|Scottish Friends of Israel Redressing the Balance|
the Algerian precedent' By FIAMMA NIRENSTEIN
Princeton scholar Bernard Lewis, universally accepted as the world's leading expert on the history of the Middle East and author among other works of The Crisis of Islam and, most recently, From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East, discussed with the Jerusalem Post developments in Iraq and Israel, during a visit to Tel Aviv early this month.
you in favor of immediate elections in Iraq?
the US really take on countries directly responsible for terrorism?
you have faith that, in spite of everything, democracy will prevail?
has America's war on terror affected the terrorists?
will the trial in the Hague affect the Middle East peace process?
Everyone knows it's not a legal question, but rather a political one, one which can only be resolved when the two sides have decided to treat it as such: politically.
The world has always been tormented by border issues. Alsace and Lorraine spent hundreds of years establishing their borders and only now, just maybe, have they succeeded.
The UN may pose the question in legalistic terms - and in a minute I'll explain why I mean legalistic, not legal - but this is really not about what the UN says it's about. My impression is that the UN has taken up a debate from the Palestinian side, so we can't be sure whether the discussion concerns the dimensions of Israel, its behavior, or its existence.
Israel violating international law in its building of the fence?
what if the fence were built on the Green Line?
Israel says it's putting up the fence to defend against terrorism. It's a very serious direct measure, and one that makes one think that terrorism in general is not on the wane - not in this area, not in Iraq, where there are terrorist attacks every day, and not in the rest of the world, which is in a constant state of alert.
There are two kinds of terrorism, but, mind you, they're not in conflict and are often unified in their actions. The first kind is always armed with highly ideological means and is aimed at preserving existing tyrannies. The second, al-Qaida kind, is aimed at subjugating the entire Western world.
do you make of the UN's transition from creator to prosecutor of the Jewish
First of all, Palestinian rhetoric hasn't changed since 1947. It still continues to reject the existence of a country it considers an enemy, a stranger in the region. Its schools, radio and television continue to teach incitement.
Now let's consider another Palestinian issue in which the UN is also involved: the refugee problem.
In pushing for the right of return, the Palestinians are essentially proposing the elimination of the Jewish state. And the UN has never proven that it differs from the Palestinians on the refugee question. History is very clear. In the last century, millions of refugees moved between war-torn countries. The most important migration was between India and Pakistan in 1947, which involved at least seven million people. In 1945 millions of people moved between Poland and East Germany, and all were resettled.
With the partition [and creation of the State of Israel], 725,000 Arab refugees were relocated, and the UN immediately created a fixed institution, [the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East], which has literally prevented the Palestinians from resettling.
In 1929, Jews were killed or forced out of Hebron, and in 1948 others were killed or forced out of Jerusalem, but have you ever heard them referred to as refugees, protected by the UN? What about the 800,000 Jews expelled from Arab countries? The UN never bothered with them.
I'd like to add that when on December 17, 1947 the Arab League rejected the resolution that established the partition - within the confines of international law, I might add - the UN didn't make a sound. Nor did it say a word when the Arab countries forbade Israelis of any religion from entering its borders - preventing even Muslims from making their obligatory pilgrimage to Mecca - and closed its borders to Jews regardless of their citizenship. Nor did the UN speak out when Jordan in 1954 offered citizenship to any inhabitant of Palestine, except Jews.
Translated from Italian by Rachel Donadio
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