National Catholic Register

Opinion

Palestinian Problems

BY Jim Cosgrove

March 15-21, 1998 Issue | Posted 3/15/98 at 1:00 PM

 

The article, “Theology Meeting in Bethlehem ‘Outraged’ at Oppression of Palestinians” (March 1-7), relates that the Liberation Theology Conference statement of Feb. 14 blames the suffering of the Palestinian Arabs on “the Israeli occupation.” The statement also implies that Israel is responsible for the “dispossession of the Palestinian people” 50 years ago. While this appears to be fast becoming the accepted wisdom, it nevertheless fails the test of truth on both counts.

To begin with, nobody has been as brutal or oppressive toward the Palestinians as their own leadership, typified by Arafat's thugocracy—as cruel, vicious, deceitful, and ferociously corrupt as any other Arab police state (and now financed by U.S. dollars).

Secondly, an occupying power is one that forcibly takes possession of a territory from its legitimate sovereign. Israel did not take the provinces of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza from any legitimate sovereign. Quite the contrary, she seized those territories in a necessary act of self-preservation against two aggressor states, Jordan and Egypt, who themselves had been holding the provinces in violation of International Law, and who had used Judea, Samaria, and Gaza as a trio of launching pads from which to assault the Jewish State in an unprovoked war of annihilation in 1967. It is, accordingly, improper and misleading—not to say unjust—to join the U.N. General Assembly lynch mob in characterizing Israel's ongoing possession of territories whose last legitimate sovereign, the Ottoman Turkish Empire, went out of business in 1918 as an “occupation.”

As for that by-now-sacrosanct Arab doctrine of the 50-year-old Jewish “dispossession of the Palestinian people,” consider the following, published in October of 1949 by Arab activist Musa Alawi: “How can people struggle to become a nation when [they] do not know the meaning of the word?… The people are in great need of a ‘myth’ to fill their consciousness and imagination … [to give them] identity and self-respect.”

What I would really like to know is this: Does “promoting justice for all people” (the Conference theme) allow us to bear false witness against our neighbor?

Michael Zebulon

Santa Rosa, California

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