More than 700 and perhaps as many as 1,300 years ago — back when the peace-loving Muslims were trying to conquer Europe (till they were stopped at Tours by Charles Martel) — the ancestors of the people who became the Aztecs passed through what is now Utah and Arizona, on their way south.
Left behind were relatively peaceful farmers, the Anasazi, likely the ancestors of today’s Pima and Papago (Tohono O’Odham).
Nature hates a vacuum, and peaceful farmers tend to rule a land only until a more aggressive group arrives to take their women and their corn. It appears that warlike group, from the land to become Arizona, consisted of a couple of tribes speaking Athabascan tongues (thus, probably from Canada), the Navajo and Apache.
Did the Navajo and Apache buy their lands? Of course not. They took them.
A little more than a century ago, it was the turn of the Navajo and the Apache to have a good portion of their lands taken from them by a people better skilled or more ruthless in war — the “Americans.”
Did the Yankee “purchase” those lands? Did we seek international arbitration to set boundaries? Don’t be ridiculous. The land was simply taken. Less than 125 years ago.
So let us suppose that today some bands of red-blooded young Apache men, aware of the crimes and indignities of the past, managed to smuggle over the Mexican border some rockets and artillery pieces and began driving around the San Carlos Apache Reservation and the Tonto and Coronado National Forests in Arizona, firing off these weapons, several times each day, into Tucson, Safford, Globe and Mesa.
Let us suppose that — as these attacks mounted — every couple of days an innocent white or black or Hispanic American woman, old man or child was killed.
What do you suppose would happen? I suppose all the law enforcement agencies of Arizona would descend on the San Carlos Reservation, backed up by the National Guard if necessary, hunting for these killers.
Would the United Nations squawk? Would the French try to impose a “cease-fire”? Would demonstrators protest this violation of Apache sovereignty by blocking traffic in London or looting and burning parked cars in Paris?
Don’t be ridiculous.
Yet, I submit to you, the Palestinians in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon have been doing precisely what my made-up, hypothetical Apaches would have been doing, and offering precisely the same justification — appropriation of long-disputed lands not from them, but from their grandparents.
Yet let me point out the Israelis sat still for more than a year under a deadly missile and mortar barrage before invading Gaza last weekend — adding that American taxpayers would be unlikely to tolerate so much as a week of inaction in the face of such attacks — and some Internet posters find my crippled powers of rational thought “disappointing considering the level of insight you normally exhibit.”
“This pro-Israel shit is way off base,” writes another correspondent. “Israel has been the aggressor state since 1948, created by a bogus U.N. ‘mandate,’ stealing land already inhabited by others, and killing those who refused to surrender their property voluntarily.’ “
Wow. Can we have the names of a few Palestinian Arabs murdered by the fledgling Israeli state because they “refused to surrender their property voluntarily”? Were there firing squads?
In fact, every Palestinian account I’ve read of Muslim Arabs abandoning their property in what is now Israel in 1948 speaks of “rumors” that the Jews had launched or might launch a bloodbath, often accompanied by the admission — express or tacit — that they assumed they would soon be returned in triumph in the wake of a victorious pan-Arab army.
It seemed like a safe bet. But the Arabs failed to cover.
Meantime, how many of the Jewish Palestinian families who lived in what is now Jordan in the 1920s — before the former British protectorate was split in two, with the Arabs getting by far the larger half — are still there? Few if any, from what I can learn. When they fled to Israel — with some considerably more palpable indications of the fate that might await them at Arab hands — were they recompensed for their property by the Muslim Arabs? No one has been able to tell me they were. Do those Jews have a “right of return”?
Did Israeli armored “aggressor” columns seek to invade and conquer Cairo and Amman and Damascus in 1948? Oh, please. Israel fought three desperate defensive wars for its very survival in its first 25 years. The closest thing most IDF forces had to an “armored vehicle” in 1948 was a Jeep.
The Palestinians now firing rockets and mortars into Israel never lived there. Their grandparents may have lived there.
The world is full of places inhabited by people who did not come by their current property “legally,” unless we refer to the law of conquest. The Polish village from which my father’s father came here to America was destroyed in the First World War, but many of the fields and farms to the east now lie behind the border of Belarus.
The Russians have no right to such lands. They just grabbed as much as they wanted, first in a crooked deal with Hitler, later by the brute force of the Red Army.
But if I were go to Belarus and start killing civilians because of my “righteous grievance” over land once farmed by my grandparents, would any Arab Muslim (or French diplomat) stand up in my defense at the United Nations, or anywhere else? Of course not. I’d be promptly executed as a murderer of civilian strangers unknown to me, and rightly so.
Ditto for any Jew who went on a killing spree today, trying to reclaim real estate seized from their grandparents in Russia or Germany in 1917 or 1942. Shall the descendents of the Saxons start killing the descendents of the Normans, since “England has been the aggressor state since 1066”?
I will not fault the Israelis for not further attempting to negotiate a “settlement” with the Palestinian Arabs, because you cannot “negotiate” with anyone who will not first acknowledge your right to exist — it is a mistake to grant a “cease fire” to anyone who considers “peace” a mere breathing space to rearm and resupply before trying again.
I, for one, would like to see the American taxpayer quickly phase out his/her economic propping up of Israel (and the matching, ongoing bribery of Egypt), not only because our Constitution authorizes no such expenditures, but because I think that aid artificially sustains a top-heavy European-style Israeli welfare state where free market capitalism would probably work much better.
But if it’s true that “Israel has been the aggressor state since 1948,” it’s equally true that America has been an aggressor state since we started moving west of the Appalachians — if not long before — and that any descendent of any Indian tribe has a “right” to murder you, your spouse and children, at any time.
“Thus,” said Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth, “your own reasons turn into your bosoms, as dogs upon their masters.”
You might want to watch out for that.
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of “The Black Arrow” and “Send in the Waco Killers.” See www.vinsuprynowicz.com/ and http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/vin/.