Palestinians, Israelis, the Nakba and Realpolitik

This past Friday was the 15th of May, the day that the Arab world celebrates as Nakba day. The day of the "catastrophe," which is what the Arabic word means; the founding of Israel. Whether one accepts the validity of the Arab or Israeli narrative for the events surrounding the creation of Israel depends on one's worldview; but ultimately such views will have no bearing on future events. The continuity of Israel is now a matter of realpolitik.

"Realpolitik" is a German word which has entered the world lexicon; and which means that a nation's politics should be based on practical realities, not dogmas, creeds, or moral precepts. It originator and master practitioner was the 19th century Prussian chancellor Otto Von Bismarck who took Prussia from a second rate power in Europe to the center of a united Germany, the chief power in Europe.

In all of Imperial Germany's policies, Bismarck rarely let modern concepts of right and wrong concern him. He just worked to achieve German industrial and military supremacy on the continent, while keeping war to a minimum; a goal with he achieved in the latter half of his career, after fomenting war for the first half of his career. At times he could be very right wing, at other times leftist. Pragmatism rather than principle informed his policies.

When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn't the slightest intention of carrying it out in practice. - Bismarck

Realpolitik is how I myself deal with the issues of the "nakba."

The standard Israeli version of events during the 1948-49 War of Independence is known to all. Israel offered to partition the land and to live with the Arabs in peace; but then five Arab nations invaded, and most of the Arabs fled ... voluntarily.
The Arab version is different. The British promised the land to the Arabs with the MacMahon Hussein correspondence of 1915.

The Palestine position is this. If we deal with our commitments, there is first the general pledge to Hussein in October 1915, under which Palestine was included in the areas as to which Great Britain pledged itself that they should be Arab and independent in the future . . .

Advocates of either side could argue whether Britain's original commitment to Arab independence included Palestine or not. Britain backtracked to both sides. She promised the Arabs independence, but subjected them to quasi-colonial mandates. Britain promised the Jews the land area comprising both Israel and today's Jordan, in spite of what she had promised to the Arabs. Then Britain cut away Jordan from the Jews. In the 1939 White Paper, Britain decided that the commitment to the Arabs took primacy after all, and promised to deliver the Palestine Mandate to the Arabs with a mere one-third Jewish minority in 1949. The 1939 White Paper was accepted by most -- not all -- of the Palestinian Arabs, which is why they did not revolt during WW II. Britain had given the Palestinian Arabs what they wanted.

All the while, Britain changed her story constantly. Did MacMahon promise this, or did he promise that? In the end, both sides ended up despising the British.

The Jews saw themselves betrayed by Britain, who cut off the Jews from escaping Hitler by restricting immigration to Palestine. The Palestinians see themselves as put upon by European colonial invaders -- at that time, most Jewish immigrants were European born.

The Jews ask: Why didn't the Arabs accept the partition? The Arabs say that since they were two-thirds of the population in 1947, why should Arabs have had to accept a partition that the majority Arabs disapproved of. They were willing to offer the Jews a minority status. Why didn't the Jews accept that?

My position avoids all that discussion.

Like Bismarck, I take a realpolitik view, which goes like this.

Israel has roughly 80 or more nuclear weapons, some of which may be of the thermonuclear hydrogen bomb variety. Israel will not be wiped from the map without every Arab (or Persian, as the case may be) capital being evaporated. Should the Arabs ever come close to overrunning Israel, the Israelis will make an Arab victory rather pyrrhic.

Lest the Europeans take a remote glum satisfaction at the removal of both Muslims and Jews from their policy concerns, they should know that some Israeli commentators mention that some Israel nukes are held in reserve to settle old scores with Europe. 

Next time we'll take all of you with us. - The Samson Option, p42

For the first time in history, a people facing extermination while the world either cackles or looks away--unlike the Armenians, Tibetans, World War II European Jews or Rwandans--have the power to destroy the world. The ultimate justice?  - Dark Thoughts and Quiet Desperation -  Los Angeles Times

For those who consider this talk of atomic ruin to be wild speculation, consider this biblical prophecy which some interpret to suggest a soon atomic destruction of Syria's capital:

The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. . - Isa 17:1

Does anyone doubt such a possibility when Israeli leaders have warned:

Yisrael Katz says if attacked, Israel would return Lebanon to Stone Age - Times of Israel

Hezb'allah has over 100,000 missiles, which would overpower Israel's Iron Dome defense.  Israel would have to use nuclear weapons or be destroyed herself.

I do not have to really consider whose version of the Nakba is accurate.  The very right wing Israeli advocate, Obadiah Shoher [a pen name], who writes the blog Samson Blinded, has even conceded much of the Arab narrative.

The Jews need not amuse the world with absurd stories of Arabs fleeing Palestine of their own volition or answering the dubious calls of foreign Arabs to clear the battlefield. If such calls were actually made, the Palestinians would have recognized them as a ruse to facilitate robbing their villages and possibly settling them—by fellow Arabs. Palestinians, especially rootless Arabs from the lowlands, started fleeing the country before Arab armies invaded it—in response to Jewish terror. - Samson Blinded

I agree with Obadiah Shoher that the Israeli narrative makes no sense.  I have no faith in the Arab narrative either. However, none of this history is material today.

All I need to know is that Israel will evaporate the Mideast before it goes down, and possibly some of Europe as well. 

I disagree with some Zionists that Europeans intrinsically hate Jews. I think Europe would have happily accepted Israel had the land really been empty, had no struggle arisen, and had no burden to Europe come of it. But a burden has come, and the Europeans do not want to carry it.

"Let the whole world know that we shall never accept that the tragedy of Andalusia would be repeated in Palestine. We cannot accept that Palestine will become Jewish  - Osama Bin Laden

The Arab world holds the West responsible for placing Modern Israel in the Mideast, which is historically accurate. The powers that formulated San Remo were Western. The Arabs blame America for arming Israel; and Israel was one of the reasons given for the 9-11 terror attack. The Arabs do not hate us only for our freedoms, but rather because we have supported Israel.

When Israel goes to war with Gaza, the streets of Paris became inflamed. Israel may not be responsible for Arab violence in Paris, but there is a connection; and the Europeans seem willing to carve up Israel if it means a quieter day on the Champs-Élysées.

Europe is no longer willing to pay the cost.  Neither is Obama.

However, Israel has determined that the world, especially the Arabs and Europe, will pay a much dearer cost should Israel ever go down.

Right now, I am not going to debate whether the Arabs left voluntarily in 1948 or were driven out.  The quotations fly fast and furious. I am not going to debate whether what happened to the Palestinians was justified or an imperialist crime. 

At this time, all points are moot; but one. Israel will evaporate the Mideast, and almost assuredly every Palestinians in it, before she goes down. Right or wrong does not matter. It is what it is. Whether the Nakba was a war crime, or simple justice applied to barbaric Arabs is immaterial.

The Palestinians will never return to the land. The Arabs should inform themselves of this truth, and act accordingly.

Mike Konrad is an American who writes on many topics.