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Monday, October 15, 2007

Sixty years ago: Wishful Western thinking about Arab goals

Sixty years ago, in October 1947, the big news from Palestine was that both the US and the Soviet Union had accepted the idea of partition. It was still very unclear how exactly partition would occur - the prevailing thoughts were that a multinational force, perhaps the UN, would go into Palestine and enforce the partition.

The entire world was very concerned as to what would happen. The Arab League met in Beirut, plotting a response, and there were reports of Arab armies mobilizing on the borders of Palestine, getting ready to attack.

In the October 13th Palestine Post, Great Britain sought to assure the world that the Arabs were only posturing, and had no intent to actually attack. American experts concurred:


Arab leaders in Haifa rushed to assure everyone that while Arabs might want to use oil as a weapon against America for their support for partition, they would never attack anyone:


Three additional stories in the October 15 Palestine Post quoted various people who assured the world that there was nothing to worry about.

Great Britain had this to add:

Yes, everything would be orderly. They wouldn't just leave and allow the Jews to be indiscriminately slaughtered, would they?

And the Arabs also were at pains to show that they had no intentions of provoking violence, and any reports to the contrary were Zionist lies:



Experts had no problem weighing in as well. After all, the very idea of Arabs attacking was simply not logical:


On the 16th, it was reported that Egypt was sending troops to the Sinai border - but this move was also dismissed as just posturing:

Meanwhile, Syria and Lebanon openly called for war. But the all-knowing analysts for the Great Powers knew that they were not serious:


So sixty years ago the Middle East was on the verge of a momentous decision; a meeting at the UN to happen in November that would have far-reaching implications. The best and brightest political minds on the planet had an array of facts before them - Arab threats and statements, how Arabs had acted in the recent past, the seething hatred Arabs had for the Jews. And almost every single one of them chose to ignore anything bad that the Arabs did or said, and replace cold facts with wishful thinking and assumptions that Arabs are more pragmatic than they had shown themselves to be in the past.

Over this four day period, as the region was hurtling towards a war whose impact is still being felt, the prevailing conventional wisdom was that everything would be all right. Immediately after the UN partition vote would start a string of major Arab attacks against Jewish civilians from all directions.

In the months to come it would become more and more clear that despite all of these assurances, despite all these rosy predictions, despite promises that everything would be done to keep things peaceful - despite all that, no one would protect the Jews from the Arab armies who were preparing even this early to destroy them. The Zionists realized this and they knew that they could only rely on themselves, and God, to help them.

Sixty years later, the Arabs are making it clear that if things don't go the way they want, they will start a new round of violence. Even so, the world's superpower is assuring Israel that the Arabs have no intention of continuing their murderous ways, and is pressuring Israel to turn itself back towards how things were in1947, with hostile Arabs living once again amidst the Jews they hate with a passion. The great powers are promising that there will be no rockets from the West Bank, that Hamas is not biding its time for the PA to gain land diplomatically that could then become the basis for a West Bank Hamastan, and that - however improbably - Gaza will once again come under "moderate" PA control.

Once again, wishful thinking is replacing real analysis and observations, and empty promises are being offered in exchange for Israel's security.

The Arabs are highly sensitive to symbolism, and they are looking at November 2007 to be the watershed event that will help turn back the events of November 1947. And so far, they have willing partners in the UN, EU and United States - and even the Israeli government itself - all anxious to risk everything on the basis of blind hope.

After all, it is easy to gamble with lives when they are not yours.