens are either refugees resettled in postwar Germany and were some 700,000 Palestinian refugees in
portrayed as unprovoked or condemned as set about rebuilding their lives with nary a 1950, there are now seven times as many,
disproportionate. Brog sees this tendency backward glance. and counting.
as an attempt to distance Israels actions The Palestinians 700,000 of whom fled Nor have their unceasing acts of terror
from the reasons that have led to them by their homes in those same years have cho- and celebrations of the martyrs who have
willfully overlooking Arab and Palestinian sen a different path. When you come right died killing Jews harmed the Palestinians
violence, rejectionism, irredentism and down to it, observed Albert Memmi, a Tu- cause. If anything, theyve benefitted it. A
intransigence. Slanders such as that Israel nisian-born French-Jewish writer who has century of Palestinian terror has produced
is a brutal occupier can survive only in a long been both a Zionist and a supporter of a perverse public relations payoff, Brog
rarified environment empty of all context Palestinian nationhood, the Palestinian Ar- points out. Rather than blame the Palestin-
and history, he posits. abs misfortune is having been moved about ians for resorting to so violent a tactic, the
Brog also challenges the popular view that thirty miles within one vast [Arab] nation. worlds morally challenged have concluded
Palestinians are the worlds most wronged Is that so serious? that a people so especially outraged must
people. Not so, he insists. The Palestinians, have been uniquely wronged.
being stateless and occupied, may have it
bad, but they dont have it worse than many
Palestinian refusals Yet this view has it backwards. Palestin-
ian terrorism isnt an outcome of Israels
other stateless, oppressed and dispossessed have always been crimes but a symptom of Palestinians mis-
ethnic groups the world over from the placed priorities. Rather than take stock,
Kurds to the Tibetans. Yet these peoples predicated on compromise and start building a state of
misfortunes dont seem to weigh heavily on their own at last, they remain bent on mur-
the worlds collective conscience given the an all-or-nothing der and mayhem. Not all Palestinians, to be
comparatively little attention paid to them.
So why the inordinate attention to the Pal-
approach sure, but enough of them to perpetuate the
conflict.
estinians plight? Out of deep-seated con- The conflict between the Arabs and Jews
cerns for minority rights and universal jus- in Palestine persists because one side the
tice? Hardly. Heres a clue: Even with Pal- Serious or not, seven decades on, many Arab side has linked their national liber-
estinians, its only when theyre victimized Palestinians still want to take back every ation to the other sides destruction, Brog
by Israelis that their sufferings are accorded square inch of those few thousand lost writes. The Palestinians, despite their
widespread attention and concern. square miles of territory. Trapped emotion- moderates, have refused to share the land.
Palestinians have been languishing for ally in their collective nakba, the catastro- The Israelis, despite their hardliners, have
generations in permanent refugee camps phe of Israels creation, they continue to repeatedly offered to do exactly that.
in countries like Lebanon in the semi-legal pine, old keys in hand, for a return to homes Its hard to quibble with that. The Pales-
status of outcasts. Many of them have been within Israel that almost none of them, hav- tinians could have had their state several
denied citizenship in their countries of birth ing been born after 1948, has ever even had. times over, yet since the late 1930s theyve
and residence across the Arab Middle East The Palestinians, Brog surmises, are the turned down every single offer to do so
from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia. Yet scarcely only refugee population from the World including, most recently, Ehud Olmerts
have such forms of enduring discrimination War II era to remain frozen in time. historic concessions in 2008 to Mahmoud
merited so much as a peep of protest. But Thats not entirely their own fault. Hav- Abbas, who refused to take the Israeli prime
its exactly such prejudicial treatment that ing served as proxies for the Arab/Muslim minister up on his offer. Why this long re-
has perpetuated Palestinians as refugees world in its long war on Israel, Palestin- cord of intransigence? Palestinian refusals
through the decades. ians have been used and indulged like no have always been predicated on an all-or-
The question, the author argues convinc- other dispossessed minority. Alone among nothing approach. Palestinian Arabs have
ingly, isnt whether peoples have suffered the worlds refugees, theyve had an entire wanted their own state less than theyve
injustices. Many of them have. The ques- well-financed UN agency (UNRWA) dedi- wanted to destroy the Jewish state, whose
tion is how a people decides to respond to cated to their needs. The UN classifies Pal- existence they continue to see as an affront
those injustices. After WWII, millions of estinians as perpetual refugees who inherit to their collective dignity.
ethnic Germans were expelled from their this title from their fathers and bequeath it Israel shares some blame for the current
homes across Eastern Europe in revenge to their sons, even if theyre already citi- impasse: continued settlement building on

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disputed land hardly helps. Yet it isnt clear tory and Jews undying longing to resettle Many of the local Arabs had themselves
what the country could have done much dif- in their ancestral land, often against over- been recent migrants from neighboring
ferently, short of dismantling its settlements whelming odds. lands, but they did outnumber Jews in the
in the West Bank and unilaterally drawing Brog charts the fortunes of Palestinian Holy Land until Jews from Europe started
new borders along the pre-1967 lines, from Jews under centuries-long Muslim rule arriving en masse. Yet demographics alone
behind which it would have to keep defend- when their lot was punctuated by short do not make a nation. Even under the
ing itself tooth and nail against continued spells of relative tolerance amid periodic most generous definition of nationhood,
attacks on its citizens in a heavily fortified bouts of violent oppression. Only with the Brog writes, the Palestinians did not exist
bunker of a rump state now shorn of vital arrival of Zionism in the late 19th century as a separate people until some point after
security buffers. Israel did try just such uni- did their situation begin to improve mark- 1967, when Israel seized territories hither-
lateral withdrawal with Gaza in 2005: it has edly. Zionism was not some dramatic re- to controlled by Egypt and Jordan.
been facing a belligerent enclave of impla- discovery of Palestine after two thousand This doesnt mean that Palestinians dont
cable Islamism ever since. years, he explains. Zionism is merely deserve a state of their own. But it does
Seeing as the Palestinians national nar- the latest and the most successful of the mean that their quest for nationhood seems
rative has it that Tel Aviv and Haifa are long list of Jewish efforts to return to their to have been rather less like the result of
just as much occupied by the Zionists homeland dating back to their first expul- genuine aspirations for true self-determi-
as Hebron and Nablus, Israel can do little sion therefrom. nation than of efforts to undo the national
to achieve lasting peace beyond waiting Mercifully, the Christian Zionist author project of the Jews.
for the Palestinian side to accept Israelis keeps his religious views out of it: theres Therein lies the reason the Israeli-Pales-
own rightful claims on historic Palestine, not one word about Jesus or biblical proph- tinian conflict has been so intractable. 
which the Palestinian leadership has always ecies about the End of Days. Nor does he
refused to do. When, if ever, that day will go easy on Christians whose centuries-long
come is anyones guess. Yet even as they persecutions of Palestinian Jews during the
themselves refuse to compromise, Palestin- era of Byzantine rule and later the Crusades
ians, aided by their enablers far and wide, added greatly to the sum total of collective
keep on demonizing Israel and rewriting Jewish misery.
history by airbrushing out rightful Jewish The book can be especially useful as a
claims to the land. primer for people who know little about the
Thats why much of pro-Israel advocacy worlds longest-running conflict but want
derided by pro-Palestinian firebrands as to learn albeit a few inaccuracies mar an
barefaced Zionist hasbara (public diplo- otherwise well-researched treatise, such as
macy) must consist of dismantling bogus when Brog declares the Western Wall to be
claims. That often entails stating the obvi- Judaisms holiest site, which it isnt. (The
ous, but stating and restating the obvious is Temple Mount is.) In some of its most tren-
a necessary act given the nature of fervent chant parts, Brog expounds on the Zionists
anti-Israel activism: fact-free emoting, his- vision of creating a tolerant and inclusive
torical revisionism and unceasing vitriol. new state in Palestine,with Arab citizens
In recent years, books written in defense enjoying full rights alongside Jews and re-
of Israel have become a veritable subgenre, counts the annals of Arab leaders animosity
including The Case for Israel by Alan to the very idea of such a state. The authors
Dershowitz, Making David into Goliath aim is to demonstrate how Jewish attempts
by Joshua Muravchik, and The Tail Wags at rapprochement were invariably rebuffed
the Dog by Efraim Karsh. (often violently) or ignored, while, simulta-
Thus, Brog travels well-trodden terrain. neously, Arab moderates were either side-
Yet he does so with verve, and Reclaim- lined or murdered. Reclaiming Israel's History: Roots,
ing Israels History is a welcome addition Whereas Jews boasted far better historical Rights, and the Struggle for Peace
to pro-Israel apologetics through its series and cultural ties to Palestine, local Arabs David Brog
of vignettes that provide telling, if at times could base their own claim to the land on Regnery Publishing
episodic, snapshots of Palestines long his- the strength of their superior demographics. 288 pages; $20.71

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