Eye on the Middle East Mar/Apr 2001
Sheik Hassan Nashrallah has a suggestion for all Jewish people living in the State of Israel. Nashrallah is the secretary-general for the Hezbollah terrorist organization that operated against Israeli forces in southern Lebanon. Now that Israel has withdrawn from the Lebanese security zone, Hezbollah aspires to take its fight into Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel proper using the same tactic it employed against the Israel Defense Forces in Lebanon—attacking civilian cars, buses, and Israeli army vehicles with roadside bombs, Katuysha rockets, and other deadly devices.
Hassan Nashrallah suggested that, in order to bring peace to the Middle East, all Jewish people should return to the countries they came from in the first place. In other words, “Get out of town and leave the country to us.” To a man who aspires to drive Israel into the sea, this may sound like a reasonable proposal. In fact, however, Nashrallah would be creating a bigger problem than he professes to solve.
In the population exchange that saw about a half million Arabs leave what became the modern State of Israel, an equal number of Jews were forced from their homes and businesses in Arab countries. What about them? Is Secretary-General Nashrallah willing to go to the leaders of these Muslim nations and ask them to welcome back their former Jewish residents? And, just as the much-talked-about Palestinian refugees have increased in number since 1948, so, too, has the number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. That figure no doubt has risen to a million or more. Here are a few statistics that reveal how many Jews left Arab countries after 1948:
Can anyone truly believe that the likes of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein or Libya’s Muammar Qadhafi would extend a “welcome home” to Jewish people from whom they have appropriated lands, bank accounts, and businesses? We think not. What Nashrallah is suggesting is as old as the Diaspora itself (the Jewish dispersion): Create a situation where the Jewish people wander, homeless and helpless, among the nations—except, that is, among the nations in the world of Islam. Economics and geopolitics are not the issue here. The issue is the survival of a nation and a people.
Scan the records of the treatment of Jews in Arab countries. An objective reading of history substantiates the fact that Arabs don’t want Jews living in Arab lands and for centuries have mistreated those who did. Logically speaking, you would think the Arabs would be delighted to have the Jewish people in a country of their own, conducting their own affairs. Yet people who share the fanaticism of someone like Adolph Hitler feel otherwise and, like Hitler, wish to create a Jewless world.
Hassan Nashrallah’s revealing statement should be a warning to all who profess to be negotiators in the Middle East peace process. Israel is a fact of life. Moreover, Jewry in the Middle East has no place else to go. Eventually, Jewish people everywhere may have no place else to go. And anyone who attempts to help negotiate a peace between Palestinians and Israelis must recognize that the foremost issue on the table is the security of the State of Israel.
Mr. Nashrallah will not get his wish. Israel will survive. We can only hope that the oil-craving nations of the Western world will choose principle over economic expedience and stand fast in their commitment to our only reliable democratic ally in the Middle East.